Album review overview: Bon Jovi, Alfie Templeman and more

Photo (c) Jorge Fakhouri Filho

Dozens of new albums arrive at Maxazine’s editorial staff every week. There are way too many to listen to them all, let alone review them. It ensures that too many albums are left behind. And that’s a shame. That is why today we post an overview of albums that arrive at the editors in short reviews.

Bon Jovi – Forever

In the ’80s and ’90s, the release of a new Bon Jovi album was a global event that made headlines everywhere stopping the press. However, in 2024, the release of their new album “Forever” passes quietly. Bon Jovi, once the pioneers of pop-metal with their blockbuster “Slippery When Wet” from 1986, seems to have left its golden days far behind. After “Keep the Faith” from 1992, considered by many as their last truly good album, the band’s trajectory has been downhill. “Forever” marks Bon Jovi’s attempt to return to their roots, and honestly, it sounds more like Bon Jovi than we’ve heard in a long time. The album evokes the energy of their earlier work, but at the same time, that’s one of its biggest drawbacks. The songs feel dated and lack the innovation needed to remain relevant in 2024. As the Germans would aptly say: ‘Das war einmal’ (That was once). On the album, the band currently passing as Bon Jovi tries to revive the magic of “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name”, but mostly shows how outdated the band’s production vision is. The album offers nostalgia but adds little new to the contemporary music landscape. Though “Forever” is not without its moments – the melodies are catchy, and the ballads will certainly appeal to loyal fans – it’s clear that Bon Jovi is at a crossroads. Jon Bon Jovi’s vocal performance remains surprisingly strong, but perhaps it’s time for Jon to disband the group and explore a new direction or other creative paths. Unfortunately, the tragic cover photo suggests otherwise. (Jan Vranken) (6/10) (Captain Kidd Corp)

All Under Heaven – What Lies Ahead Of Me

With such a figure on the cover, it immediately creates some tension; it could easily haunt you in a creepy dream, staring at you with that grin when you can no longer escape. In that sense, choosing a cover like this for your debut album is a smart move. Because the shoegaze/alternative band All Under Heaven had only previously released an EP. Not much is known about the group yet, except that they were founded in 2017 and have already experienced a small hiatus. This debut album showcases a nice sound, and despite its just over thirty minutes length, there is enough variety, with the strongest track being ‘Always’, which switches intensities multiple times. “What Lies Ahead Of Me” is a pleasant listen, although that figure scares me a bit. As far as I’m concerned, All Under Heaven doesn’t need to look back, because with a debut album like this, there might just be something beautiful lying ahead in the future. (Rik Moors) (7/10) (Sunday Drive Records)

Alfie Templeman – Radiosoul

Alfie Templeman, the versatile multi-instrumentalist from London, released his long-awaited second album ‘Radiosoul’ on Friday. This ambitious work showcases his new acid-pop style and effortlessly moves between genres. The album, co-produced by top names like Nile Rodgers and Dan Carey, reflects Templeman’s life and his response to the impact of social media. The title track “Radiosoul” combines psychedelia, soul, and indie, setting the tone for the album. Other notable tracks include “Eyes Wide Shut”, “This Is Just The Beginning”, and the funky “Just A Dance” featuring Nile Rodgers. “Vultures” and “Drag” explore darker themes, while “Hello Lonely” and “Submarine” are more introspective. “Beckham” and “Switch” bring playful energy, and the closer “Run To Tomorrow” leaves a sense of hope. “Radiosoul” has turned out to be a delightful album, interesting for both Templeman fans and new listeners alike. (Norman van den Wildenberg) (7/10) (Chess Club Records)

Oded Tzur – My Prophet

New York saxophonist Oded Tzur returns with his latest album “My Prophet,” released on the prestigious ECM label. Known for his unique approach that blends modal jazz, Indian classical music, and microtonal traditions, Tzur delivers another captivating work. “My Prophet” opens with a brief epilogue “Child You,” a track that immediately immerses the listener in Tzur’s warm, resonant tone and masterful technique. The way he effortlessly glides between notes, thanks to his self-developed ‘middle path’ technique, is simply enchanting. Another highlight is the over 11-minute title track where Tzur’s narrative sensibility shines through. His compositions feel like musical stories, rich in emotion and deeply rooted in both ancient and modern traditions. The album closes with “Last Bikeride in Paris,” a piece that encapsulates the essence of Tzur’s musical journey: an immersive blend of serene meditations and powerful exclamations that together create a universal resonance. “My Prophet” is a beautiful album that reaffirms Tzur’s position as one of the most innovative and compelling voices in contemporary jazz. A must-listen for any jazz enthusiast. (Jan Vranken) (8/10) (ECM)

Tatiana Eva-Marie – Djangology

Tatiana Eva-Marie, nicknamed the “Gypsy-jazz Warbler” by The New York Times, has delivered an eclectic album with “Djangology” that views European musical traditions through an American lens. The album attempts to be a charming pastiche of everything an American might consider ‘authentically’ European. “Djangology” mixes French-language songs with guitar parts reminiscent of the legendary Django Reinhardt, and sprinkles this with a light Balkan flavour. The result is a bewildering mix that tries to be both nostalgic and innovative. This cross-cultural approach gives the album a certain playfulness but can sometimes feel neither here nor there. You keep waiting for a frivolously intended ‘oe-la-laaaa’ at the end of a track. Tracks like “Nuages” and “Sweet Chorus” are infused with what Americans might find an authentic Parisian flair, while ‘Caravan’ takes the listener on a journey through Eastern European sounds. The dancing bear will surely not be absent from any potential music video. “Djangology” is the wrong kind of cultural appropriation that belongs in Disneyland. Why would I listen to Tatiana when I can listen to the real Django or Goran Bregovic? This is kitsch. (Anton DuPont) (4/10) (Groundup Music)

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