House of Lords – Cartesian Dreams (2009, Frontiers Records – European Import)
1. “Cartesian Dreams” … 5:15
2. “Born to Be Your Baby” … 4:31
3. “Desert Rain” … 5:08
4. “Sweet September” … 3:45
5. “Bangin'” … 3:32
6. “A Simple Plan” … 4:25
7. “Never Never Look Back” … 4:06
8. “The Bigger They Come” … 5:53
9. “Repo Man” … 4:11
10. “Saved By Rock” … 4:45
11. “Joanna” … 3:30
12. “The Train” … 4:41
James Christian – Lead Vocals, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Jimi Bell – Guitar
Chris McCarvill – Bass, Backing Vocals
B.J. Zampa – Drums
Tommy Denander – Guitar (“Sweet September”, “Never Never Look Back”)
Robin Beck – Vocals (“Repo Man”)
Producer: James Christian
This is the first House of Lords album I’ve ever owned, but I’ve been familiar with their songs and most of their albums for a number of years. Just never got around to buying one for some reason. I know the band’s music well enough to say that despite their membership changes over time (the band’s founder Gregg Giuffria hasn’t been involved with in the group for years), they’ve pretty much always put out quality1980s melodic hard rock anthems with little regard for trying to sound “modern” (okay, so I’ve heard that 2004’s The Power And The Myth is a bit of a departure). Cartesian Dreams is no different.
Had I listened to it in 2009, this would have made my Top Ten list, which is pretty funny because I almost didn’t buy this album. I considered it and had it on my wishlist for a while, but after checking up on some samples, I decided against it. Recent “best of ’09” reviews convinced me to seek out more samples from this album and I must’ve been in a foul mood the first time I previewed the songs because I loved what I heard! One quick visit to a online music shop and here the album sits with me!
James Christian’s voice is as strong as ever, the musicianship is top notch and the production is wonderful. This album is filled great hooks, harmonies and huge choruses and I found myself singing along quite quickly and frequently to these songs. I always get a great positive feeling when listening to House of Lords, there’s just something very bright and uplifting about their music even when singing about love gone wrong or war.
Too often AOR/melodic rock comes off as quite wimpy, but House of Lords has always had a great balance of crunchy, thumping hard rock and slick melodic rock that so many other bands struggle to find. This one should please hard rock and melodic rock fans alike. It certainly pleased me.
“The Train”, as I understand it, is an exclusive track for the European pressing. When I ordered this, I didn’t realize I’d be getting the import version, but hey, an extra track works for me!
Highlights: “Cartesian Dreams”, “Born to Be Your Baby”, “Bangin'”, “Never Never Look Back”, “The Bigger They Come”, “Saved By Rock”, “Joanna”