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Thor, Tara Lynch and more

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We've got all kinds of goodies in the Rock Pile this time out, including a newly-released, 40-year-old album from heavy metal hammer swinger Thor!

Thor - Electric Eyes
Sometimes when an established artist releases an album of vintage, previously-unreleased music, fans are left shaking their heads when they discover that the music is less than stellar, or even downright bad. That is not the case with Electric Eyes, a nearly 40-year-old effort from Thor that was recorded in 1979 but never released until now. In fact the album is excellent. The music is more in a straight-ahead rock vein than it is heavy metal, but fans will hear the genesis of the sound the band has today in songs like "She's a Fancy Lady," "Storm" and "Gladiator Romp." Catchy lyrics and riffs abound and there aren't any clinkers in the bunch; all songs are originals except for a cool take on the oft-covered "Wild Thing."

Tara Lynch - Evil Enough
Lynch has been preparing for her turn as heavy metal goddess for quite some time, including studying guitar playing with Steve Vai and taking drums and piano lessons from Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater) respectively. And her talent shines through here on her debut album with the appropriately sinister sounding "Evil Enough" (complete with a scary cackle for an intro), on the melodic guitar fiesta of current single "Antidote," and on the menacing-sounding instrumental "Gui-Tara Rises" where Lynch's guitar soars and moans throughout. Guests on this very solid effort include Tony MacAlpine and Vinnie Appice.

Kevin Lee & the Kings - Sticks & Stones
This album starts off with the irresistible power-pop of "On Top of the World," a cut that recalls Cheap Trick, a band that Lee has toured with. Nothing here sounds dated by any means, but there's a distinct '80s feeling to cuts like "Slip of the Tongue," a hooky gem that would've sounded fantastic blasting over the airwaves adjacent to a Cheap Trick or Greg Kihn hit. And Lee keeps his foot on the gas pedal all the way through the album, only slowing down a bit for the Tom Petty-ish ballad "Tell the Truth." Very close to wet dream territory, Sticks & Stones is a must-hear for fans of memorable power-pop.

Webb Wilder & the Beatnecks - Powerful Stuff!
Before you start listening to this one you'll need to get your rockin' shoes on as Wilder once again delivers a set full of songs that you won't sit still through. Wilder nicely sums up the album's tenor in a few simple words from "New Day;" "It's a sonic solution, there's a freedom in the twang." And while there's plenty of twang to the album there's also lots of screaming guitar, and oddly enough "New Day" features the latter. Wilder and company sound great bouncing along with the blues on "Lost in the Shuffle," adding Rolling Stones-style swagger to the oldie "Ain't That a Lot of Love" and rocking Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits" right off the rails. A bunch of other covers here and "High Rollin'" features a swinging rockabilly beat, as does a take on Steve Forbert's "Catbird Seat." Johnny Paycheck's "Revenooer Man" is included, and fitting for Wilder's brand of roots rock, the effort closes with a live take on Little Richard's "Lucille."

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