WEST ALLEY – A Night To Remember (2023)
WEST ALLEY is a band from Gothenburg, Sweden that has its musical roots already in the late ’80s. At the time they got inspired by several acts which were playing the AOR / Arena sound – like Journey, Toto, Kiss. During that decade the group wrote a lot of songs but never recorded – they never forgot these and when they met again four years ago, they started talking about giving them another chance by finally recording and releasing them.
WEST ALLEY signed a record deal with Germany-based label Pride & Joy Music in early 2023 whom will release the debut album ”A Night To Remember” on August 25th, 2023.
Why these guys never recorded an album back in the day is a mystery, as “A Night To Remember” is pure melodic rock / AOR plenty of fluffy melodies and layered vocals. Never is too late, and West Alley proves themselves to be a formidable force capturing the essence of classic AOR while crafting a collection of memorable and infectious tracks.
Drawing inspiration from the iconic sounds of revered AOR and Melodic Rock bands like Journey, Toto, Foreigner, Le Roux, Ambrosia and Survivor, West Alley demonstrates an innate understanding of the genre’s foundations. However, they possess a distinct musical identity that allows them to stand proudly alongside their influences. Comprised of Magnus Björkroth (lead vocals, keyboards), Jack Nielsen (bass, background vocals), Niclas Lundström (guitar, background vocals), and Jonas Michaneck (drums), the band radiates chemistry and passion throughout the album.
From the opening notes of the title track, ‘What A Night To Remember‘, West Alley captivates listeners with its infectious melodies and Björkroth’s emotive vocals. The song serves as a perfect introduction to their musical prowess, setting the stage for an exhilarating journey through twelve tracks that embody the spirit of AOR. Each song possesses its own unique charm, showcasing the band’s ability to effortlessly blend hooks, harmonies, and heartfelt lyrics.
‘Good Times‘ and ‘Fortune And Fame‘ keep the momentum soaring, with their anthemic choruses and spirited guitar solos. The band’s ability to craft infectious melodies that linger in the mind is particularly evident in the uplifting track ‘Miracles Can Happen‘, a true standout on the album. It exudes positivity and serves as a reminder of the power of hope and determination.
The album is not without its heartfelt ballads, such as ‘Give Me Just A Little Time‘ and ‘Colors Of Love‘, which provide a welcome respite amidst the energetic anthems. Björkroth‘s vocals shine on these tracks, demonstrating his range and emotional depth as he delivers lyrics that speak to the universal experiences of love and longing.
‘Warning‘ and ‘How Many Hearts’ showcase the band’s knack for crafting powerful and thought-provoking songs. The former serves as a call to action, urging listeners to be aware of the dangers lurking in the world, while the latter delves into the complexities of human relationships, posing introspective questions over driving guitar riffs.
‘Angels’ and ‘Higher’ embrace the spirit of classic AOR, with their soaring melodies, sing-along choruses, and layers of harmonies. These tracks exemplify West Alley‘s ability to capture the essence of the genre while injecting their own modern sensibilities.
As the album nears its conclusion, ‘Feel Like A Clown‘ and ‘It All Begins Where It Ends‘ provide a fitting climax to the musical journey. The former explores themes of self-doubt and the quest for authenticity, while the latter showcases the band’s musicianship, bringing the album to a triumphant close.
Recorded at Valvet Studios, ‘What A Night To Remember‘ is a testament to the band’s dedication to their craft. The production quality is impeccable, allowing each instrument to shine while maintaining a cohesive and polished sound. Mastered by Joakim Styren of Panoramamusic, the album boasts a rich and dynamic sonic landscape that enhances the listening experience.
In conclusion, West Alley‘s debut album ‘What A Night To Remember‘ is a resounding success, breathing new life into the AOR genre. With their infectious melodies, powerful vocals, and expertly crafted songs, the band proves that they are more than capable of standing alongside their influences. This album is a must-listen for any fan of AOR and melodic rock, and it cements West Alley‘s place as a rising force in the genre. Simply marvelous!
1. What A Night To Remember
2. Good Times
3. Fortune & Fame
4. Miracles Can Happen
5. Give Me Just A Little Time
7. How Many Hearts
10. Colors Of Love
11. Feel Like A Clown
12. It All Begins Where It Ends
Magnus Björkroth (lead vocals, keyboards)
Jack Nielsen (bass, background vocals)
Niclas Lundström (guitars, background vocals)
Jonas Michaneck (drums)