Points North - 'Points North'

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Points North - 'Points North'

An excellent debut.

U.S. trio Points North are perhaps most notable for numbering ex-Whitesnake bassist Uriah Duffy in their ranks, but whilst there seems to be a glut of guitar instrumentalists around at the moment, PN are definitely a band rather than a guitarist with backing musicians. Guitarist Eric Barnett and drummer Kevin Aiello complete the line-up, this self-titled album being the follow-up to the 2012 'Road Less Traveled' release, also on the Pete Morticelli's Progressive Magna Carta label.

What sets PN apart from many of their contemporaries is the strength of their song-writing, which is credited to all three members and concentrates more on catchy, succinct tunes and tight arrangements, although each member is quite capable of shredding with the best of them when required. Joe Satriani, Jeff Beck and Steve Vai are obvious reference points, but more band-oriented compositions also bring Rush, Dixie Dregs and even The Police into the equation.

'Northstar' and 'Killer Pounder', for instance, are straight-ahead Rockers with superb melodies that are simple enough to have a wide appeal, but are still high on virtuosity. 'Ignition' is tuneful and Progressive with fluid guitar and a short bass showcase, the beautiful 'Child's Play' hints at Satriani with its great guitar tone, whilst the more aggressive 'Sky Punch' and the killer 'Foxes & Cougars' are very DD-like in structure, particular the latter with its great guitar/bass trade-off.

There's a bit of variety on show with the seventies Rocker 'Colorblind' even having vocal parts – I assume from Duffy, although it isn't specified – and the superb, acoustic-based 'Harlequin' has nice piano parts from guest David Earl, but it probably comes as no surprise that my favourite song is the homage to Rush entitled 'Turning Point (La Villa De Villers)', a reference to both 'La Villa Strangiato' (check out the similar melodic passage in the middle) and executive producer/engineer Dave De Villers.

It's great to see the name of my old friend Danny Danzi attributed to mixing and mastering, his work alongside producer Eric Barnett giving the album a rich, clear texture that's sorely lacking from a lot of its ilk.

Suffice to say that after the first play of Point's North self-titled sophomore release, I immediately went online to buy their excellent debut.

Phil Ashcroft

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