Sam Millar / One Of The Best Slabs Of AOR Since Aldo Nova’s Subject

Last Friday saw the release of former Bigfoot guitarist Sam Millar’s debut, More Cheese Please. The album is an archetypal labour of love, with Sam not only playing all the instrumentation but also handling production and mixing duties.

Sam Millar – More Cheese Please

Release Date: Out Now

Words: Sophie James

From start to finish, More Cheese Please is crammed full of guitar-driven, synth-rich, hugely melodic and infectious pop rock with mountainous choruses. Turbocharged ’80s style AOR if you like.

Sam Millar - More Cheese Please
Sam Millar – More Cheese Please. Turbocharged ’80s style AOR.

As a good opener should, The Killing Floor sets the scene for all that is to follow. Driving riffs, propelling bass, massive keyboards, bigger choruses and even a sax break.

Not their opening number during a recent sighting, but the song that caused my ears to alert my mouth to go Oh Hello! “You’ve got to face the facts, we’ve been here before (before),” then cue Sax!

Fooling Yourself begins with a pulsating synth before the guitars announce themselves, easing only to admit the vocal. With a chorus even more instant and addictive than the opener, if this doesn’t strike that sweet spot, then you have no soul.

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“Say what you want, what you like, I can feel it in the air, tonight. No use pretending that it’s any other way.”

The kind of hook that the Scarlet Rebels excel at. The song eases in its closing stages as if to give the listener ample time to absorb it, and then, just for good measure, a stadium-grade solo is thrown into the coda. A number that makes you want to sing and dance like no one is watching (or listening!).

Something I’ll Regret commences with a funky, choppy riff and a rhythm that typified the songs that were all over MTV in the mid-’80s. Like The Cars with more shine and a perfectly crafted piece of power pop.

When The Summer Ends eases the pace and sets a more reflective tone articulating this present portion of the calendar. Imagine Geddy Lee in one of his more contemplative moments atop quintessential Bryan Adams.

Chardonnay comes across as a fusion of Toto and The Darkness if ever such a concept was comprehensible. Or could that even be Boston I hear on further listens?

Showbiz starts with the utterly brilliant line, “I’m sorry, but your majesty, me no speaky Drama Queen”.

The riff returns to The Darkness territory again. One could just imagine Justin singing this. Comparisons aside, it is a song that I hope others will find impossible to sit or stand still to.

Forget You has that galloping beat and infectious hook that takes you back to the Glam Rock era at its very best. T-Rex, Suzi Q, amongst other ingredients in this veritable ’70s smorgasbord with another masterful chorus line.

“What do I have to do to F-O-R-Get You”. One of the highlights of the album and simply irresistible.

A Hall & Oates style bass cues Dancing On My Own. I just adore how the guitar sets up the singalong finale, which has the potential to become a live favourite. And if it does, you sure won’t be dancing on your own.

It goes without saying what an accomplished guitarist Mr Millar is, but what else is apparent throughout is not only his proficiency with the other instrumentation but his complete mastery of keyboards and synth programming.

Déjà Vu alternates between the electronica and the anthemic, commencing with a synth run that takes me back to Kids In America. This, however, is a thoroughly contemporary piece tailor-made for arena shows of the 2020s.

What is by now trademark pulsing synths lead into the opening verse of Neanderthal Man. As it builds, it becomes reminiscent of Mr Mister and with a title like that, the chorus just has to be prefaced by an abundance of Na-Na-Nahs.

The closing track, Meet Me Halfway, starts rather dreamily before everything else comes in on a dime. The bridge is worthy of being a chorus itself.

“Meet me halfway, and I’ll be waiting. Over here where the ice ain’t breaking.” It’s quite fitting that the guitar solo is probably the most climactic on the record.

Sam Millar More Cheese Please: A Synth-Driven Pop Rock Delight with Infectious Hooks and Nostalgic Vibes. Photo: Frank Clarke
Sam Millar More Cheese Please: A Synth-Driven Pop Rock Delight with Infectious Hooks and Nostalgic Vibes. Photo: Frank Clarke

I make no apologies for all the micro-comparisons included above, but such are the notions that this album provokes.

Full of fleeting little hooks and references, both musical and vocal, that feel oh-so-familiar before they head off somewhere else altogether.
It is these that transport you back in time and are part of the album’s many charms.

While I have made numerous references to the synths, they never swamp the guitar. Acting initially as an aperitif and subsequently as an undercurrent, both instruments work in tandem to create a rich soundscape.

As for the ’70s & ’80s influences, these in no way detract from the most modern feel and production that gives it all its sheen. Together with the sublime songwriting and lavish arrangements, it all results in one of the best slabs of AOR I have heard since the great Aldo Nova’s Subject.

Having recently seen Sam play live, up close and personal, as Sam Millar and The Sass Bandits, I can testify that the songs bristle with energy, and these adrenalized interpretations provide the soundtrack to a damn good time.

Sam Millar – More Cheese Please

  1. The Killing Floor
  2. Fooling Yourself
  3. Something I’ll Regret
  4. When The Summer Ends
  5. Chardonnay
  6. Showbiz
  7. Forget You
  8. Dancing On My Own
  9. Deja Vu
  10. Neanderthal Man
  11. Meet Me Halfway

Sleeve Notes

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