Today's installment brings us Gary Henson's The Coast Is Clear, a late 2005 release that will appeal to power poppers who fall more on the "pop" than "power" part of the spectrum. Coast is a must for fans of Neil Finn, XTC and Badly Drawn Boy. Although the album is described on his cdbaby page as "infused with artistic traces of The Beatles, Travis, Oasis, Blur, Radiohead, and Coldplay, to name a few", to me it sounds a bit more retro than those bands (the Beatles excepted, of course), with more of a sixties british pop sensibility (Small Faces, anybody?).
There are several winners here: the title track, with its jaunty chorus, the ballad "Bit by Bit" (complete with strings and sitar), and the Lennonesque by way of Liam Gallagher (ok, I see the Oasis there) "Time Fades". Apparently, Henson was the Second Place Winner in the 2004 International Songwriting Competition, and this album reveals a budding pop craftsman at work. (This gets me thinking someone should make a version of those diamond-shaped yellow construction signs that says "Pop Craftsman at Work").
Unfortunately, he's pretty stingy about streaming and mp3s at his site (a handful of 40-second clips); we even get this message:
"When you pay for a CD or song, you provide a rightful income to musicians, their record labels and staff, artists and designers, recording studios and engineers, printers, distributors, retailers and all those whose efforts make it possible for you to enjoy music."OK, Gary, we get it: stealing your music is bad. We certainly don't condone that here (I, for one, paid the $12 at cdbaby for the disc), so the samples at cdbaby will have to do for preview purposes. But don't let that put you off - The Coast Is Clear is worth buying.
UPDATE: Equal time from Gary's webmaster in the comments section. Make sure you check it out.