Monday, February 16, 2009

CD of the Day, 2/16/09: Dennis Schocket-The Cinderblock Mansion

Somehow (like just about everyone else in the power pop community, judging by its only recently appearing at the usual suspects), I missed the news that Dennis Schocket had released his solo debut last spring. Which is a shame because it would have easily cracked my top 20. For the uninitiated, Dennis Schocket was last heard from in Starbelly, and he was the driving force behind their brilliant 2002 album Everyday and Then Some, one of my favorite power pop albums of the decade.

Here he gets help from Myracle Brah's Andy Bopp, and while there's an element of Bopp's sound here, the more compelling frame of reference is his former bandmate in the earlier Starbelly days, Cliff Hillis. The opener "Lovesick Blue", however, throws a bit of a curveball as it's a somewhat poppier version of the bluesy Americana the Stones sometimes trade in (cf. Exile on Main Street and Peter Wolf's Jagger/Richards-aided solo 2002 release Sleepless). And the tuneful "About the Girl" follows in a slightly similar laid-back style, making one wonder whether Schocket has gone for something tonally different than Starbelly. But "Another Perfect Breakup Song" arrives, and it's the kind of Beatles-by-way-of-Badfinger midtempo guitar pop that Schocket mastered in Starbelly.

The delightful "Parachutes" follows in the same vein, with one of those choruses that see out the song and stick in the cranium. "Breathe" chimes in with some Girlfriend-era Matthew Sweet goodness, and the late-period Beatle-y "Tangerine Scene" is as fruitful as its name would imply. Finally, "Girl of the Year" completes one of the best 5-song in-album runs you'll hear, a nice bookend to "Another Pefect Breakup Song". This is not to imply the remainder of the disc is somehow lacking, though. Schocket goes nearly straight-up country with the affecting "This Forgiving Heart", "Ghost" is some mighty fine paisley pop, and "Willow" is as good as anything on the disc, reminding me of Hillis' "Elevator" from last year's The Long Now. "Unified" and "As You Said" close things out, and they serve the laudable purpose of insuring that there isn't a bad track on the disc.

Albums like this (and a few other recent ones I've reviewed) are driving me toward compiling a supplemental best of 2008 list, because to go back and see this one not listed just isn't right.

Not Lame | Kool Kat | MySpace (no solo tracks streaming, but some great Starbelly stuff)


Emmanuel said...

Heheh, that's why i'm posting the best-of 2008 now, Steve! And i can tell you that Dennis will be up there...What an amazing album!!!!!!!!!


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