Bryan Estepa-Vessels. Our favorite Aussie this side of Michael Carpenter is back with his third solo album, and Vessels is another mark of excellence for Bryan Estepa. Like his buddy and countryman Carpenter (who helped mix), Estepa has the knack of making pop songs sound easy, and he infuses them with a bit of a country-rock style. The beguiling, laid-back "Won't Let You Down" opens things nicely, and "Hard Habits" draws on The Band. But Estepa is not afraid to tackle purer pop as the bouncy beats and handclaps of "Tongue Tied" and "Alone" will attest. And the soulful ballad "Pull Ourselves Together" might be the prettiest song I've heard this year. Another first-rate effort.
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Frozen Relics-Uncovered. A nice EP debut from this Minnesota duo, who feature a straight-ahead power pop sound that's heavy on the hooks. Leadoff track "Beautiful Girl" mines the classic power pop subject matter with a Fountains of Wayne/Weezer flourish, while the peppy pop of "No Second Chances" has almost a Motown-like feel to it. The anthemic "Burnin'" tackles environmental concerns without being too preachy and while giving a nod to short-term concerns. "One Step Closer" is more pleasing power pop, and "Hymn for Our Children" is a quality instrumental number and is backed by their promise to donate $1 from each full album purchase to the Children’s Miracle Network – Gillette Children’s Hospital.
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