The Big Sweet-Ultraviolet Rain. It was almost a year to the date we looked at this Ohio band's debut album, Shot of Bliss, and they haven't wasted any time with the followup. Once again, these (now) 17-year-olds have produced a confident, assured mix of power pop and indie rock that belies their age. Whereas last time they covered Big Star's "September Gurls", here they assimilate their sound in "Laces" (while the skittish "In and Out of Style" recalls solo Alex Chilton). Also of note are the pop/rocker "N-O", which doesn't quite go where you expect it to, and the jangle of both "As You Wake" and "Ancient Psych". With enough winding turns and crooked alleys, Ultraviolet Rain isn't cookie-cutter power pop - but in this case, the journey is a much fun as the destination.
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Justin Nault-It's Just Me. This Nashville piano popper has styled an impressive debut that should appeal to fans of Josh Fix and Ben Folds. "I Would" and "Addicted" are a killer one-two punch of upbeat melodic piano pop, and the kinetic title track ain't no slouch either. "Smile" is another standout, with its anthemic chorus, and the piano pyrotechnics of "Puppet" recalls Folds' debut as the Ben Folds Five. Have a listen for yourself:
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