The Mike Benign Compulsion-Martha. These Milwaukee power poppers are back with the followup to 2010's excellent Rollicking Musical, and the results are once again...compelling. In fact, this time around legendary dB Chris Stamey is on hand to mix, and he lends the proceedings a timeless sheen that places the sound of this disc comfortably in any recent decade. Whether it's the stomping opener "Chemicals to Candy" or the Shoes-like pop of "My Michelle" or the jangly "Valentines and Honeybees", the MBC delivers the pop goods here. And they really hit their stride on "I Won't Let You Down", which wouldn't have sounded out of place on one of Stamey's releases. Album closers "Feed the Family" and "Tattoos of Bruises" find the subject matter getting serious, but without a loss of melodic focus. There's something for every power pop fan here.
CD Baby | iTunes
Your Gracious Host-1UP 2DOWN. Tom Curless has become a regular in these parts, and his fourth album might be his best since his self-titled 2008 double-disc debut. What makes the new one a step in the right direction is Curless' decision to crank up the guitars, a decision that's almost always good in my book (for example, I defiantly cling to Monster as my favorite 90's REM disc). You don't have to wait long to hear for yourself, as "Made to Suffer" rocks harder than anything on his previous two discs, and "Wheels are Turning" marries his trademark melodic sound to a Petty-esque rocker. But the highlight here is "Merry Go Round", perhaps the most Beatles-influenced track Curless has produced to date. It's nice to see an artist shake up the formula a bit, and here it really pays off.
CD Baby | iTunes