Ruby Free-Introducing Ruby Free. Ruby Free is Maple Mars' Rick Hromadka side project team-up with wife Lisa Cavaliere, and it's a sonic return to those carefree 1970s days when spouses like Paul & Linda McCartney, Richard & Linda Thompson, Sonny & Cher, and (non-spouses) Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris would record laid-back classics. Opener "Bongos & Beards" is a wonderfully chirpy opener with a McCartneyesque melody, the jangly "Slow Parade" has just the right psychedelic touch, and the piano psych pop of "Good Company" would have fit right in on Wings at the Speed of Sound. "Tiny Stars" borrows the famous Motown bass line in service of a catchy melody, and closer "One Last Song" with its ethereal melodies and strings closes things in appropriately epic fashion. The album is a wonderful evocation of a subgenre we didn't realized we missed. And yeah, there's also a song here called "Sonny & Cher".
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Steven Wright-Mark-Plastic World. NYC's Steven Wright-Mark is back with his first release since 2008's Sideshow Freak, and he picks right up where he left off with his Matthew Sweet-meets-Elvis Costello blend of singer-songwriter pop. "I Wanna" bolts out of the gate with a swagger that's both mission statement and an electric power pop number, "Almost Summer" channels Fountains of Wayne, and Wright-Mark shows off his sardonic sense of humor with "My Friends Are Trash". Elsewhere, "Lean" sounds like a lost Tommy Keene classic, and closer "Your Name" might be the best pure pop on the album. It's Steven Wright-Mark's plastic world, and we're all living in it.