Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tuesday Roundup.

The Slingsby Hornets-Borrowed and Blue. Jon Paul Allen (a/k/a Frank Slingsby) is back with his fourth album of half-covers and half-new material and the results are once again appealing. On the covers side, his rocked-up "Lady in Red" (Chris DeBurgh) and "Yesterday Once More" (The Carpenters) are his most daring reinterpretations to date while David Essex's "Rock On" also succeeds. Meanwhile among the new tracks, the Tommy Keene-like "It's Gonna Rain" is the standout. If you enjoyed the Slingsbys' mix of covers and new tracks before, you'll want this one.

CD Baby | iTunes

Jeff Larson-The World Over. Consistency, thy name is Jeff Larson. He should have a patent on the laid-back, melodic sound of mellow SoCal rock that he cranks out every year or two, and once again he's assisted by Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America as well as Jeffrey Foskett. So you know what you're getting here, but if you were to going to update your "Best of Jeff Larson" playlist, you'd want to pick "Monday Clouds, Tuesday Rain", "Approaching Midnight" and "Point of Rising" (which rocks a bit harder than Larson's usual fare).

CD Baby | iTunes

Mark Lane-Something New. Something New is LA singer-songwriter Mark Lane's first release since 2004's Golden State of Mind, and it's a treat for fans of artists like David Mead and Josh Rouse (the pre-move-to-Spain Josh Rouse, that is). Among the highlights, the ornate opener "For Whom it Concerns" brings back memories of Luxury-of-Time-era Mead, "Back in the Swing" and "Please, Lillianne" are lavish piano pop with a hint of the Beatlesque (incidentally, Lane played all the instruments here except strings), and the midtempo rocker "The King of Silence" has a noir feel to it. Fine stuff, and make sure you have a listen below:


Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Roundup.

One Like Son-Start the Show. While most of us with iPhones use them for such illustrious activities as playing Angry Birds or downloading fart apps, the band One Like Son used theirs to make Start the Show. Scattered across the southern USA, the band members recorded their bits wherever they could with an iPhone and put the whole thing together. And the best compliment of all is that from listening to it, you'd have no idea they didn't book weeks of studio time. Of course this would be all be an amusing novelty if the tunes didn't hold up, and here they do. OLS falls into the "Fountains of Weezer" camp as far as their power pop style goes, and they serve this subgenre well with the title track and several others. But they also manage to successfully break from the high-energy, manic pop/rock with the Beatlesque "Buried" and the contemplative "L.A." It's good stuff, and it would be fitting to listen to it on your iPhone.

Kool Kat | iTunes

People on Vacation-The Carry On EP. People on Vacation is the duo of Smile Smile's Ryan Hamilton and Bowling for Soup's Jaret Reddick, who've come together "on vacation" from their regular bands to craft an EP that's poppier and more mature than one might expect from their regular gigs. "Better Off Dead" reminds me of an Americanized Teenage Fanclub, the charming piano-and-guitar "It's Not Love" gets by on its whistle-along "luh-uh-uh-uh-uv" chorus, and "Where Do We Go Now" is quality dream-pop. All in all, it's six tracks of polished pop that should be up there for EP of the Year.

Amazon | iTunes

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Two for Thursday, 6/7/12

Kevin Martin-Throwback Pop. Somehow this one got by us (and mos everyone else) when it was released last summer, but this is a stunning gem from San Diego's Kevin "Hair Bear" Martin, who was with the band Get Back Loretta. On Throwback Pop, Martin brings us the piano-pounding pop we associate with artists like Queen and Jellyfish, as well as contemporaries like Josh Fix. The opener "TV News" captures this perfect mix of melody and bombast and will bring an immediate smile to the face of any power popper, "I Need Your Love" and its "whoa-oh-oh-oh" chorus is an instant earworm, and the Beatlesque "I Wanted to Tell You" will have you thinking Secret Powers and The Nines. The back half of the disc is a bit ballad-heavy, but they're top-notch ballads. In this age of the internet and an active power pop community, it still baffles me how something this good went unheard last year but better late than never. (And if you really end up digging this album, Martin has an instrumental version of it available).

CD Baby | Kool Kat | Bandcamp | iTunes

Paul Bohan-For Now & Ever. This one is a tough find, and I can't even link you to samples so you'll have to take my word on it. Bohan is an Englishman with 1969 Records, Pugwash's label, and it's not a stretch to say fans of Thomas Walsh & Co (who contributes here) will want to add this one to their collection. "My Dream Baby" opens the disc with bright, catchy power pop, while "Heads I Win" has a more 60s British pop sheen to it, not unlike Rinaldi Sings. Elsewhere, the prominent guitars of "Inside Out" bring Pugwash to mind, and the title track's reliance on a horn section also has that Swingin' 60s feel. Only available in the US through Kool Kat and in England from the label.

Kool Kat | 1969 Records

Friday, June 01, 2012

Friday Roundup.

A couple of returning solo artists take us into the weekend:

Dan Kibler-Dan Kibler. Back with his first album since 2008 and his debut on the Kool Kat label, Dan Kibler once again regales us with an album of mature power pop. With production from Parallax Project's Mike Giblin and help from longtime collaborator Jeff Murphy of Shoes, Kibler's tunes remain rooted in pop yet have a world-weary tinge of Americana to them, not unlike Bryan Estepa or Ted Lukas. Opening rocker "The Misunderstood" is a great example of this dynamic, as is Tom Pettyesque "Broken Bent and Bound". "45 Seconds More" is straight-ahead power pop, as is his cover of The Zombies' "I Can't Make Up My Mind", and "Another Day" and "Is it True" show he's capable of first-rate roots rock. A welcome return, and Kool Kat is offering up their usual bonus disc including tracks from his fine first two discs.

Kool Kat | Listen at official site

Kevin Bents-The Honors. Also back for the first time since 2008 is Kevin Bents, whose The Means was a pleasant out-of-left-field surprise. But while he isn't surprising us this time around, The Honors is still top-drawer singer-songwriter pop. "Not the Kind" is an excellent mid-tempo track that recalls solo Donald Fagen, the piano-and-guitar number "I Wait" shows off Bents' pop skills, and the spare ballad "Somebody Got a Hold" has staying power. Perhaps the most interesting track here is "Downtown", a busy yet melodic track that starts and ends slowly yet rocks and mixes in some R&B in between. So do I go for the usual punny ending and say that Bents passes here with "honors"? Why yes I do.

CD Baby | iTunes