The Tor Guides-Lots of the Pops Volume 1: Caught in a Sweet Refrain. After about a 5-year absence, The Tor Guides came back late last year with the wonderful Strawberries & Chocolates. The warm reception to that release must have inspired them to come right back less than a year later with another album, albeit one with a convoluted title. If nothing else, the title does pass the truth-in-advertising test as there's lots of pop here with sweet refrains, and fans of other Swedish popsters like The Merrymakers and The Tangerines will enjoy this collection. Whether it's driving power pop numbers like the 1-2 punch of "Dynamo" and "Things We'll Do Today" to open the disc or the more reflective "If I Didn't Love You" and "Apricot" or breezier pop tracks like "All About the Loving", the Guides find a way for the melody to shine through. And the poptastic "Happy" will make you just that. We're into fall now, but this is a perfect summer album.
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Prattle on, Rick-Some Quiet Majesty. Another new release that lives up to its title is the latest EP (or at 8 songs, a "mini-album") from Patrick Rickleton and friends. Prattle on, Rick has become perhaps my favorite folk-pop artist these days as Rickleton continues to weave gorgeous acoustic-based melodies which achieve, yes, a kind of quiet majesty. The ethereal "Day 1" sets the mood, followed by "Hope & Promise", a wonderful lived-in track buoyed by strings and a light sax and which sounds like a undiscovered classic. Elsewhere, the upbeat "Jennie" will warm the cackles of the most hardened stoic's heart, and the jaunty "Your Dreams Will Always Follow" could be the long-lost descendant of "I've Just Seen a Face". It's always a treat to come across an artist that gets better with each release, and I hope that Rick keeps prattling on.
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