The Well Wishers-Dunwoody EP. You just had to know the prolific Jeff Shelton couldn't go too much longer without a new Well Wishers release. Oh sure, he released the Hot Nun project at the beginning of the year, but it's been almost an interminable two years since the last Well Wishers album. So he's back with Dunwoody, which sounds like the place The Governor ran on The Walking Dead and actually is a suburban enclave outside of Atlanta. So while this EP isn't about a post-apocalyptic world overrun with zombies it does, as Shelton states, "chronicle the imaginary lives of those trapped in Southeastern suburban bliss...or misery, depending on how bad the heat and humidity might be." And as one who himself lives in Southeastern suburban bliss/misery, I guess I'm qualified to review it. The EP does find Shelton in a more laid-back mode but not in full retreat from his customary uptempo jangle rock. And his sense of melody remains completely intact as well as demonstrated on the opener "Peel Away", and "Real Today" and "Open Up Your Eyes" are vintage jangly Shelton/Well Wishers. Just released today, we should all give thanks for more Well Wishers music.
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Nathan Roberts & The New Birds-Nathan Roberts & The New Birds. Before this album, Toledo's Nathan Roberts had a couple of EPs to his name which I found enjoyable, but his debut full-length is a revelation of pop songcraft. The best way I can describe his music is Wilco-meets-Oasis, and if that sounds incongruous to you I make the comparison because he has a buoyant pop sound that's grounded to some extent in Americana and indie rock. The driving leadoff track "In Stereo" recalls Wilco's "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" (but thankfully doesn't run as long), only to be followed by the slick Pearlfishers/Silver Seas-styled pop of "No Trouble" and "Dead on Arrival". The 70s-era classic rock stylings of the bluesy "Step into the Light" are a nice touch, while the Oasis comparisons come in with "Heaven Knows" which has a bit of "Champagne Supernova" to it (and which is also thankfully not as long). Throw in the lush pop of "Two Dreamers in One Dream", and you have an audacious pop debut on your hands that will be more than worth your while to check out.
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