Zugzwang Netural-The Faded Promise of a Rise and Rally. A "zugzwang" is a situation in a game (typically chess) in which you're put at a disadvantage regardless of which available move you make. In the case of the new EP from Zugzwang Neutral, the only zugzwang move would be NOT giving their sophisticated pop a listen. The sound here is a blend of Michael Penn, Rob Laufer and a less-British-sounding Pugwash, from the graceful opener "Broken Wings" to the midtempo gem "Less to Say" through the standout closing track "Ghost Town".
iTunes | Stream EP here
Mark Pountney-Mark II. Liverpudlian Mark Pountney's second album is his first that caught my attention, and it's a fine, tuneful collection of various Britpop styles. Leadoff track "Tell Me Why" isn't a cover of the Beatles classic, but embodies their sound and spirit, as does "Time to Find Her" which channels the mid-period Fab Four with a subtle "I Feel Fine" guitar lick. "Just Can't Seem to Get You Off My Mind" is a piano ballad that's Hollies-esque, and the also-piano-based "Love in the Morning" has a solo Lennon feel while the trippy closer "Dream" owes a debt to Oasis.
iTunes | Listen at Spotify