Today's post features a common theme: Known artists with new releases under a different name.
Look Park-Look Park. Look Park marks the solo debut of sorts for Fountains of Wayne's Chris Collingwood, who teams up here with famed producer Mitchell Froom for a collection that isn't quite a FoW album by another name. So instead of the power pop of "Stacy's Mom" or "Radiation Vibe", Collingwood and Froom employ more of a laid-back, contemplative sound. This doesn't mean the catchy melodies are gone - single "Aeroplane" and the wonderful (and appropriately-titled) "Breezy" display the songcraft we've become familiar with over the years. But where FoW had the guitars front and center, Look Park's signature instruments are the keyboards, primarily piano. In fact, tracks such as "I'm Gonna Haunt This Place" and "Minor is the Lonely Key" bring the bedroom pop of another Froom collaborator - Neil Finn - to mind. So as long as your expectations aren't that this is that latest FoW album, you should have no problem enjoying it on its own pop-friendly terms.
Happiless-Happiless. Regular readers will known Mike Benign of the Mike Benign Compulsion, and here he teams up with Allen Keller as Happiless. Benign hails from Milwaukee and Keller Los Angeles, so they collaborated long-distance through email and other electronic means to create the album, and the result is a mix of top-notch power pop and mildly baroque pop. The advance single "Sleepyhead" has a Michael Penn feel to it, "Hopscotch Town" is as bouncy as its title would imply, and "We Let Our Story Tell Itself" and "Stranger to Yourself" sound like classic Mike Benign. So let your goals be life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiless.
Biltmore-Revolutions and Romantics. Another familiar name with an unfamiliar new band name is Phil Ayoub, who put out a couple of fine solo albums in 2006 and 2010 and here re-emerges as Biltmore. Those who enjoyed those albums will want to pick this one up as it continues Ayoub's bright, radio-friendly pop/rock stylings. The top examples of such are driving opener "Never Let You Go", the swirling melody of "Neon", the heartland rock of "Las Vegas Blue" and "Going Out" (which sound like lost hits from the heyday of late 90s alt-pop), and the anthemic Brit-pop sounding "Stars in the Attic". A welcome return.