Thursday, August 24, 2017

Late August Roundup.

Trip Wire-Cold Gas Giants. Trip Wire (not to be confused with beloved Seattle pub-rockers The Tripwires) is a San Francisco band/collective that has a couple of pretty good power pop albums under its belt (which you can listen to here), but on their third release they've taken a couple of big steps forward. First, their new album is being released on the imprint of one of the top power pop labels out there, Kool Kat. Second, they've added The Well Wishers' Jeff Shelton to the lineup, and not just to play bass. Of course original members Marty Schneider and Bill Hunt are no slouches either and their "Long Days Gone" is an insistent guitar pop tune with a nifty riff hook, while "Signs" is first-rate jangle pop. Shelton takes the mic for "I'm Not the Enemy", a hard-driving rocker that's of a piece with his Well Wishers output, and other standouts include the strings-and-12-string of "Winter Song", the Byrdsian "These Are the Days", and another Shelton-led raucous rocker, "Growing Old".

Kool Kat | iTunes

Darryl Rahn-Everything is Fine. About the highest compliment I can pay the latest album from Utica, NY singer-songwriter Darryl Rahn is that I've had it in rotation for over a month now and every time one of its songs pops up randomly I get a little smile on my face. Everything is Fine is highly melodic folk/pop/rock that fans of The Jayhawks, pre-Spain-move Josh Rouse and site favorite Shane Lamb would enjoy. The joyous, catchy leadoff track "Running Back" breaks through the line into the open field like a good running back, while "Even as a Ghost" and its "ooh-ooh-ooh" hook is an absolute earworm. Elsewhere, the midtempo "Worry" recalls the prime early days of Ryan Adams, "Souvenirs" is a lovely ballad, and "Look at Her Now" treads into power pop territory. One of the better albums of its kind I've heard lately.


The TimeWhy?s-Autumn of Love EP. The oddly-punctuated TimeWhy?s is a Pennsylvania band who unabashedly make 60s-inspired music, leaning to the Beatlesque. Their 4-track debut EP is a treat. "Paint Me Happy" is Herman's Hermits-meets-The Association, "Lying Through Your Lipstick" sounds like a mid-Beatles Lennon track, "I Said Hello" seems inspired by "Penny Lane" and "All I Know" draws from George Harrison via The Beach Boys. Definitely a year-end contender for the best EPs of 2017 list.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Early August Roundup.

Terry Anderson-Jimmy's Arcade. Everyone's favorite Southern pub-rocker Terry Anderson is back with his first album in six years, sans his backing band The Olympic Ass-Kickin' Team. Even without them, Anderson kicks plenty of ass with this collection of tunes interspersed with amusing fake commercials and skits. Jimmy's Arcade is a diverse collection of rock, power pop, and 60s/70s R&B with the common element being Anderson's no-shit-taking-yet-often-humorous delivery. Catching Anderson's fancy this time around is the internet ("Internettin"), a decadent weekend of partying on his girlfriend's dime ("Cash Dat Check"), and (fittingly given this week's "curvy woman" social media meme) a "Big Ol' Woman". And then there are my three favorite tracks on the album - the riff-driven rocker "Knock it Off", his humanist "I Love Everybody", and the gorgeous album closer "Carl Wilson", a tribute to the late Beach Boy legend. If you've been immune to Terry Anderson's charms to date, just think the Nick Lowe of the 70s growing up in the American South and take it from there.

iTunes | Kool Kat

Hemlock Pop-Crushing on What Might Be. Hemlock Pop is the nom de plume of Seattle's Ira Miller, who's played in several local bands including Super Deluxe and makes his solo debut. Miller's sound here is singer-songwriter (power) pop in the vein of Michael Penn, Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello and Michael Carpenter. Opening guitar rocker "Bleed You Out" is the prototypical woulda-been-a-hit-in-the-70s track with its smooth melody and hooky chorus, "Pigeon v. Statue" is both catchy and clever with its Costello-like wordplay, and "Something About Ruby" is a power ballad that deserves 10,000 uplifted lighters. There are plenty of other gems here too, including a cover of The Cure's "Charlotte Sometimes". Smart, sophisticated and tuneful, this is one of 2017's better debuts and better albums, period.


Daniel Christian-Coffee EP. It's been nine (9!) years since we last checked in on Daniel Christian, but now is a good a time as any since he's back with a fine new 7-track EP, Coffee. Christian's past releases have been more Americana-vibed, but this one veers much more in the direction of power pop as the opener "A Girl in the Band" with its "Getting Better"-influenced melody and crunchy guitars would indicate. Further confirmation of this shift comes from the upbeat ditty "It's Perfect" and the midtempo "You Don't Know Her" which show off Christian's pop chops. And the closer "Never Wrong" is 4 1/2 minutes of catchy bliss. A real contender for 2017 EP of the year.