Wednesday, December 04, 2019

December Mega-Roundup.

Making up for lost time with a mega-roundup with twice the albums!

Latvian Radio-Give in to the Night. Patrick Westoo & friends continue to deliver the goods on their seventh album, and it's more of the upbeat, buoyant pop they're known for. Combining new wave and power pop, the standouts here are the breezy "21st Century Shakedown" (complete with horns), the danceable title track, and the almost jangly "She's Back to Kill Again".

iTunes



Goodman-The Era of Buckets. It's been over 2 1/2 years since we last heard from Michael Goodman, but it was worth the wait. His latest collection of tuneful and insistent indie pop is another keeper, with the highlights being the opener "Don't", "Watch Your Mouth" (both reminiscent of AC Newman's work in The New Pornographers), and the heavy power pop of "Shallow (Completely Shallow)".

iTunes



Fallon Cush-Stranger Things Have Happened. Fallon Cush (a/k/a Australia's Steve Smith) is another returnee to these pages as he continues to mine a consistent career threading the needle between indie rock and alt-country, or as I've said before, Teenage Fanclub meets the Gary Louris-led Jayhawks. "Sleep Her Away" might be the quintessential Fallon Cush song with its sweet chorus, and "The Key" finds the alt-country side of things emphasized a bit more. Also of note are the lovely acoustic guitar ballad "Yaraman" and the Band-esque "Tempo over Time".

iTunes



Slumberjet-World of Sound. After a 9-year hiatus from their first collaboration, Barry O'Brien & Duncan Matiland team up again as Slumberjet. Both have had fine solo careers (with Maitland's Lullabies for the 21st Century clocking in at #2 on my 2010 year-end list), and here the whole is even better than the sum of the parts with tracks such as the Beatlesque "Round x 2", the infectious and rocking "(Theme from) Our Street", the could-have-been-an-80s-hit-with-its-synths "Across the Divide" and the McCartney-influenced "The Big Snow". A welcome return and a year-end list contender for me.

iTunes



Saul Glennon-North on Broadway. Saul Glennon is not a solo artist, but rather the name of an Ohio band derived from a Batman comic which riffed on the whole "Paul is Dead" rumor with Saul standing in for Paul and Glennon for Lennon. With that kind of background story, you won't be surprised to see the band draws from 60s and 70s British rock and pop and North on Broadway is a love letter to the area of Cleveland in which they grew up during the 70s. It's also one of the more pleasant surprises I've come across this year with one catchy guitar pop tune after another. From the Todd Rundgren-esque "Hello '76" to the Merseyside sounds of "Meet Me at Morgana" (with shout-outs to McDonald's and the old "special orders don't upset us" Burger King theme) to the whimsy of "Cause I was 15" it works as well as a concept album as it does a collection of cool tunes.

iTunes



The Inside Passenger (Cliff Hillis)-The Inside Passenger. The Inside Passenger is the alter-ego of the great Cliff Hillis, and this short (12 minutes and change) EP is a departure for him, hence the different name. Instead of the pristine power pop he's know for, Hillis has branched out into a more atmospheric sound which he compares to the likes of Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, Elliott Smith, Sparklehorse and Nick Drake. While this aren't his usual toe-tappers, songs like "Truth Be Told", "Listen to Your Mother" and "If I Swam the Seven Seas" see Hillis's melodic gifts put to use in the context of some beautiful, haunting music. Listen for yourself below.

iTunes



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