Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Two for Tuesday, 10/30/12

Kurt Baker-Brand New Beat. The frontman of The Leftovers has been quite busy lately as a solo artist with various EPs and cover collections, but this is his first proper full-length release of new material. There may never be a more appropriately titled opening track this year than "Hit the Ground" with its lyric "we hit the ground running" as that's exactly what Baker does here with some high-energy power pop. "Don't Go Falling in Love" is another winner, which boasts some clever lyrics about a Halloween party (how timely) and an infectious chorus. Although for the most part the tempos are fast and the guitars rocking, Baker also shows off some skill with the slower tunes, such as "She's Not Sorry". But mostly this is old-school power pop done quite well.

Bandcamp | iTunes

Willow-Charcoal and Blue. Willow is the latest project from our old friend Mike Barnett, whom we've featured as a solo artist and part of Barnett/Gurley. If you liked his earlier releases, you'll love this one as it provides a steady dose of jangle. This time around, he's joined by Jerry & Denise Risner, the latter of whom provides some outstanding backing vocals on Wilbury-esque tracks like "Holiday" and "Good Love is Hard to Find". We also get two versions of the fine "Counting on You", one with Barnett on lead vocals and the other with Denise Risner. Once again, Barnett proves the master of low-key, front-porch-0style jangly pop, whatever his band name.

CD Baby
| iTunes

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Two for Thursday, 10/18/12

The World Record-Freeway Special. Andy Creighton & Co. haven't been heard from since 2006's Guitars Forever, but they make up for lost time by releasing what would be called in old days a double album. There are 18 tracks here, and you get 5 bonus ones if you go the old-fashioned route of vinyl and they do a fine job of keeping the quality up with the quantity. The dominant motif here is midtempo power pop, in the vein of Big Star or Teenage Fanclub, which might come as a bit of surprise to those who remember the boisterous "Were #1" from Guitars Forever (and which reappears here in a remixed form). And while "Cats on the Roof", "Call the Doctor" and "She's Not a Liar" rock out to some degree, the best tracks find them in straight pop territory such as "Marsha (Think it Over)" and "I Met the Girl (I'm Gonna Leave You For)" while the laid-back "Candy" and "Be Nice" are also rewarding. It's great to have these guys back.

Official Site (CD/Vinyl) | iTunes

Eliot Bronson & Yonder Orphans-Milwaukee. When we last left Eliot Bronson (formerly of The Brilliant Inventions), he released 2011's Blackbirds, in which he leaned more to the folk side of folk-pop. This time around he's added a backup band and cranked things up a bit, displaying more of a heartland rock sound not unlike Ryan Adams and Paul Westerberg. This becomes apparent on the driving "One Mississippi", a rocker you could easily hear Adams or Tom Petty doing. "Waiting on a Sign", "Emily" and "It Don't Get Easier" also follow in this vein and the latter especially is a treat. Elsewhere, "Down to Me" is top-drawer Popicana, and "Longshot" and the title track are the kind of the folky-pop gems that drew us to him in the first place.

CD Baby | iTunes

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Midweek Roundup.

Electrolic-Live on Land. Electrolic is the latest project from Scott Gagner, who's released discs under his own name and Cartographer that have been featured on this site. This time around, he's teamed up with Steve Enstad for a work that's similar to his previous offerings but a bit more electronic and psychedelic. "Hello Hello" is a catchy opening number that serves the purpose of its title, while "Benefit of the Doubt" is the kind of lush, intricate pop Gagner has become known for, but with a synth twist. The highlight here is "Refreshing", which at its roots is a jangly pop song but becomes a distillation of what the album is all about with its drum loops and psychedelic sheen. Also of note are "After the Fall" (another jangler at heart) and "Belmont Pedigree" (a twisty rocker recalling later-period Wilco). While this is all a bit off the beaten power pop path, it's still rewarding and enjoyable listening.

CD Baby | iTunes

Paul Rocha-Crayons. Californian Paul Rocha describes Crayons as "British Invasion by a left-handed American" and his take correctly pegs the album as a somewhat quirky, tongue-in-cheek evocation of Beatlesque pop. Rocha's pop is similar to artists like Roger Klug and XTC, and opening track "Sevens into Nines" gives you a good idea where he's coming from as it segues from sweet pop into a White Album-like guitar freakout into a bombastic pop song. Meanwhile, "Peaches and Lemon Lime" takes a slight psych turn (love that sitar) in its straight-ahead power pop, "Medicine Ride" is McCartneyesque chamber pop, and "Don't Go in the Water Now" and "Fairies in the Yorkshire Glen" have that Andy Partridge pastoral feel. Elsewhere, Rocha offers up his twisted yet melodic outlooks on Amelia Earhart, peace signs on the wall, and why nobody names their babies Adolph (or OJ or Lee Harvey) any more. Another excellent pop disc in a year full of them.

CD Baby | iTunes

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

New Marco Joachim single.

While Marco Joachim's 2007 debut Songville was a fine album recommended on this site, he really took a quantum leap with last year's Hidden Symphonies, a Beatlesque marvel that made my top 10. Now he's back with a new single with a 70s R&B-influenced feel, "Made in the USA". and you can have a listen below:

CD Baby | iTunes