Saturday, January 31, 2015

Back to 2014.

A couple of excellent releases from 2014 that either came out very late in the year or got by me:

Smith & Hayes-People All Over the World. Every four years we have the Olympics, the World Cup and U.S. Presidential Elections to look forward to. OK, maybe not that last one. But the latest four-year tradition seems to be a new Smith & Hayes album. Debuting in 2007 with the great Changed by a Song (my #5 disc of that year), and then following up with Volume II in 2011, they're back again with People All Over the World as 2014 changes to 2015. (I snuck this in at #8 in my 2014 list but I'd have no argument with you if you wanted to view at as a 2015 release especially as it's only gone to CD this week). Once again, the veteran Oregon pair deliver the Beatlesque/Wilburyesque goods with a collection of tunes that rivals their debut. The opening title track even borrows a bit from the similar Oasis tune "All Around the World" (but is mercifully about half that song's length) while "Slow Down" is a real gem with its harmonica and minor-key melody, sounding like a lost George Harrison track. "Waiting for the Wheel" pulls out the Beatle bells and whistles, and the piano-based "Didn't Want to Fall" has McCartney written all over it. And the majestic "Don't Let Your Heart Break" recalls some of Jeff Lynne's classic ballads. I'd say this was a top 10 candidate, but I already put it there, so pick it up if you've missed it especially now that it's available on CD.

CD Baby | iTunes

The Fraidies-Try it Again. Melding indie rock with a power pop sensibility, this Seattle band has produced an auspicious debut that also came out late last year. Produced by a name some of you may be familiar with (Gary Reynolds of The Brides of Obscurity), Try it Again combines the sound of indie rockers with pop leanings like Portastatic and Dr. Dog with the more straight-up power pop sounds of bands like The Shazam and Cheap Trick. The brilliant "Xs on Your Eyes" opens up in grand melodic fashion, catchy and rocking both. "You've Got a Brand New Calculator" comes off as an off-kilter Badfinger tune, and "The Powers That Be" has that famous stacatto beat that stretches back to the Beatles' "Getting Better" while taking off on a carnival-like bridge. And "Your Mouth is a Radio" just straight-up rocks. So don't be a fraidy cat - give it a listen.

CD Baby | iTunes

Monday, January 19, 2015

First new music of 2015.

Time for the first reviews of 2015, and a couple of familiar names are back.

One Like Son-New American Gothic. This Alabama band made a splash in 2012 with its raucous debut Start the Show, notable because they recorded it on an iPhone. This time around, the boys took part in the 52 Weeks Songwriting Project, and each track was written and recorded within a week. Interesting back stories aside, they've served up another high-energy rocking collection of tunes with some lyrical punch. The opening title track tells the story of a lifelong love with a spin on the classic piece of American art, while "Little Valentine" is a Replacements-style rocker depicting an obsession that comes to a happy end. Elsewhere, we follow a "Punk Rock Prom Queen" while "Sister Mary (Got Her Gun)". And it's all capped off with "A Galaxy Far Away", a 7-minute track that recaps the original Star Wars trilogy, demonstrating that The Force is with them on this disc.

Bandcamp | iTunes

Baby Scream-Fan, Fan, Fan. Juan Pablo Mazolla, our favorite South American power popper, returns with an all-new collection of tunes that are a must if you've enjoyed his music before. This time around, he takes a more sardonic look at the world to accompany his always melodic sound. So we come to learn that "Everybody Sucks", he's "Back to Douche" and of course "Haters Will Hate". All three of these tracks are catchy of course, and he channels the spirit (if not the sound) of Beck in the raved-up "Loner". And the standout track here is the majestic "Human Being on Mars", a midtempo marvel that encapsulates his Lennon-esque sound. Oh and by the way, he also put out another album simultaneous to this, an odds-and-sods collection called the "The Worst of Baby Scream", with 22 more new tracks and five covers that frankly I haven't had a chance to dive into but I'll let you do so by embedding the player for it along with this one.

Bandcamp | iTunes