Thursday, June 25, 2015

CD of the Day, 6/25/15: Reno Bo-Lessons from a Shooting Star.

Reno Bo returns with his first album since 2009's Happenings and Other Things, and it's a gem. While Happenings just made the top half of my best of 2009 list at #47, Lessons from a Shooting Star will easily eclipse that ranking come the end of the year as the ex-Mooney Suzuki and Albert Hammond Jr. guitarist has crafted one ringing power pop anthem after another this time around. "Sweetheart Deal", the first single (as singles go in 2015), is a shoo-in for a best-tracks-of-2015 list, coming off like Brendan Benson fronting Cheap Trick. "How Do You Do" follows with no letup in quality as Bo throws some keyboards in the mix and some excellent slide guitar work from Sadler Veden for a track that reminds me of the ones Jeff Lynne once produced for Dave Edmunds, and the driving melodic rocker "Just Say Go" lives up to its title. Next up, the midtempo "Strange Maps" gives the listener a chance to catch his/her breath without sacrificing any melody, and the melancholy "And I Know She Did" captures the classic Big Star sound. These five tracks would be worth the price of admission alone, but then you have "The Brighter Side" (co-written with the aforementioned Benson) which is another melodic marvel, the Beatlesque rocker "Sleeping Sun", the classic rock of the title track and the Oasis-like closer "Somewhere There's Something". Power pop doesn't get much better than this.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Two for Thursday, 6/18/15

Wade Jackson-Whiskey Alpha Delta Echo. Both a nod to Wilco's famous album as well as the spelling of the artist's first name in the phonetic alphabet, Whiskey Alpha Delta Echo is the second album from Aussie musician Wade Jackson, and it's quite simply one of 2015's best so far. The allusion in the title is apt, as the sound here is Big Star-meets-Wilco with its melodic minor-key rockers with a twinge of Americana (Austrliana?). After the moody opener "Dark Mirror" (which answers the question "What would The Smithereens sound like as a folk-rock band?"), we're treated to the jangly "Valentine's Day" and the trio of "Catch My Eye", "Coming Back" and "Carolina", all of which invoke #1 Record-era Big Star, with "Coming Back" perhaps my favorite track of the year. This album really hits the sweet spot between power pop and Americana, and my next step is checking out Jackson's back catalog.


Brian Jay Cline-Trick Photography. Trad-rock-popper Brian Jay Cline is back with his first album since 2009's Nashville Tracks, and fans of Marshall Crenshaw, Walter Clevenger and Bill Lloyd are going to want to check this one out. Leadoff track "Zoo York City" is Cline's tribute to the Big Apple and sounds like a lost Willie Nile track, while "New Tattoo" has the pub-rock feel of a Nick Lowe or Graham Parker. Elsewhere tracks like "High Horse" and "Counterclockwise" are classic Cline and if you have any of his other albums in your collection, this one's a must-add. (Incidentally, the ReverbNation playlist embedded below includes Cline's entire catalog as the first ten songs are from Trick Photography and the rest are his other songs in alphabetical order)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I've been enjoying lately.

A quick look at some of my favorite releases over the last month or so:

Steve Robinson & Ed Woltil-Cycle. Tampa Bay's premier folk-poppers team up for one of 2015's best, a graceful and melodic collection of tunes that bring the pastoral side of XTC to mind. ["Love Somebody"; "Hello, Hello (We're Back Again)]. iTunes

Phil Yates & The Affiliates-No Need to Beg. Top-notch power pop that reminds me of Ken Stringfellow ("Burn it Down, Bernadette; "The Grass is Always Greener") (P.S. That's Lizzie Borden on the cover) iTunes

Stereo Tiger-Two Weeks. More great power pop from Michigan, like Mike Viola fronting Rooney. ("Magic Balloon", "Runaway")

The Weightlifers-St. Paul EP. Adam McLaughlin & Co's third EP (and first in seven years), and it's of a piece with the first two - thoughtful, moody, and melodic. ("High Drama"; "Man of Constant Sorrow"). iTunes | Spotify

Supraluxe-Morphine Creek. This is their best since the 2006 debut, the record which helped inspire me to start this blog. Lives up to their self-description of Elliott-Smith-meets-Big-Star. ("Circles"; "La La L.A.") iTunes

Jimmy Haber-Joy Acid Pact. Orlando rocker Haber delivers the goods with his shiny, vaguely psych power pop with a populist edge to it. ("Once I Strung 'em Up"; "Bad Day to Be Me") iTunes