Coke Belda-Coke Belda 4. Coke Belda's first two albums - I and Nummer Zwei (German for #2) - were outstanding slices of power pop with the former making my top 20 in 2013 and the latter the top 10 in 2015. #3 was an album of Bee Gees covers which was nice, but they were covers. So after a five-year wait for original material I'm glad to report that Coke Belda 4 is another gem headed for at least my 2020 top 20. He isn't bashful about his influences or heroes as the leadoff track is "Thank You, Paul" a you-know-who-esque tribute to you-know-who into which he drops many a Macca solo song title (see the lyrics here). Next up is "Another Day", which somewhat surprising isn't a McCartney cover but Belda's own melodic masterpiece. Also of note are the lovely "Believe", a simple acoustic guitar-based ballad, the Jellyfish-influenced "6x8 Basement" and trips both in time ("1968") and distance ("Harlan, Kentucky"). And it all climaxes in the epic "Watching You", six minutes of slow build-up that's his own "Hey Jude". I said "top 20 of 2020" a few sentences back, but who am I kidding - this is top 10 stuff.
Kool Kat (pre-order on CD)
Andrew Weiss and Friends-The Golden Age of Love & Chemistry. New York's Andrew Weiss caught my ear in 2018 with his debut album The Honeymoon Suite but he's taken a big step up with his new one, a collection of what I like to call Popicana. His touchstones are Tom Petty and The Jayhawks and the opener "All the News Fit to Print" recalls the former while followup track "Homesick Blues" channels the latter. Elsewhere "The Morning After" is a mature and melodic mid-tempo number, the power ballad "Everybody Loves a Comeback" could have been a late 80s/early 90s hit, and "Diamond" could almost be a lost Bread classic. Impressive stuff.
Cupid's Carnival-Color-Blind. Cupid's Carnival returns with the followup to their 2016 debut Everything is Love and everything is love once again as this extremely Beatlesque London band follows up with a collection they say is for the Summer of Love 2020 (maybe make that the Summer of Isolation). "Working All Day" provides a Hard Day's Night/Help! vibe, "Yesterday's Gone" has a touch of "Penny Lane" without the horns, and "Looking for Rainbows" could be a Rubber Soul outtake. Falling somewhere between The Red Button and The Rutles, Cupid's Carnival lives in a world where it's always 1965 - and in some respects, that's not a bad thing.