Crybaby Bridge, Odalisque, R.E. Seraphin, Robby Miller, Sanglorians, Shiny Happy Fanzine 4, Shiny Happy Records, Start Making Sense, The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco, The Harvard Tango, The Pozers, Tiny Shapes, Wilson and the Catholics, You're Among Friends
When I say I get mail, I mean messages, email, notifications, etc. And that’s a good thing given what I’m hearing about the challenges moving music through the conventional mail services right now. Rain, sleet, snow, hail? Clearly they’re easy-peasy compared to Covid 19. Well the pandemic will not get in the way of today’s delivery of loud guitars, bedroom pop, finely crafted songscapes, and much more.
Eclectic Music Lover nailed it when he described You’re Among Friends as “funky, blues-infused folk rock” channeling “Steely Dan, The Grateful Dead and even a bit of Elvis Costello.” I might add a bit of chooglin’ CCR on a few tracks. From their new record Start Making Sense I love the jazzy swing on “Waiting for Life to Start Making Sense,” definitely a bit of early Costello-vibing here, and the groove anchoring “Once the Toothpaste is Out of the Tube.” Robby Miller’s debut EP is a nice slice AM radio-friendly poprock songcraft. With a vocal delivery falling somewhere between Al Stewart and Fountains of Wayne’s Chris Collingwood, the songs shift between sweet and light melody and a bit guitar crunch, particularly apparent on “Freya” and “Take a Smile.”
Former Talkies frontman R.E. Seraphin is being written up all over the power pop blogosphere and deservedly so for his uber cool solo debut, Tiny Shapes. The record is a wonderful distillation of power pop rock and roll influences, slightly notched down from genre’s regular amp setting of 11 via a warm DIY performance. Opener “Today Will be Kind” is like a road map for the whole album: great song, hooky lead guitar lines, hushed alluring vocals. The formula really delivers again on “Bend” and “I’d Rather be your Enemy.” Then “Fortuna” changes it up, offering up an early 1980s atmospheric poprock vibe. Everybody was doing some kind of spare, spooky guitar thing back then and it really works on this song. I also love the discordant jangle of “Streetlight” and lead guitar line hooks all over “Safe to Say.” This album is more than a collection songs, it’s an album that’s got its own distinctive and oh-so-pleasant aura going on.
Dallas power pop veterans The Pozers have been rocking out for more than 25 years, eliciting comparisons to Cheap Trick and the Beatles with their combo of airy background vocals, melodic guitar runs and impressive stylistic range. 2019’s Crybaby Bridge showcases all those elements in fine form. Check out the light Beatlesesque rompiness of “The Only Girl” while “Nonstop” has a bit more Revolver-era crunch with just a dab of understated organ in the mix. Meanwhile “Telling My Secrets” updates things with a bit of Oasis-ish panache. Believe the hype – the Pozers are the total poprock package. Described as power pop meets prog rock, Sanglorians definitely ignore guitar town’s city limits on their first record in seven years, Odalisque. The sheer inventiveness on this record is breathtaking and, after just a few listens, quickly endearing. Some tracks come on like AM radio hit singles. “Miriam” kicks things off with a faint breeze of Weezer, “Down to Affection” is a melodic wild ride worthy of Fun album deep cut, while “Come Back to What You Are” sounds like a great lost ELO single. But other parts of the album are a bit more experimental. Wait out the 60 second instrumental prelude to “Clearer” and you’re rewarded with a sweet, hypnotic, XTC-like melody. Throw in a few choice covers (Beatles, Magnetic Fields) and at least one more candidate for great big hit single (“In Bruges”) and its pretty clear Sanglorians are back with a hooky vengeance.
What would happen if you could take the sneer out of Steely Dan? You might end up with something like Essex’s The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco. These guys have definitely got the Steely Dan cool swing down but somehow sound less jaded and blasé than the original. Actually, I hear a lot of 10cc on the band’s new album The Harvard Tango, particularly some of the vocal textures on tracks like “Bros. Fairchild & Marylebone” and the boogie strut on “Dirk is not a Bogey.” On the whole, there is pleasant, rollicking 1970s piano-based rock and roll feel to this album, like Elton John with a bit more glam (exhibit A: title track “The Harvard Tango”). But personally, I like the outliers on the record, like the acoustic guitar, harmony vocal-driven “A Yard of Place” and the sensational, jaunty “Monogamy Pews.” For clever cheekiness, the boys remind of London’s Scandinavia.
Wilson & The Catholics is the new side project of Tennis Club frontman Wilson Hernandez. Fans of TC’s fantastic low-key psych-pop album Pink from 2019 may find the stripped-down sound WLC a bit underwhelming but the melodic payoffs are still here. Dreamy, atmospheric, drawing from that early 1960s style of disaster rock (‘Look out! Look out! Look out!’) on tracks like “Strawberry Hill” and “Commercial Alley” or just a breezy poppiness on “MD 2020” and “Super Bowl ’97.” Bedroom pop suitable for those times when really need to hide from your roommates. Hitting the bottom of the mailbag, I got word from the Suncharms’ Marcus Palmer about a fabulous new collection from Indonesia-based Shiny Happy Records and it’s a winning tip. Shiny Happy Fanzine 4 – Please Rain Fall Compilation is jam-packed with 19 tracks of shimmering low-key jangle goodness. There are so many highlight here but I’ll just twig you to Tullycraft’s hilarious “We Couldn’t Dance to Billy Joel,” Well Whale’s “She’s a Punk,” and, of course, The Suncharms’ own stellar contribution “3 Billion Heartbeats.”
Things are so easy today, you don’t even need to write a cheque to send away for new music by mail. You can have it now, without leaving your exclusive listening lounge! Click on the artist names to get closer to some new music immediately.