Things may be looking up if these early 2021 album releases are anything to go by. The guitars are blistering, the harmonies are heavenly, and the hooks are earworm def con one. There’s something for a variety of tastes here, from jangle to 1970s CanCon to rock opera. Set these loose on the stereo, cranked.
The power pop blogosphere is currently going bonkers over The Airport 77’s debut long player Rotation. Well, everything you’ve heard is true and then some. These guys have definitely got the movie beat with their relentless 1970s new wave vibe. Album opener “Christine’s Coming Over” blasts off into obvious The Knack and Cheap Trick territory. But not far into “(When You’re Kissing on Me Do You Think of) James McAvoy” I’m hearing some distinctly west coast Canadian late 1970s rock and roll like Chilliwack, Trooper, or Prism, particularly on the vocals. I love the bass and rhythm guitar interplay on “Shannon Speaks” – so reminiscent of early Costello. Even the remakes sparkle here, like the Springsteen-esque take on Bram Tchaikovsky’s “Girl of my Dreams.” There’s just not a bum track on this record so close your eyes and it’ll be 1979 all over again. But just the good stuff.
The opening of Peaces “Heathens of Love” is so alluring, magnetically pulling you in with its jangly Brydsian charm and indie Traveling Wilburys elan. But from there the song goes on in its own endearing way. As the title track to the band’s debut EP, it perfectly captures the group’s easygoing feel and ear for subtle melody. “40 Days and 40 Nights” sounds bit more Replacements to me while “Sorcerers Get All the Girls” is as hooky as it is fun. And then the marvelous “I Want You Back” caps things off, a stellar bit of pop songcraft enhanced with a deft application of reverb drenched guitar work. My only complaint here that the EP is just four songs. Unhappy reviewer face! Oh well, with this much talent a proper album can’t be far off.
I’ve always thought of Timmy Sean as a man out phase with his musical time. His songwriting is so Beatles-meets-the-Eagles while his production and performance is all 1980s big commercial bang. I say that with love because I’m a fan of that decade’s smooth AM-friendly hit sound (well, some of it anyway). That creative tension remains on Sean’s ambitious new album A Tale from the Other Side, a rock opera that is perhaps a bit more Dennis DeYoung than Pete Townshend. For an instant hook rush, dial in the rollicking early release single “In California.” Or check out the Oasis-y “The College Year.” I’d swear “My Jaded Love” is right off a 1983 playlist from somewhere, Sean so nails the sound and style of that year. The rest of the album is chock full of melody pleasers, like the Beatlesque “Over and Over Again” and swinging “Back to You.” Currently I’m hitting replay on the magisterial should-be hit single, “She’s a Monster” with its wonderful jaunty feel and ELO touches on the background vocals. And I’m also partial to the album’s near closer, the somber, touching, mostly acoustic “I’ve Returned.” As the bells toll and groove runs out on this record I can definitely say A Tale from the Other Side has been worth the ten year wait between Sean solo releases.