So much news is breaking that we have to divide this installment into two parts. There’s more to love this fall and we’re here to help you love it with plenty of bands whose names start with ‘the’ or clearly own a pair of roller skates (or simply a brand new key).
What leaps out at you from The Tubs debut EP Names is the addictive jangle and vocalist Owen Williams freakish similarity to Richard Thompson. I mean, wow, I’d swear Thompson had thrown over his folk roots for a new sound, if the song titles didn’t tell me different. It’s there strongly on the opening cut, “Illusion,” with its super guitar-slashing peppiness, as well as “The Name Song” with its Futureheads kind of guitar intensity. The EP’s single “Two Person Love” also counterposes a solid rhythm guitar against some discordant lead work in an original and ear-catching way. The band also put out a debut single last year that doesn’t appear on this release, “I Don’t How It Works,” and that’s a shame because it’s a winner. But hey, you can just buy both and create your own special maxi-EP release.
Producer/engineer/songwriter/musical sideman to the stars Tommy Marolda is certainly a bit of an over-achiever. But power pop fans probably don’t know much about his professional work, they know him for his legendary 1979 one-man-band DIY album The Toms. The record is widely seen as a masterpiece of form and substance. But Marolda didn’t stop there – he’s continued to put out the occasional single or album. Like now – The Toms are back with another long-playing installment of Beatles-infused, indie poprock on Tomplicated. The album is 16 cuts long and you might as well relax and let it wash over you. The overall effect is a delightful distillation of 1960s melodic rock and roll, with a touch of psychedelic pop on “Pinball Replay,” some folk rock on “Too Many Yesterdays,” even a Beatles-ish jangle on “Hang On.” Last year’s advance single is the obvious radio should-be hit, “One Girl Parade,” but I’d vote “The World is Flat” and “Sunday Clothes” as close follow ups. Then there’s the very Lennon-ish “Daylight Wasting Time” circa 1967 or the lovely sunshine pop single “It Doesn’t Matter to Me.” Tomplicated is a love letter our musical past – you can definitely hear the influences – but it speaks with a timeless accent.
Four years after their debut album Things Under Control, Roller Disco Combo are back with a new EP, The Sun After the Rain. The Barcelona band offer up something familiar but also some new themes. “Indonesian Breakfast” is a discordant Teenage Fanclub workout but “Holes in the Grass” immediately shifts our gaze to a more folk rock feel. Then “Dear Mean” kicks off with fattened up jangle guitar and a melodic heft worthy of XTC. “City Lights” also rings the jangle bell but eases into an almost country vibe. Meanwhile “Happy Song” has an Americana feel going on. Altogether The Sun After the Rain showcases a band still exploring just how far they can take their influences and the results are very pleasing indeed.
Dose must be the one of the most anticipated ‘second’ albums to come out this year. The Brothers Steve blew up 2019, coming out of nowhere with their debut album (appropriately entitled #1) to make power pop ‘best of’ lists across the blogosphere. Now they’re back with another installment of their unique brand of melody-infused rock and roll and it is no disappointment. This time the album’s sonic structure is built around the acoustic guitar, which forms the base sound of most of the tracks. It’s there underneath the party vibe kicking off the album with “Get On Up” with its Stonesy ‘who hoo’ background vocals. Then comes the obvious single, “Next Aquarius” with its propulsive acoustic guitar driving the song forward like so many classic Kinks songs. The acoustic base anchors “She Will Wait,” a track with some clever melodic surprises, and the ear-wormy “Sugarfoot.” But another clear influence here is 1970s glam, with “Wizard of Love” a perfect evocation of Marc Bolan and T. Rex, and 1970s boogie rock on “Better Get Ready.” The 1960s influence should not be discounted. It’s there on “Griffith Observatory” with its Beach Boys meets 1950s song stylings alternating with a more new wave sensibility, and “Love of Kings” which vibes a more California 1960s Mamas and Papas sound. And then there’s “Electro Love” which sees sixties influence funneled through a New Pornographers filter. In the end, Dose is much more than its many influences, it’s a blast of timeless melodic poprock joy. Get ready to soundtrack your next party with this must-have release.
The news is out, all over town. But you don’t need to be running round. Just click on the hyerlinks to go right to the source and get your musical updates.
Top photo: Larry Gordon