I was tuning in to my own late night dial when I ran across this crew of creative tune-sters. No anesthetized feelings here. Just some of the melodic magic they deliver regularly.
Imagine being a band rejected by a major label for sounding ‘too Beatles.” What?! But that was Geffen’s excuse for not signing The Lund Bros. after initially financing some recordings in 1990s. Well the late Beatles influences remain despite the years, plastered all over their newest recording Across State Lines. The album puts acoustic guitar and blood harmonies at the forefront of the songs, while still delivering the band’s distinctive ‘heavy pop’ sound. This combo is most striking on the lovely and haunting “The Front Lines.” Or check out how “Living is Easy” opens with stripped down acoustic guitar and vocals only to break out a bigger sound in the chorus and instrumental break. “Love U” delivers some solo Lennonesque twists in the song structure and melody while “Killin’ Me” is more Lennon in White Album mode. The songs sometimes feel very Ten Years After with their combination of live sounding vocals and acoustic guitar intros and interludes e.g. “Harder They Fall” and “Red, Blue and Gold.” There’s a country rock vibe on “Want Your Money” and it’s also got a hit-it-out-the-park chorus. Turning to should-be hits, the two obvious singles for me are “Bender” and “Flyin’,” the latter combining some Cars-like guitar shots and a Beatles-worthy chorus. Across State Lines marks a triumphant return for The Lund Bros. Definitely worth that trip to the border.
By the looks of things over Bandcamp Grant Lindberg has released an awful lot of music over the past two decades. Where have I been all his career? I’m just joining the Lindberg train with his most recent long-player Function Over Form but man, it seems as good a place as anywhere to start. There’s quality melodic rock and roll right off the start with opening cut “Things Have Been Strange.” It’s got a touch of that droning power pop vibe I associate with Jeff Shelton’s Well Wishers. Or there’s a bit of Weezer in “Your First Mistake,” a Chris Collingwood in Look Park mode vibe on “Nothing I Can Do,” and echoes of Cheap Trick all over “Shame On You.” But then I also love how Lindberg lightens things up with the lilting acoustic-guitar heavy “Your Heart is my Light” and “The Words” (even if the latter has something of an ominous atmosphere). “She’s a Mystery” opens with a great 1970s melodic guitar blast before settling on 1990s hooky grunge vibe. “Things We Do” is bit pop gungy too. But the clear should-be hit for me is “Always Been A Lie” with its lovely swinging melodic chorus and early FOW sound. Here’s a music veteran whose sound is still post-teenage fresh and exciting. Function Over Form definitely deserves some of your precious new music time.
Seems I’d just finished raving about The Orion Experience last fall only to overlook the release of their latest album Fever Dream. Well there’s no stale dating this release because the sounds are all timeless. Warning: this record is much more pop than rock, but it’s still great. Things open with “All Dolled Up,” a dance-y number vibing bits of Bony M, Blondie, and Queen. Then “Digital Affection” reminds me of ELO’s disco interventions circa 1978. “Night Eyes” keeps the disco party going, this time with a smooth Abba feel. “Cosmicandy Girl” is all pop while “Honeysuckle Kisses” combines both rock and dance elements. But the track I can’t stop hitting replay on is “I Can Read Your Mind.” I love the song’s swing and the percussion is so toe-tapping good. Fever Dream is a feel-good party platter, with melodies and grooves to help you sing and dance the night away.
On See You Soon Philadephia PA’s Scoopski harken back to an era of fun 1990s poppy rock tunes, flavoured with a bit of a Weezer or FOW discordant edge. The band’s original take on these themes can be heard on album opener “Living in Key” which combines kicking-up-your-heels pop-country verses with more rocky choruses and instrumental interludes. Need a state song update? “Pennsylvania” brings on the state love with Weezer keyboards and some They Might Be Giants lyrical twists. The Weezer influences carry on into “Hoodie Weather” which nails a very Cuomo vocal delivery. “While We Wait” and “See You Soon” are just great AM radio poprock songs. But the really striking tunes here are “Contrarian” and “Elon Send Me to Mars.” Both are carefully crafted, finely textured sonic treats, with lyrics that really do sing. I love the lead guitar and other-worldly keyboards that launch “Elon Send Me to Mars” as well as the chunky power chords that carry the tune. The chorus hook seals it, helped by the hilarious, over-the-top lyrics. See You Soon is a solid highly listenable 44 minutes of tune-age. And there’s a back catalogue for those that want more.
Yes, radio was a sound salvation. Now we gotta do it for ourselves. Pretend this post is your radio selection for the evening. And the best part, you don’t even have to leave to house to rush to the e-record store after.