This is not a post about The Rutles song “Cheese and Onions,” a satiric take on the Beatles psychedelic period. I like the Rutles project but that track is not one of Neil Innis’s more listenable send-ups IMHO. No, this post has its origins in my accidental discovery of the Danish band Cheese. I love finding out-of-the-way acts, oddities, and overlooked gems. Cheese definitely fits that bill. But I was stumped trying to figure out how to feature them. Then it hit me – what goes with cheese? Onions. And after a little look-see over at Bandcamp, wouldn’t you know it, I found two poppy rock bands named for onions! Do you see the lengths I go to bring quality to this site? Ladies and germs, I present Cheese and Onions (and The Onions).
Cheese actually go way back, to a host of post-high school performances and recordings as another band (The Hue) dating back to the early 1990s. They became Cheese (sometimes The Cheese) in 1996 and proceeded to put out a number of rough recordings over the next two decades. The story of these efforts is recounted on their website, with serious doses of self-deprecation sprinkled throughout. But things change with the three most recent albums released from 2017 on. These sound more tight, more professional. 2017’s Sofa, So Good has an acoustic vibe on a lot of the tunes, sometimes in a White Album vein, sometimes more 1970s FM rock-radio mellow (particularly with their distinctive harmony vocals). “Well Well Well” is the stand out track for me, though “Broken Home” is a pretty good too. 2018’s The Best Irish Band continues with the harmony vocals and acoustic guitars but ups the tempo a bit, even heading in a Moodies 1970s poprock direction with “Day of the War.” “Julian” is a tight McCartney-esque acoustic guitar closer on that album. Then the band decided to be even more Danish for 2019’s Metaforisk Mercedes (translation: Metaphorical Mercedes) by actually singing in Danish. Interestingly, the album is their most polished effort to date and their strongest collection of tunes. Here I really like the soft hooky “Det’ Mit,” though the more acoustic guitar heavy “Godmorgenmanden” comes in a close second.
Boys who come from west Yorkshire to study music in Salford (near Manchester) inevitably form bands, like Onions. Early releases in 2007 and 2008 definitely showed promise but it was with the release of 2012’s Pleasure Blast that things really took off. Songs range from an Everything Everything meets Futureheads vibe on “Or an IE Or AY” and “Belle Vue Fair” to the simple, classic jazzy American songbook demeanor of “Those Wide Eyes.” But the star of this album for me is “Quip of the Tongue.” What a blast! It combines a punky looseness, surfy background vocals, and a relentless hook in the verses, all delivered amid a Sparks/B52s kind of party cacophony. 2015’s Shame of the Nation leans on the early 1960s girl group influences with a Roddy Frame feel to the vocals. Highlights for me include “Here Comes the Rage” and “Boring” but my fave is the bouncy Elephant 6-ish “Deary Me.” Sadly that was the last Onions record as they broke up shortly after its release. Totally different onions band, Columbia, Missouri’s The Onions have got one long-player I can find, 2015’s He Kissed Me and I Knew. The record is a wonderful update on that early to mid 1960s melodic rock-and-roll sound associated with acts ranging from the Everly Brothers to the Bee Gees and the songs are mostly covers from the same era. The band do a nice job of freshening up the sound on Jan and Dean’s “Easy as 1,2,3,” the Bee Gees’ “Kitty Can” and even Roger Miller’s “Swiss Maid.” But check out the energy on their cover of the Magnetic Field’s “Saddest Story Ever Told” – wow. Lovingly rendered, with sparkling guitars and a strong vocal arrangement.
You probably didn’t know there were bands named Cheese or Onions (or The Onions). Now you do.
Beach weather is finally here and nothing goes better with sand, sun, and surf than some suitably summer-proofed tunes. Today we offer 21 suggestions for your latest sun sojourning mixed tape.
A new record from Freedy Johnston is truly an occasion for celebration. He is a master story spinner and songwriter in the vein of John Hiatt, Robbie Fulks, and Elvis Costello. The new record will be called Back on the Road to You, Johnston’s 9th, due out in September. Right now we’ve got the pre-album release single “There Goes a Brooklyn Girl” and it’s a good as anything he’s ever released, with snappy, resonant lead guitar lines and a melodic hook that is teased out and then pulled taut at just the right moments. METZ bandleader Alex Edkins has a new solo project entitled Weird Nightmare and it’s a great big ball of wonderful guitar noise. Don’t let the guitar onslaught opening the second single from the self-titled album fool you, “Luisitania” has some genius pop instincts lurking behind its wall of sound, reminiscent of Catatonia at certain moments. It’s hard to keep up with Franco-American duo Freedom Fry. Seems like they’re putting out a new EP or single every month. I’m just going to hit pause on their many releases to appreciate “Strange for Love” from their May EP of the same name. The snazzy looping guitar licks are just so addictive in a fresh Fleetwood Mac sort of way. The vocal harmonies only reinforce the Lindsay and Stevie comparison. “Down the River” is Chicago’s Ratboysfrom their reinvented and re-recorded greatest hits collection Happy Birthday Ratboy. It is interesting to compare this latest version with the original. Where the former is somewhat stark and spare, the new version has a lovely pop candy-coating to it, with vocals that vibe The Weepies. Talk about timely tunes, Ireland’s No Monster Club “Waterfight” is just the right dose of that summer feeling. The song is a large bit of goofy fun, sounding very mid-1980s sonically and in its complete lack of seriousness.
Austin’s Phil Dutrawrites big songs. I’m talking sweeping soundscapes that are cinematic in their intensity and presentation. His latest single “Is Anybody Home?” conjures images of all those over-the-top 1980s MTV moments full of heartbroken teens, hella-good hair products, and cars driving off into the distance. But wait for the unbreakable hook anchoring the chorus. Dutra knows how to deliver solid melodies, always with a slightly surprising twist. I’ve written about Portland’s Kurt Hagardorn before. He’s a reliably good rock and roll guy who can play in a variety of styles. But his new single is really something else. “Caveat Emptor” exudes 1970s rock and roll boogie time, a bit of CCR, a touch of The Sheepdogs, carried by solidly hooky rhythm guitar work, some tasty horn playing, and a judicious use of cowbell. Words like ‘shimmering’ spring to mind as soon as Mercvrial’s “Be That Someone” hits the turntable. The band is typically filed under the dreampop or shoegaze labels but what I hear is New Order in club dance mode. The driving keyboard riffs just propel the song along. On “Archipelago” from The Dreaded Larimie’s new EP Everything a Girl Could Ask all I can hear are echoes of Jane Siberry, if Siberry had joined The New Pornographers. The band call their sound a mix of power pop and femmecore, which combines slashing guitar chords and dreamy vocals. I call it a winner. Sweden’s Red Sleeping Beauty team up with indie songstress, sometimes economist, Amelia Fletcher on “Solid Gold.” It’s a jaunty number mixing a light Housemartins-style ambling pop sensibility with that reliable Swedish melancholia. Delightful guitar pop for anyone suffering though a bout of nostalgic self regret.
How does power pop legend Tommy Marolda keep sounding so cool? The guy’s been on overdrive since his famous 1979 long-weekend recordings as The Toms became every indie power pop fan’s must-have item. His band is back with a new LP called Stereo comprising 12 melodic pleasers. Currently I can’t get enough of “Atmosphere.” It’s so quirky and fresh-sounding and loaded with hooks. Portland’s Super Hit takes DIY chutzpah to new highs with his exciting deep cut “Run Away With Me.” Ok, this one’s not new. I’ve dug it up from his 2015 EP Pocket Rock. But man it deserves a second look. It kicks off in a pretty low key, sounding like something recorded in a someone’s bedroom register, but 53 seconds in a seriously wicked electric guitar kicks in and it’s deliciously hooky. Think trebly 1960s garage rock, just turned down a little. Sticking with Portland, I’m totally digging Shaylee’s single from last fall, “Ophelia.” The opening guitar work is so cool, sneaky yet delicate, weaving a bluesy-folk lick into your consciousness. By the time full band sound kicked in I was bewitched. The song is about the rush of new, sometimes brief, love and the music manages to mirror the rapturous roller coaster that relationships can be. When you take the Bryds into the 1980s you either get Tom Petty or the Grapes of Wrath, depending on how hard you hit the drums. John Larson and the Silver Fieldsare in the sweet spot, a little bit country, a whole lot rock and roll, with an accent on jangle on their most recent long-player The Great Pause. What is interesting to me is how different reviewers are raving over totally different tunes on the record. Personally I’m loving “Reversible Heart.” The jangle guitar sparkles and the tune is so Marshall Crenshaw meets Blue Rodeo. On Wide Awake Seattle’s Shake Some Action give the people what they want: jangle-infused psych poprock that shimmers and sparkles with electric energy. And the songs! There’s all the usual 1960s flavours here but I hear quite a good dose of Britpop too. Then there’s “Night Train to Munich,” a seductive gem of tune, its spare use of Rickenbacker nicely framing the haunting melody.
Artist Lucas Nathan is the band Jerry Paper and they are looking to just be themselves. In the case of Nathan that means identifying as non-binary, something the single “Kno Me” touches on. If that messes with your head the message here and on other cuts from the album Free Time is you’re just going to have to live with it. “Kno Me” cops an uber cool stance, challenging what we think we know about the singer and their gender. Meanwhile the chorus is pure pop bliss. When you’ve played with indie royalty like the New Pornographers and Woodpidgeon getting something new off the ground can fight to draw focus. But Frontperson deserves the spotlight. The title track from their new album Parade is so light and frothy, like unpredictable performance art (but not the boring self-indulgent kind). It kicks off so Laurie Anderson before the vocals turn more Joni Mitchell meets, well, the New Pornographers. The song’s got a thoroughly poppy positive vibe, despite the somewhat dire lyrics. You can’t help but feel a bit uplifted after hearing it. Japan’s The Kafers have so nailed the early Beatles sound it’s eerie. And I’ve heard a lot of Beatlesque numbers over the years. “Crying for the Moon Instead” sounds like it’s right off Please Please Me or With the Beatles, it’s got that Crickets-post-Holly vibe with guitars that are so 1963. If you listen to more than a few tunes by Mike Brunacini you’ll hear he’s got a distinctive piano pop thing going on, very Ben Folds. But I like his recent “Summer of 2009” in part because it’s such a departure. Sure it’s got piano but the guitar is pretty much in front for a lot of the tune. I love the variety he puts into performance, adding endearing bits of melodic ornamentation here and there to what is already a pretty strong number. fine.’s last album I’m Glad It’s Over Now is so listenable, the blending of the duo’s vocals a so smooth yet sibilant harmony. But the standout track for me is a bit of different, the so-this-post-topical “South by the Beach” with its accordion-sounding keyboard parts. The overall sound really reminds me of the synth-intimate atmosphere created by the likes of Long Island’s Red Barn.
Song 21 on our beach mix-tape odyssey is from Chris Castino’s new album Brazil. “Chinese Whispers” is a mellifluous pop number in a Paul Simon or Joshua Radin style. It’s a perfect accompaniment to your drive to beach, with the wind in your hair and some good feeling in your heart.
As Jonathan Richman once said, the beach be one of the best things we got. What makes that better? Tunes, of course. Stock up your playlist here!
Time for a triumphant return of Jangle Thursday. Who doesn’t need an ample shot of sparkly guitar and songs bulging with hooks? That’s a rhetorical question. Today’s crew draw from 1960s faves, new wave revivalists, and various janglers who defy categorization. Set your reverb on those amps to maximum!
On Fast Casual Chicago’s The Unswept break out of their post-Beatles comfort zone to try a host of different song styles and sounds. Opening cut “You Keep Me Company” makes this clear, kicking things off with some early-Cars-era stripped-down guitar, handclaps and spacey synth. But then “Got Lucky” recalibrates the vibe, combining jangle and an Americana elan, particularly on the vocals. After that the change-ups just keep on coming: sunny pop in a Herman’s Hermits register on “Please Don’t Waste My Time,” a garage version of the Ohio Express with “Cheugy Choo Choo,” some Stonesy rhythm guitar defining a classic sounding rock and roll male/female duet on “Sometimes Always,” and so on. “Try to Forget You” simply rocks like it’s 1965 again with a killer guitar lead line hook. Really though, the record’s backbone is the series of seriously good lowkey poprock songs: “Lucinda Luann,” a cover of the Smithereens’ “Something New,” and my personal fave “Suggestion.” Other songs like “Forgot That Day” and “Codependent” remind me of California melodic rock wonders The Popravinas, specifically the distinctive vocal sound. Then for something different there’s “We’re Gonna Split” with its more ominous delivery and harmonic quality. Fast Casual is an LP seeing The Unswept taking chances and coming up aces.
Berlin, Germany’s Man Behind Tree describe themselves as a power/noise pop band, layering vocal harmonies over fuzzed out guitars. That’s definitely here on the band’s new album 3 but there’s so much more. Overall the sound is caught somewhere between San Francisco 1968 and side-trips to a host of bands also influenced by that period. The record begins with “California Zephyr,” a track that seems to draw more from discordant art rock than jangle, noisy but still alluring. With “Bird Survivors” the band channels a more recognizable late 1960s sound, one clearly on its way to country rock. “Picture Your Old Friends” is different again, starting simple and stark, adding a lead guitar with an ear-wormy tone and some fattened up vocals, sounding a bit CSN&Y meets Big Star. By contrast, “Japanese Mopeds” and “Better Now You Got It” feel more Teenage Fanclub to me. The 1960s California vibe is back on “Just Like Everyone” and “Can’t Stop Drinking” with their slightly more discordant take on the Byrds. Then there’s a departure on “86 Mustang” with its more rollicking pace and 1980s British indie feel. Man Behind Tree definitely dial up the excitement on 3. Things sound familiar but this is a band turning their influences into something new.
Surely the hardest working man in Aberdeen, Scotland show-business, Vapour Trails honcho Kevin Robertson is a back with another slice of delicious solo work. Teaspoon of Time is as jangle-loaded as any of his full band efforts but here the songs are crafted with a more delicate emphasis and serene execution. “Tough Times (Feel Like That)” opens things with a lonely electric 12 string riff that sounds very middle ages folk-music before breaking out into familiar Bryds/CS&N territory. “Trippin’ Back” is definitely the single, leaning on that 1980s folk rock revival sound and adding some funky keyboard lines. There are a few interesting excursions too, like the Sgt. Pepper-meets-Moody Blues atmosphere all over “Psychedelic Wedding Song” or the jazzy lead guitar extemporizations adding to the basic folk rock formula on “Forty-Five Losing Street.” And there’s a lot here that we’ve just come to love from this performer, like the Teenage Fanclub gene buried in “Rather Hide” or the nice, easy-going jangle guitar that defines “Sleepy Island Sounds” and “Magnify the Sun” or the spot-on late 1960s song structures and sounds of “Don’t You Dwell” and “Misty Dew Soaked Mountains.” Robertson is seeimgly unstoppable, reliably turning out amazing 1960s-influenced tunes. Teaspoon of Time will have you thinking the ‘be-in’ never ended.
West Kirby’s West Coast Music Club take our jangle theme into a more industrial direction, drawing from the usual folk rock suspects but sometimes adding a dollop of Jesus and Mary Chain. It gives the mix a bit of dissonance, an edge that says ‘turn this amp up to 11.’ The formula is all over album opener “Fanclub Favourite.” You can also hear it “Ouija Doll” and the rocking “Serendipity.” These sound like they emanate from a noise-poprock subgenre, so cleverly do the band hang on to the thread of the melodic hooks through the rocking haze. Some songs like “Now or Never” ply their jangle with a punky Rank and File looseness while others like “Faded Scrapbook” sounds like Bob Mould in a mellow mood. At other times the group just offer up strong 1960s-influenced guitar pop e.g. “Here It Comes Again” and “If You Only Knew,” the latter delivered in a Billy Bragg vocal style. This is another winning long-player ferried across the Mersey.
I don’t know about you but my ears are ringing, but in a good way. Add a bit of sparkle to your playlist by adding these bands to your must-hear list this jangle Thursday.
Now that live music has opened up again it’s time for me to take that long delayed southern tour I’ve been promising myself. Welcome fellow travelers to a melodious excursion through the American deep south with a whistle stop in each of four bottom southeastern states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.
We begin our tour in Lafayette Louisiana with the guitar fabulous Television Man. Their 2017 long-player Always is packed full of great tunes leavened with some seriously tasty guitar work, super riffy and yet a bit chill at the same time. Opening track “Pay No Mind” is boppy fun while “Just Can’t Get Around” works a nice Bond riff into the tune. “Gator Girl” seems so Louisiana appropriate. But my choice cut here is the hooky guitar crash-out that is “Always” with its scent of Weezer. Hitting the road to Mississippi we time travel back to the 1980s to spend time with The Windbreakers, a band favourably compared to other southern alt-poprock contemporaries like REM. Their 1985 album Terminal is seen by many as their peak but I’m also partial to their 1991 farewell Electric Landlady (not to be confused with a similarly named album from Kirsty MacColl the same year). “Changeless” from the former is so mid-1980s in a Rank and Rile or True West sort of way while “The Girl From Washington” from the latter is more a Byrdsian throwback.
Moving on to Birmingham Alabama Billiards! have got a guitar sound found somewhere between the early to mid-period Beatles and the Monkees. Their 2019 self-titled debut is a bit of beat group revivalism that still manages to sound fresh and new. “Realize” has a touch of psych pop while “Just to be With You Tonight” has a folk rock touch. But ultimately it’s opening cut “Please Tell Her” that really grabs me with its hooky lead line and relentless swing. A year later their EP1 features a slightly tougher sound but is still folky psychedelic, vibing more 1968 than the previously dominant 1966. Heading off to Georgia we slide into Atlanta in time to catch the latest from Mattiel. The new album is Georgia Gothic but titles can be deceiving. Sure tracks like “Blood in the Yolk” and “Other Plans” have gothic-y feel. But so much of the album has a spirited spring to its step. Opening cut and early release single “Jeff Goldblum” motors along with an angelic cadence to the vocals and great guitar shots. Songs like “You Can Have It All” and “Lighthouse” have got hooks galore. My current album fave is “On The Run” with its psychedelic western vibe and a vocal that is so Neko Case meets Susan Jacks.
Our brief tour of the American south suggests there much more to the southern music scene than plastic country and good old boys. They’ve also got guitars, Cadillacs and some seriously hooky material to boot.
1920s American southern regional map fragment excerpted from Asprey’s Atlas of the World (London: Asprey, 1920), page 135, courtesy Maps Etc.
When it comes to cars, give me a mid-1960s model every time. I love those clean lines, angular body shapes and a hefty dose of actual chrome on the bumpers. Case in point: the Ford Mustang. What a beauty! In red, of course. It was a car that peaked pretty much on launch IMHO, the iconic 1965 ‘fastback’ model still the main attraction fueling interest today. Like from today’s bands. In the spirit of ‘why the hell not,’ get ready for four different rock and roll outfits all cleverly riffing on the original Ford Mustang brand.
This theme post got started because I saw a Facebook ad for a band called Fjord Mustang touting an upcoming live show in Toronto. But I misread the band name as simply Ford Mustang so when I went looking for their music I found Greensboro North Carolina band Harrison Ford Mustang instead. Well from there I thought there had to be even more bands riffing the brand – and there was. The earliest example I stumbled across was Stoufville Ontario’s Bored Mustangs. They’re working a grungy punk vibe, not always this blog’s scene. But “Bear Handed” has got an endearingly perky, shambolic air about it, built around a nice hook. Harrison Ford Mustang are more indie rock and roll, with a bit of an old school Velvet Underground feel on tracks like “Water” and “Slasher.” And their name: so obvious and yet still amusing. Bamberg Germany’s Ford Mustang have a more indie pop sound with a light touch on the guitars and a slathered-on approach to background vocals. “Alle ist wahr” (“All is True”) puts these elements together magnificently but the whole album works this formula well. And then there’s the inspiration for this whole endeavour, Toronto band Fjord Mustang. One listen to their recent album Solitaire and you’ll know they’re not just a clever name. The record takes its dreamy indie vibe to creative extremes, seemingly combining Lord Huron with Jane Siberry. Had to give this record a few listens to pick out just one illustrative example of what this group is doing and settled on “Health Class Field Trip.” The song shimmers and shines, laden with reverby guitars and Vick Egan’s wonderfully ethereal vocals. I’m also really taken with “Lakes Inn” and “Ribbons” too.
When you get behind the wheel of these Ford Mustang funsters you’ll want to be on the highway, heading out nowhere in particular, just taking in the aural landscape and pumping the volume.
Thing about treasure hunts, you know that a treasure’s been buried somewhere. So if you and other kids root around long enough, something buried is gonna be found by somebody. This treasure hunt is similar but even easier: the treasure is right out in the open. You just have to come and get it.
In what has been one of the most anticipated albums of 2022, Tamar Berk kicks off Start at the End with her heady pair of pre-release singles, “Your Permission” and “Tragic Endings.” The duo are a slick, carefully-calibrated dose of sophisticated songcraft in the best Suzanne Vega or Aimee Mann style. I mean, the arrangements themselves comprise half the beauty of the songs here. But the rest of this album is no slouch either. There’s an intimate, confessional quality to most of the songs, like Berk is beckoning you in, confiding something. “Hoping This Day Won’t Kill Us” starts so spare, building tension with some subtle 1980s synth and eerie background vocals. From there the tracks roll out like a shifting kaleidoscope of emotions, each one using a distinctive guitar, keyboard or vocal effect to speak to its raw feeling. “June Lake,” “You Already Knew,” “No Chair,” and “Wrong Information” – these songs are wistful and delicately shaded. Meanwhile “Just Be” gives off an air of self-liberation, its carefully stated acoustic guitar and piano lines circling, propelling us forward. The album has some more rocking moments too: the early Bangles-like “Real Bad Day,” the Stonesy “Sweet Relief,” and the Harrisonian “Alone Tonight.” “Dandelions in my Flowerbed” has got rollicking, good-time single written all over it. And if you do decide to Start at the End the first thing you’ll hear is the album closer “This is Me Trying,” a song that captures the whole point of the record, a stark, raw testament to just putting one foot before the other. This really is an album to treasure, a wonderful, messy, emotional and joyous journey through song. And it is going directly to the ‘best of the year’ pile.
There is little more I can say about the many talents of Austin’s legendary Tex Mex troubadour Freddy Steady Krc that hasn’t already been said. From his fabulous 1980s recordings with his band The Explosives to his numerous turns as sideman to the stars the guy is a living rock and roll museum. And he’s still putting out great new music. Dandy sees his Freddie Steady Review knocking out new tunes as well as polishing up some older, previously released material. The album kicks off with the should-be hit single “Bohemian Dandy.” Driven on by rippling piano lines and irresistible melodic hooks, it’s a flawless slice of radio-friendly tune-age. Nothing else on the record is quite like it but that’s ok, the range of retro Americana material lends the record a party air. “Dear Delilah” has that great 1950s rockabilly guitar and a swing that says get your dancing shoes ready. “Muchacho Borracho” is an obvious fun Tex Mex workout. “Rustler’s Moon” reminds me of so much of the mid-period solo Nick Lowe material, though the vocal leans more to Ian Gomm. There are some departures, like “Girl Who Wore the Violent Crown” with its Elvis Costello feel to the songwriting. Or outliers like the jazzy cool talking-blues “I’ve Been Framed.” But overall this is an album that understands what Nick Lowe once called the ‘roll’ side of rock and roll, i.e. the key importance of tempo and timing to great performances. The Freddy Steady Review are the kind of band you know can dole it out all night, steady and highly entertaining.
What a transformation can occur in a band in just a few short years. In 2017 I had Brighton’s Fur pegged as a pleasant early-1960s beat group revival band and I was happy with that. But 2021’s When You Walk Away marks a remarkable and dramatic expansion of the band’s musical palette. The record charges out from the start, a veritable onslaught of guitars relentless in their aural assault. But the guitar wash is all in the service of a host of irresistibly hooky tunes. Opening cut “When You Walk Away, Pt. 1” is the sort of song that has audiences leaping to their feet and belting out the chorus. “Anybody Else But Me” combines a distinctive lead guitar sound with a melody that shifts effortlessly from major to minor hues. The wall of acoustic guitars that floats “To Be Next to Her” allows the inventive melody to be just that much more alluring. “The Fine Line of a Quiet Life” exudes excitement with a relentless pumping piano that won’t let you not start dancing. There are few throwbacks to the band’s earlier, more manicured 1960s ballady sound, tunes like “No Good for You” and “What I Am” with its 1963 fairground feel. “Wild Heart” also stands out for its sparkly jangle lead guitar line. This is definitely a band to watch. They’ve got the thrilling quality and intensity of bands like The Strypes, The Strokes and The Vaccines but with a demeanor all their own. Just listen to the jazz notes threaded through “Love You All the Time” or the obvious hit single vibe all over “She’s the Warmest Colour in My Mind.” I think these guys may just be getting started.
Brooklyn duo My Idea have got a highly original sound. Bits of it may seem familiar but when it comes together the effect is something else. Their initial EP release That’s My Idea hinted at the madcap creativity that was to come with breezy pop tunes like “I Can’t Dance” and more edgy stuff like “Stay Away Still.” Full album Cry Mfer delivers, kicking off with a Kate Bush in a Hounds of Love register on its title track, the effect both mesmerizing and hypnotic. Then “Crutch” breaks that spell with its jaunty guitar pop and breathy Mary Lou Lord vocal. “Baby I’m the Man” sounds simple but the audio keeps warping ever so slightly, like a cassette tape left in the rain. “Lily’s Phone” sounds tougher in a post 1970s new wave sort of way. The styles change up quickly, one minute vibing a pristine jangle on “Yr a Blue,” then offering up an off-kilter country-style sing-a-long on “Pretty You.” If pressed, I’d choose the collaboration with Thanks for Coming “One Tree Hell” as the single. But let’s face it, this band repels convention at every turn. Anything could be the single for them. Best to let the album flow over you and enjoy the ride.
Knowing there’s treasure doesn’t take away the thrill. Get out there and get yours from this seriously good quartet of new albums. Top photo courtesy Suhash Villuri.