Today’s selections lean into rock side of our poprock brief. These are bands that know the joy of a good rocking out session. Definitely worth mainlining or, as the dictionary says, to ‘enjoy without restriction.’
I’ve been itching to write about The Kryng’s new LP Twelve Hymns to Syng Along ever since I snagged a copy a few months back. Fans will return to hear more of the 1960s-inspired, garage rock Beatlesque tuneage that filled out previous records. New listeners may hip to the Merseybeat but also appreciate the quality of the songs. “Our Love” kicks thing off on the right jangle footing. “Get” steps on that pedal, twinning harmony vocals and propulsive guitar work. Then the album alternates between dance stompers like “Deep Inside” and more period set pieces like “Roll-Anda” with its distinctive Monty Norman 007 aura. Or compare how “She’s a Dream” paints a psychedelic pop delight while “Don’t You Know” is a driving garage rocker that falls somewhere between The Yardbirds and the Smithereens. For Beatlemaniacs, “She Knows My Name” and “It Disappears” vibe a Beatles ’65 ambience. And then there’s “Although You’re Gone” which sounds both old and new, conjuring Rubber Soul, Bryds, and Monkees influences but also reminds me of Mississippi power pop outfit Lolas. Another hard to place number is “I Know ‘Cause I See” which sounds so now but also like a poppy version of Cream. Warm up the turntable, you will definitely satisfy your many party moods with Twelve Hymns to Syng Along.
Another highly anticipated release for me has been The Veras’ V is for Vera. The band teased us with a few early singles last year but then taunted us for months about the coming album. Now it’s here and what stands out for me is the tightness. This is a band that has played countless shows together over the years and it shows. “Sevens and Nines” jumps to it, opening the album with big organ and a swinging chunky guitar rhythm that defines this album. The influences here are strongly 1970s – Queen, Bowie, even Supertramp – but the output often slips into the 1980s. Listening to “If You Ain’t Got Love” I hear a touch of Madness filtered through 10cc. “She’s Into Magic” is another one that sounds so Farfisa organ fantastic. Another organ-centric number is “Winner Not a Sinner” with its ABBA vibe. Fun is definitely on the agenda of this album whether it’s the early 1970s sunshine pop feel on “Are You Having Fun Yet?” or the more Harrisonian psychedelic groove of “Ordinary Fun.” Then things shift pop punky on “Bad Dream” and glammy with “Spaceman.” “I Should Know Better” and “My Country Girl” have the big AM pop radio sound I associate with 10cc cut with a bit of Queen. The should-be hit single here is “Paper Cup Telephones” with its perfect meld of slick vocals, organ and guitars, animated by an on-point 1970s pop song swing.
With Indian Summer Chris Lund has produced a most perfect car+summer+girls rock and roll record. Is that Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander guest vocalizing on opening track “Everything is Fine”? No, that’s just Lund nailing the Cheap Trick formula. The song has got the vocal, the edgy guitar, and the band’s signature hint of menace in the melody. Or one can hear a bit of Brendon Benson here. But hey, it’s all Lund really – the genius is in how he puts it all together. This early excitement is maintained on title track “Indian Summer” as the sonic palate expands to a broader set of 1970s melodic rockers, perhaps a bit of April Wine. “Mary Jane” has a very Beatles feel, but like if they’d carried on into the 1970s while “Guarantee” has a “Don’t Let Me Down” pacing with an Odds-like melodic punch. In many ways the guitar playing is the star of this record, anchoring the various stylistic jaunts. “Down the Line,” “Killing Kindness,” and “Time Runnin’” show what Lund can do with a guitar, casting alluring lead lines against a solid wall of rhythm guitar. Then “Please Me” offers up a stark, mostly acoustic guitar number accompanied by very emotive Lennon-esque vocals, with some nice instrumental change ups throughout. The should-be power pop hit single here is “Military Girl.” This one’s got a killer set of hooks with just right level of jarring edge to offset the sweetness. While the weather may turn Chris Lund’s Indian Summer will always be in season.
Sometimes you’ve just got to go direct to the rock and source material. Today’s acts combine hooks with a rocking edge that can be oh so satisfying.
Photo credit: Herve Gloaguen “Hippies” from Le Livre de la Sante by Joseph Handler (Monte Carlo: Andre Sauret, 1968), volume 13: Adolescence, Hygienes, Viellissement.