As we move around the dial on this post we cover a wide range of sound, from retro stylings, to melodic pop, to guitar hooks, to a cool hipster vibe.
Laurie Raveis and Dennis Kole are Raveis Kole, a late-blooming, retro-sounding blast of 1960s cool. Title track “Electric Blue Dandelion” really captures it all with its pronounced musical swagger, rapturous ‘ahhs’ on the background vocals, and very Janis-bluesy lead vocals. But note their fun side – Chris Isaak’s smouldering “Wicked Game” lightens up considerably in their rhumba-inspired make-over.
Electric Blue DandelionWicked Game
Moving into more clear poprock territory, The Hangabouts deliver a great duet with Molly Felder on “Sinking Feeling,” a song that exudes shades of Glen Tilbrook of Squeeze or Aimee Mann. Check out the nice Strawberry Fields Forever organ solo about half way through. This song and the very Fountains of Wayne “Evelyn Wood” are featured on the band’s latest release, Kits and Cats and Saxon Wives.
From the opening strains of “Slow it Goes” I knew I’d found some kind of lost super-group. Turns out the band Eyelids is comprised of current and former members of such indie stalwarts as the Decembrists, Guided by Voices and Drive-By Truckers. So, talent to spare, obviously. Just listen to the super cool, hooky guitar work that opens “Camelot” or “Don’t (Please) Come Around.” But while the hooks may grab you, the songs stick in your head because they’re really well-written tunes, expertly played. Their latest LP is Or.
Our final turn of the dial takes us to New York City’s EZTV, a band that brings the dawn of country rock into the indie hipster mainstream on albums like 2015’s Calling Out and their most recent High in Place. These guys have clearly spent some time with their International Submarine Band and Byrds records. But rather than going the homage route, they’ve taken the influences in new directions, overlaying new harmonic dimensions onto the basic late 1960s sound, particularly vocally. Two illustrative examples, one from each album, make the case. “That’s Where You Belong” is closest to influences like the Byrds while “Reasons to Run” breaks with tradition more clearly.
As we travel around the dial today we explore bands that are established but not necessarily wildly successful along with others that are just getting started.
I stumbled across Ginger Wildeheart quite recently and quickly found myself wondering how I hadn’t heard of him before. This guy oozes talent. Whatever style he turns to, he masters. Whatever hook he is crafting, he nails it. He has so many bands and recordings, it is going to take me some time just get through them all. So today we’ll just feature this recent bit of ear candy, his 2016 single “If You Find Yourself in London Town.” Deceptively sweet sounding, the single is peppered with a hint of menace, kinda like a Mike Leigh film. Ok, I can’t resist, I have to include one more great tune, this time from one of Ginger’s many side projects, Hey! Hello!, a concentrated piece of rock pop entitled “Swimwear.”
I loved Sunday Sun from the first time I heard the opening refrains of their Beatlesque “Beating Low” from the 2012 EP Iii. The combination of carefully constructed vocal harmonies over jangly guitars was a formula that couldn’t lose for me. Their most recent long player Live Out Loud accents the pop over the rock effectively rebalancing their sound away from their earlier work. Would I have preferred some more prominent Rickenbacker guitar lines here and there? Sure. But the band write such catchy and clever songs and the vocals are so impressive, what you have here is still pretty awesome. “When We Kiss” is relentless in its hooky delivery, “Can’t Stop” has a great swing, “Marry You” is a lovely acoustic number just in time for the wedding season, and “Oh Let Me Love You” could easily be a super Hall and Oates single.
When We KissMarry YouOh Let Me Love You
From the opening of Umm’s “Black Summer” you wouldn’t think they would get past the censors on this blog. But just wait for the vocals. This duo enjoy an eerie symbiosis vocally that is enthralling (and the cool organ runs don’t hurt either). Couple Chris Senseney and Stefanie Drootin had a band called Big Harp that had a nice folky/synthy thing going (check out “Golden Age” below for a taste) but in a recent interview noted they were grooving a lot on the Everly Brothers’ harmonies and knew they needed a new vehicle to take up this direction. The result is Umm, a kind of Everly Brothers on acid, though they also remind me of a lot of other great duos out now, many that we’ve reviewed here like the amazing Jack and Eliza or The Kickstand Band. Check out their super video for “Oh Yes No” featuring Creative Commons film footage from “Westinghouse Traveler’s Choice 66” from the Prelinger Archives.
Mystery be thy name, Spirit Kid. There is not a lot to find about this act other than their many great recordings. Spirit Kid is the name of the band and their first album from 2010, which features two strong tracks in “My Imagination” and “Assumed by You.” “Wrong Kind of Money” from the same year is pretty good too. 2011 saw a strong EP with Happiness where the band sound really gels into an Apples in Stereo groove. Is Happening came out in 2014 with “Playing Cupid” and “Heart Attack” but then there is a break until this year’s “To My Romeo.” Easy going and poppy, with just a hint of T Rex and the British glam sound. Love the cover art on the most recent single as well – very fun!
Long Dream is the most recent album from Title Tracks, a band with dreamy sound, vocals that remind me of The Smithereens at times, with some very cool guitar lead lines. “I Don’t Need to Know” bolts out of the pen in a very Bob Mould style, with some cool breakout lead guitar. “Empty Heavens” has a more languid strummy feel with the treble significantly upped on the lead guitar. “Peaceful Uses” has a nice instrumental roll out before settling into a catchy indie poprock vibe. Given how solid this record is, I look forward to mining their back catalogue more carefully.
The accent today is on fresh and contemporary versions of poprock that nonetheless draw on all the classic elements: sparkly guitars, upfront melody, and close harmonies, with the occasional cool synth thrown in for good measure.
Berwanger’s Exorcism Rock is not what I expected it to be. From the title to the cover art I was expecting some kind of strip joint boogie rock or a 1980s hair band. But this album is whole heap of melodic fun. The range of material is simply amazing, from the Tom Petty-inflected “Booty Shake” to the breathy Vaccines-style vocal on “Black Sun” to the killer poprock riff driving “Slutty Skin.” As one might expect from a veteran of two successful bands (The Anniversary; The Only Children), band leader Josh Berwanger has really got his songwriting chops down. I also like the slow but melodic “Guess You Weren’t Wrong.” Check out Berwanger’s older material as well. The 2015 EP Demonios has a more downhome rock and roll feel, while 2013’s Strange Stains focuses more on the pop side with super tracks like “Bullets of Change,” “Mary,” and “Everybody Knows.”
So you live in Norway and decide to name your band Sweden – that’s not going to be confusing … Another great guitar band that relies on mixing up the guitar sound over songs with solid hooks. “Hey C’mon” from 2012’s Under the Sycamore Tree kicks off with a catchy acoustic guitar riff before exploding into a full on band treatment. “Barefoot Summer” from 2013’s Sixes and Sevens shifts back and forth between what an old rock and roll friend of mine once called ‘gunga’ rock (because the guitar makes that gunga gunga sound over and over) and tasty melodic solo bits. “American Kiss” is another strong cut from this album. Then most recently 2016’s Oh, Dusty has a slew of strong tracks. “Just a Kid” kicks off with a sound reminiscent of Hall and Oates ace single, “You Make My Dreams” but then goes in a totally different direction. “Stockholm” is a pretty solid single while “Hanging Around” is prime poprock craft.Hey C’monBarefoot Summer
Everything you read about SWMRS focuses on their punk sentiments and crazy stage shows. Certainly they look the part in their many online videos, i.e. young, male, and scruffy. But I don’t hear that listening to their 2016 release, Drive North. Instead these guys have a smooth and polished sound, apparent on tunes like “Turn Up” with its solid acoustic guitar and bass anchoring the song, and “Figuring it Out.” I also really like “Lose It,” a masterpiece of understated poprock. Check out this clever line – it just rolls out effortlessly with the music: “Why you’d have to have such a damn fine taste in music? Yeh, if all my favorite songs make me think of you I’m going lose it.” The band is on tour but curiously seem to be avoiding any effort to actually drive north – no Canadian dates have been announced.Turn UpLose It
Speaking of Canada, its version of Vancouver has a huge crop of great bands making the rounds these days, like The Zolas. It is interesting to hear the subtle change in this band’s sound over the course of a number of albums. 2009’s Tic Toc Tic puts the piano upfront in a recognizable poprock combo sound on tracks like “The Great Collapse” and “These Days.” But melody and hooks come to the fore with 2012’s extremely catchy Ancient Mars. Both the title track and “Knot in my Heart” seriously up the spooky melody quotient while “Escape Artist” is brilliant both lyrically and melodically. “Strange Girl” is bit more rocking but with an eerie, haunting melody in the chorus. 2016 brings more change as the band puts its synthesizer front and centre to good effect on its most recent album, particularly the killer title track, “Swooner.”
Got some great tips for this week’s Around the Dial from a super poprock site – Sweet Sweet Music Blog – that combines band interviews with their music videos. But don’t take my word for it. Be sure to visit SSMB as well as Berwanger, Sweden, SWMRS, and The Zolas online and find out for yourself.
We start big on this installment of Around the dial with Kevin Devine’s fantastic new album Instigator. Devine has a lot of material under his belt – eight albums not including this one – but his latest is by far his strongest, most accomplished piece of work. Others might be more partial to different periods in his career but for me it all comes together here: politics, unrelenting hooks, and more tender insights. The cover alone, of some 10 year old’s Christmas party wrestling match, is a major highlight. From the moment the chugging guitar opens up “No Why” the album never misses a beat. “Magic Magnet” is power pop heaven. “Daydrunk” is a sweet guitar drenched ode. “No One Says You Have To” is a lovely acoustic ballad. The title track “Instigator” says hit single to me, one part Fountains of Wayne, another part Weezer. But I save the most love for the touching, introspective “I Was Alive Back Then.” Imagine if Paul Simon sounded genuinely alienated and had gone through some serious angry periods – it might sound a bit like this. An outstanding performance of a song that leaves the singer bare.
The hippie vibe lives on as a kind of lifestyle esthetic and Brett Dennen could be its poster child. The influences here are all over the map: a bit of Van Morrison, just about any 1970s confessional singer songwriter, a dash of reggae at times. However on his fifth album, 2013’s Smoke and Mirrors, Dennen upped the pop quotient with tracks like the catchy “Out of My Head” and infinitely pleasant “Sweet Persuasion.” His most recent album Por Favor strips things back a bit without losing the hooky focus, particularly on tracks like “Bonfire.”Sweet PersuasionBonfire
The Springsteen is definitely there in Brian Fallon’s solo album Painkillers but the influence is more atmospheric than direct. I love the guitar sounds on this record. The title track opens with a great rumbly electric that gives way to lush acoustic strumming while later “Among Other Foolish Things” features a distinctive opening guitar riff that repeats throughout the song. “Nobody Wins” typifies the easygoing rock and roll sound of the album, laid back but with subtle hooks. If this record is anything to go by, Fallon is really just getting started.Among Other Foolish ThingsNobody Wins
And now for something completely different. Rich Ajlouny and the Tractor Beams are a bit off the beaten poprock path, but only just. There is something definitely Beatlesque in Ajlouny’s slightly discordant vocals, reminiscent of “Nowhere Man.” You can really hear it on “Around the Town” from Ajlouny’s 2013 solo release but it is there in spades on the more recent Love is the Stronger Force, particularly “Tough Guys Don’t Dance.” There is also something very art rock about this band’s material and performance, as if some elements have been deliberately left out of focus. Other highlights include “Give Her a Kiss” with its super harmonica break and “When Plans Go South.” I also like the wonderfully quirky “Going Back to Work” with its stark admission that the protagonist is ‘going back to work after being such a jerk.’
Time for another trip around the dial with acts that offer something old, something new, or something completely different.
More Suzanne Vega? This is super new, from her most recently released album, Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers. Based initially on a project for art school, Vega developed it into a play featuring herself. On the whole, the record has a stylized cabaret feel, but for one track which really harkens back to a more familiar Vega sound, the single “We of Me.” For fans of her distinctive folk pop sound, this song will not disappoint: ringing acoustic guitars, a poetic cadence and a hook that stays in your head.
Michael Penn launched into the charts in 1989 with his debut album March, largely on the strength of a break out single – “No Myth” – which got to 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. But three albums later it was pretty clear that his chart success was a bit of a blip, despite turning out consistently strong material. Still, in 2005, after a five year break, he released the stunning Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947, an amazing concept album chock full of striking would-be hit singles: “Walter Reed,” “On Automatic,” “A Bad Sign,” and many others. Still, no chart love. So he walked away, shifting his considerable creative talents to television and movie soundtracks. I rue the day somebody lunched him into this decision. Luckily, the occasional single still emerges from time to time, like “Anchors Aweigh” from volume three of his soundtrack work of the HBO show Girls. Deceptively simple sounding, resting on a basic acoustic guitar backing track, Penn adds impressive depth and hooks with his vocals and the occasional instrumental flourish.Girls
Speaking of Penn, his spouse has had a very different response to chart indifference. Sure, Aimee Mann has done some soundtrack work too, most notably Magnolia in 1999. But she’s also kept up her solo work and a host of other creative partnerships. Mann is unique in not only consistently writing great songs, but she has developed her own distinctive songwriting style, something that few performers – the Beatles, Elton John, Elvis Costello – have really managed to do. “Can’t You Tell” is an original song Mann created for the anti-Trump political project, 30 Days, 30 Songs, narrated from the perspective of Trump himself, basically saying ‘come on folks, you know I don’t really want this job, it’s just my ego at work here …’ The song is not a charity knock off – that is not the way Mann does things. Instead, “Can’t You Tell” is a solid single, the mark of Mann’s talent that she can just give away such strong material for a one-off project like this.Can’t You Tell
Gentle Hen is the brainchild of Henning Ohlenbusch, seemingly the hardest working man in show business this side of Northhampton, Massachusetts. He is one of those guys who is part of half a dozen bands and collaborates with a half dozen more, while still getting out some solo stuff on the sly. The Bells on the Boats of the Bay is the debut album from his old band but now under a new name and everything seems to falling into place: fabulous design on the artwork, stellar songwriting, and a great sound. There are a whole lotta influences going on here: chiming guitars, Ben Vaughn-esque vocal stylings on some numbers, and hooks, hooks, hooks. “I Don’t Know Anyone Else But” is a strong single featuring a late 1960s British poprock guitar line opening out to lilting melody that shifts tempo to great effect in the chorus.
Some bands do variety in terms of song styles but others just sound like totally different groups. Ex Cons fall into the latter category. Some of their more recent work has a cool indie vibe going – definitely check up “Black Soap” and “Pretty Shitty” – but if we go way back to 2012 they were working a decidedly different seam of the poprock scene. “James” reminds me of Nick Lowe’s immediate post-Rockpile work on albums like Nick the Knife and The Abominable Showman. Definitely hooks galore!
Twins were a first for me. Their publicist sent me a blurb and link to their latest release in advance of its drop date, asking me to have a listen. I’m glad I did. Hailing from the bustling burb of Waterloo Iowa, Twins have a great pockrock feel, channeling a super new wave vibe on their first album, 2014’s Tomboys on Parade, particularly on “Tomboy.” By 2016 their Kiss of Life EP had a sweet melodic 1960s pop single in “This Time.” But their new album Square America takes all these various influences and kicks it up a notch on such great songs as “Breakin’ Up” and “Take That Gurl.”
Power Pop Square turned me on to Vancouver’s The Top Boost and not long after Powerpopaholic wrote about them in glowing terms. The hype is genuine – this band has got something special going on, combining classic mid-1960s guitars with spacey 1980s vocals. “What if She Loves You” is a classic sounding single, with chiming guitars and great vocals.
A casual and inattentive listen might have you thinking that Chris Staples is just another LoFi drifter, with a few more hooks to offer. But there is some serious genius going on in his multiple releases over the past decade. Staples spent a number of years rocking out with bands like TwoThirtyEight and Grand Canyon before embarking on his present, more mellow solo career. What I love about Staples’ work is the casual poetry of his arrangements. His songs are deceptively simple in conception and execution.
“Relatively Permanent” from his most recent Golden Age combines a distinctive electric guitar line, acoustic guitar, haunting background vocals, and Staples own dry folky vocal delivery. “Cindy, Diana, Janet and Wanda” from the 2015 EP Cheap Shades demonstrates Staples’ talent for imaginative lyrics that gel with his music in a way that appears completely free of artifice. The guitar lick opening is so casually addictive, the distant harmonica so evocative, that when the lyrics come in they are surprisingly and similarly melodic. The lyrics really are brilliant for their ordinary complexity: “How could I forget Diana, she moved here from Gary, Indiana” or “She left me for a married professor, extra credit for letting him undress her.” “Dark Side of the Moon” from 2014’s American Soft has a lovely swinging acoustic guitar base and a sweet love sentiment. “Cincinnatti” from his 2011 EP Faces sees Staples shifting from a great swinging electric guitar line to lyrics that match the swing. And there is much more discover this Pensacola, Florida native on sites like Bandcamp.
Michael Goodman, who goes by just Goodman on his recordings, is one of those amazingly talented young men. Bandcamp features some pretty impressive and catchy demos from the 13-year-old version of Goodman, talent that only blossomed in later years. Things really start to come together on Goodman’s 2012’s release, What We Want, with the infectious single “Night Person” and the great title track. 2014’s Isn’t it Sad has many highlights but “Blue Eyed Girl” stands out for its killer chorus. Since then there has been a succession of quality singles like 2015’s “Telegram Girl” and 2016’s “Shallow.” Goodman has all the poprock chops, a solid foundation in 1950s and 1960s song structures, but funneled through late twentieth century sensibility.
Twins, The Top Boost, Chris Staples and Goodman exist in this digital world of MP3s but also have a real corporeal existence – and that requires dollars on the barrelhead, or whatever passes for currency in your neck of the world. Pay them a visit, pay them some cash …
Patrick Boutwell’s first solo outing came highly recommended from Powerpopulist, a blog that manages to blow through a truly impressive haul of new music. With Hi, Heaviness Boutwell departs somewhat from the sound he honed on his many records with the band The Brother Kite. Where the former has a lovely English-spacey sound circa the mid-1980s, this record features more sparkling guitars and up-front hooks. Most of the songs here lure you in with some great fat trebly guitar riff before launching in to the main event, with “Love Lies Waiting’ a stellar example. Though, I must admit, I was torn between featuring this song and the very catchy (though intro-less) title track.
I saw John Mark Nelson open for Little Green Cars in Toronto last month and I was struck by his boyish earnestness, a quality that permeates a great deal of his recorded material. His first three albums are alternatively folky, whimsical, sometimes even vaudevillian, occasionally poprock, while his most recent, I’m Not Afraid, marks a departure into more serious territory. Check out his video for “Moon and Stars” to get a sense of where he is coming from: interesting instrumentation, original arrangement, and strong sense of fun. But the song featured here taps into a melodic, neo-folk sound that seems part Donovan, part Don McLean, and altogether moving in its earnest sincerity.
At the risk of turning this blog into a Teddy Thompson fan site, I had to feature “In My Arms” from his 2008 album A Piece of What You Need. On his fourth album, Thompson exudes a new confidence, bringing all his disparate influences together into a bold new style, with “In My Arms” as a dynamic single. The opening drums signal some classic poprock is being served up and Thompson does not disappoint. The hooks are so subtle you don’t realize you’re being seduced until you find yourself singing along. The accompaniment is both traditional and unusual: solid acoustic guitar anchoring the song, nice electric guitar flourishes, great background vocals, but then inserted here and there are what sound like video game sound effects and a killer, full-on, in-your-face organ solo. In your own personal imaginary video, the top is down on the convertible, the wind is blowing through your hair (in the most photogenic way), and the radio playing this song is cranked. Of course, this video captures the sentiment nicely too.
There is something very Dandy Warhols about the recent Turbo Fruits single, “Show Me Something Real.” On their most recent recordings, both bands appear to combine a late 1990s rock sound with some classic late 1960s ambience, to great effect. While a number of critics appear to be lamenting this latest shift in sound by the Turbo Fruits, I think it really works. The fact is, you can only push a fratboy punk esthetic so far and then it is time to figure out where you really want to go musically. With their latest album, No Control, this band demonstrates just the opposite and comes up with a winner, not just with this single but with other strong tracks like “The Way I Want You” and “Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart Again.”
Let’s take a mellow moment and turn our ears to the acoustic side of poprock. Our four featured songs have a stripped down feel, unhurried, and certainly not cranked to eleven. The Amazing are an example of the neo-folk roots revival apparently going on Sweden over the past decade (I’m thinking here of other Swedish acts like The Tallest Man on Earth), though their most recent Picture You album expands their sound in a more poppy direction, both melodically and instrumentally. But “The Headless Boy” is more a throwback to their earlier material, a delightful, almost Donovanesque tune with some lovely harmonies in the chorus.
Donovan Woods is one those breathy singer-songwriters with whom you can pull up the covers and settle in for the night. And while he might sound a little bit like those breathy others, his subject matter is decidedly different, tracking a bit deeper and more realistically the actual ups and downs of relationships and life’s disasters or disappointments. His most recent album, Hard Settle, Ain’t Trouble features the beautiful and moving “They Don’t Make Anything in that Town,” which is pretty self explanatory. A great song exemplifying his Canadian roots (Sarnia, Ontario) is “My Cousin has a Grey Cup Ring.” But featured here is “Put on, Cologne” from his 2013 record, Don’t Get Too Grand. Why? Because it’s wonderfully weird. The title? No, I’m not sure what it means or refers to. All that is clear is that he has got a real problem with somebody’s ‘stupid European boyfriend’. It is a song that seems to really capture the irrational frustration of unrequited love.
Radical Face have put out a number interesting records, including their just-released The Leaves. But the song here, “Welcome Home,” comes from their 2007 album Ghost. There is something otherworldly about this tune, the way the march-like drumming and swirling vocals combine, which is probably why they used it in French TV’s The Departed, a creepy enigmatic (but riveting) show about people who died but somehow inexplicably returned years later. And I love the cover of this album.Welcome Home
Last up is Colorodoan Shane Burke, a man with an amazing voice. Generally, a lot of his material would not really fall under the poprock mantle, but “I Go Crazy” has a great rollicking feel and a trebly guitar intro and leadline that threads it way through the song. A worthwhile boundary stretch to finish things off. I Go Crazy
What’s not to love about Parquet Courts? Is that an Ennio Morricone guitar riff? That sounds like Jonathan Richman’s cousin on vocals. What’s that great piano bit? Parquet Courts has it all going on with their new single “Berlin Got Blurry.” Frankly, I found their earlier work a bit too punky for my tastes so the new album Human Performance has just the right amount of polish and pockrock finesse. They play the Phoenix in Toronto April 22.
Dublin’s Little Green Cars are a curious mixture of things: melodic songs, pristine harmonies, with just a hint of Smithian ennui. “Harper Lee” from their 2013 album Absolute Zero captures a lot of what they do in one song. But their new album, Ephemera, taps into a more poprock vein. The debut single, “The Song They Play Every Night,” utilizes a sparse arrangement of acoustic guitar, a trebly – sometimes rumbly – electric guitar, and endearingly weird vocal interjections to add up to something catchy. Little Green Cars appear in Toronto at Lee’s Palace April 27.
For years the Dandy Warhols were, for me, just a song from the FOX TV show, The O.C., which then reappeared under the opening credits to another TV show, Veronica Mars. But I didn’t really pay them any attention beyond that. Boy, talk about not knowing what you were missing. The Dandy Warhols have a great back catalogue, featuring some standout singles like “Bohemian Like You” and “Not if You Were the Last Junkie on Earth.” Nor have they rested on their laurels, consistently putting out solid albums over the years. For instance, 2012’s This Machine had a killer single in “I am Free.” This year they are back with Distortland, and the opening single showcases a band that has not lost its touch: “You are Killing Me” chugs along with great distorted guitars and more subtle pop vocal hooks. The Dandy Warhols hit Toronto April 8 at the Phoenix.
I love that way the band just crashes in on the beginning of this song and never lets up. A great poprock onslaught. Popmatters tells us that the members of Purses are actually from other bands, this group representing a kind of Athens, Georgia supergroup. “Wheels on the Run” is rumoured to be from soon-to-be released debut album, Obsess Much, which if this single is anything to go by promises to be something else.
Today’s trio is slightly more on the rock side of the poprock scale with noisier guitars, louder mixes and crashing drums. British band Vant kick things off with “Parking Lot” which begins with some seductive electric guitar that just hits the bass strings before crashing in with the full chord and band. The video shows a crowd dancing like mad and the energy in this song makes that totally believable. While the song has a strong rock feel the chorus of ‘wait a minute, wait a minute …’ is pure poprock. Other strong tracks from this politically-minded band include “Do You Know Me” and “Birth Certificate.”
Next up is the UK’s Magic Gang, with an ominous sounding yet still melodic “No Fun.” There is something very “How Soon is Now” about the way the main guitar motif swoops in between verses and choruses. The band creates an interesting kind of ‘wall of sound’ intensity with the instrumentation here. A very different sound from their brand new release EP, which has a decidedly lighter tone.
Titus Andronicus round things with the wonderfully sloppy sounding rave up, “Fatal Flaw.” My first reaction to Titus Andronicus was that they sounded like an American Pogues, with their aural assault of seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm, just two or three rehearsals short of getting everything nailed down. But seeing them live in Toronto last Fall put that notion to rest – they are one helluva band with songs that really come out in new colours live. “Fatal Flaw” is the most poprock of the recordings on 2015’s The Most Lamentable Tragedy, with the rest of the material tending toward a more punky delivery.