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