Forgive your intrepid musical reporter if some of the headlines aren’t exactly ‘breaking’ time-wise. Our foreign bureau is understaffed. And we have to make our own coffee. But I’m pretty confident that some of these artists will be breaking news to someone …
Halifax combo Monomyth sound like a nice 1960s beat group whose record has been messed with by some discordant indie interlopers. The effect is delightfully jarring, often surprising, and essentially disarming. Things start out sounding familiar but end up somewhere different. “Falling in Love” sounds like a hit single put into low gear, not quite taking off conventionally but really doing its own thing. Or “High on Sunshine” has a chorus worthy of all those great 1960s country-rock classics, set in a mess of fun melodic distractions. Some tracks are cast in more familiar registers, like the band’s eerie reincarnation of The Replacement’s on “Re: lease Life (Places to Go)” or the catchy, jangly “Drinking in Bed in E.” I love the vocal harmonies on “Cool Blue Hello” with its occasional conjuring of a Bernard Sumner/New Order vocal at times. Other tracks seem to contain a tension between straight up guitar pop and a discordant indie sound, particularly “Go Somewhere” and “Palpitations.” “New Year’s Review” has a great punked up 1970s pop feel. This is one of those fun, ‘out there’ records: hooks aplenty but not quite delivered how you might expect them.
Hamilton’s The Foreign Films have a major triple album project – The Record Collector – they have been getting out over the course of a number of years. The records appear under a number of names, in a manner that is bit confusing. No matter. The material is fantastic. Check out the crisp pop rock elegance of “Broken Dreamers” or the swinging hookiness of “Land of the 1000 Goodbyes.” Reaching back in their catalogue I love the Bowie-esque “Lucky Streak” with its killer lead line or chugging rhythm guitar-centric “Yesterday’s Girl,” both from 2011’s Fire from Spark. Or note the snaky lead guitar hook that stiches together the melodic “Another World Behind the Sun” from 2007, chock full of Magical Mystery Tour motifs.
Technically The Red Button’s recent Now It’s All This is a compilation/re-release, combining the duo’s two previous albums but adding an EP’s worth of new material. These guys have their Beatles’ chops down but they’re also talented and original songwriters, so the obvious John/Paul influences are worked up into exciting new material. If you missed the original releases, this is a fantastic collection. If you’ve got them already, there’s still some great new tunes here, like the collection’s title track “Now It’s All This.” Personally, from the whole collection I love the Costello-ish “Hopes Up,” “I Could Get Used to You,” and the wonderful “She About to Cross My Mind Again.”
Now It’s All ThisHopes Up
San Francisco’s Pseudonym have a dreamy pop sound, a pleasant melodic drone that seeps into your brain with indelible effect. They remind me a bit of a more lofi version of The Mighty Lemon Drops, accent on a more acoustic vibe. Exhibit A: album opener “I’m Fine,” a slow burn, ear worm song if ever there was one. Things pick up tempo-wise with a more insistent, surging feel to the hooky “All the Little Things.” Other highlights include the very catchy “Victimless Crime” and the more spare, acoustic numbers like “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and “We Had a Deal.” Altogether Pack of Lies is a solid collection.
Money has not gone out of style in 2018. Monomyth, The Foreign Films, The Red Button and Pseudonym would all love take your denominated paper featuring politicians or royalty. Though I’m sure they’d settle for e-dollars too.