Some performers really lean on the excitement part of music. They’re a barely containable blast of pure energy. You can tell they just can’t wait to get on stage, to roll tape, and let go. That’s today acts, though in very different ways.
The word I associate with The Blendours‘ creative force Trevor Trieber is ‘glee.’ He’s kinda like that foul-mouthed, badly-behaving distant cousin your parents worry about but you can’t wait to hang with. His work conjures up a pristine world of early 1960s song structures, melodies and harmony vocals, but slathered with obscenities and observational lyrics that wouldn’t make it on American Bandstand. But as Trevor might say, ‘Fuck it.’ There’s just too much fun going on here. Go On Vacation is the band’s fabulous, delightfully crude new EP. It’s only ten minutes long but manages to space it over seven songs. Trevor doesn’t linger or belabor the point but, hey, you can always hit replay. Some tracks race along, like the manic “Buzzkill” with great lead guitar runs and a clever juxtaposition of vocals. Others, like “Tell Me the Truth,” take their time, expertly mimicking that early 1960s feel of teenage emotional drama. Instrumentally the album is pretty spare, often just acoustic rhythm guitar carrying things with some electric lead guitar adornments. But Treiber somehow makes it sound pretty rock and roll on tracks like “I’ll Be the Guy.” And how many writers can slip a ‘sha na na na’ into a song so effortlessly? I love it in “Good to You.” Album closer “Goodbye Christine” even offers up some jazzy electric guitar shots. You can read this blog’s love letter to The Blendours back catalogue here. Go On Vacation is definitely keeping that love alive.
After a long career in various rock and roll outfits Ed Ryan’s recent string of solo efforts has allowed us see the many, many sides to his musical personality. Albums Roadmap and Furious Mind both kicked off with screaming guitar solos but last year’s Even Time softened us up with a hooky keyboard effect on its opening cut. Then inside each release were songs cast in a range of styles spanning decades of melodic rock and roll influences. Now he’s back with another installment that both confirms and challenges our expectations. Don’t Follow Where They Lead is not just a timely caution given our recent political winds but another celebration of melody, in a variety of fun jaunty styles. First on my agenda are the straight ahead poprock gems. Album opener “Anytown” sets the tone with jangly guitars and hooky descending bass lines. Or there’s the choppy rhythm guitar and those distinctive early 1980s vocals driving “Biggest Fan.” Another fun poprock confection is “Maybe I’m Dreaming,” easily a missing deep cut from some cool 1979 guitar band. But the obvious should-be hit for me is the sneaky earworm, “Everyone Wonders.” I love how the song shifts intensity and attack, while offering striking changes in the structure and melody. Beyond the expected poppy rock and roll Ryan shakes things up tempo and style-wise on the mellow John Waite-ish title track or with the hepcat shuffle defining “Fish in the Sea.” Or listen to how the piano line weaving through the chorus of “Made Me” adds an extra allure to tune. I also like the guitar tension Ryan creates on “Why Doncha Do It,” only to serve up a glorious release in the chorus. The album also includes a few delightful slower numbers like “What’s True” and “So Far Away.” Altogether, Don’t Follow Where They Lead is another winner from Ed Ryan.
Who am I kidding? I’m clearly the excitable boy in this post scenario. There are just some acts I can’t wait to hear more from, like The Blendours and Ed Ryan. Check them out online and see they don’t raise your pulse just a little.