Summer’s here and the time is right for some treats. No, not the ice cream truck – musical treats. What follows are some bands I missed the first time around but have come to know through a host of fantastic Facebook music groups. Accent on melody, harmony and hooks!
Et Tu Brucé describe their sound as hybrid pop music, specifically ‘west London meets the west coast.’ Hard not to hear the Bryds on tracks like “Stars Fall” from their 2013 debut album Suburban Sunshine or “Hey Blue” from 2016’s follow up, the self titled Et Tu Brucé. But the band’s standout track for me is the magical “Never Seen You Cry”: wonderful tinkly piano, solid acoustic guitar anchoring the song, and shimmery vocal harmony and overlapping vocal lines make this a should-be hit single.
Another band hitting the sibilant vocal lines hard would be Seattle’s The Tripwires, at least on our featured tune. A bona fide indie supergroup with members from bands like Minus 5, the Model Rockets and the Young Fresh Fellows, the Tripwires have put out a handful of great records, with influences ranging from pop punk and old time rock and roll to alt country and new wave. “Big Electric Light” is from 2007’s Makes You Look Around and it melds a wall of vocal harmony with some jangly guitar lines to deliver a hooky masterpiece.
Slipping back in time to 1994, our next treat is from New York state’s Gigolo Aunts with a track that was featured on their first major break out album, Flippin’ Out as well as the soundtrack to the movie Dumb and Dumber. “Wherever I Find My Heaven” features a Marshal Crenshaw-like guitar buzz throughout the song as well as a great wash of background vocals. From the killer opening riff you’ll be hooked.
Coming back more to the present, check out Smith & Hayes lightly swinging poprock gem from their 2014 album People All Over the World, “Slow Down.” These guys emote some pretty impressive 1970s soft rock chops, a time when melody seemed inoffensive but was actually ear worm intensive. Previous albums by the band (e.g. 2007’s Changed By a Song) showcased their command of the late Beatles era sound and that work undergirds this single. From the harmonica opening, to the acoustic guitar lead lines, to the ever so subtle and building vocal hooks, you’ll be hitting repeat on this one. Smith & Hayes – Slow Down
Our last treat is a bit of an outlier for North Carolina’s Dillon Fence, a group whose material usually had a bit more bite. But “Bite of an Apple” is a delightful vocally-focused lilting tune that really takes off with some nice interplay amongst vocal lines, all over top of a consistent ringing rhythm guitar. The song appears on the 2004 collection Best +. Though the band’s recording career only spanned 1991-94, this song was one of a number specially recorded in the early 2000s for this release.Dillon Fence – Bite of an Apple
Some of these bands are still going, some are gone, but all have product that undoubtedly will help with somebody’s retirement. Check out Et Tu Brucé, The Tripwires, Gigolo Aunts, Smith & Hayes, and Dillon Fence at the highlighted internet locations.