American Underdog “Always on The Run”
Michigan musician Andy Reed (aka American Underdog) puts together a wonderful follow up to his debut. Each one of these tracks has a short musical formula and it makes for compelling listening, for example “Your Reign is Over” is a solid single that sounds like a Belle & Sebastian doing Jellyfish. The production is clean and the solid guitar strum sets the tempo on the impressive “Portland.” The Jellyfish tendencies continue on other tracks like “Always On The Run” with a super catchy hook in the chorus, although here the vocal seems lightweight. Reed sounds best when he overdubs his chorus, like on “The Day The World Was Lost” with a nice violin assist by Andy Rogers.
Most of the tracks are so drenched in sweetness, you are sure get a sugar overload – and that’s a good thing for power pop fanatics. The fuzz guitar comes out on “Nothing I Can Do” where Andy does his best Robert Schneider (Apples In Stereo) imitation. The gorgeous harmonies on the ballad “Put Out The Fire” recall the best of Pet Sounds, and its a real gem. The sparse roots ballad “Train” doesn’t seem to fit with the other tracks but, not a single note is wasted here. Overall, sure to satisfy fans of McCartney, Roger Manning Jr. and Elliot Smith. Highly recommended for sure and Kool Kat Musik will give a bonus disc with 5 unreleased tracks.
Matthew Sweet “Modern Art”
“I guess my evil ways turned out to be kind…” is the opening to Matthew Sweet’s latest album and its a fitting combination of power pop, progressive rock and sonic experiments.”Oh, Oldendaze” sets the album’s theme about the passing of time and dwelling on what you have left — as he intones “Memories never stand the test of time.” The guitar work is some of the best Sweet has done in years – and he dons his best Hendrix/Byrds hat on the psychedelic rock of “Ivory Tower.”
The Sweet we all know and love comes back on “She Walks The Night” with a Brydsian pop jangle, and some nice breaks midway through the song. Experiments are compelling too, like the heavy “Ladyfingers” and bongo jam on “My Ass is Grass.” And Sweet pays tribute to the genre’s fans on “Late Nights With The Power Pop,” although it feels strangely artificial. The emotional “December Dark” and “Sleeping” are more powerful tracks for me, like John Lennon or Big Star’s Chris Bell – he explores deep personal issues. So you get a lot of soul searching from Sweet, so I wouldn’t call it “Modern,” but I would definitely call it “Art.”