Rhode Island and Ex-Norwegian

Rhode Island “Light The Windows In These Places Let Through”
Rhode Island are three dudes (Dave Brown, Jeff Johns and Will Turner) from Leeds, UK. They are unsigned and did all the work themselves… its starts with the interesting “War With Iran.” The vocals are a bit muddy, but the composition is solid with a bass driven melody. You’ll hear a little Bowie in “I Lost My Mind,” but the harmonies on “Articulation” are quite impressive, and fans of Queen will really love this. The album gets better as it continues – “A House” is a wonderful pop composition with shifting melody lines that reminds me of bands like Jukebox The Ghost or Field Music. The band plays with atmosphere on the instrumental “Franck’s Plantation,” and check out the album’s latter half with “Alcoholics,” “Good Morning, Captain John Lerro” and the very Apples in Stereo styled “Change In Repetition.” Although not every tune here is great, there are many highlights that make this band an undiscovered gem.

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Ex-Norwegian “Sketch”
Last year the Miami band Ex-Norwegian produced a pretty good pop album that touched many bases and had lots of influences.  On it’s latest LP Sketch it takes a big step forward musically. Opening with “Jet Lag” it almost goes retro-grunge here, but Alice In Chains never had a horn section. The band has solidified it’s sound with the late 90’s and 60’s as basic touch points, and the crunchy riffs of “Smashing Time” showcases the energy and great potential. With singer Roger Houdaille improving his game we get to the best track here,”Sky Diving” with Shazam-like catchy guitars, and grand choruses similar to Sloan. I wish the whole album took this approach – but it then switches to a lo-fi “You’re Elastic Over Me” with bassist Nina Souto doing her best Liz Phair. The melodic gems pop up in spots here, “Seconds” and “Acting On An Island” are excellent psyche-pop tunes and the bleak “Upper Hand” is a proper counterbalance to the raucous Who-styled “Turn Left.” This is a band that is on the cusp of greatness, but they aren’t helped by the throwaway lyrics of “Girl With The Moustache.” But still… this is very worthy of your playlist. Fans of Weezer, Greg Pope and other guitar heavy power pop will definitely want to add this album to the collection.

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