Bill DeMain and Ben Kweller

Bill DeMain “Extended Stay” EP
Nashville songwriter Bill DeMain has written for an impressive array of musicians (Marshall Crenshaw, David Mead, Bleu, Kim Richey, and Farrah) but now he goes solo. However he lost his home during the May 2010 flood, and months later a second home was burned to the ground by a stray cigarette butt. That led to a transient existence, and he wrote a lot of music in that time.

The autobiographical “Looking For A Place To Live” starts out with its acoustic strum and sad tale. Next is the Paul Simon meets Beach Boys romp of “St. Joe’s ’75” as it looks back at his Catholic School years. “In Your Letter” is a Gershwin styled piano ballad, and the McCartneyeque “Honeylove” is another tender musical treat. Rounded out by the Billy Joel influenced “Common Love Song” and soft shoe shuffle of the bittersweet “Raggedy Man” there is no flaw here, other than it’s simply too short. My favorite EP this year! Please Bill can I have some more?

Ben Kweller “Go Fly A Kite”
Ben Kweller been a dependable artist on the power pop front—and after getting his Ryan Adams styled country mojo out on his last album Changing Horses, it’s nice to find Ben going back to his pop rock roots (for a few tracks).

Kweller’s songwriting has always been quality whether he’s doing garage rock, folk, or country. And just to prove it to those who doubt his power pop cred, he opens with “Mean To Me” where he states “Don’t regret anything I ever did, because I always knew where I was coming from…”  to a kick-ass guitar riff and defiant chord progression. The remaining parts of the album aren’t as rockin’ but they’re still darn good. “Out The Door” is an impressive Wilco-styled bit of country pop that is easily the catchiest thing on the album. Leaning on influences as varied as Dylan, Tom Petty and The Eagles. “Free” is a good tune that recalls Joe Walsh, and “Full Circle” has a easy bounce and playful piano melody.

Kweller gives us one more rocker,“Time Will Save The Day” that compares well with Weezer or The Lemonheads – and its like a breath of fresh air after all that steel pedal twang throughout the rest of the album. It ends with wonderful strumming anthem, “You Can Count On Me.” No clunkers here, but the remaining tracks don’t stand out as much. A lively and cheerful return to form.