The Anderson Council and Chris Stamey

The Anderson Council “Looking At The Stars”
After over six years since The Fall Parade, The Anderson Council returns. Lead vocalist-guitarist-songwriter Peter Horvaths style is cut from the same cloth as other New Jersey power pop bands, The Smithereens and The Grip Weeds (Kurt Reil is also producer here).  Starting with the catchy “Don’t You Think,” the band hasn’t lost it’s knack for alt. rock sugar with that vintage British flavour.

“Sweet Girl” has a manic beat building up to epic proportions, and those layered piano melodies on “Hazel Eyes” make it a gem. “Watch You Sleeping” could be a lost Smithereens track, and the relentless jangle-fest continues up to the mid-tempo psyche-pop of “Do We Have A Deal?” No filler here, and with 15 tracks there is plenty to pick through. The collection often feels like a group of singles, each with its own great riff combo opening it up. Some tracks have more psychedelic styling than others (“Gardening Man” and “Never Take Your Love Away” being great examples). It labors a bit at the end with long jams “Birthday Beauty” and “Park The Car,” but overall this LP is a power pop feast for the ears.

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Chris Stamey “Lovesick Blues”
Chris Stamey is best known as one of the founding members of The dB’s, and his latest solo work displays a maturing artist. Stamey brings a world weary sensibility to these elegant tunes, “Skin” is a descriptive folk acoustic that slowly unfolds with masterful lyrics. “London” is a bittersweet ballad, where yet “another year of ceaseless rain” adds to his long distance longing.

“Astronomy” is the albums highlight, with flute and strings between the catchy multi-tracked chorus. And while “Anyway” and the road trip tune “You, Me and XTC” (ironically assisted by Andy Partridge) are beautifully constructed, both drag on too long. Some great moments are found on the LP’s second half, the delicate melody of “Occasional Shivers”  and the rich orchestration of the title track. Finally, the XTC influence is seen on the toy piano and weaving harmonies at the end of “If Memory Serves” and it sure is impressive. DB’s fans looking for big hooks might skip this one, but fans of the reunion album with Peter Holsapple Here and Now will love this.

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