The Cherry Bluestorms “Bad Penny Opera”
The Cherry Bluestorms are the duo of Glen Laughlin (The Dickies) and Deborah Gee, and both shared a love of 60’s guitar-based melodic rock. Its been a long time since I heard a full length rock opera concept, and this LP is epic in scope – the story is roughly about a girl leaving behind her home in 60’s Britain and trying to find a fresh start. Starting with an “Overture” past the 5 minute mark, it highlights Laughlin’s guitar mastery, evoking Pink Floyd and The Beatles simultaneously.
Then it transitions to acoustic guitar and the dual vocals of “By Your Leave” similar to Jefferson Airplane or Dreamboat Annie-era Heart if it was lead by Amiee Mann. “A Better Place” is a packed with horns backing up Gee’s crisp vocals. Next is a fast-paced cover of Donovan’s “Wear Your Love Like Heaven.” Gee’s vibrato sounds great on “Sunday Driving South,” a mid-tempo gem. “The Country Man” is Glen’s vocal highlight, a neo-hippy guitar anthem. Other tracks need a few more listens to appreciate, but the back half of the album drags a bit. Parts of songs are just brilliant, like the opening chords of “To Love You is A Crime,” or the chorus to “World Going Mad.” Definitely worth a place on your music playlist.
Bryan Estepa “Heart vs Mind”
Sydney based singer songwriter, Bryan Estepa shows us a bit more of his easy listening side here. The acoustic “(if you follow) We just might get near” is a statement similar to Jackson Browne where he “heads for the great unknown.”
And the 70’s styled melody of hope in “Seachange” is the centerpiece here, with Estepa longing for “the simple life.” Then the louder “Them Fighting Words” is a solid melodic pop gem, with “In a Minute” quickening the tempo. Both “Nothing At All” and “Nobody Has To Know” are glossy ballads in the style of Bread, with soulful guitar and keyboards, the latter tune feels almost like a spiritual. A solid release.