The Harmalators and Dott

The Harmalators “Sweet As A Flower”
From Santa Rosa, California the twin brothers Marlon Kay (bass guitar) and Norman Kay (lead guitar, keyboards) have a sound based on classic power pop influences like the Beach Boys, Ramones and Traveling Wilburys. Opening with the rousing organ theme “Tell Me Love Me” it has a bit of 50’s styled echo and a catchy chorus. Next “She Brings Out The Best In Me” is another good simply written mid-tempo melody.

However the lyrics could use some work, like “Is She Real” which has a chorus that simply repeats the title over and over. In the case of “Real Good Music,” the harmonies are very much in the Brian Wilson style and it makes up for the sparse wordplay. The title track “Sweet As A Flower” has the brothers harmony synced up, but the last track “I Am With You All The Way” is a pretty loose performance (almost too loose). I liked the music, and hope The Harmalators continue their musical development.

Thistime Records
(Japan) | Itunes | Amazon


Dott “Swoon”
Dott are from Galway, Ireland and play happy, harmony-driven garage pop. The band is led by songwriter Anna McCarthy (vocals/guitar) with Laura Finnegan (bass/vocals) Miriam Donohue (guitar/vocals) and Tony Higgins (drums).  McCarthy creates a  great impression with the hook-filled “Small Pony,” sounding very much like a modern update of the early ’60s girl groups (The Shangri-Las or The Ronettes). The simple guitar-bass-drum instrumentation with those harmonies are extremely effective.

“Rain Day” is another highlight, with a rich harmony-filled chorus, and the slow guitar strum and vocal phrasing of “TEFL” is similar to The Mamas and The Papas. The up-beat party atmosphere of “Leave Tonight” and “Start All Over” is just infectious, with some surf music influence similar to Laurie Biagini. And darker compositions like “Cherry Blossom” mix those sunny vocals with a Nancy Sinatra “Boots Are Made For Walking” attitude. No filler here as each song delivers. Highly Recommended.