Hot Knives “Hot Knives”
Lost Classics Dept: You’ve all heard stories about rock bands that had potential greatness squashed by bad timing (examples: Television, Joy Division, Nick Drake). Well unless you are a collector of rare vinyl records, you’ve never heard of this California band that recorded a late ’60s period folk-rock, power pop album in 1976. They had the talent and pedigree to make it big, with guitarist Tim Lynch, and drummer Danny Mihm (both members of The Flamin’ Groovies), bassist Ed Wilson and the vocals of brother-sister duo Michael and Debra Houpt. They made several excellent singles (produced by Groovies Cyril Jordan) and promptly vanished into nuggets history.
This new re-issue collects all the bands material, and if you enjoy a unearthed musical treasure then give a listen to catchy melody of “Sooner Or Later,” sounding like a power pop version of Jefferson Airplane. The infectious “Take Me Back” is also great, with soaring vocals that earned high praise from Greg Shaw in Bomp! Magazine at the time. The album was a unique mix of sounds and virtuoso guitar work, “You Can Get Anything You Want” is like Clapton playing with The Mamas and Papas! The band was too unfashionable in the era of mid ’70s arena rock to make it, but now you can hear this highly recommended obscurity.
Schnauser “Protein For Everyone”
Schnauser is the wondrous prog-pop band led by multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Alan Strawbridge (Lucky Bishops), with long time mates, bassist and vocalist Holly McIntosh, keyboardist Duncan Gammon and introducing new drummer Jasper Williams. This album is a surreal journey, with really good keyboard/guitar melodies and those minty fresh harmonies.
Unlike past albums, the cynical, sarcastic streak is toned down in favor of extended jams and stretching the melody lines. “Grey or Blue” brings to mind classic ‘70s prog masters like Genesis or Yes, with its virtuoso keyboard interludes between sunny choruses. The title track is another swirling melody set to a waltz tempo, a dance between light and dark themes. My favorite here is “Split,” with its interplay of jangle rhythm, crisp harmonies reminiscent of XTC. You do wonder at points if the melodies wander about too much, especially on the 16 minute plus “Disposable Outcomes.” In any case, the hummable interludes will have you following along like a trained seal. Overall, a fun prog rock diversion you can sink your teeth into.