Magic Eight Ball “Last Of The Old Romantics”
It’s been a while, but Baz Francis returns with Magic Eight Ball’s sophomore album. Baz was a big fan of British actor Rik Mayall (The Young Ones) and he starts the first track with a light poem that slowly rises to a dramatic speech right before the stadium sized guitars hit on “See You Next Tuesday.” A good description of Baz’s sound would be Andy Sturmer playing with Nuno Bettencourt. That sounds about right and fans of both Extreme and Jellyfish will love this LP. You’ll also hear the influence of Donnie Vie (from their last collaboration) sprinkled throughout.
The catchy, “Come Get Your Kicks” is definitely a melodic highlight. The fuzz guitar is a bit heavy on “Yeah, I’m Serious,” but Baz really belts it out on “Wait Here A Second.” Another gem here is “Good For Nothing Good” which contrasts the wall-of-guitars with Baz’s earnest lyric. While not as immediate as the debut album, it holds up fine with repeat listens. Highly Recommended. (Sadly, Mr. Mayall passed away June 2014.)
Kris Rogers and The Dirty Gems “Headlines”
Kris Rogers bursts forth with the title track, a sonic assault that recalls the late 70’s power pop of Joe Jackson. It’s no surprise he’s got an amazing band supporting him including Kurt Baker on bass, Geoff Palmer (The Connection) on guitar and mixed by Wyatt Funderburk. With that pedigree he doesn’t disappoint – “Waiting Fool” is what it would sound like if Bruce Springsteen did power pop.
Rogers has a soulful R&B influenced vocal, and his great keyboard performance makes him the closest thing I’ve heard to Billy Joel on “Up From the Ashes.” The strong composition continues on “No Complaints,” and the band rocks hard on a rare cover of proto-punk band Death’s “Keep On Knocking.” Next,”Leaving Town” is another winner, and a bit of Elton John’s influence is heard on “Borrowed Time.” Rogers is an amazing talent further buoyed by this band, it’s a shame it’s only eight tracks. Another highly recommended artist you need to hear.
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