Jonathan Rundman “Look Up”
Minneapolis-based folk singer-songwriter Jonathan Rundman ends a decade-long break to deliver the pop-oriented Look Up. The band that includes drummer Steve Goold (Sara Bareilles), guitarist Tyler Burkum (Leagues), guitarist Jasper Nephew (Owl City), and bassist Ian Allison (Jeremy Messersmith). Guest stars include power pop legend Parthenon Huxley (ELO, Eels) and neuroscientist/musician Daniel Levitin.
After the mid-tempo opener “Prioritize Us”, the standout song “Northbound Traffic” celebrates the need to unplug, and follow your wanderlust. This is where the power of the band propels Rundman’s melody forward with solid guitar riffs, denser production and brilliant harmonies. A bit more sparse is “The Science Of Rockets” but its a fast tempo gem with a buzzing solo between the main verses. The old rustic ballads and Finnish melancholia are still part of Rundman’s oeuvre, “The Ballad of Nikolaus Rungius,” “Second Shelf Down” and “Home Unknown” are sweet and comfy compositions. “Helicopters Of Love” has a neat hook in the chorus, and “Flying On A Plane” is another big standout about the marvels of technology and how it all contrasts with the past. Definitely worth checking out.
The Person and The People “What A Drag”
From the other end of Minnesota’s musical spectrum is The Person & The People. This was a real under-the-radar gem that I missed on my 2014 year end list. Short spiky melodies blast through, like the Superdrag-like “I Get Weird” and “Unwind.” The smooth harmonies and dynamic melody on “Vitamin C” is just what the doctor ordered, it’s just brilliant. Most tunes clock in nicely at the three minute mark.
Another gem “Give Me More” is like Weezer doing Nirvana with fuzz and buzz leading the way. Not a single second of filler here, each tune has the right attitude, like the cynical “What You Do” or the disappointment in “The Wrong Way.” I hear a little of Bob Mould influence on “Year Long Drought.” This LP only encouraged me visit the band’s back catalog for more. Only on Bandcamp, and highly recommended.