Jay Gonzalez “The Bitter Suite” EP
Drive-By Truckers multi-instrumentalist Jay Gonzalez gives us a follow up to his Mess of Happiness with a five “song cycle” EP. It starts with the hum of a theremin and launches into the bright “Light Side of the Leaves,” one of the better tunes here with its 70’s rock tone and its glossy chorus. You’ll hear influences from Bread, Todd Rundgren and even Supertramp.
Each song dovetails into the next so seamlessly, its often hard to distinguish them, but “Almond Eyes” offers up a playful ballad that is an easy favorite, and the closer “Shanarock Lane” is a solid narrative gem with nice closing harmonies that fade back into that theremin. Unfortunately some of the other songs feel a bit threadbare, but it’s still an enjoyable highly recommended EP.
Donny Brown “Hess Street” EP
Former drummer of The Verve Pipe delivers a fantastic EP that touches on the full variety of his melodic talents. Donny’s influences are closer to Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney and he reminds me of Glen Philips (Toad The Wet Sprocket) in spots.
“Lucky Number” starts out slow and pans out to a rich harmonius chorus. The “Driving Song” is a pleasant easy going highway drive. But the best songs are the magical “Bitter Rival,” like a lost Andrew Gold classic, and “The Night I Fell For You,” one of the most romantic melodies I’ve ever heard. “Call Me” is a faux 1920’s bit of flapper pop that ends things on a light jazzy note. This one sneaks up on you and is one of the best EPs I’ve heard this year.