Surf School Dropouts “Second Nature”
Unabashed Brian Wilson love is the whole reason Denmark’s Surf School Dropouts continue to churn out harmony-laden songs of sun, fun and summertime. They are also one of the few modern bands that can pull off the surf harmonies as good as this. All you need is a your woodie and a wave, for the opener “Destination Sunshine.” There are other influences too, as “Should Have Known Better” is a little closer to the sunshine of The Sundays or The Pearlfishers.
You have to give this Copenhagen quartet props as “Where Have You Gone” is lovingly composed and arranged. The soft ukulele ballad “Sarah” is dripping sweetness and “Wonderful Ride” has touch of Motown. The lead vocal changes from song to song, and some are better than others but you have to love the enthusiasm of bouncy tunes like “Coastline Crusin.” Some nice instrumental interludes preface a few songs, and the choral “Ebb & Flow” that ends the album is also very impressive. For Beach Boys fans this is manna from heaven.
Minky Starshine “Pop Jewelry”
Rob Anastasi’s band Minky Starshine has always done quality power pop, boasting one of my all time favorite songs (“Cinematic Mojo”) on his last record. Rob just loaded this new release with an all-star supporting cast: Ducky Carlisle (Bleu), Ken Stringfellow (Posies), Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish), Brian King (Oranjuly) and Corin Ashley – just to name drop a few. So expectations are high here.
While the production sparkles with great sound and instrumentation, the opener “Lady London” is a pretty subdued mid-tempo song. The next song lives up to the promise, as “Girl” is a classic hook filled gem with a catchy repeatable chorus and “Easier For Everyone” keeps the chiming harmonies front and center. The sound veers to more mainstream pop with “Drive” and the ballad “Wave Her On” feature Phil Aiken’s dreamy synths. “Miss American Girl,” a country flavored duet with Amber Casares is another standout. But I was disappointed that the rest of the album seemed to stay in adult commercial pop realm, without a riff heavy rocker to juice things up. Despite that, Anastasi does a great job here, “Believe” is a richly layered song with an impressive chorus. Worth exploring and sharing with your friends who aren’t power pop fanatics.