William Duke “The Dark Beautiful Sun”
It’s been a long time since we heard from Mr. Duke, but his new album features a ’70s influenced California folk sound that’s part Crosby Stills Nash and part Elliot Smith. “The Golden Ring” is a bright opener, with sweet harmonies at the songs close. The melodic title track sounds like a lost Teeneage Fanclub song, full of mellow sadness in the chorus.
“Sons and Daughters” is a jangling melody in the best Byrdsian acoustic style, about appreciating your kids while they are with you. “Many Years Away” continues this easy going pop vibe, and the songs seem to blur together by the albums mid-point. The melodies of “Just Lookin’ For Some Sleep” are very comforting, as the repeating bass lines drift along weightlessly. The last several tracks remind me of The Autumn Defense blend of acoustics, Americana and clean production. The instrumental “1977” references the period with light and heavy synths, almost a prog rock ballad. The download is FREE, but you can order a limited vinyl release through Bandcamp.
The Wheel Workers “Citizens”
The Houston, Texas band continues right where it left off last year, (with a bit more bite) delivering catchy indie rock with a progressive message about the evils of corporate greed. “Yodel” comes across like Rev. Horton Heat with the lyric “one man gets a crumb another gobbles the whole pie, how ya figure it’s that way?” Then the synths and punk vocals of “Burglar” bounce along like an ’80s Devo dance track. “Whole Other World” is a hypnotic anti-war song that speaks to current events and “Wage Slaves” is a synth heavy modern protest song.
The remaining tracks are quality pop, the infectious beat of “Dream” is very much like Robert Pollard (GBV) reaching a fuzzy crescendo. Lyrically its thought provoking and frontman Steven Higginbotham challenges you with his punk approach on “Citizen Incorporated.” While not as richly produced, or as long as the the last album it still proves to be worthy of repeat listens. Give it a try.