Bill Simpson “Jealous Tides”
Bill Simpson is kind of similar to Wyatt Funderburk or Glenn Case, in that he really values melody over screeching guitars and composes clever songs without being pretentious. “I Want To Fall in Love With You” is a sweet pop melody wrapped in multiple layered harmonies, thick guitar chords and its the standout single here. “Harder Everyday” is a fast paced follow-up that follows the same approach, the slower shimmering guitar strums of “Someday” has echoes of Pete Ham’s balladry with minor chords and a smooth solo at the break. It follows with “What Can I Do,” its call and response chorus in a Rembrandts-like guitar melody and then the pace slows down briefly for “Tell Me.”
With only 8 tracks (and one is purely filler), its catchy ear worms are primarily on the first half, with a break for slower pop on “It’s Been A Long Time” then it picks up the pace again on “She Won’t Care.” At times the techniques and lyrical themes repeat, but the songs are so short and sweet its hard to be too critical. A few introspective ballads would be a nice addition, otherwise its highly recommended.
Stereo Tiger “Two Weeks”
Formed in the summer of 2013, Stereo Tiger emerged out of a series of impromptu jam sessions involving Kenny Stahl, Henry Ashburn, and Aaron Posega. True to its title, this album was recorded by Andy Reed in only ten days! Influenced by late 1970s style, the slow build of the bass guitar in “Magic Balloon,” has a soaring chorus with dense harmonies in this epic rock ballad. “Perfect World” is a lighter touch of pop and then we get to the guitar crunch of “Open Your Eyes,” another standout track.
“Runaway” adds a fuzz vocal to a garage riff that recalls The Police in its early days. Then it goes in a different style entirely, “All These Years” is like a lost Billy Joel track with its mellotron keys and sax flourishes. The varied styles put me off at first, but after a few more listens you’ll appreciate the strong melodies in gems like “Philly Girl”and “Did You Ever Love Me.” Overall the skill of this ambitious young band makes this sleeper a highly recommended pick. (and on bandcamp its name-your-price!)