Secret Friend “Sleeper”
Secret Friend is the nom de plume of Thailand-based songwriter and recording artist Steven Fox. His music has been impressive before, but here he’s inspired by his native Thailand and the Peruvian rain forests to create a transcendental concept album. A virtual who’s who of power pop greatness contribute vocals to this album. “Blue Sky” is a pastoral dream with Kelly Jones crystalline vocal drawing you in, and its bass synths contrasting with the atmospheric dance rhythms. The experimental percussive effects highlights “Something’s Happening” with Linus of Hollywood effortlessly channeling Glenn Tilbrook and Stevie Wonder.
The lyrics are simple, often repeating and concentrate more on rhythmic patterns than melody. “Anyday Now” has some neat electronica mixed with a strumming guitar as Steve Eggers (The Nines) sings along. “I Don’t Know You” sung by Wyatt Funderburk, is a soothing synth melody similar to ELO in parts, but it too veers off into dreamland. Willie Wisely is given the most vocal duties on a trio of songs, notably “And Ever” with its ethereal vibe. Another standout is “Nobody Listens” sung by Bradley Dean Whyte it slowly builds layer by layer to its catchy chorus. And Steven does contribute a few of his instrumentals in the mix. Unlike straight pop, the songs continue well past the 4 minute mark, and have elements of prog rock, electronica and world music mixed in. One of the most magical albums I’ve heard this year so far, so it is highly recommend.
Get it on Bandcamp.
Jeff Litman “Primetime” EP
Its been ten years and Jeff Litman’s transformation from fresh face to street-worn music veteran is near complete with his latest EP. “That’s On You” starts with a ’80s piano that becomes a wicked melody that builds to the swaggering chorus, like if Hall and Oats were played by Elvis Costello. “Debutante” follows that with the same vibe, with a catchy guitar riff driving the song about the cynical cycle of the celebrity musician.
“Nothing” is a lighter mid-tempo composition reminding you not to sweat the small stuff and the bouncy title track once again brings to mind Mr. Costello. The mood changes on the last two tracks, but the epic “Don’t Slow Down” feels like the most personal statement Jeff’s made since his debut. Overall this tight EP boasts no filler and its all killer. Highly Recommended.