Tommy Keene “Laugh In The Dark”
It seems doing an album of covers has awakened a spark from the guitar pop veteran and he sounds re-energized on his latest album Laugh In The Dark. Starting out on “Out of My Mind” with its ringing guitars and catchy rhythm he delivers in spades. It fades into “Dear Heloise,” another brilliant jangling, post-Big Star power pop classic and the riffs have more muscle than a Gold’s Gym on “Last Of The Twilight Girls.”
Keene blends his vocal with the chords just right, even the mid-tempo “All The Lights Are Alive” showcases the solid melodic structure comparable to artists like Chris Stamey. Each track is a finely crafted gem; the title track has a descending bass line with its soothing guitar solo, as he chimes “Yesterday was a lark, now we’ll laugh in the dark.” I’ve only touched on half the album, but you get the drill here. Not a note of filler, and this stands as the best Keene album I’ve heard in years — makes my top ten of 2015 list and its a stellar example of guitar-focused power pop.
Marshall Crenshaw “#392: The Ep Collection”
This is a compilation of 6 vinyl EPs that Crenshaw released from 2012 to this year. Its a good equal mix of originals and cover tunes starting with “Grab the Next Train,” it shows Marshall still has a knack for memorable melody, with lyrics by friend Dan Bern. “Red Wine” is another gem with its jazzy guitar and accordion breaks. Then the smart composition “I Don’t See You Laughing Now,” is about a poetic comeuppance.
All the originals are all solid, where the covers are more of a mixed bag. Starting with The Move’s “No Time” penned by Jeff Lynne is an very inspired choice, less so is a competent but pedestrian version of “Close To You.” My favorites here is Bobby Fuller’s “Never To Be Forgotten” and overall this collection makes for some pleasant listening.