Smash Palace “Some Kind of Magic” EP
Steven & Brian Butler (the main force behind Smash Palace) continue to put out some of the most pristine rock songs, and they are joined by Fran Smith Jr. (bass) and David Uosikkinen (drums) from The Hooters, plus Wally Smith (keyboards) and fan favorite Cliff Hillis (guitar). What seems new here is a conscious effort to avoid sounding too retro.
The opener “My Mistake” is a contemporary rock song with Smash Palaces’ signature jangle rhythm. “Haddontown” has a California feel; like Crosby, Stills & Nash mixed with Tom Petty and its the standout single here. “Part of The Plan” has a great driving guitar that leads the lyric and the solo at the break is pretty sweet too. This is a short, but sweet EP without a stray note — its highly recommended for fans. Newbies might want to start here.
The Maureens “Bang The Drum”
The Maureens are a band from Utrecht, Netherlands and they make exciting and melodic alternative pop, but unlike last years debut the band takes a much softer approach on Bang The Drum. The band still has crisp clear harmonies and strong melodies when we start with “Heartbreak” and “Catch Me When I Fall” which recalls Teenage Fanclub or The Pearlfishers.
The slower “September” draws from early ’70s easy listening pop and the arena balladry of “Caroline” is similar to late-era Moody Blues. The softer songs on the albums latter half, while boasting solid musicianship didn’t hook me like the debut album did. But gems like “Bloom” will impress with the guitar and rich choral harmonies similar to Abba. Overall, this is a highly recommended listen and I hope to hear more from these talented artists.