Ex-Norwegian “Pure Gold”
Roger Houdaille is a genuine pop savant, and after a near death experience, he took to the studio with his band Ex-Norwegian to work on his 6th album. Classic influences are all here; the Beatles, the Kinks, Bowie and the Move. Notable guest stars are Fernando Perdomo on slide guitar and Chris Price on organ. What you end up with is pure rock and roll bliss.
“It’s A Game” has those beats, but also got strong melodies and the guitars are everywhere. And the follow-up “Asking Too Much” has thick glam riffs across a chorus of Roger and Michelle Grand’s vocals. “Beeside” is another gem with slower droning rhythm and the frantic chords and beat of “On The Sidelines” is a little Ramones and Blondie combined. Each track carries a stylistic shift, “Keep Under Cover” is brilliant lyrical twist which asks “What good is art when it hurts your head?” It stays unpredictable throughout, and each track is compelling. This is the best Ex-Norwegian album in a while and earns a spot on my top ten list this year. Yes it’s “Pure Gold,” Roger!
Alphanaut “Meanwhile Back on Earth”
Alphanaut was conceived as a musical collective by Los Angeles-based songwriter Mark Alan, coordinating the talents of a wide variety of musician friends and acquaintances. Like a cross between OMD, David Bowie, and modern electro pop, the opener “Think Too Much” has a great hook in the chorus.
If you’d like a slow disco groove “Electricity” plays a lot like George Michael without the crooning. Lots of nice retro synth experimentation here (not something I normally listen to) but “Is This My Country?” is a standout. Similar to The Art of Noise, its subtle and keeps you hooked. Also recommended are “The Catalyst” and “Father’s Day.”