Trolley “Caught In The Darkness”
Milwaukee band Trolley continues it’s charge forward bringing 60’s inspired pop into the modern era. This is the strongest effort to date, as the title track hits all the right notes, with solid support from organ and drums. A big highlight is “Thursday Girl,” with a combination of groovy retro synth and solid melody. Mod elements on “Crying All The Time” give way to a Byrdsian chorus that also meshes perfectly.
If it leans too hard on the retro conventions, it always seems to throw a curve in the melody or instrumentation like on “She Has It All.” But any shortcomings on some songs are overcome by the enthusiastic compositions, which never get predictable. Another gem “Losing That Madly In Love With Her Feeling” boast a good harmony in the chorus, and even goes a slightly punk on “The Kids All Sing.” Even the weird filler at the end of album is interesting. I’m proud to list this as my first pick for the 2016 best-of list.
The High Llamas “Here Come The Rattling Trees”
Sean O’Hagan is back with another easy listening album, with all its wonderful subtleties and his influences are still mainly Brian Wilson, with a touch of Steely Dan. This narrative-driven project is broken up in several parts, with the main theme (title track) being lush and low key minimalist pop.
The vocals are in several songs, but most of this album is instrumental, with underscores all showing up first. “Brambles Black” is has a soothing bossa nova rhythm, with light synths and slow organ of “Mona’s Song” is another gem. Overall, this is what you’d expect from O’Hagan, his meticulous folk lounge music is meant to remain a sweet background soundtrack to your life.