David Brookings and The Average Lookings
California musician David Brookings has been a steady favorite of mine for many years, refining his songwriting craft and sound with each album since 2000. With his new band The Average Lookings, David delivers a truly unique sound that retains his main influences (Beatles, Beach Boys, Byrds) without sounding imitative. His vocals are a little like Roger Hodgson (Supertramp) so he has better range than most. Each song here hits the bulls-eye; “Hearts” starts us off with its effective catchy chorus, jangling rhythm and ending crescendo. The hand-clapping, bouncy “Time To Go” is a perfect follow up and “The Optimist” is another gem that proves “you’ll never be a winner unless you lose for quite a while.” Even the ballads like “Don’t Stop to Doubt Yourself” are compelling both lyrically and melodically.
Another memorable twist is the country-tinged rocker “I’m in Love With Your Wife,” which is a fictional accounting of Eric Clapton bragging to George Harrison that his girl Patti “looks wonderful tonight.” Beautifully written and produced, its all killer, no filler – and enough variety in style and tone that keeps the music fresh and unpredictable. It’s darn close to a flawless record and rockets to the top of my best LP of 2016 list.
Here is a great bio video of David…
Gary Ritchie “Poptimistic”
Chicagoan Gary Ritchie returns on Poptimistic and from the bouncy opening “Million Dollars” its very much like a classic Rubinoos single followed by “Let’s Pretend,” a Beatlesque tune full of simple lyrics and Rickenbacker bass lines. Clearly Ritchie has improved his songwriting over the years, as the compositions are tighter than past albums. “Subtle as a Freight Train” allows both Ritchie and co-guitarist Jeff King to show off a bit, and Gary also has a love of old school ’50s pop Buddy Holly style on “Perfect Girl.”
No filler anywhere, and plenty of catchy gems like “Carol Says” about a profile of a fortune teller and “Dial 9,” a mid-tempo Merseybeat charmer. The attitude of all the songs are summed up in “Real Good Feeling,” and if you are a fan of retro-grade pop perfection look no further. Highly Recommended.