Butch Walker “Stay Gold”
Butch Walker has come a very long way from his days as part of the Marvelous 3. He’s produced many of the biggest artists in modern pop (Avirl Lavigne, Taylor Swift, Fall Out Boy) while managing a impressive solo career. “Stay Gold” moves him towards anthemic rockers with country overtones alongside guys like Ryan Adams or Rhett Miller.
“Stay Gold” directly references the novel (and film) The Outsiders, by S.E.Hinton. It reflects both Ponyboy’s innocence and looking back at happier times, as Walker winks at his own “wild” experiences. Its a catchy guitar gem with a chorus that begs a sing along. “East Coast Girl” is a very Springsteen-like story about a broken life trying at re-invention, wonderfully fleshed out with harmonies and spoken passages. Other songs get more atmospheric, but remain stylistically close to “The Boss” musically (“Ludlow Expectations” is a good example.) The rousing “Irish Exit” is a great bar room rocker with nice fiddle and rhythm guitar flourishes, about staying at a party too long. The most moving story here is a gorgeous duet with Ashley Monroe on “Record Store,” about a shattered relationship trying to reminisce on better days. A stellar studio cast assists Butch here, even fan favorite Roger Manning Jr. (Jellyfish) does keyboards. A solid effort with excellent musicianship and worthy of many repeat listens. Check it out.
Mild High Club “Skiptracing”
With its mix of soft ’70s pop sounds and swirling synths, its takes a bit to unwind the storyline in multi-instrumentalist Alex Brettin’s second album as Mile High Club. The title track is a slow tempo’ed gem with gentle background vocals and descending tropical notes, like a musical sunset. “Homage” and “Cary Me Back” are a stoned out masterworks, with its detuned lead and string synths. Another standout is “Tessellation,” sounding like Steely Dan slowed to half speed with a catchy psyche pop chorus.
There are jazz stylings and rhythms dripping from each distorted melody as we learn about the gumshoe protagonist tripping out to “Whodunit?” Even though midway through the songs begin to blend into each other and lose its distinctiveness, it’s still compelling. Tune in and trip out to this on headphones.