Somerdale “Shake It Maggie”
You couldn’t ask for a better self-referential intro than “Take It From The Top” with all the guitars, harmonies and catchiness. It even acknowledges that power pop is “so out of style its cool” and if you love the classic power pop sound (Badfinger, Raspberries, Cheap Trick) you’ll be hard pressed to find a better example on Shake It Maggie.
“Waiting For You” is a slow burning rocker with layered instrumentation that drives to a dramatic peak. “The News” picks up the tempo and that fuzzy guitar rhythm just sticks in your head. The thick slabs of riffs and chord structure on “Excuse Me” make it an irresistible power ballad. “Feel The Magic” is a little Bay City Rollers mixed with Slade, full of hand claps and smoking’ harmonies. Another one of my favorites here is “The Coolest Kid In School,” sounding like a lost song from teen 90’s movie soundtrack, its both sweet and wicked. Even though there are moments of meandering hard rock (“She’s Leaving California”) there is not a note of filler here. Get’s a nod as one of the top ten albums for 2016. Don’t miss it!
Hector and the Leaves “Sometimes In The Morning: EPs 2012-2106”
Hector and The Leaves (aka Tom Hector) is a London based folk-pop outfit who’s been putting out EPs for several years and this collection puts it all together.
“I’ll Be Leaving Soon” with its wispy, layered vocalizations sets the mellow mood. “Imogen” has Elliott Smith like acoustic guitar strums, and then the bouncy “Problems” offers up a warm hook that will coax the indifference out of any educated listener. The lush “California” with its hushed harmonies recall Curt Boechetter or The Brigadier with its beautiful “ba-ba-ba” chorus. There is some minor filler here (“Baumer’s Suit,” “I Ride My Bicycle”) but it doesn’t detract from the albums flow. “Good Times” and “Goodbye” has an almost pastoral dreamlike quality. You will either love this gentle full warm sound or it will put you to sleep. Either way it’s highly recommended mellow-out music.