The Legal Matters “Conrad”
On of the most anticipated releases this year was from The Legal Matters (Andy Reed, Chris Richards, and Keith Klingensmith) a power pop supergroup that impressed many 2 years ago. The band has matured into a more cohesive unit and Conrad feels more confident, more buoyant and pushes the boundaries of the term power pop to what I would call “Adult-Oriented Power Pop,” and if you listen to the new Teenage Fanclub album Here, you’ll be in similar territory.
The bands influences have blended into each other, and the sound is now to closer to Crowded House meets Jellyfish meets America. “Anything” is a mid-tempo opener with stunning harmonies in its chorus that’s just brimming with optimism. “I’m Sorry Love” is a Jellyfish-like ballad with multiple shifts in tone and warbling guitar lines. Next, “Minor Key” is a perfect mid-tempo offering and then the band lets loose on “Short Term Memory” about the ephemeral nature of musical hooks and asks “who killed all the rock and roll stars?” Another gem “She Called Me To Say” is a catchy tune with some great bass and shimmering guitar work.
There are also a few acoustic-driven personality sketches like “Pull My String” and “The Cool Kid” that are loaded with authenticity. We also get a very Posies-like power ballad “Hip Hooray” and it ends with the McCartneyesque “Better Days” explaining the dual message that better days are both behind us and in front of us. No filler, and not typical disposable music, this album needs to be digested over several listens. Overall this a meticulously crafted piece of pop that deserves to be somewhere in my top ten and earns my highest rating.
Mason Summit “Gunpowder Tracks”
LA singer-songwriter Mason Summit is musically wise beyond his 19 years, as Gunpowder Tracks is a sophisticated slice of chamber pop and American folk. “Cellophane Skin” starts out as a soft piano melody with complex lyrics and a tight arrangement. “Splatterpaint” builds from bare bones pop to a layered gem with light backing harmonies, similar to Elliot Smith.
“When Time Was Mine To Spend” is a great example of Summit’s descriptive lyrics that paint a picture of growing up. What helps is Summit’s detailed approach as he drifts across styles from jazz (“Detour” and the title track) to jangling folk pop (“Particles” “Last Time”). It may be a bit too “coffee house” for some, but he’s well on his way to stardom if he continues this path.