George Usher “The End And The Beginning: 1990-2009”
Described by the Village Voice as “one of New York’s best pop craftsmen,” singer-songwriter George Usher has a long, storied history that is expertly curated in this multi-disc retrospective The End And The Beginning. While it doesn’t have everything, its pretty thorough collecting tracks from across Usher’s career. The set starts with the bands House of Usher (1990) and George Usher’s Lazy Gentlemen (1991) where he develops a solid rep doing jangle pop with a baroque style.
When we hit the single “Not The Tremblin’ Kind” from Miracle School (1997), its melodic magic with a strong Beatle vibe that we’re used to. Great songs like “Begging For Rain” and “Days Of Plenty” make you question why Mr. Usher wasn’t a bigger star, but his talent as a songwriter and performer is beyond question. The ballads become more prominent later on, like the pastoral “Love By Any Other Name.” Since much of his earlier work is out-of-print and in some cases hard to find, this collection is essential for power pop fans. Get it directly from George on his website.
Lions in The Street “The Years”
Playing tough, swaggering ’70s-styled rock & roll influenced by the Small Faces, Eagles and the Rolling Stones, Vancouver’s Lions in the Street are a band that persevered in spite of years of record company interference. The album “The Years” (named after the band’s original moniker) was held up in lawsuits. Recorded for TVT Records(Lil’ Jon, Pitbull) in New York City with Grammy-nominated producer Dave Cobb (Jamey Johnson, Jason Isbell), a legal dispute with the label put the band in debt and stalled any career progress.
Fortunately, this is now finally released and is a pleasant surprise that still holds up. The gentle harmonies and muscular guitars start on “Someday” are almost like a mix of Badfinger and The Faces. The soulful vocals of Chris Kinnon on “Still The Same” and “Carolina” compare well with Mick Jagger. The country harmonies on “Can You Hear The Sea” strongly contrast with the heavy rock riffs of “In Cold Blood” and “I Know You Wanna” is almost AC/DC-like. Strong songwriting and performances sustain all 11 tracks. A lost gem that’s finally uncovered and highly recommended.
Check out this FREE bonus track from the album.