Brent Cash “The New High”
Brent Cash has been very carefully releasing finely crafted pop albums every ten years or so. On his third album, The New High Brent goes for a very sophisticated softness, on the title track it recalls Van Dyke Parks or Burt Bacharach with its orchestral strings. The great piano melody “Out for Blood” brings to mind a classic Todd Rundgren ballad, and its my favorite here. The lighter “The Wrong Thing” and “Dim Light” break up the heaviness of the earlier tracks. “The Way You Were” has a bit of McCartney mixed into its Wilsonesque melancholy.
While this is all beautiful pop, it has a downbeat and serious theme.”I’m Looking Up” is another gem with swirling chord combinations and harmonies and “Edge Of Autumn” flirts with ELO’s classical style. Highly Recommend.
Dana Countryman “Girlville”
Songwriter/Producer Dana Countryman has written and recorded three albums of his particular brand of “retro-pop” but now he’s taken his high-gloss template to girl groups of the early ’60s. Using a variety of vocalists he sets the mood perfectly with Lisa Mychols, Molly Felder, Kathy Hettel, Tricia Countryman, Julie Johnson Sand, Andrea Perry, Kelly Harland, and Lisa Jenio.
Some brilliant songwriting is found among the gems here, “I’ve Run All Out Of Tears (To Cry Over You)” gets the spirit and its catchy chorus stays with you. In the best tradition of these ballads, all songs are strictly from the girl’s point-of-view. It also hits the bubble-gum style of “How Do You Know When You Love A Boy?” and “Bom Sh’Bom Sh’Bom.” Audiophiles will have a ball picking up each Brill Building cue and reference. However, with 19 tracks it could have used a bit of editing – my guess is Dana was having too much fun here. Fans of the early girl-band era must get this one.