Gretchen’s Wheel “Sad Scientist”
Gretchen’s Wheel is the creative outlet for singer/songwriter Lindsay Murray. Her past albums while polished and pleasing just lacked a power pop focus. Sad Scientist changes all that, as Lindsay has gotten out the “big guns” Fernando Perdomo and Andy Reed onboard to help, along with other respected musicians (Donny Brown, Nick Bertling) to really make this album shine. “Better In The Dark” is a masterful melody suited perfectly to Lindsay’s willowy vocal giving it a unique cadence and feel similar to early Christine McVie.
“Left Turn” is a clever lyrical play on the songwriting process, with some great riffs by Mr. Perdomo. “Surviving” is one of a few mid-tempo ballads that really pack an emotional punch. “Blank Slate” is another keeper, a catchy ear-worm that is custom-made for Lindsay’s vocal style, and the somber “Out of Your Hands,” speaks about the transience of life; “make the most of your time while you can.” Overall a fantastic album and highly recommended.
Todd O’Keefe “Uptown”
This album is the definition of “one that floats under the radar,” as singer/songwriter Todd O’Keefe is a respected session musician for Jeff Beck, Ray Davies, and The Posies. But power pop fans will know him from his work as bassist for The 88, and The Green And Yellow TV. Todd’s first solo album, Uptown shows the power of a simple melody and acoustic guitar. Influences are varied from John Lennon, Bob Dylan to Paul Simon.
“The Man On The Mountain” is Guthrie-like folk tune done with a harmonica flourish and gusto. The solid “My Hometown” is a heartfelt ballad that hits all the right buttons, with its feeling of isolation. Related to that is the bouncy “The Day She Said Goodbye,” it’s such a good song, the type Wyatt Funderburke would layer and polish. But here it’s just a brilliantly stripped bare melody. “Highwayman” is a Simonesque ballad about a bandit in who dies unexpectedly. “Laughing Gas For The Idle Class” is an obvious Dylan protest similar to “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” Each song is short and sweet, and each melody stands firm without any embellishment. And maybe that’s what is missing here. If only a few tunes here were fuller productions… As it stands, it’s still ripe for multiple listens and very highly recommended.