James AM Downes and Onesie

James AM Downes

James AM Downes “Prison Font”

The opener “Bait My Soul” is a sweetly descriptive pop confection, about a girl “with “fuck off” lips and a face so sweet” who gets away with a good hook accented by handclaps. “Not Thinking It Over” is another gem with a jangling rhythm and strong catchy chorus.

The title track has a familiar sounding guitar rhythm (recalling Lennon’s “Mind Games”) but Downes fragile tenor here resembles Mick Hucknall (Simply Red). The strong lyrics and the descending chords in the chorus push the song into “hit” territory. The remaining tracks don’t reach as high, but don’t disappoint either. Overall, James simply has the raw talent that deserves recognition. An impressive debut.

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Onesie “Leos Consume”

Onesie is the musical moniker for Brooklyn-based songwriter Ben Haberland. Stitching together vivid, hooky guitar pop anthems from scraps of Brit pop, punk, and rock, it rocks nicely on its debut Leos Consume. Opening with the terrific gem “Karaoke Killers” full of guitar blasting, hand clapping, hooky goodness. “Credit Score Of 666” has a wicked riff leading the hushed lyric very much like a lost Smash Mouth classic.

And the band doesn’t stick to one style which in this case is a benefit, as it skillfully jumps across genres. “Daytime King” is a little Red Hot Chili Peppers meets Gin Blossoms, and the jangling gem “Hotelekinesis” is sure to encourage dancing. “Husbands in Finance” allows some neat psychedelic instrumentation with its wah-wah guitar lead and climbing bassline.  In fact, it’s impossible to find a bad song here — written with a gusto that even “Ballad Of The Boomerang” struts from its jangly twee roots to a Collective Soul-like power pop. And the frequent guitar breaks just make me love this album more.  A real treat for lovers of melodic rock, it’s both highly recommended and on my list for top ten album of 2017. Don’t miss this one!