The highly anticipated Silverlake takes Pugwash in a more polished direction as Thomas Walsh leaves his old bandmates behind and teams up with Jason Falkner (Jellyfish) to deliver a denser, more confident sound. The opener “The Perfect Summer” is a stunningly brilliant single that is everything a power pop fan could want, accessible, repeatable and infectious. The follow up “What Are You Like” with its angelic backing harmonies, and Falkner’s sparkling guitar solo is even better. It settles in after that, as most of Thomas’ great influences (XTC, Jeff Lynne, etc.) are already baked-in, so even if the audible cues are noticeable, they don’t overwhelm the song.
“Better Than Nothing At All” is an earnest Walsh ballad, and “Without You” has the slickness that Falkner applied to Bent Van Looy‘s work. The pastoral acoustic “Sunshine True” is supported by orchestral strings and the jangle gem “Easier Done Than Said” is another excellent tune that highlights Walsh vocal chops and the solid arrangements. Not a note of filler, as each song hits the mark. It ends with “Autarch,” a slow-burning layered Beatlesque gem. In Falkner, Walsh has found a like-minded collaborator who knows exactly what he wants and delivers excellence. Easily makes my top ten list for 2017, and a must-buy album.
The Stars Explode “Too Late to Save the World”
The Chapel Hill-based group The Stars Explode is back with founding member, Doug Edmunds (Gladhands) and a new lineup that includes Dewey McCafferty (Lead & rhythm guitar), Lance Westerlund (Bass) and Jackson McGee (Drums). The bombastic opener “Apocalypse Blues” boasts a darker rock edge and less of an alternative rock buzz. “The Long Way” is driven by a combination of layered guitar rhythms and harmonies, and it does recall The Gladhands late 90’s era. The tribute “Matthew Sweet” is an especially good tune that opines on the iconic artist “Do you remember hearing Matthew Sweet/Our girlfriend would play it on infinite repeat?” It mimics Sweet’s slowly buzzing guitar chords very nicely.
While the song “Some Girls Pt.2” is a Stones-related macho rant, it doesn’t recall that classic band as well as “Untitled #1.” The guitar arpeggio rhythm highlights “From Daylight To Midnight” a nice slice-of-life rocker in our dog-eat-dog world. The songs are clear and aggressive, as the lone ballad (“Love Alone”) is soulful and sombre. The sonic textures in “The Real World” and “Rainy Days,” are a little closer to 80’s pop, but remain well-written songs. The ender “Our Last Stand” is a real treat with a terrific choral break followed by an energetic guitar solo. Overall a highly recommended collection of music.