The Shellye Valauskas Experience and Anchor & Bear

The Shellye Valauskas Experience

The Shellye Valauskas Experience “History of Panic”

In 1999, power pop veteran Dean Falcone (The Excerpts with Jon Brion) paired up with singer-guitarist Shellye Valauskas. As the Shellye Valauskas Experience, the debut album The History of Panic has been in the works for many years, and it sounds worth the wait. They are aided by Jon Auer (The Posies, Big Star) and drummer Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention, XTC, Nick Drake, Paul McCartney).

The opener “Do Over” is a rich, meticulously multi-layered single anchored by Shellye’s crisp vocal style and some great chord changes. “Gravity” has a sweetly smooth chorus, very much like Aimee Mann but with a lot less detached angst. I could not find a bit of filler here, as the style varies from the bouncy “Cracked Up” to a quiet folky version of Cheap Trick’s “Mandocello.” And the band rocks out on the grand “Leftover Mistake,” one of the best songs here. Highlights include “Cheap Shot” and the final track “Tuck Me In,” which is brimming with good feeling. Highly Recommended.


Anchor and Bear

Anchor & Bear “Raincoats and Gold”

Remember Paul Starling? Well, this year Paul (aka Brian Bringelson) has paired up with Katy Pearson to form Anchor & Bear. The strong guitars contrast well with Katy’s high tenor on the opener “Hard To Say You’re Sorry.” Next the jangling goodness of “Green Shoe Girl” make it a big highlight here, with its catchy duet and guitar arpeggio. The solid “Singer Out of Work” has Katy doing a deeper vocal, with a descriptive lyric full of contrasts “I’m a lover /I’m a sinner /I’m a straight shot in reverse.”

The music feels along the lines of Belle & Sebastian, with forceful melodies like “Started To Leave” and “Walking Around” which uses some nice Motown-like rhythms. Brian’s introspective solo songs work well like “Words,” but the more dramatic setups like “Here Comes The Night” are less memorable. Some songs just meander around like “Gunfight” without much structure, but when it comes together like on “Blueprints” it’s pretty good. Check it out!