Apollo “The Lunar Laugh”
I was really impressed with Jared Lekites single last month, so I guess he had more where that came from. Jared teams up with Connor Anderson and tees up a “must-have” masterwork. Although this album is short, each song is instantly catchy and timeless pop that uses inspiration from the ’60s and ’70s without sounding too retro or imitative.
“Man Against Man” is a quick paced rocker about partisanship in government. “Winsome” slows down just enough to a smoother mid-tempo chorus about looking back on childhood and “Apollo” is the LP centerpiece that recalls Lindsey Buckingham at his Fleetwood Mac peak with all the rich production and layered harmonies. Each song transitions well after the other, “On The Road” and “When I’m Alone” are both excellent pop gems. “Beds On Fire” is a slow atmospheric ballad with majestic piano that breaks things up, but then it jumps back on the bouncy pop wagon. Not a single wasted note here, and easily makes it as a candidate for my top ten of 2015 list. Amazon includes an extra track “Some of Shelly’s Blues.” Don’t miss this one!
Double Naught Spy Car & Stew “Panorama City”
Normally I wouldn’t review this, but Stew is someone I really admire. However he’s kinda sleepwalking here. The band Double Naught Spy Car has been described as “surf/roots/jazz/rock/psych/world/whatyougot” and they team up with pop vocalist Stew of The Negro Problem and Passing Strange fame. Panorama City is best described as spontaneously composed songs with improvised melodies. At times it’s both trippy and meandering.
Stew adds his own beatnik free-improv pop lyrics on top of the mess. Often Stew’s narrative is entertaining especially on songs like “Sweet Jackie’s Revenge” or “Bumpin’ Morton Subotnick,” but nothing here is that melodic or memorable. It’s too pop to be called avant-garde jazz music and too structured to be called abstract pop. It falls somewhere in between – and I didn’t really like it. One exception here is the blues rock guitar melody “President” which alludes to Nixon as a Lothario. While this doesn’t redeem the album, it was the one keeper here. Proceed with caution.