Golden Daze and Cait Brennan

“Golden

Golden Daze “Golden Daze”

Golden Daze was formed by Midwest musicians Ben Schwab and Jacob Loeb, totally inspired by 60’s melodic psyche-pop and contemporaries like Cass Mccombs and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Golden Daze drenches their songs in shimmering guitar reverbs and ethereal wall of sound effects.”Ghost” is like Donovan meets The Electric Prunes, with a textural drone running over the melody. Highlights includes the bright echoing “Never Coming Back” with its bouncy melody and the strong beat on “Sleeping In The Sun.” But my favorite here is “Salt” with its jangling rhythm and long guitar fade out. If you have any pet peeves about vocals being fuzzed out too much you may have issues, but otherwise this acid-dripped LP is Highly Recommended.

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“Cait

Cait Brennan “Debutante”

Cait Brennan spent the better part of 20 years writing power-pop and glam-rock symphonies in secret. Discovered and championed by legendary producer/musician Fernando Perdomo, the thunderous glam piano opener “Good Morning and Goodnight” mixes the classical ’60s approach with modern lyrics about today’s soulless media, bolstered by a great bass line.

“Underworld” has a Brydsian jangle that supports Cait’s soulful croon. The ballad “Dear Arthur” is like a lost Procol Harum confessional. That Brennan is a transgender person explains her deep vocal, but that is beside the point. These are great songs about love, loss, hope, identity, struggle, and ultimately survival. The trials of Brennan’s difficulties are described in “Showman” and “Father McKenzie” is another masterwork that recalls classic Elton John. No filler here either, a very highly recommended debut.

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Check out a longer documentary about Cait Brennan, the remarkable journey is here.

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EP Reviews: Loop Line, Suntrodden and Animal Daydream

Loop Line

Loop Line “Wakes” EP

We covered Loop Line’s debut not so long ago, now Luke and Paul return with another catchy EP. “Nothing About You” features blistering guitar spurts with echoing harmonies which fans of Weezer would appreciate. Next we get the pensive rhythm of “Grin” where the two vocals and instruments (guitar and keys) collaborate uneasily. “Parts Unknown” has a lovely fuzz guitar sound and Beach Boys-like backing vocals, but the lead melody doesn’t quite standout. “Dusty Keys” fares much better, and overall this is worth checking out. Get a “name-your-price” download at Bandcamp.

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The Expected

Suntrodden “Suntrodden I ” EP

Atlanta native Erik Stephansson (aka Suntrodden) delivers minimalist pop of  with a light vocal that recalls Elliot Smith or Beach House. “Sunrise To Sunset” uses simple guitar chords, shakers and tambourines to build the warm atmosphere. “Float Away” is a wistful ballad about the loss of control, but hope emerges in “It’s Never Over” a gentle lullaby for Erik’s infant son. The relaxed sounds feel like the calm before a storm brews — and the music has that sense of anticipation. Experience it.

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The Expected

Animal Daydream “Citrus” EP

Animal Daydream is Daniel Fridlund Brandt and Alexander Wahl, a soft rock duo from Gothenburg Sweden. The highly addictive West Coast style of the jangling guitars on the title track are very much like a hybrid of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Teenage Fanclub. “Sun (Turn Around)” has a magical pop-pysche chorus with its cascading bass line and “All That You Can Give” has rich thick harmonies and a deep percussive sound that recalls The Association. “In My Room” gets a little more into spacey folk rock, but overall this is a band to keep your eye on. Highly Recommended.

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Gothic Chicken and Javier Escovedo

Gothic Chicken

Gothic Chicken “Lift The Cobweb Veil”

Pink Hedgehog Records put together Gothic Chicken, a psyche-pop super group with members from The Lucky Bishops and Cheese; Marco Rossi (Guitars), Alan Strawbridge (Bass ), Tom Hughes (Keyboards), and Luke Adams (Drums) with all members contributing to vocal duties.

The production here is high quality, a mix of Schnauser and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd on the big opener “Overthrow.” Next the baroque pop gem “And As For Me” is like a Left Banke composition with smooth harmonies, but it dives into prog-land shortly after the chorus. This follows through for many songs, setting up a solid melody and then going ADD with it by flying into a Zappaesque direction. Gorgeous composition sets-ups like “The Mousetrap” and “Priest Hole” will demand repeat listens. “Westward Ho?” is another amazing gem; like a lost 10cc track floating through Pepperland. If you like psychedelic rabbit holes, this is an excellent album to turn on and tune in to. Highly Recommended.

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Javier Escovedo

Javier Escovedo “Kicked Out Of Eden”

This is the second solo release by Javier Escovedo (The Zeros, True Believers) and Kicked Out Of Eden is pure unfiltered rock’n’roll with touches of twang and garage thrown in. Staring with “Downtown” the riffs smacks you between the eyes and doesn’t let go till the boogie-woogie piano break.

The catchy “It Ain’t Easy” and “Beaujolais” are both filled with heavy rhythm and blues guitar lines and Javier’s world weary vocal. The tempo shifts on “Drivin’ Around” with its gentle backing harmonies (Javier and Chrissy Flatt). The McGuinn-like vocal delivery and 12 string chime of “Just Like All The Rest” is another winner. Escovedo doesn’t exactly color outside the lines of the rock template but overall its a heartfelt effort that’s easy on the ears. Highly Recommended.

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Weekend Freebies: Nato Coles and Static In Verona

Both these albums are available for a “Name-your-own-price” and fit proudly in my collection. You could also give the artists a little money and get these great power pop/rock LPs, perfect for a snowbound weekend!

Nato Coles

Nato Coles “Promises To Deliver”

Nato Coles LP isn’t new, but to me it was and I was super impressed by the talent of the man and his Blue Diamond Band. If Meatloaf played power pop it would sound just like the opener “See Some Lights.” Coles songs are anthems to the unsung – like the catchy “Julie (Hang Out A Little Longer)” is a blue collar rocker on par with Springsteen or Bob Seger.

Elements of country guitar and barroom rock are the primary style and done very well, from the driving odes to his van “Econoline” and the road in “Rudes and Cheaps.” Another standout is “The True Blue Rocker” a catchy anthem reminiscent of the Allman Brothers “Ramblin’ Man.” No filler here and absolutely highly recommended rock and roll.

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Static In Verona

Static In Verona “Odd Anthem”

Chicago band Static in Verona (aka Rob Merz) has certainly changed over the years, and Odd Anthem is a solid addition to their catalog, but now they bring the high gloss synths to their indie pop productions. This doesn’t always make things better, as it tends to drown the magic of the harmonies in white noise. “Heavy Hands” is an excellent catchy song that could’ve used a lighter touch.

Some songs have a Coldplay-type of feel like “Future Ghosts” and “Shudder to Think,” with dramatic flourish in each chorus. It does have some successful experiments like “Wait, Wait” and “Then A Hush” with its unique percussive structure. “Forgetful” is my favorite song, with its upbeat chorus and successful blend of synths and bass guitar. I would’ve loved to hear the demos for this album. Some have added this LP to best-of lists, so its definitely worth repeat listens.

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