The Weightlifters "O My Stars" EP

This new EP by ex-Idle Wilds guitarist Adam McLaughlin’s (under the name, The Weightlifters) is another ambitious self released effort that delivers all the goods. Fans of both Big Star and Teenage Fanclub will enjoy these melodic masterworks by a powerful tune smith in the zone. From the opening chords of “Perfect” it puts the listener at ease with smooth atmospheric guitar. The following song “Bygones” is a bit like Elliot Smith and the wonderful “Belle of the Wrecking Ball” is like a lost Fanclub track with a guitar chorus, hand claps and multi-layered harmonies all around. The acoustic strains of “To Be A Killer” is a compelling personal confession of someone wrestling with murderous demons. “O My Stars” is a much quieter album than the first EP Last of the Sunday Drivers which was closer to the New Pornographers styled sound. Between the two, you’ve got a damn fine album. Highly Recommended for sure.

My Space | CD Baby

John Laprade and The Unremarkables EP

A few more EPs I found this weekend:

John Laprade “Blind”
John Laprade is a new voice on the scene, he scored some exposure on A&E with “Knock You Down” featuring Richard Lloyd and here is his debut EP. This song goes on sarcastically about stardom and it’s trappings, with Lloyd’s amazing guitar and Laprede’s soaring harmony. The title track, “Blind” is a terrific single, with hummable chorus and reminds me a little of Glen Tilbrook, Tommy Keene and Wilco. “Tennessee” is a little laid back country pop tune, with a bit of piano, harmonica and some nice drum work by Rich Pagano (Fab Faux). This is a prelude to John’s new LP coming soon, and it’s a good starting point.
My Space | CD Baby

The Unremarkables “21st Century Ghost”
I wasn’t too keen on this Norwich, UK group’s debut last year, but these guys keep forging onward and I am seeing improvement in both the songwriting and musical competence on this EP. The title track “21st Century Ghost” is a catchy crowd pleaser with plenty of layered guitar parts and resembles a cross between Tears for Fears, Aztec Camera and U2. “Heartache Cologne” is another highlight here with handclaps and strong guitar themes that showcase the improvements the band has made. This band deserves some attention, so guitar loving rock fans should listen up.
My Space | Itunes

Vibeke and The Blue Sky Secret EPs

I hope the turkey and football have satisfied all this holiday. Here are some new EP releases making waves recently:

Vibeke “From All of Me”
After a great debut from Vibeke it’s a nice follow up that arrives right on time for the holidays. “…From All Of Me” has everything you need in Christmas music, sleigh bells, choruses and melodic rock and roll, of course. “I Must Have Been So Good” is a great rockin‘ holiday theme, with a Pretenders-like guitar and vocals. “Mistletoe Kissing” is a high energy Christmas skiffle punk with rip roaring guitars and drum beat. Another highlight here is “A Christmas Carol (For The Losers In Love)” with a catchy melody and toe tapping beat. The song “Jingle Jangle Christmas” is a celebration of many Christmas themes, yet every song here is totally original. This stands along side all the great rock Christmas records, from The Kinks “Father Christmas” to Hall and Oats’ “Jingle Bell Rock” – Just like the liner notes say… “This is a proper Christmas Record!”
My Space | CD Baby

The Blue Sky Secret “What We Are”
Out of Nashville, TN comes both Ricky Free and Devin Burrell. It’s no secret here that these guys are a truest breathe of fresh air since Rick Altizer or Swirl 360. That both Ricky and Devin grew up in the heart of the contemporary Christian music scene just explains how these guys have such a gifted mastery of melodic rock. The opener “In Your Eyes” has a lot of great slickly produced melody and an angelic choral break. the follow up “11 Years,” has a simple guitar melody and a total radio play about romance. The highlight of the EP for me is “Six Feet Small” with it’s catchy chorus and layered guitars. Very much like a Jellyfish song, with Queen multi-layered guitars, it’s a real blast of greatness. Then “What Went Wrong” starts almost identical to McCartney’s “Let’em In” and then goes into another melodic gem of smooth pop with horn accents. The music isn’t overly preachy and a textbook example of how to do power pop right. It’s highly recommended here, so whens the full length LP, guys?
My Space | Itunes

The Orion Experience & The Western States Motel EP

The Orion Experience
“Heartbreaker EP”

Sometimes a power pop group really has that special “something” that makes them take off in the mainstream press. I saw this last year with The Orion Experience’s debut and at IPO in 2007. Well now even Perez Hilton is jumping on the bandwagon. This dazzling EP shows the band maturing in both songwriting and musicianship, while still coasting on renewed interest in “Obsessed With You” from the last album. The new tracks, “Nice Guys Finish Last” has a Blondie meets Green Day catchy melodic riff, sure to be a radio hit if the major stations had a clue. “Heartbreaker” is a little Scissor Sisters-like doo wop that just makes you want to dance. “Sugar” is a great post-Halloween track that literally lists all the goodies “that are all no good for me” with those chunky sweet guitar riffs and as this band raises it’s profile it’ll be nice to see where the next album takes us. In the meantime, this EP is a nice sticky treat. 

Orion Experience Site | CD Baby

The Western States Motel
“Painted Birds Flying In The Orange Mirror Sun EP”

Songwriter Carl Jordan knows his way around a tune. For fans of the Elliot Smith, The Beta Band, and The Shins his is modern pop manna from heaven. Impeccable melodies and instrumentation lead each track. Unlike other solo soft spoken dry vocalists like Jeremy Messersmith or Dion Read, Jordan doesn’t let his anxieties show through in the songwriting and the delivery is very matter of fact. Even if the song is an ode to our worldly problems like “Oh World” he states “I don’t wanna turn down my stereo, it’s taken me places, some are new, some I know.” Each song has a memorable hook and highlights are “Stampede” and “Trans Am” each with a sparkling guitar strum and multi-tracked vocal. In any case, it’s made me want to investigate his earlier album on CD Baby. Jordan is an awesome talent that should not be missed, so check out this EP.

My Space | e music | Itunes | CD Baby (first album here)

Note: Rob Bonfiglio review posted on The Rock and Roll Report.

Signal Hill Transmission and Holmes EPs

Signal Hill Transmission “Smoking Gun”
This L.A. based four-piece returns and goes in a more pop direction, compared to the groups earlier efforts which were a alternative DIY or Roots styled. Very sharp clean commercial pop here, closer to classic Toad The Wet Sprocket on “On and Off” a super catchy single that is very welcome in replay mode on my ipod. The moody “Pause Then The Punchline” also weaves it’s way into your brain with a great chorus and lyrics. It gets even sparse on “One Way Ticket” like a Lemonheads-syled dippy-chorus that goes along and resigns itself, the lead vocal intones “I’m never gonna be what you want me to be, kid in a candy store, dream a big dream” – this is an excellent EP that does the very good job of making my mouth water for the next album. Check it out!

Signal Hill website | My Space | Itunes

Holmes “Basement Tapes EP”
Holmes has done some stellar work in the past, and now I guess he wants to let loose with something a bit different. It’s okay that the opener “Go Computer” sounds much like an old track off of a Devo album – it comes back to a great ballad in “Prove Me Wrong Again” where we here faint echos of ELO’s “Lorado Tornado” with a country twang similar to The Eels. But the most adventurous track here is a cover of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” played as a gloomy slow dirge. It is nearly unrecognizable and yet very compelling to listen to. The ending track is closer to what Holmes last album sounds like, “Not A Political Song” with it’s catchy chorus and ironic lyrics about the end of the Bush era. It’s the highlight here with wonderful imagery of “Fat cats sitting atop a crumbling house” and “you’re history, you oughta sing along.” Most worthy and fitting, for Holmes – so when is the LP due?

Holmes’ Site | My Space | emusic