Vermont native Syd is a super talented singer/songwriter who knows his way around a musical hook or two. Sounding like a hybrid of Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) and Joe Jackson on his new EP “Upswing,” the big twang of “The Big Town” is a smart quirky single with a sing along chorus. Fans of Johnny Polonsky’s first album will find a few similarities here as well. After starting his career as a John Mayer styled pop folkie, he’s pulled on over to the power pop side. The highlight here is “Mallory” with hand claps and a high falsetto in the chorus that helps this single jump out of the speaker at you. The other two tracks ( “Easier On You” and “The Pattern” here are standouts as well, with catchy melodic refrains and a strong beat. This is pure pop sweetness and even though it’s only four tracks, it’s superior to other bands’ full length releases and again this is a FREE download people! GET THIS NOW. You’ll thank me after you hear it.
Chicago native Archie Powell and The Exports are more than plain ole’ rock and roll, it’s a mini party in a 5-song EP. Powell opens things up with the rootsy “Moving To The City” which is a bit like Wilco or Old 97s poppier tracks. “Loose Change” is another good follow up that works in a hummable chorus and a punchy beat. Other other songs here are also clear winners including “Mattson Is A Flake” which reminds me of Ben Kweller with a Weezer styled chorus. On “Piggy Bank Blues” he mentions “Rock and Roll is just a pyramid scheme…” So to prove Powell’s not part of any scheme, this the EP is a free download, so you have no excuses. Highly recommended for sure.
Last month I mentioned Michael Carpenter and his new band, The Cuban Heels EP, “Give The Dog A Bone” and to add to the confusion, this is another EP with a bit more country sound called New Dog Old Tricks. Like a bit of Dylan or The Flying Burrito Brothers with Steel Pedal on the opener “The Ballad of Ambivalence” and “Some Days are Worse Than Others.” These are well written country songs with excellent musicianship all around. “Workin’ For A Livin” is a awesome country rocker, with sharp piano and guitar work. My favorite here is the Wilco-like “If You Ask Me” with a soaring vocal bridge. The tracks here are pure gold in a laid back manner and it includes between song banter with his studio mates. If this is the “new” direction Carpenter is taking, I will put on my ten-gallon hat and cheer him on. The hard copies are already sold out on Not Lame, so you’ll need to download instead for this.
Listen to “Oh No, Not You Again “
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.
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