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.

Amazon

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.

Amazon

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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Torbjorn Petersson and Paul Melancon

Torbjorn Petersson

Torbjorn Petersson “Kool as a Kat”

A series of song fragments sprinkled in with some genuine great tunes, Petersson shines on the shimmering melody of “Lisa Love.” And the layered “Shades of You” has a bit of a Traveling Wilburys vibe with Torbjorn’s understated vocal (which reminds me a little of Pete Shelley.) Although the song sketches are short, they are distractions here, so thankfully most of music that turns out to be full songs are really good.

This was all a project where Torbjorn was challenged to write and record an album in only one month. I’d say it was a success. More highlights include “I’m Telling You Now, ” the McCartneyesque “The Trouble With Love” and the epic closer “What If I Was Wrong.” As another huge bonus, this album is FREE download, so pick it up now!

Bandcamp only

Torbjorn Petersson

Torbjorn Petersson “Summerbound” EP

The following month, Torbjorn produced this follow-up EP and no surprise its just as good as the music made earlier. “Absent Minded Me” has an easy going melody and the catchy “What In The World” has shades of Jeff Lynne that make it a big highlight here. The backing “ba-ba-ba” vocals are also in “Love Went To Paris” a light romance story, and the fast paced message about the power of music are in “Two Minutes of Your Time.” No filler here and Highly Recommended!

Bandcamp only

Paul Melancon

Paul Melancon “Super Rocket X​-​1” EP

Its been a long time since I’ve heard from Atlanta musician Paul Melancon. Well he shakes off the rust and is working on his third solo LP. This EP is just a taste of Melancon’s magic — and its only 2 bucks. “Super Rocket X-1” boast a wicked guitar opening riff that repeats in the chorus that seems influenced by the following artists he covers here. A faithful cover of Pink Floyd’s “Time” and Radiohead’s “Airbag” follow. Also impressive is the Bowie cover “Rock n’ Roll Suicide,” sure I’d prefer more originals here, but now that I’ve heard some I’m on the look out for more. Stay tuned.

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Jingle Jangle Pop, Shake Some Action, Dropkick

Jingle Jangle Pop

“Jingle Jangle Pop”

Holiday music from the guitar & pen of Andy Goldberg (the driving force behind The Honeymoon Stallions, The Goldbergs & The Sun Kings). This 5 song EP compiles holiday songs from each of the bands mentioned, all remixed by Paul Umbach. Some of these song have been “missing” for many years, so it’s great to have them back for the holiday season.

CD Baby


Shake Some Action

Shake Some Action “Christmas in The Sun”

One of my favorites, Shake Some Action delivers a great holiday single for FREE download. But I would like you to pay for it. All proceeds from the sale of this single go to the Toys For Tots Foundation, a top rated charity that provides toys, books and other gifts to less fortunate children. Bandcamp only.

Dropkick

Dropkick “25th December” EP

British band Dropkick certainly has been very active this year, and this goody is a small collection of holiday themed songs for FREE download. Love the jangling melody of “When Santa Comes Round” — you will too. Bandcamp only.

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The Db’s and Friends Christmas and The Genuine Fakes!

The Db's Christmas

The Db’s & Friends “Christmas Time Again”

When the Christmas Time EP appeared in 1986, it was a joyous occasion. It shouldn’t be surprising that it’s endeared and has been expanded for generations to come! The dB’s & Friends’ Christmas Time Again! enters its third decade of holiday fun with an incredible mix of what’s been previously cherished and adds new tidings of comfort and joy. Chris Stamey (Sneakers, The dB’s) has revised this gift of seasonal music for under your tree and into your ears. Classic tracks from Stamey, The dB’s, Whiskeytown (with Ryan Adams), and Alex Chilton are joined by new performances by Yo La Tengo & Jeff Tweedy, Marshall Crenshaw, Robyn Hitchcock, and Big Star’s Third (featuring Mike Mills of R.E.M. taking lead vocals on Big Star’s “Jesus Christ”), among many others. It’s not just Christmas time, it’s Christmas Time Again!

Amazon

Ho ho ho! Are you in the Christmas spirit yet? Maybe the Genuine Fakes can help you build a snowman with the popular theme from Disney’s Frozen! As the b-side, they’ve included last year’s “You Always Come Back Home (for X-mas)”, which was previously only available on the CD A Kool Kat Kristmas Volume Two. Get these singles now on iTunes

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Michael Carpenter and The Speak

Michael Carpenter

Michael Carpenter “The Big Radio”

You’d have to go back almost six years for Michael Carpenter’s last big solo release. Few artists are as reliable as the Australian singer-songwriter, producer, and engineer. You’re just guaranteed to get excellent power pop and he doesn’t disappoint here.  The opener “Don’t Open That Door” is another classic melodic gem, with layered guitars and harmonies underneath a catchy hook. The pounding drum starts “She’s In Love With Herself,” a fast paced put down that breaks into guitar nirvana between each chorus. And the gems continue with “Blind,” the powerful “I’ve Been Lovin’ You” and each tune that follows (not a note of filler here). He gives a shout out to a major influence “Chrissie Hynde” and even a deep bluesy rocker with “Too Late.” Right now its a download only, but CDs are coming in January.

There is a rumor that this may be Michael’s last album, and I can only hope that he doesn’t permanently hang up his recording hat (I’ll wait another six years or more if he keeps giving me music like this). Even though Michael is often dubbed “a one man dynamo” who runs his own label, works as a recording engineer, writes for an Australian recording magazine, etc. I selfishly want more of his great songwriting and performing. Like his last solo album, this easily gets a spot somewhere in my ever crowded top ten list for 2015.

Bandcamp


The Speak

The Speak “Beautiful People” EP

The Speak are from Brighton UK, led by singer-songwriter Nick Conroy who “takes up where the sixties left off.” While clearly starting with those classic influences (The Beatles, The Who) The Speak are not some slavish retro band, but a modern pop group that concentrates on melody, synth and solid guitar craft.

“I’ll Be Fine” starts with a rousing Lenny Kravitz-like riff, and gets you moving with a catchy chorus (try to spot all those sixties references). “Beautiful People” and “Sorry” have their moments of slickly produced psyche-rock. “Invisible” reminds me of of Trevor Rabin-era Yes in spots, and “Life” is another highlight with plenty of arena rock grandeur. The band self produced and distribute this one, so pick up a physical copy on their website.

CD Baby

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