Chris Lund, Rich McCulley and The Spinto Band

Chris Lund

Chris Lund “Great Event Syndrome”

Chris Lund is best known for his work with Lund Bros, who have an impressive discography of excellent guitar-oriented rock, so it’s no surprise that Great Event Syndrome boasts all the right influences. Although a DIY record was done in his home studio, it sounds amazing due to Lund’s attention to detail.”Tell Me” is a very Cheap Trick-styled opener with its thick guitar hooks and overlapping solos. “The Path” is loaded with musical ideas and almost prog styled, anchored by the acoustic strum and “Glimpse” is a solid Badfinger styled rocker with a jangling chorus and sizzling solo. But the golden nugget here is “700 Miles,” a perfect amalgam of Beatles/Big Star sound, and one of the best songs of the year IMHO.

Chris packs a lot into each song, so repeat listens are required to fully appreciate the juxtaposition of chords, solos, and harmonies. The next several tracks all have great moments, especially “Remember The Daze” with its reminiscing chorus and terrific solo break. Other standouts include “What’s Her Name,” the Led Zeppelin-like folk song “The Juice” and dense pop closer “Fare Well.” Overall, a great power pop album that is highly recommended.

CD Baby | Kool Kat Musik

Rich McCulley

Rich McCulley “Out Along The Edges”

Roots rocker Rich McCulley is still finding new inspiration as he writes of both love and loss, good and not so good, hard and better times. With his distinctive gravelly voice, he opens with the emotional “Hey Trouble” about the “broken ties that bind” and the fine guitar melody of “Eventually” really grows on you.

The strong “Burn A Hole In The Sky” recalls Tom Petty with its defiant attitude. McCulley leaves his Americana style and tries blues-pop on “Pilot,” jangle pop on “Sinking Sun” and the brilliant look back at NYC “Midtown” and wondering where all the record stores are. Another satisfying album that deserves to be heard. 

CD Baby | Amazon

The Spinto Band

Re-issue Spotlight:
The Spinto Band “Nice and Nicely Done”

Wilmington, Delaware’s The Spinto Band is possibly planning a comeback, but in the meanwhile it has re-issued 2006’s Nice and Nicely Done, chock full of B-sides and rare tracks. Their geeky pop sound has been influenced by The Talking Heads, and fans of Field Music, They Might Be Giants and Neural Milk Hotel will enjoy the quirky energy.

Vocalist Nick Krill does have a David Byrne-like vocal he uses to great effect on the mandolin heavy “Oh Mandy.” A lot of highlights, including “Crack the Whip,” “Direct to Helmet” and Pavement-like “Trust Vs. Mistrust.” If you missed it back then, I would revisit it now as it has aged very well. Highly Recommended.

Amazon

The Return of Big Star

Big Star

Big Star “The Very Best of Big Star”

If you are a casual fan who only wants to know what all the big deal is over this early 1970s cult band, then start here. Although modern audiences rediscovered Big Star through the theme to That ’70s Show, the band’s short lifespan burned bright enough to earn the belated respect and influence generations of power pop artists.

From Memphis, Tennessee founders Chris Bell and Alex Chilton created a style that was part Beatlesque melody and part southern soul music, under the watchful eye of Ardent studio wizard John Fry. Most of the essential cuts are here, taken from all three studio albums fully re-mastered with liner notes authored by Robert Gordon. The perfect gift for your musically challenged friend when he asks you “What is Power Pop music?” Music snobs (you know who you are) should stick with the Keep An Eye On The Sky boxset.

Amazon

Roots of Big Star

Chris Bell and More “Looking Forward: The Roots Of Big Star”

We all know Alex Chilton was the leader of The Box Tops prior to Big Star, but less is known (or heard) about the origins of singer-songwriter Chris Bell. This album collects many of Bell’s “lost” recordings from his previous bands; Rock City, Icewater and The Wallabys. And for the hardcore Big Star aficionado, this is pure musical catnip.

Bell’s pre-Big Star output foreshadows what was to come  (“My Life Is Right” and “Try Again” were included in Big Star’s #1 Record).  Extensive liner notes interview Bell’s bandmates at the time, and a few nascent tracks like “Think It’s Time To Say Goodbye” and “All I See Is You” could’ve been Big Star hits. Mostly this is a fascinating collection, expertly produced by the folks at Omnivore Recordings. Highly recommended to Big Star fans.

Amazon

Reissues: The Turtles, The Connells

A large pile of releases await review for September, so I’ll take a few days to relax before tackling anything new, but here is a few re-issues to check out:

The Turtles

The Turtles “All The Singles”

Not long ago, I reviewed a vinyl re-issue of The Turtles and tried to bring some attention to a band that seemed to epitomize the changes in the late ’60s. But because Flo and Eddie didn’t take things that seriously, few critics understood just how talented the band was until long after they left pop music. Well if you didn’t want vinyl, you were left getting old hits CDs — but not anymore. All The Singles gathers everything a Turtle fan could want remastered on both CD or digital download. Now you have no excuses!

Amazon

The Connells

The Connells “Stone Cold Yesterday: Best of The Connells”

While REM gets the credit for starting the ’80s indie-college-rock scene, this Raleigh band has built a loyal fan base following their 1984 debut. Like REM, The Connells are also known for their jangle-pop guitars, wistful lyrics, and gorgeous melodies — a world where the childhood dreams of Boylan Heights are only a heartbeat away.

The band has worked with an amazing array of producers from Mitch Easter (R.E.M./Let’s Active) to Jim Scott (Wilco) and scored moderate hits with “Slackjawed” and “74-75.” This is their first-ever greatest hits package, collecting 16 college radio and modern-rock singles from 1987 to 1998, including their first breakthrough radio hit, “Stone Cold Yesterday.” If The Connells passed you by in that era, this is a chance to rediscover their distinctive sound. Release out 9/9/16.

Amazon

Prix and The Rubinoos

Prix “Historix”

What would a fourth Big Star album have sounded like? A rare and historic artifact of the mid 1970’s the Prix Historix album is finally out on HoZac Records. Prix was the postscript to Big Star, and started off after Tommy Hoehn and Jon Tiven had both been part of the legendary power pop band’s final incarnation. Tommy contributed to the final album Sister Lovers/3rd, and Tiven filled out the last live version of the band on their 1974 tour. The following year the pair recruited Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, and then added Rick Clark on bass as they headed into the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis to record. Listening to this it sounds like a lost Big Star record with denser production and heavier guitars.

Listen to “Girl” and “She Might Look My Way” and you’ll hear those classic sharp melodies and ringing guitar riffs. “Love You Tonight (Saturday’s Gone)” is another grand mid tempo ballad similar to Radio City, “Take Me Home And Make Me Like It” (one of the Alex Chilton tracks from the Tiven-produced Bach’s Bottom) is another gem; and Tiven’s “Every Time I Close My Eyes” as another potential A-side hit. The band never released anything more than an EP single, and it was previously only available as a Japanese import. There is still quite a bit of filler added, but having this music remastered and available makes it worth the trip. Since this re-release and new interest in the band, Tiven has reformed Prix with Sid Herring (The Gants) and plans to make new music next year. For Big Star fans this is essential.

Amazon

Rubinoos

The Rubinoos “The LP Collection Vol​.​1”

In the mid seventies, power pop was at a low ebb, The Raspberries and Dwight Twilley were considered leaders of a genre that was losing steam with the record buying public despite notable exceptions (Fotomaker, Hudson Brothers, Ray City Rollers). But The Rubinoos came into this environment with a bubble gum twist to each catchy melody played with a tongue-in-cheek innocence. Album tracks like “Peek A Boo” and “Rock and Roll is Dead” showed both playful humor and solid musicianship. Its hard to find a dud among the fine material here that deserves re-discovering.

This claims to be the definitive vinyl collection of The Rubinoos first 3 classic albums (“The Rubinoos”, “Back To The Drawing Board” and “The Basement Tapes”, which was never released on vinyl before), remastered and adorned with bonus tracks. This collection stops prior to the 1983 Todd Rundgren produced comeback album “Party of Two,” which I expect will be on volume 2. Very Highly Recommended.

Bandcamp | Amazon (vinyl)

Jellyfish: Remastered, expanded editions come out Jan. 20, 2015


Coming January 20, 2015 – Even though Jellyfish only released two albums in their short lifespan, their legend continues to grow. And thanks to Omnivore Recordings the buzz can begin all over again for an expanded deluxe CD editions of Bellybutton and Spilt Milk. Both titles have been expanded to two discs and include the original albums in their entirety fortified with a colossal 51 bonus tracks spread among the packages. With tracks from the demos to the albums to the tours, these releases are the ultimate Jellyfish experience.