Travis Bretzer “Bubble Gum”
Edmonton native Travis Bretzer created this infectious album of bedroom pop that grows on you faster than weeds in the sun. Bretzer’s approach is very simple melodies filled with little hooks and sparse arrangements, similar to Apples in Stereo or early Brendan Benson. The quirky “Heart and Soul” has a fast tempo and a smooth synth for its chorus of “away, away.” It then delivers a brilliant faux country gem “Up In The Morning,” reminding me of The Monkees with its simple lyric,”Up in the morning/not much to do.”
“Are You Ever Gonna Change?” introduces a little psyche-pop guitar to the melody, and the follow-up “Evergreen” gets even more trippy, with acoustic guitar and echoing harmonies, like a lost Beta Band single. The centrepiece here is the gorgeous ballad “Peace, Love and Harmony,” and on the latter half, we get lots of false endings and the tempos slow with each song that follows. By the time we get to “Vamanos” we get more instrumental, and eventually “A Song For Rashy” is simply a lullaby to doze off to. Oh, yeah this is also a “name-your-price” download, so reward him generously. Highly Recommended.
The Red Button “Now It’s All This!”
When Seth Swirsky teamed up with Mike Ruekberg in 2007, it’s hard to believe the massive impression they left on the power pop scene. Jem Records picked up the band retrospective —Now It’s All This! featuring a new 6-song EP, bonus “unplugged” rarities, and newly remastered versions of the first two Red Button albums on 2 CDs.
Firstly, let me say the list of artists that can correctly capture the pure pop spirit of The early Beatles is very short. While many can emulate the sound, few can compose original material that stands alongside McCartney and Lennon. I count The Weeklings and The Wonders. The Red Button can also generate the same excitement with its music.
The new material is absolutely consistent, “Can’t Let Candy Go” and “Tracy’s Party” has the Rickenbacker riffs, and hook-filled melodies that never get old. The gentle jangling ballad “Tell Me It’s Over” is a heartbreaker about waiting for expected rejection. Seth’s winsome “Solitude Saturday” has a rich orchestral approach, and the title track is a fitting finale. The unplugged tracks are very close to the originals, but “Genevieve” actually sounds much better without the studio mixing. We have already reviewed The Red Button’s She’s About To Cross My Mind, and As Far As Yesterday Goes and it goes without saying this talented duo is essential listening.