Edward O’Connell “Vanishing Act”
Edward O’Connell was “Our Little Secret” back in 2010, and finally we get a follow up with similar results. A smart mix of influences: Tom Petty, Roger McGuinn, Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon and Elvis Costello. Now with a larger cast of supporting players (including P.Hux!) the sound is richer than before, and O’Connell hits his stride here. “My Dumb Luck” is an great opener, a contemporary guitar ear-worm that can live on “repeat.” Next, “Lonely Crowd” is a bit more subdued, but it sends a thoughtful message about his audience. “Every Precious Day” pumps up the jangle, making it a catchy single.
“What Have You Done?” is similar to Elvis Costello in structure, the chord and vocalization shifts makes it another highlight amongst many. “I’m The Man” is a country flavored song about a murderous wife. Like the debut, the musicianship is impeccable but its tough to keep the energy going (“Yesterday’s World”). Still, O’Connell manages to keep the sweetness on the slow tempo “Last To Leave” and put out a great finale “The End Of The Line.” Such effort does not get wasted, and it makes my top ten of 2014 best LP nominee list.
The Above “Waterbury Street”
It’s hard to find a more period accurate retro-rock band than The Above. Even more than the debut album, the band’s technical skill has increased and with the sophomore LP “Waterbury Street” you’d swear this is a lost rock band circa 1966-68. Lead singer David Alan Horowitz is patterned after Ray Davies and the music is a combination of pop, rock and blues most closely associated with The Kinks, The Who, The Animals and The Creation.
What makes the band standout is also the exceptional songwriting. “Coming Around” and “Do You Have Healthy Mind?” are both hip shaking perfection and even the song “The Prisoner” relates to the era (all about the 1967 British TV show). “Goons” is another gem sounding like The Who’s early mod hits. The R&B stomp of “Dog Without A Bone” keeps the variety going, and the Rickenbacker jangle of “Ordinary Life” is infectious. I couldn’t find a dud or ounce of filler here. Highly Recommended for sure!