Looking for pure unadulterated Beatlesque fun? The Weeklings are a great choice, with the sound and spirit of the legendary moptops circa 1965. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, in the very same studio as The Beatles themselves. Musicians Glen Burtnik, Bob Burger, John Merjave and Joe Bellia are not your average cover band, as the band members have years of experience. Some have played with McCartney, Styx, Marshall Crenshaw and others. Some have even performed in Beatlemania on Broadway.
The songs are all originals with a few very rare Beatle covers. Start with the Rickenbacker strums of “Morning, Noon & Night” it is a note perfect melody down to the harmonica flourishes. The big single here is “Little Elvis” which has huge riffs and compares well to “That Thing You Do!” for catchiness. I could continue, but almost every song here kicks ass. This is above and beyond your average Beatlesque effort. Makes my top ten list, and should be in your music collection.
Steve Somerset’s Shadow Kabinet “Nostalgia For The Future”
The Shadow Kabinet is the personal vehicle of Steve Somerset, talented singer, songwriter, and melodic story-teller. Nostalgia For The Future was recorded in 2013, but only now sees the light on Kool Kat Musik. Somerset’s style is solidly set in the psychedelic pop world and you’ll hear Sgt. Pepperisms everywhere.
The epic title track is a winding tale with sitar, long bending chords and Steve’s vocal is a bit like Lennon at his trippiest or a more sober Anton Barbeau. The guitar of “Angelville” continues the slow tempo with a spacey theme. “The Notebook” is a very English sounding tale about a personal keepsake. The textured “Dust Descends As Light” could have been a lost Pink Floyd track from Wish You Were Here. Additional highlights include “Lame Duck” and “The Glass Half Empty House,” but the ending track “Let It Go” is a perfect Lennoneque mind game sure to amaze. Plug in the headphones and enjoy this one.
Earwig consists of guitarist and vocalist Lizard McGee, vocalist James McGee-Moore, bassist Costa Hondroulis, and drummer Nick Nocera. The Columbus, Ohio quartet sets the table with rocking, fuzz heavy “Wisdom Teeth;” that’s part Jane’s Addiction and part Bob Mould. The big riffs introduce “Lovers Chords,” a anthemic punk pop gem, all wrapped with layers of synth. Earwig then gets darker with its distorted chords, a great example “Bring Yrself 2 Me” is almost an indie pop version of Alice In Chains, and revisits this wicked guitar work on the instrumental “High Wasps.”
Another great pop gem is the duet with Lydia Loveless “Wasted On You,” a relationship post-mortem about star-crossed lovers. “Shine” is a downright mainstream pop ballad with a sweeping chorus and McGee provides a memorable performance that almost demands you take out your cigarette lighter and sway. Other tracks don’t have the same impact, but the variety of style, and quality musicianship here is worth the price of admission.
Review by Mike Olinger: Miami-based Fernando Perdomo elicits a wistful kind of nostalgia with his bittersweet, tremolo drenched folk rock. One part Elvis Costello and two parts ELO, his sound is both melodically familiar and musically challenging. His newest self-produced opus, Voyeurs, is 17 song odyssey that was created through a series of live Facebook streams which allowed fans to watch the music come to life in real time. Their instant feedback influenced every artistic decision that was made, resulting in a collaboration of sorts between the mastermind and his musical voyeurs.
“Home” is one of the many primo cuts where Perdomo’s virtuosic grasp of tasteful arrangements equals his melancholy songwriting. His artful approach to recording rivals’ contemporaries like Richard Swift who mine a similar pop radio (circa. 1970’s) vein, but in the final stretch of the LP Perdomo forgoes this classic rock leaning for moody, jazz-inspired tangents that feel suited for fall weather and wouldn’t feel at all out of place alongside the bouncy instrumentals from the Rushmore soundtrack.
The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco is a UK band with an uncanny resemblance to Steely Dan, but with an ability to travel beyond simple sound emulation. All these tracks are cool as hell, especially the opener “Kiki vs. Alice From The Breakers” as they mention my hometown in the first opening words of the lyric.
The Roaring Juniors are an energetic Michigan band we’ve heard before and leader Ronnie Riggar frantically jams to the fast tempo “Manzanita,” and does an equally good job on a cover of The Beatles “Hard Days Night.” Check it out on Bandcamp or Amazon
Son of Skooshny is Skooshny frontman Mark Breyer with Steve Refling. The band has slowly built up its collection of singles into a EP for you to enjoy. Fans of Tom Petty and The Traveling Wilburys will love this music. Get it on Bandcamp or Amazon
Video Spotlight: Cinema Star
Cinema Star has been making power pop music since around 2000, this is their latest “Attractive” single. Get it on Bandcamp or Amazon!
It’s always a treat finding “lost” power pop of the past. Ronnie D’Addario has been a musician for many years, mainly as a session player for Tommy Makem of The Clancy Brothers. His solo albums showcase his love of Beatles-styled melodies, and Falling For Love is a real treasure. The title track was written for The Carpenters in 1981, and even though it was recorded by them – it was never released. D’Addario’s original sounds like a perfect fit for the late Karen Carpenter.
D’Addario’s songwriting and composing is very much like Gilbert O’Sullivan or Emitt Rhodes, with a solid hook on “Just Let Me Look At You.” The bouncy McCartney-like piano melody of “I’m On To Something” is another gem, along with the amazing harmonies on “Steps” and “Waiting In The Wings.” A few songs feel more like Carpenters tunes (“Two Little Children” and “Just Passing Through”) and there is not a dud in the bunch. Highly Recommended, and his other albums are worth checking out too. FYI, he’s passed his talent down to his sons who are also known as The Lemon Twigs, a very impressive indie pop group that’s just begun to make major waves.
Four long time Minneapolis musicians joined forces to form The Favorite Things, taking their name from The Replacements song, “Favorite Thing” and the band counts them as a big influence. You’ll also hear echos of REM, Nada Surf, and The Gin Blossoms. The opener blasts through (“Coming Clean”) with its fast tempo and energetic chorus.
“Ashes” and “First Time” continues the party, fans of 90s-styled indie rock will enjoy the rich familiar sound. The albums second half eases up the intensity slightly with the alt. country rocker “Friday Night In Tennessee,” but gets back on the buzzing riffs with “In The Summer.” The tempo and style doesn’t vary much from there, and as a result the songs sound homogeneous. But the talent is there and I’m sure The Favorite Things will continue to grow as artists. Check them out.