Tom Baker & The Snakes and Michael Slawter

Tom Baker and The Snakes

Tom Baker and The Snakes “Lookout Tower”

From the label that brought you The Bullet Proof Lovers, The Connection, and Watts – comes Tom Baker and The Snakes. Baker is a veteran of Boston’s garage rock club circuit, and he’s assembled a talented band with three guitarists that know how to shred to the rhythm. Fans of the above bands will know what to expect, as this is good ole rock and roll with guitar and attitude that takes its cues from The Stones, The Jam and The Replacements.

This is mainly a hard rock album, but some short catchy power pop is here too, like the opener “Gotta Find Her” and the memorable “Doll Eyes.” If you want heavier stuff, the band delivers in spades on “Make It Hurt” and “Bad Change” as Baker’s voice goes hoarse competing with those guitars. And “Needle In The Red” is another standout. This is music that deserves to be heard at high volume with a cold beer in your hand.

Amazon | Kool Kat Musik

Michael Slawter

Michael Slawter “An Assassination of Someone You Knew”

A veteran of the North Carolina music scene, Slawter made this first solo LP with the help of producer Jamie Hoover (The Spongetones) in 2007. Thanks to our friends at Futureman Records, it’s back and you’ll hear all kinds of upbeat catchy themes here, notably the opening rocker “Count To 10” and it still sounds fresh. Slawter has mastered the melodic techniques and solid songwriting that shares the same musical DNA as REM, The Connells, The dB’s and Mitch Easter.

The first three tracks are just flawless pop with “Obvious” and “Hollywood Sunshine” sticking in your head long after the song ends. It shifts to more storytelling on the self-depreciating “Too Dumb For You,” and slice-of-life gem “Leave Her Alone.” The jangly “The Day Before You Left” is a perfect example of emotional balladry. There is a lot here to love and several bonus tracks are included. Enjoy it!


EP Reviews: Tommy & The Rockets, Paperweight Array, Vista Blue and B-Leaguers

Tommy & The Rockets deliver a great EP that wears its love of power pop on its sleeve, even though these dudes seem a bit too clean-cut to be a “Wrecking Machine.” The melodies here owe a lot to early Beach Boys more than The Ramones, but each track is a fast-tempo theme that crackles with energy. Highly Recommended.

The Paperweight Array is a new band with guitarist Aaron Hemmington (The Sunchymes). The music is more current sounding than the Sunchymes psyche-pop nostalgia. But the great jangle and harmonies are still there. Check out the prog-rock epic “Going Back” with its shifting key changes.

Those baseball themed rockers Vista Blue are back just in time for opening day. It’s very much in the same mold as past releases, with the Ramones-like garage riffs leading the way. Check out “I Wanna Be Your Shortstop” and “Blame It All On The Ump.” Oh, and like all Vista Blue music — it’s a “Pay-as-you-like” download.

From Lincoln UK, The B-Leaguers also have a garage-styled punk pop that aims to look back on youth. In fact “World Famous (In A Little Town)” would’ve been a perfect fit for the T2: Trainspotting soundtrack. They also share the EP with Hooligan Crooners who do grizzled punk on “Head Full Of Chemicals.”

Captain Wilberforce and Your Gracious Host

Captain Wilberforce

Captain Wilberforce “Black Sky Thinking”

After a six-year break, Captain Wilberforce (Simon Bristoll) returns with his reputation for compelling melodies. He’s got a smoother, more polished sound here thanks to his new bandmates; Carl Banks (drums), Rob Simpson (guitars) and Massimiliano Borghesi (bass/vocals). Opening with the grand sweep of “The Johnny Depp Memorial Cafe,” it has the feel of classic pop, think Elton John, Crowded House or Squeeze. “Good Times, You Said” is more of a McCartney ballad with heavy guitars punctuating the chorus. The very slow building “Someone To Love” makes good use of a guitar break, with acoustic flourishes or its the trickle of piano on “You Can’t Have Me” that gives the melody real depth.

The comparison to The Finn Brothers really stands out on “Lazarus” with its well-crafted harmonies. But my favorite here is the Beatlesque “King Of Decision” that mixes a wonderful piano bridge with layered guitar rhythm. Stylistically it has a little of everything, but the tone is mellow with an undercurrent of dark psyche-pop. Fans will appreciate all the little subtleties here, Simon’s songwriting is like an American version of Martin Newell.  Highly Recommended. Bonus: While it is a “pay-as-you-wish” download, Kool Kat has the album with a 5 Song Bonus EP included. So worth it!

Kool Kat Musik

Your Gracious Host

Your Gracious Host “Boomerang”

Michigan multi-instrumentalist Tom Curless (aka Your Gracious Host) is back with Boomerang, as a rock tune is followed light pop ballad in alternating order. You will hear influences all over the place from Todd Rundgren to David Gilmour and everything in between. The title track is a catchy melody anchored by solid riffs, and “Never Been So Blind” has a booming drum kit alongside the harmonies and guitars.

I just found the heavier stuff more memorable than the mid-tempo stuff, for example, “Sweetness” is like a lost Bob Mould demo from the ’90s with its wall of fuzz sound and echoing beat. Bob Mervak is an equal partner here with his solid keyboard work, especially on the inspiring “You See Right Through Me.” While not everything sticks here, there are other notable tracks like the jangling melody in “Rest of us in the Third World” and the very Big Star inspired closer “Spritely.” This one is a grower, so stick with it and you will be impressed with these gems.

Kool Kat Musik


Paul Collins tickets are now $10

BREAKING NEWS: The April 22 Paul Collins concert at Glen Cove has lowered ticket prices to allow more fans at attending to enjoy the sounds of great power pop, up close and personal. Tickets at the door are $10.00 – This is the last appearance of Paul Collins prior to his Worldwide European Tour starting in May.

Check the Facebook page to say that you will attend and get advance tickets at (prices will be changing on the site very soon) or buy at the door of The Light House Water Front Cafe in Glen Cove, NY.


Derrick Anderson and The Dolly Spartans

Derrick Anderson

Derrick Anderson “A World Of My Own”

Bassist Derrick Anderson, known for his work with the Bangles and Dave Davies (the Kinks) is breaking out in a big way on his solo debut. Prior to that his band The Andersons! were a popular LA power pop band, so he certainly has a top pedigree. In fact, he’s got an all-star line-up of past bandmates helping out. His smooth inviting vocals are key in the ear-worm opener “Send Me Down A Sign” full of jangle and harmony as well as the gem “Waiting For You,” with a bit of help from the Smithereens. Anderson knows to shift his style and tempo easily, so the mid-tempo rock “You Don’t Have To Hurt No More,” almost resembles a lost Squeeze hit. The Kinks-like riffs populate “Phyllis & Sharon” and buddy Matthew Sweet gives an assist with the bouncy and crunchy rocker “Happiness.”

Almost every song here hits the right buttons, “A Mother’s Love” and “My Prediction” rely on crisp melodies and brilliant musicianship. It takes a fast-paced live turn on “Stop Messin’ About,” with an energy that recalls Little Richard mixed with Paul McCartney. The Bangles lend their “do-do-do” backing vocals to “When I Was Your Man,” a song that just won’t leave your head. Easily this is one of the best releases I’ve heard in a long time, with a perfect balance of style and song composition. A true example of a “must-get” album that makes my top ten list for 2017.


Dolly Spartans

Dolly Spartans “Time Sides With No One” EP

Few young bands survive the cards The Dolly Spartans have been dealt. Their debut cracked the top 10 in CMJ, were awarded Record of the Month and Artist of the Month, in The Deli Magazine. Then in 2015, Dolly Spartans 22-year old guitarist Christopher Elmer died suddenly of a drug overdose. The band has channeled that loss into more music, as lead singer Michael Eliran described the new EP as “…about coming to terms with the idea that the passing of time can bring joy one day and pain the next.”

The opening track “When The Wheels Stopped Moving” recalls early Coldplay or Radiohead with its dynamic chorus. The frantic guitar rhythms of “Hangin’ Out” are tied to solid emotions about trying to break out of the funk that accompanies a loss. “I Hear The Dead” is chugging-alt rock theme that brings to mind The Smiths and the title track is a dramatic mantra to live each day because “I’ve given up a lot to be myself.” A solid alt. rock EP that deserves to be heard. Highly Recommended.