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!
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.