Latvian Radio and Celsi, Bragg & Maitland

The Stars Explode

Latvian Radio “Pick Your Poison, Pick Your Blues”

New York musician Patric Westoo returns with Latvian Radio’s new album Pick Your Poison, Pick Your Blues. Its a tighter approach to songwriting as well as mixing power pop, alternative rock, and vintage mod styles. “Paranoia” is a catchy bass melody with a grunge backing texture that reminded me of Allen Clapp (Orange Peels). “Four Letter Word” is a fun retro Kinks-like single that’s great to dance to and “Dichotomy Of Disbelief” adds some horn accents to its dark melody.

Additional highlights include “Observations In A Major Key” and “Radio Riot.” It attempts a punk song “Shake The Tree,” but Patric fares much better with rock and roll melodies on the impressive “Tug Of War.” It sounds like the band is testing out its new sound, and it’s not afraid of experimentation. This LP definitely has some winners on it, so check it out.

CD Baby | Kool Kat Musik

Celsi, Bragg & Maitland

Celsi, Bragg & Maitland “The Road To Glasgow”

Los Angeles artists Anny Celsi and Nelson Bragg team up with Dublin’s Duncan Maitland to form a high-energy trio that plays rootsy Americana and Byrdsian jangle pop in perfect combination. “The Second Summer Of Love” is a great start, with Celsi’s lead encouraging a return to hippiedom telling friends “to grow their hair long again.” Next Maitland’s “Heavenly Day” has a wonderful chorus full of rich harmonies and layered instrumentation. Bragg is featured covering Paul Kelly’s folk-pop “To Her Door,”  and the infectious strumming draws you in.

The trio has some live tracks that are just as cleanly performed as the studio songs. These songs are excellent examples of experienced musicianship, and the trio works well on Anny’s folkie “She Belongs To Me” and the dreamlike harmonies on “The Bright Lights of Glasgow” is a compelling Irish hymn. Highly Recommended.

Amazon | CD Baby

Sam Means and Latvian Radio

Sam Means

Sam Means “10 Songs”

While not a household name, Sam Means was one half of the celebrated Arizona indie-pop act The Format alongside Nate Ruess (who later went on to form the Grammy Award-winning act, fun.) It took a while, but Means’ debut full-length 10 Songs was worth the wait and is bursting with an creative energy plus Jellyfish’s Roger Joseph Manning Jr. helped with arrangements!

Each song is part of a emotional narrative about the transition to adulthood. “How To Sing” is both whimsical and subtle with its bass lead and horn flourishes that builds to near white noise. Next “We’re Alone” is like a slow, gentle prayer that leads to “The Other Side Of You,” a catchy ear-worm with an accending scale (reminded me of Field Music here).  “Taking it Back To Yesterday” is the main theme of the album; a simple piano melody that grows into a sweet sing along. RJ Manning’s fingerprints are subtle, but on “Calina” it’s easy to spot on this brilliantly catchy song. The relaxed “All I Ever Wanted” is another feel good gem, but as we close out the album it slows as the mood turns inward on “Bigger Heart” that could be compared to Mark Oliver Everett (Eels) or Salim Norallah. Overall a brilliant album that gets on my top ten of 2016 list.

Itunes | Bandcamp

Latvian Radio

Latvian Radio “Until Tomorrow Gets In The Way”

Latvian Radio is back with their fifth album as the band continues to blend Patric Westoo’s tight vocals with steady guitar riffs mixing both power-pop, UK post punk and new wave influences. Starting with “Eyes Behind The Lens” its a dense chiming melody with layered horns, vocals and a jangling rhythm. The organ textures cover the strong composition “Power Lines and Bedroom Blinds” with some nice percussive work from Mark Poole.

The music seems to get looser as we go forward, “Weight of The World” has a catchy synth hook and a casual narrative that make it my favorite track on the album. While the backing harmonies and light melody of “Tease and Please” is a bit tedious, the albums tone shifts to a more rock orientation on “Letter To The National Enquirer.” Latvian Radio continues to be criminally overlooked and deserves to be heard. Highly Recommended.

CD Baby | Amazon

Latvian Radio and Red Jacket Mine

Latvian Radio

Latvian Radio “For Love and Spite”

After a decent start on their debut, this New York band  takes a big leap forward on For Love and Spite. Upbeat from the start “To Find You There” sets the easy going pace, with its jangling guitar strum and organ chords. Next “On Display” is a great single with a catchy melody, beat and killer bridge, its one of my favorites here. The seamless composition follows on the wintery themed “North of The Keys” that will appeal to fans of REM, The Shins, and Brendan Benson.

The guitar is joined by hand claps and synth on the infectious title track, another memorable gem. Then “Growing Pains” adds a little Kinks-styled rock influence (a bit like “Father Christmas”) with the oldster lecturing you to “Wake Up Kid!” The tempo does ease up toward the albums end with “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” about being left behind as life passes by. Overall a terrific album without a wasted track. Congrats to singer/songwriter Patric Westoo, and his band for giving us an early holiday present.
power pop
CD Baby | Amazon

Red Jacket Mine

Red Jacket Mine “Pure Delight” EP

Seattle singer/songwriter Lincoln Barr returns with his soul infused power pop, a direct follow up to last year’s Someone Elses Cake. Produced and assisted again by Johnny Sangster from The Tripwires, this EP features Barr’s pub rock influences on the toe tapping title track. Barr then gives us some soul-pop on “I Want You To Worship Me” and goes gospel on “Crow,” a duet with Nashville songwriter Shane Tutmarc.  The bouncing piano of “Nearly Marjorie” is very much in the mold of NRBQ and the soft rock of “AM” certainly give us a variety of styles. It all ends on the fun blues riff “Get Paid” about the common musicians lament. Very much a sweet diversion from all that hard charging power pop, this sonically cleans your palette nicely.
power pop