Michael Carpenter “The Big Radio”
You’d have to go back almost six years for Michael Carpenter’s last big solo release. Few artists are as reliable as the Australian singer-songwriter, producer, and engineer. You’re just guaranteed to get excellent power pop and he doesn’t disappoint here. The opener “Don’t Open That Door” is another classic melodic gem, with layered guitars and harmonies underneath a catchy hook. The pounding drum starts “She’s In Love With Herself,” a fast paced put down that breaks into guitar nirvana between each chorus. And the gems continue with “Blind,” the powerful “I’ve Been Lovin’ You” and each tune that follows (not a note of filler here). He gives a shout out to a major influence “Chrissie Hynde” and even a deep bluesy rocker with “Too Late.” Right now its a download only, but CDs are coming in January.
There is a rumor that this may be Michael’s last album, and I can only hope that he doesn’t permanently hang up his recording hat (I’ll wait another six years or more if he keeps giving me music like this). Even though Michael is often dubbed “a one man dynamo” who runs his own label, works as a recording engineer, writes for an Australian recording magazine, etc. I selfishly want more of his great songwriting and performing. Like his last solo album, this easily gets a spot somewhere in my ever crowded top ten list for 2015.
The Speak “Beautiful People” EP
The Speak are from Brighton UK, led by singer-songwriter Nick Conroy who “takes up where the sixties left off.” While clearly starting with those classic influences (The Beatles, The Who) The Speak are not some slavish retro band, but a modern pop group that concentrates on melody, synth and solid guitar craft.
“I’ll Be Fine” starts with a rousing Lenny Kravitz-like riff, and gets you moving with a catchy chorus (try to spot all those sixties references). “Beautiful People” and “Sorry” have their moments of slickly produced psyche-rock. “Invisible” reminds me of of Trevor Rabin-era Yes in spots, and “Life” is another highlight with plenty of arena rock grandeur. The band self produced and distribute this one, so pick up a physical copy on their website.