Here’s a quick look at five cool releases from the fourth quarter of 2015 that are worthy of your attention. Lend them an ear, won’t you?
BILL LLOYD – YESTERDAY
Whole in One Records (CD/Digital download)
Genre: Power Pop
Highlights: “It’s Happening Now,” “Miracle Mile,” “Yesterday”
Summary: Lloyd’s latest is a 5-track EP that showcases some of the finest songs he’s unleashed since his seminal Set To Pop record way back in the mid-‘90s. There are four songs featuring crisp, stick-to-your-ears melodies (“Yesterday,” a Who-meets-Cheap Trick-like rocker co-written with CT’s Tom Petersson, in particular is amazingly cool) and a wacky, 11:15 instrumental titled “Today’s Soundtrack,” an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ aural collage that covers all kinds of musical ground. Fab tunes a by a true pop master. Can’t wait for his imminent release, Lloydering, due soon on SpyderPop Records.
OUR TAKE: BUY THE CD (OR DOWNLOAD IT).
THE NEW TROCADEROS – THRILLS AND CHILLS
Uncle Mike’s RnR (CD/Digital download)
Genre: Rock and roll, baby
Highlights: “Crazy Little Fool,” “(Oh Boy) Today is My Birthday,” “Love and Hate”
Summary: The New Trocaderos are back with a blast of punk, pop, and in-your-face rock and roll that recalls musical heroes such as the Stones, Dave Edmunds, the Real Kids, Eddie and the Hot Rods, and the Searchers. Plus, you gotta love a band that sings, “You’re getting calls from a whole lot of men/and one of them’s older than Roger McGuinn.” Cool songs galore with melodies out in full force, guitars, guitars and more guitars, and just the right balance of swagger and sweetness all add up to your new favorite band. Believe it.
OUR TAKE: BUY IT. HECK, BUY TWO. IT’S GREAT.
GREG POPE – FANBOY DELUXE
Genre: Southern Fried, Guitar-Driven Power Pop
Highlights: “New Beginning,” “Fanboy,” “King of the Scene (Work Tape)”
Summary: Nashville’s Greg Pope has seen his ace pop tunes get airplay on TV programs such as America’s Next Top Model, but he’s also had some success as an indie power pop guy, with many of his releases over the past decade landing on many a year-end “best of” list. (His 2009 tune “Fall Into Your Arms” is one of the most glorious power pop songs of the past decade.) Fanboy Deluxe contains a generous 23 tracks, (12 of them are “work tapes”), and it’s uniformly good, with Pope distinguishing himself from the glut of power poppers by turning up the guitar amps and fashioning a thick, powerful sound.
OUR TAKE: BUY IT, PARTICULARLY IF YOU ENJOY MATTHEW SWEET.
HERB EIMERMAN – FIVE DIMENSIONAL MAN
Highlights: “Just Wishful Thinking,” “Believe That I Do,” “Live to Tell”
Summary: It rocks (“Just Wishful Thinking”), it brings the Byrdsy jangle (“Live to Tell”), and it gets all singer-songwritery and sentimental (“Something”). The five songs are all fine and Eimerman puts them across with sincerity and a pleasant, soothing voice. Not earth shattering, but certainly quite solid and enjoyable pop-rock.
OUR TAKE: BUY IT
THE ORANGE HUMBLE BAND – DEPRESSING BEAUTY
Citadel (Australian CD)
Genre: Pure Pop
Highlights: “The Girl Without a Name,” “Sowannadoit,” “Oughta Feel Ashamed”
Summary: You pretty much expect pop greatness when you have a release that includes involvement from Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer (The Posies), Dwight Twilley, Jody Stephens (Big Star), and Mitch Easter, and that’s exactly what the Orange Humble Band provides on their gorgeous third record (and first since 2001). OHB is the brainchild of Darryl Mather, who has penned another batch of wonderful tunes (15 of ‘em!) that shimmer softly, with strings, horns, 12-string guitar and Stringfellow’s gentle lead vocals all washing over the listener in a lovely tidal wave of aural bliss. And lest you think it doesn’t rock, check “No One Cares About Me,” where Jody Stephens drums as if his life depends on it. Oh, and Dwight Twilley’s vocals on the bridge of “Oughta Be Ashamed” are something to behold, and “Emma Amanda” plays like a long lost Big Star cut. Wow.
OUR TAKE: BUY IT AND HOPE IT DOESN’T TAKE ANOTHER 14 YEARS FOR ALBUM NUMBER FOUR.