35 Reviews in 7 Days: The Final Chapter

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by John M. Borack

THE SNEETCHES - Form of Play: A Retrospective

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The Sneetches’ output has always been sorely underrated by pop pundits, and Omnivore attempts to right that wrong with this generous 22-track compilation, . Although these tracks were originally recorded in the ‘80s and ‘90s, they don’t sound dated in the least; rather, it’s song after song of smart, well-constructed, hooky guitar pop that should have attracted a much larger audience. Tracks such as “…and I’m Thinking” and “I Don’t Expect Her For You (Look at That Girl)” still burn with a melodic intensity while also sounding polished (but never slick) – and they’re the rule and not the exception. But I miss the wonderfully poppy “Just Another Lonely One” and their covers of Vanda/Young’s “Watch Me Burn” and Raspberries’ “I Wanna Be With You” (which featured Shoes on backing vox). Grade: A-


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Spain’s You are the Cosmos Records have been releasing plenty of excellent pop albums over the past few years, and here comes another one. Led by singer/songwriter Jared Lekites and hailing from the state of Oklahoma, the Lunar Laugh are a trio that has put together an “album of pop songs to be listened to without pretense,” according to the brief notes on the back cover. This they do, with plenty of tasty melodies, sweet harmonies, nice vocal arrangements and all the other accoutrements that make for a highly pleasant listening experience. Lekites sounds a bit like Lindsey Buckingham vocally, and songs such as the title track, “She Gets Stoned,” “Doin’ Alright” and “Work in Progress” are all sweet little pop morsels – and the other tunes ain’t bad, either. Grade: B+

LIFE ON MARS – The Resurrection of Ants

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Any band that names itself after a Bowie song can’t be half bad, right? In the case of Life on Mars, they’re a hell of a lot better than half bad. Featuring the talents of Earl Kayoss (vocals, guitar, piano, songwriter), hyper-talented multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo (lead guitar, vocals, drums, bass, keys), Ruti Celli (vocals, cello) and Durga McBroom (vocals), The Resurrection of Ants is one of those records where no song sounds like the last – these folks are nothing if not diverse. That means you get a Who-like opener (“I’m Alright” has some very Daltrey-esque lead vox), a beautifully ethereal, Pink Floyd-like slow one (the Celli-sung “Technology,” with gorgeous lead guitar/cello interplay), the Tin Machine-like “Money Game,” the soulful “Get Real” and a very cool, ELO-influenced tune called “Magic.” Another favorite is the delicately pretty “Snowman,” which recalls the melody to the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Darling Be Home Soon.” It all adds up to an enjoyable record. Grade: B

BRENYAMA – Euphoria Love

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Sometimes there are songs that you just can’t get outta your head. Earworms, they are. The little ditty that leads off Brenyama’s Euphoria Love, the insanely catchy title track, is one such animal. It’s a sublime slice of power pop/bubblegum (with an insistent guitar riff) that is sure to stay lodged in the cranium for days on end, and it’s also sure to be on my short list of the best songs of 2017. Brenyama is fronted by Maki and Richard Brenner (Maki’s maiden name looks to be Yamaguchi, hence the band’s moniker), and the record features a dozen worthwhile tunes splashed with guitars and keyboards, often giving off an early ‘80s new wave vibe in addition to the power pop feels. Oh, and the Maki-sung “Get in the Groove” sounds like it could have been a Lesley Gore smash circa 1964. Produced by Kurt “Gripweeds” Reil and one of the new signings to the resurgent Jem Records. Grade: A-

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