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30 Reviews in Five Days, Pt. 2

by John M. Borack

The Well Wishers – “A Shattering Sky” (No label listed)
Like death, taxes and a Wal Mart shopping excursion, a Well Wishers record is always predictable - but in a good way. You know you’re gonna get upbeat, snappy tunes with crunchy guitars, you know Jeff Shelton is gonna sound like that guy from Shoes, and you know the drumming is gonna be pretty great. So A Shattering Skyis no different from most other WW releases, which is a good thing, right? Right. Grade: B+

Rick Hromadka – “Trippin’ Dinosaurs” (Soda Star Music)
As his stellar work with Double Naught Spies, Ruby Free and Maple Mars has shown, Rick Hromadka is a pop dude who knows his way around a hook. The hooks are certainly plentiful on this 10-track solo effort, where Hromadka does it all himself and lets his psych-pop flag fly loudly and proudly. My favorite number is the semi-snotty “Face On,” but the whole deal is pretty darned spiffy and melodically and instrumentally stimulating. Oh, and apparently Trippin’ was mastered by my wife’s cousin, which is apropos of nothing, but I thought I’d bring it up anyway. Grade: B+

John Hunter Phillips and the Hurricane Beach Band - “John Hunter Phillips and the Hurricane Beach Band” (Hurricane Beach Productions)
JHP is a Beach Boys guy through and through, so if you go batty for that surf ‘n’ sun sound, you’ll no doubt dig the heck out of this one. It’s got the stacked, harmonies, the “bop-bop-wha-ooohs” and “dit-dit-dits,” plenty of falsetto vocalizing and some nice tunes, all penned by Phillips, with the exception of the sweetly jangly “I’ll Get Right Back to You” (written by the talented singer/songwriter Dana Countryman). Oh, and it’s even got a tune called “Dennis, Carl, Alan, Brian, Bruce & Mike (and David).” No, I’m not kidding. The only problem is that everything sounds very “safe,” slick, and a bit antiseptic to these ears, but if that doesn’t bug you, then by all means, dive in. Oh, and I love the fact that the liner notes inform us that Phillips received an invitation to Mike Love’s wedding. That would make him one of about 9,573 folks, right? I mean, hasn’t Mike Love been married like 15 times or something? But I digress… Grade: C+

The Relatives – “Tilted World” (Slipped Disc Records)
This Southern California-based foursome really brings the goods live, and Tilted Worldmirrors that powerful sound, which falls somewhere between the Replacements and classic rock. Lots of memorable melodies and fab guitar tones, although 14 songs may be a few too many. Grade: B-

Last Days of April – “Sea of Clouds” (Tapete Records)
So apparently Last Days of April have been together for two decades and have released nine albums, although somehow this is the first I’ve heard of the Swedish combo. I’m pleased they finally ended up on my radar, though, because the nine-song Sea of Cloudsis a sweet little charmer of a record, with some gentle country-ish influences sharing space with lovely chamber-pop influences. The fact that leader Karl Larsson’s vocals sound like he could be Ken Stringfellow’s kid brother don’t hurt, either. A left-field treat, for sure. Grade: A-


Supersuckers – “Holdin’ the Bag” (Acetate Records)
Super solid stuff from this veteran trio, who rock the garage-country hybrid to no end. They can go from classic country weepers such as “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)” to flat out ravers such as the Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired “Jibber Jabber” (“You’re like a public restroom, woman/so hard to keep clean”) in the blink of an eye, while the slightly Zydeco-flecked “This Life…With You” (featuring the inimitable Hayes Carll – check out his song “She Left Me For Jesus” and thank me later) may be the best thing on the record. It vaguely recalls Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and features lead singer Eddie Spaghetti rasping, “This life would be a whole lot better if I didn’t have to share it with you.” Perfect. Grade: B+