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Indie Spotlight: The Green Pajamas, The Grip Weeds and others

Indie Spotlight reviews the latest and greatest indie music releases: The Green Pajamas, The Grip Weeds, Livesays and others

By Lee Zimmerman

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Unabashed devotees of seminal ‘60s psychedelia, Seattle band The Green Pajamas have never veered from their mission of keeping that archival approach both present and pertinent. Their latest opus, Sunlight Might Weigh Even More, offers another demonstration of their devotion to duty, sixteen songs that skirt cosmic consciousness with evocative arrangements, craft, cleverness and creativity, all infused with ethereal engagement. Once again, they evoke the spirit and sound of bands like Pink Floyd, the early Dead, and other harbingers of the cerebral sounds that punctuated the music that once engulfed London, L.A. and San Francisco. It’s endearing in its own quaint kind of way, but it also offers proof that imagination and ingenuity never go out of style. Some may view it as nostalgia, perhaps even as a novelty or a niche, but ultimately, it’s a reflection of the ambition and enthusiasm The Green Pajamas have purveyed for nearly four decades. More melody than mayhem, Sunlight Might Weigh Even More stands out as both a marvel and a masterpiece. 

  

Album Cover



Produced by Steve Butler, the renowned leader and mainstay of the band Smash Palace, Jay Byham’s self-titled EP is a knowing and nuanced effort that leaves no doubt as to why Butler chose it for an outside endeavor. Boasting five songs of an easily endearing variety, each of its offerings match catchy, concise melodies with lyrics that share a distinct personal perspective. “It’s hard to believe it’s me in those photographs,” he muses on the darkly suggestive “I Can’t Take It Anymore.” “I should have known the good old days would never last.” It’s an unlikely juxtaposition, upbeat tunes packed with thoughtful reflection, but that’s what underscores the depth of Byham’s efforts, especially as far as the insightful approach he ably expresses throughout. Clearly, he possesses all the creativity needed to advance to the higher echelons of today’s power pop pantheon, as “Just a Matter of Time” seems to suggest. As that particular title seems to suggest, he’s created great anticipation for whatever follows in the future. 

  

The Livesays - Not What I Bargained For



South Florida’s Livesays are one of the more prominent bands wholly devoted to original and robust rock and roll in an area where Latin music, dance and disco mostly take precedence. Nevertheless, they still stand out, not only because they dare to be different, but rather due to the fact that their music is so stirring and invigorating all on its own. Their new album, Not What I Bargained For provides all the proof needed. Opening track “Two Sides” ignites the album with a genuine Who-like flourish, defining what it means to be caught within today’s polarizing political divide. “One More Chance,” “Hold Me”and the title track are equally exuberant, sweeping, soaring and flush with an uncompromising, over-the-top energy and intensity. In fact, the entire album echoes a certain unabashed enthusiasm that even extends to the power ballads “Show A Little Honesty,” “Crazy Isn’t It?” and “Can’t Stop the Talking,” as well as the optimistic overview of “Better Angels,” the achingly expressive “In A Small Town,” and the album’s sole cover, a solemn though sincere take on Bruce Springsteen’s “If I Should Fall Behind.” The group’s confidence and clarity are genuinely impressive, and that should be enough to bring The Livesays the presence and prominence they so clearly deserve.

  

Samlewis

Singer/songwriter Sam Lewis, guitarist Martin Harley and bassist Daniel Kimbro are certainly no strangers to one another. They‘ve performed together on record and appeared in person innumerable times, but now, they’ve formalized their partnership with an eponymous debut, naturally titled Harley Kimbro Lewis. Based around Lewis’ casual yet compelling vocals and a breezy, bluesy demeanor, the music they make is both affable and unassuming, as well as quietly captivating and effortlessly engaging. The trio work well in tandem, and songs such as “Neighbors,” “Cowboys in Hawaii,” “Good Guy,” “Tokyo,” and “Man Get Ahold of Yourself” each combine a good-natured charm with subtle humor in a terrific and tuneful way. It’s the kind of feel-good album that boasts obvious appeal, something all three individuals have always excelled at even when working on their own. Consequently, their formal union only adds to the attraction, making this effort a record a success worth celebrating. It is, in a word, simply that good.

  

DIG CVR PSC1025 3000 (1)

The Gripweeds are power pop purists who have never lost their enthusiasm for the sounds of the ‘60s and ‘70s, a cause they’ve continued to pursue throughout their existence. With their remarkable new album, the aptly-named Dig (also available in a deluxe double disc edition and released on the indelible Jem Records label no less), they take that homage to those vintage icons several steps further by covering any number of classics from that iconic era — “Shape of Things To Come,” The Byrds’ “Lady Friend,” “Journey to the Center of the Mind,” “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” the Stones’ obscure B side “Child of the Moon,” as well as other gems with a psychedelic subtext. Although their takes on these tunes remain true to the template, they also manage to imbue their own dreamy demeanor and make each offering sound refreshingly resilient, with treatments that are both crisp and clear in a modern context. In that regard, this is the New Jersey-based quartet’s most defining effort to date, a must-have for any fan of prime pop at its finest.

  

Eric Brace

Eric Brace is an accredited American auteur and entrepreneur, an artist whose work encompasses albums made on his own, with a trio that includes Thomm Jutz and Peter Cooper, and with his seminal outfit Last Train Home. With his new album, Everything Will Be, he offers what may well be one of his best efforts yet, a varied set of songs that share a varied array of styles and sounds. Brass and pedal steel find an easy blend, but Brace’s expressive vocals also make a most immediate impression, and whether it’s a bewitching ballad like “Next Time,” an imaginative take on John Hartford’s “The Six O’Clock Train and a Girl with Green Eyes,” a jazzy revisit to the cowboy classic “I’m An Old Cowhand (from the Rio Grande)” or a heartfelt return to that rousing classic by McGuiness Flint, “When I’m Dead and Gone,” the music shares imagination and ingenuity. Clearly, Last Train Home remains on track. Everything Will Be is an excellent album.