Wednesday, July 16, 2008

JANGLE ON! for JULY 2008!!!

By Eric Sorensen‏, written exclusively for NOT LAME

Chiming, jangly, ringing 12-string songs started coming out of the woodwork again this past month. Here are some of the albums and songs that will appeal to fellow jangleholics:

Two CDs (one with new original tracks by Jeremy Morris; the other with over 20 cover songs) by one of indie pop’s most prolific artists! There is no shortage of jangly tracks in this bounty of pop tunes, but “The River Flows” (AKA “The Ballad of Easy Rider”) stands out as the most chiming song. Jeremy’s fondness for the Byrds was also evident on a very cool version of “So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star” that he recorded not too long ago.

This is a top-notch power pop album that features a number of jangly tracks – like “Hurry Up” (a strong candidate for this month’s Song of the Month honors), “I Don’t Want To Talk About It,” “Unusual Girl” and “Set Me Free.” I have said this before: lead vocalist James Hall’s voice reminds me a great deal of Dave Faulkner – the frontman for the Hoodoo Gurus. This is a good thing, as it gives Shake Some Action’s mainstream pop songs a bit more bite.

A solid debut disc from a band that merits comparisons with Tom Petty, the Windbreakers, Matthew Sweet, REM … and Scott Baird’s nasal vocals also reminds me of Martin Luther Lennon and Chris von Sneidern. “Girl,” “Wait Too Long” and “She Comes Around” are the most chiming tracks on an album that is brimming with radio-friendly songs. This is timeless pop from an indie pop band that got it right!

Veteran power pop fans recognize this is as the digital resurrection of a highly sought-after and obscure late 70s album. After digesting this material, I hear a blend of the classic Texas pop/rock of Buddy Holly and the late 70s power pop of Dwight Twilley (without the echo effect). Although the album is nearly 30 years old, the songs are still fresh and vibrant. If you’re looking for the most jangly track in the collection, click on “Cry All Over Me.”

Like the Roblaine disc, this is another “nugget” from the indie pop archives. Indie pop fans should already be familiar with Tim’s current body of work. Retrofit features material from his earliest recording days. Like his more recent material, it falls into the “classic pop” genre and reminds me of material being recorded during that same period by Mark Johnson, David Grahame, Dwight Twilley and the Toms.

I have been a fan of this Swedish pop band ever since I first heard “Plastic Moon Rain” on a early Not Lame compilation. My affection for the band grew when they contributed a nifty version of “Christine” that was featured on Not Lame’s 36-song Full Circle: A Tribute to Gene Clark in 2000. The band has stood the test of time well with a classic formula for short, upbeat power pop tunes. Chiming riffs abound on “Info Girl” and “Train To Catch” … but it’s all quite catchy!

Every couple of years, a surprise album like this is released. References to pop artists from the past five decades would be accurate, and in no way is meant to detract from the sum of the parts. The band combines hooks, melodies and jangly riffs with the best of them! Jangleholics will smile when they hear “You Promised,” “Love Has Found Me” and “Forget Me Not.” In a small way, the Galaxies remind me of the indie pop band, the Bratchmen, from the early 90s.

A studio collaboration that includes the talented Stephen Butler of Smash Palace. Jangly tracks are not this album’s strong suit, but some strummy jangle is featured on the acoustic track “When Is It Time.”

I have fellow Byrds enthusiast Ray Verno to thank for alerting me to this new release … since he included several of their tracks on his Byrdsian Volume 35 compilation. I had read about this Pacific Northwest band on the INTERNET, but I was not aware that they had just released an album that is brimming with Byrds, Dylan, Eagles and country rock influences. Bob Dale’s chiming 12-string Rickenbacker guitar provides a solid foundation for original songs like “South Tacoma Way,” “Washington Rain” and “Gone With The Wind.” The next time I travel to the Pacific Northwest, I will definitely go out of my way to take in one of this band’s live shows. This album/band are a nice companion to the work released by German Byrds acolyte Horst-Peter Schmidt and his band the Different Faces.

While this disc does not feature jangly guitars, it does feature one of my other favorite musical attributes – great vocal harmonies! I found this disc by doing a “Sounds Like the Eagles” search on CDBaby. Eagles fans will smile when they hear “Need A Friend” and recognize its melodic similarity with “Take It Easy” and “Already Gone.” The Low Stars’ gorgeous harmonies will remind other listeners of America, CSN and, more recently, Venice. This is timeless acoustic, harmony-driven pop/rock that deserves to be heard outside of Starbucks stores!

PhotobucketIn the “blast from the past” category this month is my favorite band to emerge from the mid-80s Los Angeles Paisley Underground movement – THE LONG RYDERS. This band flirted with country, pop, folk-rock, garage-rock and psychedelic influences to create a fresh take on the sound of the Byrds, Love, the Standells and the Flying Burrito Brothers (to name a few). Over on the east coast and at about the same time, REM’s Peter Buck was similarly influenced by these sounds. Long Ryders tracks often featured Sid Griffin playing a Rickenbacker 12-string – as evidenced on “I Can’t Hide,” “Ivory Tower” and “Capturing the Flag.” Griffin befriended Byrds founder Gene Clark during the band’s heyday, and “Ivory Tower” includes Clark on harmony vocals. If you haven’t already discovered the Long Ryders, a great place to start is their two-CD Long Ryders Anthology. Sid Griffin remains the most musically active of the band’s former members – fronting bands like the Coal Porters and Western Electric, as well as releasing solo material. Sid’s affectionate for Byrds/Clark material also remains strong. When I saw Western Electric perform live several years ago, they played an excellent version of “He Was A Friend Of Mine.” Sid’s solo disc included a haunting rendition of “I Come And Stand At Every Door,” and the Coal Porters’ latest disc includes a cool take of Gene Clark’s “Silver Raven.”

Until next month, jangle on!


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