Eric Sorensen's JANGLE ON for May 2009!!!
By Eric Sorensen, written exclusively for NOT LAME
Although 2009 got off to a slow start when it comes to jangly pop tunes, things are hitting their stride nicely – in time for "top-down" spring and summer weather. Some very familiar names and some new artists have released chiming, melodic pop in recent months. Here are new discs and new tunes that have made my "Jangle Pop" play list of late:
The Boolevards - REAL POP
I must have discovered this disc on CD Baby about the same time that Bruce Brodeen added the disc to the Not Lame online catalog. In the genre of jangle-pop, this is an early contender for CD of the Year! The disc features seventeen songs – none longer than 3:13 – by the pop trio of John and Joe Nowik and Hugh Murphy. Murphy’s Rickenbacker 12-string and Rickenbacker 6-string guitar riffs chime and ring throughout the songs – so much so, that it’s probably unrealistic to choose a favorite track. The clever jewel case graphics include "Nutrition Facts" that cite 100% teenage angst, two part harmony, hooks and melodies, Rickenbackers and background harmonies...and 0% long guitar solos, drum solos, wordy message songs, loud angry vocals and rap and talking. Long may you run, Sirs John, Joe and Hugh … and thanks for sending me the Boolevards buttons for being the first customer to purchase your disc from CD Baby!
The Spongetones - SCRAMBLED EGGS
Jamie Hoover and his bandmates prove once again that they are at the top of their game when it comes to Beatlesque pop. The Fab Four from North Carolina favor chiming Rickenbackers on "All The Loving", "Inevitable You", "Pick That Up For A Song" and "She’ll Be Gone". When it comes to the Spongetones, the songs don’t need to jangle to grab my attention. These guys are in a league of their own when it comes to writing and recording primo pop tunes. The Spongetones’ "Infatuation" is still the finest Beatles knock-off tune in the past thirty years!
The Humbugs - ON THE UP SIDE
This is a very catchy pop album that holds listener interest from start to finish. Jangly tracks include "One More Day", "Calico Eyes" and "Take A Chance". While the Boolevards favor a retro sound, the Humbugs embrace a more contemporary power-pop sound. Both approaches work equally well for the two bands!
The Gilligans - MY NAME IS WILLY
Somewhere between the Boolevards’ retro sound and the Humbugs’ contemporary sound is the sophomore release by this Midwestern band. The most chiming tracks are "She’s A Boomerang", "Look" and "This All Starts With You"...but the entire disc features top-notch pop.
The Resonars - THAT EVIL DRONE
This band never misses! The pseudo-60s (think Hollies) hooks and harmonies jump out at the listener from every song. "World Apart" even opens briefly like the theme song to THAT THING YOU DO! Although the Rickenbacker riffs are not as pronounced on this disc, they are evident in the melodic layers of every song. Turn the treble setting up and you’ll find them!
Marty Willson-Piper - NIGHTJAR
Another superb solo disc from Church alum Marty Willson-Piper. Marty seems to favor a more strummy acoustic approach to the songs on this album, but his guitar chimes on "High Down Below". Even without his signature Rickenbacker 12-string...it’s all good. Nightjar represents a talented singer/songwriter/musician at the top of his art form.
The Lovetones - DIMENSIONS
This disc proves that the Rainbow Quartz label hasn’t signed every contemporary jangle-pysch-pop band in the world … but it won’t surprise me if this band releases its next disc under the Rainbow Quartz moniker. "Memory Lane", "A New Low In Getting High", "Love And Redemption" and "Journeyman" are standout chiming tracks.
Steve Pearson and British Racing Green - IMPATIENT
The jangly title song and "We Call It Love" are worth the price of admission!
This month’s "blast from the past" disc is ALL-AMERICAN POPSTER by Billy Sullivan – an interesting blend of the pop sounds of the Beach Boys, Herb Eimerman and Jeff Larson. My favorite jangly tracks on this disc are "Everywhere I Go" and "When Your Light Turned On". My favorite cover song – "In My Room". If this is Billy’s only album, it is one he can certainly be proud of. ALL-AMERICAN POPSTER will sound just as good ten years from now … and twenty years from now.
My fellow jangleholic pal Ray Verno has also been busy unearthing jangly pop tunes. Leading the pack this month is "Summer In Paradise" by the Beach Boys with Roger McGuinn. Pop musician/pop journalist Gary Pig Gold refers to this brief collaboration between the Beach Boys and Roger McGuinn as the "Beach Byrds". The Beach Boys’ stellar harmonies and McGuinn’s marble-textured Rickenbacker 12-string resulted in one of the finest cover songs ever – a remake of the Mamas and Papas’ "California Dreamin". If you’re lucky, the terrific video of this song is still archived on You Tube. Ray also turned me on to jangly tracks by Will Dailey, Larch, Papa Doo Ron Ron, Steve Roberts and Invisible, Inc.
Jangle Box inventor Steve Lasko did me a huge favor by turning me on to the multi-track talents of Craig T Fall. You can check out Craig’s "demo" renditions of classic Byrds and Beatles tunes at http://www.bluepacific1.com/Music-Frameset.htm.
Craig’s terrific version of "Bells of Rhymney" reminds me a lot of Tony Poole’s killer version of the same song on the 2007 TIMELESS FLYTE: A TRIBUTE TO THE BYRDS four-CD set. Craig, who has worked with Terry Melcher and the Beach Boys – among others, also contributed some very cool sound clips to the Jangle Box http://www.janglebox.com site. While visiting the site, check out some of the features of the new Jangle Box 2!
Head’s up to my fellow jangle-pop fans: both Horst-Peter Schmidt and Graham Allman Talbot (AKA GAT) will be releasing new albums later this year. Stay tuned to the "Jangle On!" column and you may get to hear exclusive tracks from both artists...and others!
Until next month, jangle on!