December Album Reviews: Bloody Red Baron
GUEST POST: Mike Baron
Mike Baron (aka Bloody Red Baron) was the longtime album reviewer for Pop Geek Heaven. With the closure of that legendary power pop newsletter, we are very happy to host his latest round of album reviews here at Remember The Lightning.
SLD—Like Sunshine (Kool Kat Musik)
SLD is Tom Parisi and Paul Costanza. This band has an instinct for hooks similar to the Pinecones and Phonograph. Devastating and memorable. The record is like an acoustic tour of the New England countryside in the fall, all dazzling colors and unexpected delights. The title track suggests The Hushdrops in its adjacent chords, while “His” recalls the Dowling Poole in its dense orchestration. The band strikes a perfect balance between major and minor chords, no more so than in “Matter of Time.” “Cold Level Heart” reminds me of the great Minneapolis band, The Hang Ups with their off-center compelling melodies.
Brad Marino—Grin & Bear It (Rum Bar Records)
This is more of a full-fledged album compared to Basement Beat, his last album, a furious guitar-centered jam. These songs are more fully formed and go past the three minute mark. Brad’s mining the same blues-based, Rosetta Tharpe-based bedrock of blues, reminiscent of Arthur Alexander. “Monkey Man” is a pefect Stones song, complete with a Mick Jagger style vocal. It’s a better Stones record than “Angry,” and the single artwork on Bandcamp is exactly what the Stones would choose. Natalie Sweet lends her voice to CD bonus track “Over My Head,” a fast-moving circus train that’s over all too soon.
The Tearaways—And For Our Next Trick (Dirty Water)
This is the Tearaways’ ninth album if you only count the many versions of the Earle Manke Sessions once, continuing in their sunshine pop meets Mersey Beat groove at which they excel. “Are You Effing Kidding Me” begs to be the theme song of some hip comedy, Bill Burr or Dave Chappelle, giving voice to a universal curse which we have all uttered.
The Tearaways are a great guitar band which highlights the rhythm section, particularly drummer Clem Burke, who also writes songs. Those rolling drums sound like Sherman’s march to the sea on “Not Good Enough” and “Charlie, Keith & Ringo.” Can you guess what that song’s about?
Like Brad Marino, the Tearaways love the Stones and you hear it in “Come On Jan.” “No Love Lost” segues through major/minor chords and contains the lyric, “You do you.” They have a knack of incorporating popular idioms into their lyrics. John Finseth’s bass sounds like a singing whale on “Let Me Be the Last.” They favor adjacent key harmonies, popularized by The dBs, on “Goodnight Nurse.” Another brilliant record.
The Lunar Laugh—In the Black (Big Stir Records)
Oklahoma-based The Lunar Laugh has evolved from the duo of songwriters Connor Anderson and Jared Lekites into a five piece with guitarist Campbell Young and drummer Levi Sherman contributing to the book. The Lunar Laugh combines aching romanticism and jangle pop with four lead singers whose harmonies light up the sky as on tight, thumping “Born Weird,” with its Bloodrush Hour arrangement.
The swooning “Allegiance” has Sun Sawed in ½ level harmonies and ends on a single cello chord. “Fake It Till We Make It” shares pop smarts and melodic invention with bands like the Bye Bye Blackbirds and Fuzzbubble. A touch of Laurel Canyon in “Stranger Than Oz,” mostly in Campbell Young’s guitar solo, while “Pour Votre Sante” approaches Explorers Club level harmony with a dollop of Dire Straits.
The doo wop backing vocals on “Out of Love” demonstrate the Laugh’s embrace of decades of pop music, and pedal steel on “Picture Perfect” suggests the canyon once again. Top ten stuff.
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