Discover more from Remember The Lightning
June 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.
Steve Stoeckel—The Power of And (Big Stir Records)
Former Spongetone bassist releases his first solo record and it’s the kind of original pop that uses fresh melodic invention, like Nick Frater or Stephen Lawrenson. Most songs are short, but all reflect a complex, finished sensibility, beginning with the eminently hummable “Laura Lynn.” Years ago, as protection against ear worms, I filled my head with fantastic, unforgettable pop. I can cancel an ear worm instantly by summoning something by Duncan Maitland or Jellyfish. Add Steve Stoeckel to the list. A pinch of Hawaiian guitar punches above its weight in the short, Lane Steinberg-ish “Strange Cameo.” “The Emerald Sea,” which is less than two minutes, has XTC DNA, and flows as fresh and clean as a mountain stream. There’s a whiff of Laurel Canyon in the title track in the guitar interplay, and against “Skippy’s Parade,” in the fragment guitar solo. Plus a hint of Beachwood Sparks. Stoeckel channels Everly Brothers harmony on the two minute “Why,” and the blast of electric guitar on “The Monsters Under the Bed” is like a shot of Bushmills in your lemonade.
One seldom complains that songs are too short. I look forward to his next recording.
Eddie Japan—Pop Fiction (Rum Bar Records)
Eddie Japan brings a cinematic, Queen-like grandeur to their music with two lead vocalists and shimmering keyboards that fall like silver rain, beginning with the passionate “Edward Descending.” There’s a hint of prog throughout these songs, as on “Summer Rain,” with its dancing keyboards and West Coast harmonies, more Mamas & Papas than Beach Boys. “Undertow” might have been written and recorded by Curt Boettcher with its Millenium-like harmonies and chamber rock arrangement. Traces of ELO and XTC surface in “I Can’t Wait” with its aquatic synth line and perfect application of tension and release. The keyboards light up “Time Machine,” with Emily Drohan and David Santos trading vocals, Emily coming in on top while David sings lead. Santos wrote these songs with a mixture of elegance and pop smarts, achieving a huge presence. “Rented Rooms” ends the album on a high-note with its epic majesty. Freddie Mercury would have loved this.
sparkle*jets u.k.—Best Of Friends (Big Stir Records)
Here’s a switch. Andrew Curry and Not Lame, to name a couple, gathered a dozen bands to pay tribute to an artist. sparkle*jets u.k. flip it on Best of Friends, performing twenty one songs by their friends and peers, an avalanche of lush, driving power pop, swooning with harmonies that rival Sun Sawed in ½ or the Beach Boys, as on the Kompost’s “One Summer Sunday,” which, in addition to those harmonies, suggests Burt Bacharach in the chords. The Dons’ “Till We Meet Again” is an urgent bell ringer with sparkle*jet Susan West topping off a towering stack of harmony. Her powerful voice sells The Negro Problem’s “Come Down Now.”
Technicolor harmonies dazzle on Flora Pop’s “Who Can Really Know.” The Shazam’s “Sunshine Tonight” has top fuel dragster thrust with a thumping bass reminiscent of Angel City. Sugarplastic’s “Another Myself” sounds like McCartney’s “Jet” in the bridge, and XTC in the harmonies. Kenny Howes and the Yeah! shows a love of the Kinks, with a wild guitar solo reminiscent of Joe Bonamassa. The See Saw’s “Probleme Romantique” continues the combo of great harmonies and smart chords.
Looking For More Great New Guitar Pop?
Check out the latest installment in S.W. Lauden’s Guitar Pop For Now People series.
Links to the previous four installments included in the article below.
Thanks for reading Remember The Lightning! Subscriptions rule. ⚡️💥 Tell 10 friends.