Sunday, October 30, 2011

RECORD REVIEWS - October 2011


Spoonboy - "The Papas"

Spoonboy are a nice little power pop/punk project from David Combs of the long running DC favorites, the Max Levine Ensemble. As expected, these are catchy songs in a grungy little punk sound. The sound is quirky and the singing is akin to a chippy Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks. There is much in the direction of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, but it does not quite achivee those heights. There are a few engaging songs that have me interested in listening further. The songs' themes are geared a lot toward youth from what I can pick up and occasionally show off some good poetic storytelling. I try to see the Ensemble whenever I am able, and Spoonboy would also provide an engaging set.

They also have released this album in both electric and acoustic versions. I prefer the electric on most of the songs (with that usual Billy Bragg/Ted Leo style that electric invokes), but the acoustic works better at times. If this were designed as a tighter release, it would probably be best to mix and match which would make one stronger album. But this is all on Bandcamp, so everything is available for you to decide for yourself. And it's free, so take a listen here.

Songs to try first:

Gerald Lee Palmer - Classic story told with a nice pop melody and a little bite in the guitars.

Sexy Dreams - Another amusing story set to music to bob your head to or tap your toes to.

Mamas and the Papas - An ambitious arrangement that works well with its Roy Harper-light singing quality.

Peter Maybarduk "A Ring around the Atlantic"

ring around the Atlantic Cover Art

Peter Maybarduk is a fine local musician that will play solo folk shows or full-band folk-rock sets. This album is even more complex and interesting than his live sets. The title cut has a great rhythm with lots of intriguing instrumental moves. His voice is a nice soft topping and reminds me of Feargal Sharkey of Ireland's Undertones. I was thinking that the vocals may be the only comparison to the pop-punk of the Undertones, but actually there are many energetic songs here that have that great youthful spirit and energy that the Undertones had. There are also folk moves with acoustic guitar or piano provided the light accompaniment to the vocal melodies. J. Robbins is on hand to produce and that is always a positive. They have put together a lovely variety of songs where there is something new going on from song to song, but it manages to stay connected and focused. My only criticism would be that some of the lyrics are a tad strained, but that is an error of ambition, so it does not affect my desire to return to this interesting album, available here at Bandcamp.

Songs to try first:

A Ring Around the Atlantic - Done in two different styles. The first one is a gem of a rocker.

Touched by Fire - Great grinding guitar rhythms with lead and backing vocals dancing around in different patterns. Energy to spare with plenty of hooks.

Something to Believe - Good simple power pop. And when power pop is good, there is not much more to be said.

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