Members of The Roswells, one of the best Canadian pop bands ever, have formed this new group. This new release by The Tomorrows, follows the classic power pop template, with elements of Velvet Crush, Big Star, and Badfinger all come into play here.
An experienced musician and active commercial producer, Chris English weaves a lush sonic tapestry on “Dreamtown.” The sound is reminiscent of Colin Moulding of XTC with a dash of Peter Gabriel prog folk. Opening with the REM-like title track, Chris makes it clear he uses the harmonic elements of both electric and acoustic guitars, with delicate female vocal harmony in the background. A bit of electric folk pop is evident in “I Can See Everything” and the lovely follow up “Autumn” sounds like it came off XTC’s Mummer. These sweet delicate tones are made for perfect relaxed listening. “Without You” also seduces the listener with wonderful harmonies and chord changes here. Occasionally a bit of Alan Parsons styled AOR shows up (“Downtime” and “The Letter”) but it fails to make much of an impression. Another highlight is “I Can Take It” with it’s smooth piano chords and layered melody. Later in the album the songs pick up tempo, with the Beach Boys-like “Summer Revisited” and “Sunshine Routine” – I just wish Chris’ vocals were stronger here, as they float above the melodies, like having two sets of backing vocals. The epic ending track “God Is In The Silence” is a great celestial ballad with some Dark Side Of The Moon production techniques. Jeff Larson, Andrew Gold and Jeffrey Foskett fans will want to pick this one up for sure. If you enjoy highly textured baroque pop, you will love Chris English.
Are you looking for a group that knows how to rock with a sense of humor? The Ragamuffins of Love played at IPO this year and have the musical chops to show off on the opener “Kiss Those Good Times Goodbye.” Sung and played by the likes of Eff Dupp, Amadou Schbag, Kaye Seurat and Saul Goode. I think Bart Simpson will be calling Moe’s bar looking for these guys for sure. Eff (aka Sandy McKnight) has a slurred quality to the vocals that recall Joe Walsh or Randy Newman a bit. The riffs and melodies here are no joke though. The next song, “Tangerine” get into your head pretty well, and the “Plastic Yellow Raincoat” is a great song here in the Elvis Costello vein. The skinny tie jangle pop of “Julie Fashion Queen” will bring sweet memories to many power pop fans of the 80’s. More highlights here include “All Broken Hearted Lovers,” and the Pete Townshend’s gin soaked “It’s Not True.” Eff then lets the band go for a metal/punk intro sound on “I Want My Money Back.” The intro doesn’t match the song that well here. Overall, the production is a slightly uneven, and the backing vocals aren’t that good, but the songwriting and musicianship is solid gold here. I only expect improvement from these guys. Fans of The Kinks, Elvis Costello and Buddy Love will love this stuff. I wised up, you should too.
Delaware native Steve Chesser has put together a group of songs he describes as “anatomically correct indie pop.” It started as a group of home-grown demos and they are gathered here.
A Detroit-based 3-piece that sounds like they are having a blast playing “My Body (Is a Strange Place To Live)” with it’s quick guitar riffs and Mother Hips-styled dense psyche touches. By getting down to the early 80’s DIY essence of the punk/pop movement, the Friendly Foes raging diatribes on rock and roll’s currents state of affairs are done with just enough sugar to help this medicine go down. Coming from other bands, Ryan Allen (Thunderbirds Are Now!), Brad Elliott (Satin Peaches), and Lizzie Wittman (Kiddo) hit the ground running. Opening with “Full Moon Morning” it’s a template for the best of this album, with angular guitar riffs and Ryan leading the charge. Friendly Foes’ sound best compares with The New Pornographers, but it’s not all fey pop sweetness here. Using sunny boy-girl harmonies and bouncy major chords on “Criminal Justice” it’s got a catchy swagger that is hard to ignore. This album takes no prisoners and doesn’t let up either. So if you’re looking for a ballad somewhere, you’ve got the wrong album. Wittman gets to shine on a few songs, notably “Get Ripped” which resembles The B-52’s and The Ramones combined. All this energy goes to good use as almost every song here kicks ass. Some highlights include, “Get Yr Shit Together”, “Couch Surfing”and the epic “Lil’ Tiger” all with excellent melodies and great musicianship. On “Dying To Survive” and “Breakfast Burritos” gets a bit too typical, but that is being picky here. This is like power pop with an extra shot of caffeine. Make mine a double.
Pop fans will remember Rob Bonfiglio (pronounced “Bon-feel-e-o”) as a former member of Wanderlust and The Skies Of America. Rob displays consummate musicianship in full bloom on this, his debut “Bring on The Happy.”
Justin Kline has that sweet pop vocal that sounds a bit like Cliff Hillis or Marc Bacino with some very strong melodies, and well structured songwriting that recalls modern pop of The Honeydogs with the musical sensibilities of ELO and Jellyfish.