CD Review: Chris Richards – Sad Sounds of The Summer (Gangplank Records)

(ed. note – It seems like the new Chris Richards CD is a big hit here at The Rock and Roll Report. Aaron Kuperberg gave it a rave back in April and Scott Homewood seems to enjoy it as well. Two reviews for the price of one! Sounds like a keeper!)

chrisrichardsatsLet me tell you: nothing gets me ready for the summer quite like a great power pop record! I can remember when I was eighteen and driving the first car I had bought myself. I had just graduated high school and was determined to celebrate the hell out of the Summer before going to college in the Fall. The car was a gift I had bought myself as I was sick of bumming rides off friends and just hanging around waiting for someone else to take me somewhere. It was MINE, dammit! Nothing is quite like that feeling when you’re that young, having your own car and being alone on the road without your parents driving with you (or driving you) and being able to go where you want to go when you want to go there – the whole calling your own shots thing. The first thing I used to do after inserting the key into the ignition and starting it up was turn on the radio and try to find some sort of driving rock and roll I could sing (poorly) along to. Cheap Trick, Blondie, Elvis Costello, Greg Kihn (c’mon – you know you love it) – and all the other great catchy new wave of the day just made driving as fast as you could more fun than it should’ve been.

Somehow, I survived that summer, Lord knows I did so much partying and racing around I probably shouldn’t have – but I am glad I did, because besides all of the other cool things in my life, those artists and tons of new ones who have released incendiary power pop over the years have kept me charged up for more summers and every other time of year. In fact, I have been tuning up my car recently, just waiting to hit the open road with this new Chris Richards CD I knew his “people” would be sending me to review. You see, I have all of Richards’ previous CDs and Richards has long been one of the better craftsmen at creating propulsive power pop and has spent the last decade or so proving it on the four solo albums he’s released during that time, all of which I enjoy immensely.

Thankfully, this album is no different as Richards once again proves he can go catchy-chorus-for-catchy-chorus with the heavyweights like Fountains of Wayne and even though his songs are not as bombastic as some, with the big drums sound etc, Richards hits all the right spots with his Tommy Keene-like style. Another great thing about Richards’ music besides his guitar work being simply spot-on riff and solo wise, with a bunch of sleazy rock style thrown in is his vocals. Not an overpowering singer, Richards’ voice nonetheless embodies the rock and roll spirit as much as Tom Petty’s or Neil Young’s and his vocals are perfect for the kinds of songs he writes. For me, yet another winner from Richards.

Any fan of a catchy, well-written song that just sounds great when you’re driving, dancing, fighting or fucking will love this new album by Chris Richards. Not only is he good at what he does, but he understands it. Just because there isn’t a missed trick on this album, doesn’t mean that Richards just throws them all in there willy-nilly. Richards knows when to throw in a middle-eight so good it’ll make you miss Badfinger and when to throw in some handclaps and ohh-ohh-ohh’s so that the whole thing makes sense. This is not a pastiche of a long-forgotten style. This is some of the best power pop you’re going to hear this year and all by an artists who excells at it. Trust me: buy this album and you’ll be singing these songs to the beach, to the picnic, to the bar, to your friend’s house etc. and before you know it, you’ll have a new favorite CD. I can say I’ve seen it happen….because it happened with me.