Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Inceptive Reviews of Newly Released Music and Video

Summer has finally arrived, and with it a new collection of DaveCromwellWrites reviews for the month of June. Along with the end of a pandemic that went on way too long, live shows are now back as well. Eager promotions are coming in on a daily basis with subsequent tickets being scooped up for big show dates later on this year. Those triumphant return musical events will be covered extensively here as they occur, however it is recorded works that once again gets the Croms-eye-view deep dive analysis for this go-round.

Every once in a while a band will jump out at you from the ocean waves of promotional material that comes through over the wireless here. Making note of an instant liking for a quintet with the curious name Spud Cannon, a double-back on subsequent promotional singles releases confirmed their “must review” status. Like most 'new-to-you' bands finding their way on your radar, this isn't their first go-round (although still in the early stages) with their genesis commencing in late 2016.

Much of their current promotional lore surrounds the band's formation as students together at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. With that experience to guide them, Brooklyn now appears to be the most appropriate home-base for relaunching post-pandemic live shows on rooftops in celebration of a brand new full-length album. That record is the glorious “Good Kids Make Bad Apples” which is set for a June 25th release in it's entirety. The band consists of Meg Matthews (lead vox), Jackson Walker Lewis (guitar), Ari Bowe (keys), Lucy Horgan (bass) and Benjamin Scharf (drums).

Four singles have been now released since the records first announcement over these past few months, each showcasing a keen sense of how pop music is best presented by a new generation of musicians, fully aware of what has come before. Everyone has their favorite contemporary music growing up - it's what you hear on the radio and now streaming services. Additionally the best of previous decades will find its way onto modern playlists – creating newfound interest in those recordings. Spud Cannon has been listening carefully and it shows in their creative timeless-pop tracks.

Lead album track and first single release “Juno” immediately sets the tone for what these “good kids” (potentially on there way to becoming “bad apples”) are all about. Bouncy, energetic rhythms (there's punch in this rock) are matched with the happier-side of The Cure guitar riffs and tones (think more “Friday, I'm In Love” than, say “The Same Deep Water As You”). One of the few tracks crediting songwriting to all bandmembers, lyrics spell out the perilous search to “meet someone” – and more universally “be someone.” Along with this driving pop-rock, it's the bands vocal qualities that set them apart. There's a tandem voice component and harmony aspect that accentuates the appeal (though lead vocalist Meg certainly carries the workload). Along with the instantly hooky chorus, a joyous “whoooo” buildup caps off this under 3 minute beauty.

Follow-up cut (and 2nd single release) “Supersonic” is a barely over two minute foray with harder-edged slashing guitar chords. Centered around Meg's stylized vocals (and lyrics), a cautionary tale of hubris (“all love but you reek of pride”) and other potential vices (ridin' fast and you're gonna fall off”) are the primary focal point. The final :40 seconds serves up a madcap jam-out emphasizing they rhythm section, guitar riffs and piano keyboard plinks.

Third single release “You Got It All (NOT)” comes through with the first live-action video (the first two vid-clips featured rotating photos from an admittedly fun looking press pic shoot). Finally getting to see those much talked about Vassar squash courts, the band perform along with this incredibly catchy song, showcasing their energetic appeal. With the 3 frontline women all credited for the lyrics, that introductory voice-and-guitar tandem “oooh eee oooh oooh” hook kicks everything off with bouncy enthusiasm. A clever video twist shows the courts clear entrance door opening so we can get a better look at everything. A distinctive “Love Cats” dominant bass pattern shares open space with bright alternating percussion. Guitar is clean and jangly as quick-cut video motions shots of the band show how adorably cute they all are. While the verses have their own catchy appeal, like all great pop songs it's the chorus that drives everything home. A brilliant descending keyboard-dominant progression leads into the gloriously explosive lines “leave the talking to me, cuz you can't see, you've got it all.” More charming fun and frolicking is captured, with giant bouncy balls and hoola-hoops being showcased for good measure.

Easy shuffle, big echo groove drums and and tinkling electric piano notes introduce fourth single (and the album's fifth track) “Lovely.” The final advance promotional release before full album drops finds this Ari-penned lyrics cut exploring early 60's girl-group sonics. Tapping into that dreamy teen-swoon vibe that permeated early-wave pioneers Shangri-Las, Ronettes, Supremes and Crystals hits, one accurate comparison to Cults initial 2010 burst on the scene once again show the timeless appeal of this sound. Going back nearly a decade earlier, British indie pop girl group The Pipettes also had initial success with this distinctive form of 60's styled music. Bass guitar is once again featured as a propulsive element in the open spaces between lush, harmonized vocals and going-to-the-chapel-churchbell keyboards. For good measure the outro features a trumpet blended into the mix, adding one final audio touch to it all.

Deeper album tracks like Lucy's lyrical composed “Sleeper” builds around an alternately rising-then descending riff, where a keyboard walk up is met which chiming guitar on the way down. Rolling tom-tom underpinnings frees the bass guitar to engaged in a rubbery progression and subsequent lyrics. As the bridge lead up of “Gotta run - Can’t stay here - When it all - Gets too real” is reached, instinctively you know you're in for another monster hook chorus. That in fact does arrive with an expected emotion-packed surge. “Oooh - but you’re so coold - You won’t come home, I know - Your lights out on the road.” Only a decade ago saw a band making similarly captivating, vocal-hook driven, intensely insightful lyrics with soaring female vocals. The same qualities that gone-too-soon Sick Of Sarah brought to the table (who were meticulously covered here on this site back then) are alive and well in this wonderful track.

Just over a minute of madness occurs on a “theme song” (of sorts) with “P.O.T.A.T.O.” Opening with non-bandmember spoken word clip “I have potato blood in my vein,” the band lurches into a heavy guitar and drum stop with the girls chaotically shouting “hot potato” and “I want a spud!” A punk rock song if there ever was one. Conversely, “Na Na Na” pairs big power-pop verses with a funky double-time chorus that mirrors 80's “new wave” dance music (think Haircut 100 – Boy Meets Girl).

Other tracks like “Out” and “Easy” also dip into funky-dance-guitar (the former) and bass-guitar driven rock (the later) containing lyrics dealing with “relationship” issues – be they hang-around friends or potential significant others. What stands out in every song are high-level vocal harmonies, catchy melodies and precision instrumentation. Simply put, it all sounds wonderful.

The album is out in full on June 25.

Find out so much more about Spud Cannon via their Official Website, Facebook and Instagram

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After featuring Sheffield UK based indie-gaze band The Suncharms here on DCW at the end of 2019 (both in individual song review and then Best Of the year inclusion), a worthy new song has now emerged. Contributing the track “Liquid Through My Hands” to Chicago, Illinois indie-pop label Sunday Records latest compilation Something Beautiful, the band once again finds itself standing out amongst like minded artists.

Where previously reviewed track “Jet Plane” was relatively quick and peppy, “Liquid Through My Hands” moves at a more deliberate, measured pace. What both tracks share in common is a sense of nostalgic pathos within an uplifting framework. The song also serves as a first preview from their forthcoming album.

Sawing back and forth between two chords (a personal favorite style) buoyant finger-picked guitar lines soar over crisp levels of bass guitar and drums. Lead vocalist Marcus Palmer delivers touching lyrics in a distinct, carefully delivered diction that shows true emotional commitment. Leaving expressive pauses and unique emphasis on and between certain words (“I don't know how – I found my [pause] self in this place,” and “reflecting in this antique mIR-ror”) elevates simple storytelling into a higher-level art form. While the songtitle first reveals it's true meaning at the 1:00 minute mark, an introspective chorus that goes “Looking for Palaces in the sky I came to realise, I should be watching the leaves floating by” strikes to the true heart of the matter. As the track moves towards it's ultimate conclusion, a sinuey snaking guitar adds musical weight to the dreamy vocal denouement.

Find out more about this compilation here and this track in particular here.

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The always busy Tom Lugo continues to put out new music via his indie label Patetico Recordings under a variety of band names (both solo and collaborations). This site featured his full-length Panophonic album “AWAKENING” on it's arrival this past February. A brand new track “The Last Time” has recently been released, showing the recording artists' continued evolution in sound design, surpassing any preconceived listener expectations.

Opening with a quiet, pulsing guitar texture immediately draws the listener in before whip-crack snare and cymbal percussion abruptly shatters the meditative mood. Vocals start immediately with Toms vocal pitch (and delivery) approximating John Lennon's altered “I am the Walrus” intonation. “I am not sure I want to see you anymore,” is the opening lyrical salvo, pitched against that humming, undefined guitar ambience. We know they are guitars as a notation “no keyboards were used on this recording” is prominently displayed in the liner notes. Everything elevates as the chorus is reached., crying out “Why do we always end up in a fight?” The guitars are suddenly more traditional here, with full chords and the most delightful oscillating bass line.

Voices morph and blend with FX on the lines “I’d say that I’m sorry but I am so worried about all of what you might think” in psychedelic composition. Resolving on the line (and thematic title) “Hope this is not the last time that we speak.”  Fine crafted details like stutter-pace percussion on the turnarounds shows a higher musical IQ in every aspect of this song. As the next verse reverts back to a beatless ambience and vocals only production (creating introspective emphasis in the process), the mea culpa “maybe this time I crossed the line, I’ll admit,” is ultimately revealed. The final 2:40 of this 3:15 in length song lifts off in a blaze of slashing gaze guitar melodies, throbbing counter-melody bass and precision throttle drums.

Check out this outstanding track here:

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Coming through once again win an introduction to off-the-main-path music is our friends at the Burbank, California music label Big Stir Records. The recent DaveCromwellWrites Feature covering two separate albums from their vast and eclectic catalog served as ample motivation to see what's cooking there right now. That discovery manifests itself in the form of accomplished psychedelic pop troubadour Anton Barbeau. Having previously established a worthy catalog of recordings, his soon to be released latest album “Oh The Joys We Live For” offers up 12 uncommon tracks of folk and pop featuring free-form lyrics inside more structured songs. Introductory single “One Of Her Superpowers” encapsulates this artists rare chemistry in a radio friendly two and a half minutes.

Choosing to open this track with a few seconds of ascending guitar twiddles is a playful misdirection, as a more straightforward vocal presentation immediately begins. Getting right to the theme, Anton sings “one of her super powers is leaving things as they are,” against a bright, chiming acoustic guitar. “The minute defiles the hour, the planet defiles the star,” continues the nimble lyrical tale. The chord progression changes as he sings “but she don't care – her hands are clean and she don't care” bringing to mind the tone and whimsy of “Hunky Dory” era David Bowie.  A half-a-minute in, fuller instrumentation appears with a solid drum beat, bass guitar and harmony vocals adding punch and depth to the already attention grabbing lead vocals.

Universally relatable lyrics “one of her super powers, is leaving keys in the car” [is that a good or a bad thing?], “she's dreaming of field of flowers” [sung with such an enjoyable harmony] “and poppy seeds in a jar.” On the chord change things get curious with lines “the Zebra walks a narrow hallway to her door. He knocks three times, she let's him in, he knocks no more.” Surely this must be a prelude to those “joys we all live for.” Indeed it must, as the 1:00 mark presents a full-on chorus that goes “summertime fun, our legs akimbo” [indeed!]

The backing vocals step up and deliver those sugary Beatles-like “ahhhhs” that make any single more fun. Curious mentions of “drugs” and other obscure references to “yesterday's satyricon” continue the oddball charm with ultimate happy home declaration “the tv screen's a likely guest list.” Chiming Rickenbacker-style guitar melodies are furnished over top of the bright acoustic rhythm, establishing a classic 60's style pop-rock instrumental interlude (again, quite Beatle-esque). It all comes full circle with the final lyrical statement “the princess trapped in the tower, befuddling the power pop man.” Tacked on the end is a reprise of sorts, with another brief madcap guitar foray mirroring the tracks opening.

The CD and digital album with this single are currently up for preorder now at and will be streaming across all platforms on its full release date of July 16.

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