Monday, April 11, 2016

Cheap Trick, Pet Shop Boys, Willie Nile return with masterworks; East of Venus amazes on debut

Cheap Trick, Pet Shop Boys and Willie Nile have returned with exceptional albums, while indie rock supergroup East of Venus amazes via a sterling debut.

Artist: Cheap Trick
Title: Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello (Big Machine Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Big Star, Cheap Trick, The Move
Tell me more: Cheap Trick's much anticipated return is not limited to the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 8, 2016. The quartet's first new full-length studio since 2009, Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello" is a bona fide triumph filled with the band's characteristic brand of high-octane melodic rock. The driving "Heart on the Line" kicks off the 11-track disc and that powerful track sets the tone on a disc that boasts some of the rockers' best songs in memory; the tuneful "No Direction Home" is bolstered by little psychedelic touches and scorching guitar work from Rick Nielsen; the melodically explosive "Sing My Blues Away," sardonic rocker "The In Crowd" and beatlesque "The Sun Never Sets" also impress. The highlight on the album is "When I Wake Up Tomorrow," a melancholia-drenched original that bridges Cheap Trick's power-pop instincts with the sonic territory explored by David Bowie in "Heroes." Cheap Trick remains one of America's great music treasures. Information:

Purchase 'Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello' here

Artist: Pet Shop Boys
Title: Super (Kobalt)
You might like if you enjoy: Pet Shop Boys, Erasure
Tell me more: Leave it to the Pet Shop Boys to bring their timeless brand of electronica to the dance floor; Neil Tennant (lead vocals, keyboards, guitar) and Chris Lowe (keyboards, backing vocals) have a knack for crafting infectious and bouncy synth pop that sounds as good in 2016 as it did when they embarked on their musical journey in 1981. The newly-released Super, the duo's follow-up to their excellent 2013 album Electric, is filled with driving rhythms and memorable hooks that could fuel any dance club. The aptly-named "Happiness," lush "The Pop Kids" (an evocative tale of their early days in London), propulsive "Burn" and more insightful "The Dictator Decides" are among the many tracks on the dozen-song set that deliver the Pet Shop Boys' wonderfully contagious sound with artistry aplenty.  Information:

Get 'Super' here

Artist: Willie Nile
Title: World War Willie (River House Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Bruce Springsteen, Nils Lofgren, Lou Reed
Tell me more: On veteran singer-songwriter Willie Nile's latest World War Willie, the New York-based rocker masterfully blends American heartland instincts with post-punk power in the service of hard hitting original rock. On World War Willie, Nile seeks to inspire those on society's outskirts (notably on the sing-along "Let's All Come Together," Springsteen-styled "Trouble Down in Diamond Town" and beautiful "Runaway Girl") and offers up the most heartfelt of ballads ("Beautiful You"), but also flat out rocks (as evidenced by "Forever Wild" and the rockabilly-mining "Hell Yeah"). He also honors the memory of Levon Helm (The Band singer-drummer lost his battle with cancer in April 2012) via the country-tinged "When Levon Sings." The album closes with an electrifying cover of "Sweet Jane," a tribute to the late Lou Reed who Nile met 10 days before the former Velvet Underground frontman died in October 2013. Information:

Purchase 'World War Willie' here

Artist: East of Venus
Title: Memory Box (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Winter Hours, the Jayhawks, Neil Young
Tell me more: The debut album from indie rock supergroup East of Venus has brought together the talents of guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Michael Carlucci (Winter Hours), multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Glenn Mercer (The Feelies, Wake Ooloo), bassist-backing vocalist Rob Norris (The Bongos) and drummer Stanley Demeski (The Feelies, Luna). With the sudden death of Carlucci, only 58, in late 2015, Memory Box stands as an enduring monument to his talents. The jangling "Let's Find A Way," shimmering "Faded Pictures," folk rocker "Dallas" and Americana-styled cover of Tim Hardin's "Reason To Believe" are among the amazing entries on the 10-song LP. "Memory Box" (set for release on April 15, 2016) will be available on audio CD, digital and clear vinyl. Information:

Get 'Memory Box' (Clear Colored Vinyl, Includes Download Card) right here

Robert Kinsler

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