Tuesday, August 07, 2018

New releases provide an immersive listen

A marvelous greatest hits set from British legends The Zombies, a glorious debut from Bird Streets, and welcome returns from Peter Holsapple and Roger Len Smith are among this summer's best releases.

Artist: The Zombies
Title: Greatest Hits (Varèse Sarabande Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Beatles, the Hollies
Tell me more: The Zombies were an early member of the British Invasion and the new collection Greatest Hits (available on Aug. 10, 2018) showcases why the English quintet rates as one of that era's most groundbreaking and enduring musical heroes. Completely remastered, the new 16-track Greatest Hits set features many of the band's most beloved songs. Early hits such as "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" as well as late '60s gems (notably "Time of The Season" and "This Will Be Our Year" from the group's masterwork Odessey and Oracle) are here; of equal interest are the terrific selections that expand the legacy of The Zombies including the soulful "Whenever You're Ready," intoxicating "I Love You" (still a key part of the band's concert sets), the cinematic thriller "Just Out of Reach" and the stirring "The Way I Feel Inside" (the latter a mostly a cappella track featuring lead singer Colin Blunstone). The colorful booklet includes outstanding liner notes penned by Andrew Sandoval that add insight about each of the songs included on the outstanding collection. If you are in Southern California, make sure to catch The Zombies when they open for Arcade Fire at the Greek Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Information: VareseSarabande.com.

Artist: Bird Streets
Title: Bird Streets (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Big Star, Pete Yorn, Neil Finn, Todd Rundgren
Tell me more: Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist wonders John Brodeur and Jason Falkner have joined forces as Bird Streets. Just listening to the pair's eponymous 11-track disc is to be awed by the power of song craft, virtuoso musicianship and creative give and take. The shimmering "Betting On The Sun" impresses with a fusion of strong melody, probing lyrics and a soundscape that thrives on vocal layers, immersive guitars and a unifying rhythm. The ambitious "Stop To Breathe" builds to a swirling climax, with multiple guitar lines that thrill even in the fade out. The tuneful Americana-tinged power pop "Same Dream" is a driving nugget, avoiding cliche while soaring to tuneful heights. On the beautiful "Spaceship" Brodeur's affecting vocals explore life's disappointments with artful candor. Bird Street was produced by Falkner, and features 11 tracks written and performed by Brodeur (in conjunction with Falkner); the disc also features guest appearances by Miranda Lee Richards and Luther Russell (The Freewheelers, Those Pretty Wrongs). Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: Peter Holsapple

Title: Game Day (Omnivore Recordings)

You might like if you enjoy: the dB's, the Minus 5, Radio

Tell me more: Just because Game Day marks singer-songwriter Peter Holsapple's first new solo album in 21 years doesn't mean the artist hasn't been busy. Indeed, in addition to his well-known role as a member of the North Carolina-spawned dB's, Holsapple was also a member of the acclaimed Continental Drifters in the 1990s and '00s. Holsapple's new solo album features more than a dozen original songs bolstered by his straightforward lyrics and talent tackling the majority of musical chores on the disc. Whether celebrating life's little everyday joys ("Game Day") or struggles ("Tuff Day," "The Better Man") or chronicling secret moments (the intimate "Don't Ever Leave" and confessional "Commonplace") there is an honesty and authenticity that bridges all the material. In addition to the 13 new tracks and a bonus track (a cover of "Them Changes/Sing Lady Sing"), there are two so-called "Super Bonus Tracks" ("Don't Mention the War," "Cinderella Style") that were released in 2017. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.

Artist: Roger Len Smith
Title: Anything Goes (CD Baby)
You might like if you enjoy: Tom Petty, Warren Zevon, Traveling Wilburys
Tell me more: There is a joyful quality across Roger Len Smith's newly-released Anything Goes, the artist's first new album release in nearly a decade. Smith's clear baritone vocals paint heartfelt notes across a rich Americana-meets-rock backdrop. There are uptempo sing-alongs ("Can't Wait For Another Day," "Raining On A Sunny Day"), Texas-fried blues rock ("Leaving It All Behind," adorned by slide guitar and blues harp), roots rockers ("Empty," "Down At Juniors") and reflective ballads ("Anything Goes," the bluesy "Aim"). Guests on the LP include Foo Fighters keyboardist Rami Jaffee, banjo player AJ Downing (who co-produced the album with Smith) and multi-instrumentalist Kim Deschamps. Smith's sixth album, Anything Goes serves as the perfect introduction to an independent artist deserving of widespread attention. Information: RogerLenSmith.net.

Robert Kinsler

1 comment:

Bobbofallenstar said...

Been a fan or Roger Len Smith for a while now - good to see him getting some props! Nice reviews as always Robert!