In this column, I feature a handful of outstanding releases released in the first four months of 2022, including a mix of new studio titles and reissues.
Monday, May 02, 2022
New Music: Seth Swirsky, April March, Lee Rocker, Amoeba Teen, Son House
Title: Songs From The Green Couch (Lolipop Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Beatles, the Monkees, Badfinger, Julian Lennon
Tell me more: Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Seth Swirsky is back with another batch of indispensable ear candy courtesy of his self-produced Songs From The Green Couch, a 15-track disc that is as ambitious as it is listenable. Take the opener; "Sunny Day" opens with a chamber pop section before burgeoning into a Beatlesque celebration. The instantly-inviting "I Don't Wanna Lose You" is pure power pop and executed with absolute perfection. Standouts abound on this terrific release; the beautiful Baroque-mining "Cashmere Sweaters," the frightful "Dead," irresistible "Making It Up As We Go Along," shimmering "Rose Avenue" (the latter bolstered by some sharp guitar work from Kirk Hellie) and luxurious closer "American Bar" are among this writer's other favorites on the masterwork. "The record was a two year process," Swirsky says in the press notes for the album. "I started writing and recording the record at the beginning of a serious new relationship I was having — it continued during a very painful breakup. Thus, the album oscillates between many hi’s and lo’s for me personally, which are reflected in the lyrics." If you love melodic and smart songcraft, get a copy of "Songs from the Green Couch." Information: RealSeth.com.
Title: In Cinerama (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: She & Him, Belle and Sebastian, Susanna Hoffs' 2012 album "Someday," French pop music
Tell me more: April March's In Cinerama was originally release as a limited edition vinyl-only release for Record Store Day in 2021. Thankfully, Omnivore Recordings has given this marvelous album a wider release in 2022. Singer April March (whose career in the entertainment industry has included music making with greats such as Brian Wilson and Jack White as well as being an animator on "Pee Wee's Playhouse") mines the retro stylings of classic French pop, the 5th Dimension, Belle and Sebastian and Burt Bacharach to come up with something that is magically her own. The uptempo and bouncy "Life Off," lush "Rolla Rolla," romantic genre-bending "Open Your Window Romeo," bewitching "Ride Or Divide," bouncy Runaway" and sweeping "Baby" are among the delights on the 13-track album. The audio CD version of In Cinerama reviewed here includes updated artwork, new liner notes (both in English and en Francais), printed lyrics as well as two previously-unissued bonus tracks (the wonderful "Goodbye" and "Friends Peculiar"). Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.
Title: Gather Round (Upright Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Stray Cats, Carl Perkins
Tell me more: Both as a member of the Stray Cats and his subsequent celebrated solo work, Lee Rocker has done as much as anyone to keep rockabilly music alive. Armed with his signature baritone vocals and amazing talents on a slew of instruments (double upright bass, guitar, mandolin, harmonica, accordion), Rocker conjures up the magic of rock and roll's rousing beginnings across his latest album Gather Round. The fiery disc opener "Gather Round" recalls the magic he created as a member of the Stray Cats, the track bolstered throughout by Buzz Campbell's virtuoso lead guitar flash and Matt Jordan's piano work. The romantic "The Last Offline Lovers" is beautiful and showcases Rocker's emotive vocals. The album's strength spans its 10-track run, with the sly "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat," propulsive "Pickin and Grinning" rockabilly romp, tuneful "Every Time I See You," roaring "When Nothing's Going Right" and reworked take on Robbie Robertson's "Ophelia" adding to the collective magic. Information: LeeRocker.com.
Title: Amoeba Teen (Big Stir Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Jellyfish, The Lickerish Quartet, Blur, Teenage Fanclub
Tell me more: Stourbridge, England-based Amoeba Teen's self-titled debut blasts out of the speakers with the raw approach of a concert recording (no surprise since the media release notes the foursome recorded the album live at Claptrap Studios in Stourbridge). Indeed, singer-guitarists Mark Britton and Mike Turner, drummer Carl Bayliss and bassist Simon Muttitt deliver 10 potent songs enhanced by an effective mix of garage rock, '70s glam, power pop, folk and Britpop. The quartet's winning approach shines on the melodic "Just Not That Into You," lush "New Material World," tender "A Good Reason Why," the countrified gem "January" and sumptuous "Melody Told You." Other standouts include the driving "Monica Wake Up," literate "Putting the Kids Through College" and full-blooded indie rocker "King of the Cut." Information: BigStirRecords.com.
Title: Forever On My Mind (Easy Eye Sound)
You might like if you enjoy: Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Robert Johnson, Delta blues
Tell me more: The story of blues great Son House is truly the stuff of legend. Born in Lyon, Mississippi in 1902, Son House was featured on several commercial 78s in 1930 and two field recordings captured by Alan Lomax for the Library of Congress at the dawn of the 1940s before returning to relative obscurity for more than two decades. That changed in 1964 when he was rediscovered at the age of 62 working at a train station in Rochester, New York; he subsequently returned to music and toured throughout the U.S. and Europe and was even chronicled in a story in Newsweek magazine. Fast forward to 2022 and producer Dan Auerbach (the Black Keys) has issued a stunning new edition celebrating the legendary "Father Of The Delta Blues." The remastered eight tracks on Forever On My Mind were tracked in the 1960s after Son House's reintroduction to the world (Son House passed away at the age of 86 in 1988). They offer a true glimpse into the early sounds of the Delta blues. The artist's freewheeling vocals and guitar playing are spirited and there is an otherworldly quality to the selections. Information: EasyEyeSound.com.