Jack White has done it again. The vinyl pusher has joined forces with Sun Records to begin releasing a series of reissues from their legendary back catalog on his Third Man Records label. White has promised that this will be an ongoing partnership between the two labels. One of the three initial releases is the Prisonaires 45rpm 7” single “Baby Please” b/w “Just Walkin’ in the Rain.”
The Prisonaires were an African-American group consisting of five members, all prisoners of the Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville, hence the band name. It’s been said that the felonious fivesome were greatly admired by Elvis, leading the King to even cover of their hit single.
Originally released in 1953, “Just Walkin’ in the Rain” was Sun’s first real hit, and the short-lived band’s only success. Written by band/cellmates Johnny Bragg and Robert Riley, the somber, slow jangling doo-wop driven tune recalls a simpler time where a broken heart left one to wander the streets in the rain while reminiscing of a lost love. It’s a beautifully arranged composition that is held together by a bluesy guitar waltz, but it’s the rising and falling of the various vocal harmonies that carries the song. Johnnie Ray recorded a more upbeat version of the single in 1956 and it pales in comparison to the Prisonaires, further emphasizing the beauty of the inmates’ command of their vocal palette.
The A-side of the single, “Baby Please,” penned by Riley, is a more up beat love song kicked off by a somewhat aggressive guitar riff and a half-hearted yelp. Johnny Bragg confesses in the chorus, “I love you so, so, so much / my world is nothing without your touch.” The sweet sentiments are accentuated by the group’s doo-wop harmonizing, creating a romantic backdrop for Bragg’s vocals to flourish.
Johnny Bragg, John Drue, Marcel Sanders, William Stewart, and Ed Thurman, the five fellows who formed the Prisonaires, enjoyed an extremely brief singing career that allowed them to escape the penitentiary for a brief time to perform at the governor’s mansion and an elementary school. Wow, times have changed! White chose a good place to begin with his Sun Records reissue series. He’s given us a quick glimpse into a fairly obscure group, allowing us a moment to enjoy the simple sounds of a vocal group with a dubious origin. It’s a wonderful piece of vinyl. Keep up the good work, Jack.
On a quick note, it looks as though a documentary about the Prisonaires has been completed and is soon to be released. Exciting times.
Lowpines are a cool co-ed duo hailing from west London. Behind the somber sounding band name are Oli Deakon and Lyla Foy, partners in the sublime. The talented two have released a minimalist masterpiece, Give Me a Horse, via EardrumsPop.
Teasing us with only three songs, Lowpines open up the EP with the title track, a slow moving lo-fi acoustic waltz that meets somewhere between Bonnie Prince Billy and Smog. Deakon interjects some Bill Callahan/Jandek type of lyrics: “Give me a horse and I’ll give it grass to feed on the winter long / Give me a horse and I’ll keep it strong for you to ride on.” Much like Callahan, I’m sure the horse is metaphorical for the aching desire to be in a loving relationship. Foy’s convincing voice, along with a somber electric guitar enters to bring the song to a sweet climax. Quite frankly, “Give Me a Horse” is an excellent single.
Opening with a softly cutting and climbing guitar lightly washed with effects, “Heavy Hander” is haunting in its efficient construction and pleasing in its economical use of vocals and instrumentation. Deakon and Foy magically meet in the chorus when they plead, “Come away heavy-hander / Give me back my summer sun.” It’s interesting how the duo can make the song simultaneously sound anxious and relaxing.
The EP ends with “It’s Not Happening,” a cover of the Vancouver-based band The Be Good Tanyas. Though Deakon takes the lead on the vocals, this is the first time we hear Foy flex her vocal power without harmonizing with her band mate. Maybe I’m a bit too enamored with the Lowpines, but their version of the song is more heartfelt and emotional than the original. At the same time, I would’ve liked to have seen the band give the listener another original composition instead of a cover tune.
I’m pleasantly surprised by Lowpines. I want more. I want more songs. I want a physical release of the EP to hold in my hands and wave around. I want to see them in concert. Heck, I even want a t-shirt and poster. The Lowpines have real talent. They aren’t just studio smoke and mirrors. Make sure you check out their fairly recent Daytrotter sessions where they give a beautiful performance of their few tracks. Oh, and I love the cover art. It fits the mood of the EP. Great job, guys. Write more songs!
The Portland, Oregon-based, multi-instrumental twosome are in the business of crafting emotionally energetic songs that are simultaneously futuristic and familiar. With Kevin O’Conner handling the percussions, guitar and piano and Lisa Molinaro playing the viola and synths, the talented duo hover somewhere between the backwoods and the suburbs with their unique blend of indie-folk and hip-hop. The instrumentals are deep, textured and refreshing. It would be criminal to add any vocals to their songs.
Recently, the band took part in another Daytrotter session that you need to check out. Talkdemonic originally recorded a session in late 2008 that showcased the intimate and appealing nature of their compositions. The most recent session is more light and airy in comparison to their Daytrotter debut. Make sure to check out the playful and provoking “Summer Glass.” Also, shut off the lights and get lost in the spaced out sounds of the aptly titled “Slumber Verses.” At times, it seems as though the Portland pair’s songs are too brief. I would like to see (hear) the band expand their songs. It’s almost as though O’Conner and Molinaro are teasing the listener by clocking some of their tracks just over two minutes.
Regardless of the terrible band name—rhetorically, it seems more fitting for a metal band—Talkdemonic is a band worthy of your time. Also, Lisa Molinaro is almost as beautiful as the music she creates. Check out their Daytrotter sessions and tell me what you think.
Elizabeth Veldon is a found noise merchant hailing from a small town outside of Glasgow, Scotland. She spends much of her time creating very large and obtuse soundscapes that are well grounded in feminist and political theory. Veldon is recognized as one of the most prolific noise artist working today; she has created well over one hundred albums of deeply dense sounds. Her newest release, A Soul with No Footprint, is a two-song album that has the noisy noisemaker pushing newer boundaries with her art.
The opening track, sharing its name with the album title, is a forty-two minute dust-up of repeated loops of sound often repeated. Veldon leaves the listener on an anti-climatic edge of sound that never quite reaches a satisfying end. The noise is constant, consistent, and cathartic. There isn’t a wasted note within this heavily textured composition. It’s obvious that Veldon is reminding the listener of the inherent power of sound. Be careful when listening to this track. It’s easy to get lost in the swell of it all.
Clocking in at just over thirty minutes, “Folk Music as a Parasitic Expression” is, for the most part, quite a different track. There are layers and layers of feedback tones undulating beneath the soft shell of surreal sound. The song is fragile and familiar in its attempt to intertwine the underlying warmth of the found sound loops. Where the opening song left the listener unfulfilled in its promise, “Folk Music as a Parasitic Expression” fulfils one with promise. This is not an easy accomplishment.
At times, when these compositions meander past the twenty or twenty-five minute mark, the listener becomes suspicious. The noise can become fraudulent and forced. In other words, pretentiousness can begin to seep in. There is a concern for this from this listener. Is it necessary for these soundtracks to carry on to such great lengths? Rhetorical speaking, what’s Veldon trying to say? How would the listener respond to this album if it were abbreviated—neutered a bit? Do soundscapes only work when they are close to an hour long? I suppose that the answer to this is dependant on Veldon’s goal with this album. Concurrently, maybe I shouldn’t be asking these questions? I don’t know.
Nevertheless, Veldon has given us another thought-provoking work that leaves us with more questions than answers. And maybe I shouldn’t look for these answers? I don’t know. Maybe I should just get lost in the sound of it all. On a serious side note, if you are prone to fits of madness or susceptible to seizures, it is best to approach this album with caution. Veldon’s soundscapes are unforgiving in attitude and scale.
Twin siblings Amelia and Pat Innit are bentcousin, a London-based duo who have released their debut EP, Everybody’s Got One, on Conor Oberst’s Team Love Records. Okay, they have some songs and a hip label to shop them, so one would think, not a bad place to start for such a young group. Right?
The EP begins with “bentpaperboy,” a gentle singsong sort of track that is oddly reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy),” mixed with a B-side to a Belle and Sebastian single. Amelia’s vocals are covered with a sweetness that draws the listeners in, but, concurrently, the lyrical content repeals us and pushes us away. With lines like “I like the cut of her gib / I like the cut of her soul / I like the cut of her underwear,” Amelia has undermined the flirty feel inherent in the composition. Does anyone outside of a retired Navy recruiter use the nautically inclined term,“gib”? In the next line, Amelia rhymes “hobby” with “origami,” further adding to the listener’s frustration. In all actuality, it’s not that bad of a track, but it’s too brief, and it abruptly ends without completing the bentpaperboy’s journey.
Pat takes over the vocals on “Slade,” a track that sounds too similar to Sugar’s “If I Can’t Change Your Mind.” While Pat is more energetic and sped up, it’s probably best to leave the vocal duties to big sis, even though her backup, ill-produced “la-la-la’s” that pop up on “Slade” do nothing to help this argument. The same clumsy la-la-la’s show up later on the uninspired “Glittery Joe.”
“I Quit You” has Amelia and Pat stuck in a give-and-take vocal battle sung over a Sleater-Kinney drumbeat. Amelia presents more awkward, high school notebook lyrics: “You said my eyes were average / You talked about your ex in bed / You started taking me for a fool / And that’s not cool.” Ho-hum. I did enjoy the handclaps on the track, though. I’m a sucker for handclaps.
“F.O.R.G.E.T.” is a Pat-led piece that does its best impersonation of the Bay City Rollers. Once again, it’s best to get Pat away from the microphone. His attempt to sing “reason” with three syllables at the one-minute mark is proof of Pat’s vocal inabilities. This is one I would like to f.o.r.g.e.t.
The EP ends on a strong note. “I Think I Like Your Girlfriend More Than You” is a fun two minute, eighteen second romp that reads like a 1960s-sounding lounge single. Amelia’s voice is convincing and attractive; she brings life to the goofy lyrics. Her English accent sells the sweetness of her sentiment. Take Pat’s indecipherable singing off of the last twenty-four seconds and this could be a hit. Sorry, Pat. I think I like your sister’s singing more than yours.
Something tells me that bentcousin’s songs sounded better in their heads than they do on the EP. There are some highlights that shed some hope on the band’s future. Nevertheless, if bentcousin wants to be successful, Amelia must take sole control of the vocals, any and all backing vocals must be mixed better and the lyrical content needs to improve. Sometimes being too coy and too cute can be extremely annoying and abrasive. The twins have a chance, but they might just need to be separated to have any measurable success outside of London pubs.
Please check out bentcousin’s recent Daytrotter session: http://tinyurl.com/b536zqm
The Predator is one of the most promising and creative characters created in the last thirty years. When he (it) made his (its) big screen debut in 1987, audiences everywhere were instantly attracted to absurd ugliness and horror of the humanoid creature. We couldn’t stop staring at the crustacean-looking face hiding underneath his futuristic space mask/helmet. After the creature’s anti-climatic death in the Schwarzenegger movie, it only seemed natural that the Predator had to be revived and revisited, and an origin needed to be created.
Predator made its comic book debut in a four-issue mini series that began in the summer of 1989. Instead of stalking the jungles of South America, the Predators (Yes, there’s more than one) wandered into New York City. The second Predator film similarly had the creatures running amok on the streets of Los Angeles. As one can see, the problem with the Predators is that no one quite knows where to posit these creatures within a story. The storytelling has been quite clumsy. For such an advance group of aliens, it seems odd that these intelligent humanoids would waste time killing random individuals rather than simply invading and taking over the Earth. But with a character as popular and unique as the Predator, it’s important just to get these sapient beings into as many comic books as possible. This leads us to the ever-popular comic book idea of crossovers.
In 1991, the Predator made a visit to Gotham City. In a three-issue run, a lone Predator takes on Batman, and the cape crusader gets a world of hurting. A boxing match kicks off the series. Both of the combatants, Bull Bersaglio and Marcus King, are bankrolled by two of Gotham’s most influential gangsters—Alex Yeager and Leo Brodin. After the match, King, the winner of the fight, is found dead in the most gruesome manner—the champ’s spine and skull have been removed. At first, Brodin, who sponsored Bersagilo, is blamed for the boxer’s murder. But the severe nature of the death suggests a different culprit. It is up to the caped-crime fighter to solve the murder, and prevent the mob bosses from doing battle.
Beginning the book with a boxing match serves many purposes. Mainly, in simple terms, the match is presented to foreshadow the eventual battle between the two real heavyweights—Batman and the Predator. We get this. I mean, this is why we purchased the book. More importantly, the rhetorical purpose behind the boxing match is to get the comic to read like a movie. The opening splash page is action packed; it’s cinematic and fast moving. There’s shadow play with the value of the venue light married with the stark quality of the light illuminating the ring. The readers are given a quick view of the eccentric audience members, peering back at the reader, making us feel like we’re part of the crowd. We are sharing the audience’s vantage point. Fans of film noir boxing classics Body and Soul (1947) and The Set Up (1949) have seen these images before. These are the two main sources writers, directors and artists look to when they want to portray a realistic boxing scene.
When taking a character like the Predator that was initially created for Hollywood, it is important to keep the creature in familiar visual surroundings. I’m sure there was a worry that the Predator might not translate well in the comic book format. This had to be a concern. If the artist wasn’t careful, a menacing figure like the Predator could’ve been easily transformed into a cartoonish image that died on the limited paper format that once hindered and endeared comic books.
The cinematic magic of the opening page leads into a cliché horror movie scene. We peer in to Woodrow Pickett’s trailer, located in his salvage yard, watching the aforementioned boxing match, while sipping from another can of Budweiser. Next to Pickett sits Satan, his trusty watchdog, howling away. What would a salvage yard owner be without a trusty dog to scare away potential thieves? Satan hears a noise outside of the trailer and, following Pickett’s command, investigates the disturbance. After hearing a “hrruuuffHRRUFHR” come from Satan, Pickett grabs his shotgun and heads to the door where he’s greeted by three red laser beams on his chest. Cue the blood-splattering panel as the television announcer declares King the new heavyweight champion of Gotham City.
The clichés continue when the readers are given an overhead view of Marcus King resting in a hotel bed–post-coitus?– with his woman, Lita, exchanging pillow talk, while a shadowy Predator drops through a skylight and subdues the lamp-wielding champ with his hunting net and proceeds to remove the boxer’s skull and spine. How many times have we seen this scene? The crashing through the skylight/picture window has become a crutch for those in the creative community. I suppose we shouldn’t expect the Predator to use the front door. It is news of King’s death that gets Batman involved. Before Batman can get hot on the case, the Predator kills Bersaglio is the same Mortal Kombat type of way that King suffered.
At this point, the reader is a bit puzzled. The Predator travels all the way to Gotham to kill a hillbilly salvage yard owner and his dog? Two boxers? Is there a greater reason why Pickett is the first victim of the Predator’s wrath? Or is Dave Gibbons, the writer, just trying to establish the Predator as some sort of interstellar sadist? Later in the story, Batman uses deductive reasoning and figures out that the Predator is choosing his prey based on some “savage code of honor.” The space creature has come to Gotham to take on and kill the city’s strongest combatants in hand-to-hand combat. Predator’s weaker encounters—Pickett, two security guards and a blind ex-fighter—are simply shot. He saves the skull/spine removal for the tougher dudes. And Batman is next.
Adam Kubert, the artist of the series, draws a very bulky Batman. In certain panels, Batman appears to be out of proportion, his chest is literally wider than the front of the Batmobile. Bruce Wayne must have a lot of explaining to do in the boardroom meetings. A built Batman is necessary, though. He will soon be taking on one of his most impressive (and massive) foes, and, even though Batman is physically no match for the Predator, a bulkier Batman makes it more believable that the Dark Knight can hold his own.
Kubert conjures up an extremely dark Bruce Wayne. Whether he’s tooling around the Batcave or catching up on the news, Wayne’s eyes are squinted, his brow crunched up like he’s recovering from cataract surgery while sucking on lemon wedges in a smoke-filled nightclub. In certain panels, Wayne looks a little like Marvel’s non-superhero vigilante, Frank Castle. Kubert also darkens up Alfred. Batman’s lifelong caretaker looks uncharacteristically angry and distrusting. This is an Alfred we are not used to seeing. The entrance of the Predator in Gotham City has everyone grimacing in fear and anger.
It’s also interesting to note the appearance of the Predator. Off the top of my head, the Predator is one of the most physically threatening and muscular alien species in popular culture. Times sure have changed since the days of Greys, E.T., Alf, Mork and Klingons. What was going on in the mid-to-late 80s that made an alien become so large, physically fit and violent? This is something worth investigating.
After all the deaths and speculation, Batman crosses paths with the Predator in the salvage yard and their encounter ends just the way we think it would: Batman gets the shit beaten out of him. The last five pages of the first book ends in a dark and confusing manner. Batman’s battle with the Predator is broken down into multiple mini-panels, giving the fight a fast-moving feel, similar to the opening page. There are close ups of eyes and hands, punctuated with various comic book action noises. Kubert’s panels are muddy and disjointed, so much so that it’s difficult to follow the sequence of battle. It appears that Batman’s only mode of attack is throwing scrape metal at his alien competitor. Batman never makes physical contact with his opponent and when it’s all said and done, the issue ends with a somewhat bloody Predator grasping a fallen and bloody Batman by his cape.
Gibbons and Kubert do an effective job ending the opening issue with a cliffhanger. Readers everywhere must’ve been anxiously waiting for issue number two to hit their comic book store’s shelves. How is Batman going to escape from the Predator? We’ve never seen Batman in such a defeated condition. He looks defenseless and weak in the grasp of the Predator. Despite its countless clichés, muddy pages and darkly styled, squinty-eyed characters, I’m hooked. Batman and the Predator are two exciting characters—one complex and the other mysterious and intriguing. That said, it’s obvious that Gibbons and Kubert had a difficult time translating the Predator into the one-dimensional format of a comic book, especially since the Predator rarely speaks. We, as readers, bring our movie memories of the Predator and meld them together with the Gibbons and Kubert creation to expand our understanding of and excitement for the brutal space traveler. On to issue number two.
 Later, in the second book, we find out that the Predator uses the salvage yard as a makeshift hideout. For a character that possesses stealth capabilities, it would seem redundant for this highly intelligent space creature to actually need a hideout. More on this at a later date.
Florida’s pop-noise makers and SPIN darlings Merchandise have released a new single, “Anxiety’s Door,” from their upcoming five-song EP/LP Totale Night, due this spring. The track is a swirling, seven-minute blast from the past, heavily laced in a mid-80s gothy post-punk sound. Lead singer Carson Cox does his best The Queen is Dead era Morrissey impersonation over an Echo and the Bunnymen/Jesus and Mary Chain groove, punctuated by a drum machine working overtime. Cox even manages to successfully mimic the ambiguous, pseudo-romantic, somewhat melancholic lyrics that infected the English post-punk sound: “Some things are really never there / I walk the street at night, yeah / I drink the perfumed air.” Things must be real dark in Tampa?
If it was 1985, I’d be more excited about Merchandise’s forthcoming EP/LP. Let’s hope that the rest of Totale Night isn’t lost in the 80s, and let’s give this Tampa trio (and their drum machine) a chance to live up to their SPIN “Breaking Out” stars status.
“Judge, Jury and Executioner” is the first single from Atoms For Peace’s (AFP) upcoming debut album, Amok. AFP is an experimental supergroup composed of Thom Yorke, Flea, Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco. Yeah, you’re only probably familiar with three out of the five.
AFP came together in 2009 and did a brief nine date tour of the U.S. in 2010. “Judge, Jury and Executioner” was a part of the setlist for most of the tour. The live versions of the track groove with a more convincing sound—there is a darker, heavier feel that the album version seems to be missing. At the same time, the single version showcases Yorke’s vocals; his voice becomes a playful instrument that weaves and bounces above the bass and percussions. The ghostly quality of Yorke’s voice creates its own space and gives the listener room to navigate through the musically mathematical melody.
The problem at this point with “Judge, Jury and Executioner” is that it sounds like we’ve heard this song a few times before. As Yorke lyrically informs us on the track, “I went for my usual walk.” Creatively, AFP is the usual walk. The single plays out like it is stuck somewhere between Radiohead’s In Rainbows and Yorke’s 2006 solo album, The Eraser. This isn’t really a negative thing. It just seems like a supergroup like AFP would kick off their debut album with something less pedestrian and familiar. I’m looking forward to seeing how the single flows within the rest of Amok. For all you true Radiohead fans, does the single’s title have some sort of rhetorical connection with “Myxomatosis”?
It seems to be fashionable to dislike Billy Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins. Music writers/bloggers wear their contrived Corgan hatred like a badge of indie-cred on their Urban Outfitters’ Cardigan sweater sleeve. I refuse to take part in this anti-Smashing Pumpkins witch-hunt.
Oceania–a reference to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four?– is the middle section of Corgan’s ambitious epic concept Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, a forty-four song artistic statement that certainly guarantees more Pumpkins music in the near future. Love him or not, you have to appreciate Corgan’s desire and artistic ability to take on such a dubious task.
Though there are hints of the old Smashing Pumpkins in a few of the tracks, Oceania sounds as though Corgan has finally developed a new approach to his songwriting craft and created something unique that reflects his evolving sound. “Quasar,” the album’s opening song, is a rocking affair that utilizes Corgan’s trademarked multi-layered guitar and vocal tracks, but there is a different feel, a different texture to the song. It feels as though the band has come together as a whole, rather than Corgan dominating and playing over everyone else.
“Panopticon” continues to rock with a Peter Hookish bass line holding the song together. Corgan sings, “There’s a sun that shines in / There’s a world that stares out at me / And all I refuse to please.” Not sure if Corgan’s lyrics are an attempt to show off his knowledge of Michel Foucault or if he is commenting on the expectations on him to release another Siamese Dream, but there is an insightful and philosophical depth in this new group of Pumpkins that wasn’t present in the previous incarnations of the band.
There are some sweet moments on Oceania. “Violet Rays” has Corgan singsong over a love that has left. Corgan pleads, “Babe, don’t leave me, please believe me / ‘Cause I’m so easy to know.” Corgan did a beautiful acoustic version of “Violet Rays” on Howard Stern. “Pinwheels” is an eclectic track that carries the listener through a dark maze of classic rock sounds that even includes backing vocals from ex-Veruca Salt bassist, Nicole Florentino. It’s good to hear another voice on the album, even if it’s fairly brief.
At the same time, there are some moments of poetic cheese that infects a couple of tracks. “My Love is Winter” sounds like an Interpol tune that falls in the trap of Poetry 101 and fails to inspire. “One Diamond, One Heart” finds Corgan rhyming “light,” “fright,” and “night” over an 80s inspired synth track that eats away at your ears until it is interrupted by a Coldplay-like guitar riff that is more sappy than sensational.
The album’s title track is a beautifully layered, nine-minute exercise in prog rock that once again showcases the Pumpkins’ push to rise above and move beyond the expectations placed on them by the music media and many of their fans. It feels like an indication of what the band’s future releases may sound like.
Fans of early 90s Pumpkins will rejoice in “The Chimera,” a track that embodies the trademark rock Corgan fed us earlier in his career, but with weak and thin drums. It’s a song like this that makes us miss Jimmy Chamberlin. But that’s neither here nor there.
Oceania is an honest effort that keeps on giving. There are many aspects of this newest release that will seemingly unfold after multiple listens. Needless to say, it has me waiting impatiently for the Teargarden bookend albums, which will probably change the way one listens to Oceania. It’s a shame that people have such a disdain for Corgan and his refusal to permanently move past the Smashing Pumpkins name. Dare I say that Corgan is just beginning to write some of the best songs of his career?
Straight out of Taylor, Mississippi, Dent May is a singer-songwriter that bends and twists genres with his indie crooning voice, mid 80s electronic tracks covered with a chillwave flare, topped with a dreamy and textured falsetto that recalls the Beach Boys on an off day. Even further, May looks like a cross between a Goodbye Yellow Brick Road era Elton John and a less effeminate Truman Capote. But maybe it’s his choice in eyewear that makes one draw this observation.
Anyway, Dent is back with his second record, Do Things, just in time to soundtrack your summer cookouts and late night drinking parties. Dent has a charming ability to create varied and witty tracks that simultaneously sound familiar and unique, upbeat and somber, brief yet timeless. On the opening track, “Rent Money,” Dent, in his best Brian Wilson impersonation, confides, “Don’t wanna be chasing that rent money for the rest of my life / Just need somebody to hold me at night.” It’s a sweet summer song to listen to at night, sitting on your bed with the windows open, contemplating your dead end day job.
Dent varies his compositions, keeping his singular, multi-layered voice from becoming too redundant; he knows when to slow the music down, drive the bass further, or add a looping synth track. “Tell Her” is a strong pop ballad that reads like an introduction to an early 80s television show. On “Best Friend,” Dent captures a disco-like beat to carry his witty lyrics that ruminate in reminiscence. The album ends with the first single, “Home Groan,” a confessional anthem about avoiding the temptation of moving to a big city. Dent dryly sings, “I don’t want to move to southern California / I wasn’t really meant for LA / And New York City just ain’t my style / so this town is where I guess I will stay.” I hear you, dude.
For someone who was born in 1985, May fantastically captures the synthesizer sounds that infected so many songs during the Reagan era, and he adds his own indie pop spin to bring a fresh and enduring approach to the table. Do Things plays like an unreleased Beach Boys album for people who drink wine coolers and smoke bunk weed; it’s a feel-good affair for those looking for something more compelling and cool to add to their record collection. Dent’s sophomore album is fun, friendly and guaranteed to shake away the summertime blues.