New discs have been appearing rapidly the past month or so... here's some first impressions after the first few spins of a trio of noteworthy releases.
Warm Soda: Someone for You
Warm Soda is the newest group featuring the songwriting of Mathew Melton, late of garage-pop kings Bare Wires. Someone Like You has a bit more of a late '70s power pop/punk feel than the sometimes '60s-leaning sounds of Bare Wires. Parsing genre shadings is somewhat beside the point, as anyone working these fields is plowing with similar equipment anyway. More importantly, what hasn't changed is Melton's way with a hook. The disc's 12 concise rockers will be a dangerous propellant for anyone predisposed to pogo along with the music. That was certainly the case at the band's show as a three-piece last fall at Mickey's, a weeknight affair that left the crowd wanting more. You can experience the group in person when it visits the plays the Good Style Shop on Monday, April 8. It's a 7 p.m. show and also features Brooklyn, New York band Organs and the local groups The Wets and New Years Gang. (Castle Face CF-016, 2013, with download card)
Lonesome Wyatt and the Holy Spooks: Ghost Ballads
Those Poor Bastards' leader Lonesome Wyatt is back in his solo guise with the aptly titled Ghost Ballads. The previous Holy Spooks effort, 2011's excellent Heartsick, tackled disturbing but generally non-supernatural themes; the world of shades returns with a vengeance for Ghost Ballads. Indeed, Wyatt's conjured some especially murderous ghosts to kick off this album: Rather than simply haunting, the titular spirits of "Curse of the Poltergeists" leave their victim as "a pile of gore;" the ghostly heroine of "The Golden Rule" avenges her death-by-axe by mowing down other children "'Til the blood did pour through the streets." Ouch. This is often gentle-sounding music that is not for the faint of heart. Ghost Ballads is also a great headphone album, with a good amount of just-indistinct-enough layers in the mix adding to the overall unsettling atmosphere. (Tribulation Recording Company TRC 021, 2013)
Richard Thompson: Electric
The seasons fly ever on, and Richard Thompson just keeps releasing great records every few years or so. Even for a fan, Thompson's work can be easy to overlook simply due to his consistency. Unlike, say, Neil Young, Thompson has thrown few wildly careening stylistic curveballs at his audience to occasionally wake us -- and, perhaps more importantly, potential new listeners -- up. You know you're going to get some intensely sung story songs and virtuosic guitar playing, no matter whether the setting is electric or acoustic, solo or band, traditional folk or straight-up rock. As one may guess from the title Electric is an album more in the rock mode of his last album to come out on LP in the U.S., 1999's Mock Tudor. Longtime listeners will also not be surprised that this is an excellent collection of moody songs mostly about love gone wrong. Completists note: The double-LP version has a side of bonus tracks which are equally as good as anything on the album proper. (New West NW 5072, 2013)