Blending a sunny vibe with a lot of icy synth tones “Sweet Days” is an upbeat summer banger
Bully – Lucky For You (Nashville, TN)
Emotionally raw and cathartic as ever, Bully is in fighting form on their latest record. While the grunge core and straight-shot writing is still here, Alicia Bognanno does a great job at mixing in pop production elements from across eras to give the music more wings. “All I Do” opens things on a blown out and sunburnt longing for those better times that you can never quite seem to get back, with Bognanno’s raspy howl letting the song’s deep pain cut through like a knife. Easily the most single-ready track here, “Days Move Slow” lets its anger burst out in larger-than-life bursts of light on every chorus, with an explosive energy to each guitar line. “Change Your Mind” cuts straight to the point in its constant growling charge, with the bounce of that bass and drums combo kicking out with an intoxicating fury. There’s a dynamic range to “How Will I Know” that stands out from the rest of the record, with the feedback and deep bass dropping you into a fuzzy cave of noise, and giving the uncertainty a real palpable dense feeling in the mix.
The Escape Society – Sweet Days (Single) (Ottawa)
Blending a sunny vibe with a lot of icy synth tones, The Escape Society craft an upbeat summer banger on “Sweet Days.” That back and forth between the guitars creates a great tension and sort of conversational approach within the track, with the different space each makes within the song creating a lot of gripping dynamic shifts to give the song punch. The call to grab the day is invigorating, really just taking every good detail in the moment as something to cheer about. Calling to a bit of Hollerado and Elwins fun, it’s easy to put this track on and just feel a bit better.
Jake Shears – Last Man Dancing (Mesa, AZ)
With or without Scissor Sisters, Jake Shears has kept the party going. A bit of what we expect from Shears and a bit of experimentation, this album gets it right enough to bring us a couple new classics. While it opens much like a synth-wave record by Lazerhawk or Kavinsky, “Too Much Music” sends you racing into a funky opening dance number with Shears screaming their celebration of great music to the heavens, galaxies and beyond. “Voices” brings in Kylie Minogue for a glossy disco track that shimmers within the track’s dark space, and lets the drums really pump you up to match that vintage energy. There’s a more classic Scissor Sisters set of hooks and tone to “Really Big Deal” which sounds delicious in the album’s 80s synth world, and revitalizes that type of sound into something retro in ways you wouldn’t expect. The full electro-dance experience of “Radio Eyes” stands apart on the record, fully bringing you into a club for a surreal vision of EDM, while still dropping in that sublime release to let you lose yourself to the music over and over.
Flock of Seagulls – Remember David (Paragon Cause Remix) (Single) (Ottawa/Liverpool, U.K.)
Reframing the classic track in their menacing production style, Ottawa’s own Paragon Cause got the chance to do an official remix with A Flock of Seagulls. The icier approach to the song gives the roaring guitars a sharper feeling than before, with the band having a more tense push and pull with the more oppressive production. While there’s still a lot of that great 80s aesthetic at play here, the collaboration does a lot to make the track feel less dated in places. The champion of the track lies in that fire and ice combo, as it matures the song into an almost dystopian feel while keeping its fun pop soul there to draw you back in.
Baxter Dury – I Thought I Was Better Than You (Wingrave, U.K.)
Over his last few albums, Baxter Dury has very firmly planted their unique sound in the British music landscape, while never straying too far from a great formula. Though their sound is approaching a bit of repetition on this record, there’s something so powerfully distinct about Dury’s writing style that it’s still a delight nonetheless. The off-kilter beats of “Aylesbury Boy” takes us right into Dury’s usual tumbling approach that somehow feels loose and yet densely layered in great riffs to let his poetry hit the ears right. “Leon” keeps this smooth drive going, with JGrrey, the guitars and strings providing a glorious counterpoint to Dury’s chaotic ramblings. The 60s pop run of “Sincere” is a heavenly little interlude that gets a haunting warp as the song moves on, turning this bright ray into something truly sinister. Seemingly merging his own knack for production with touches of hip hop ideas, “Shadow” has a magical feeling in its bones, between the glowing key notes and the bright harmonies that lock into Dury’s groove even better than some of the more art-pop stuff on the record.