SOMEWHERE OVER CENTRAL ARKANSAS, 34,000 ft -- I fear I may have done you readers a great disservice. For a variety of reasons, April was a difficult stretch to keep up with the bevy of new releases that emerged from early April until now. As a result, while I had a good list of released I wanted to investigate, it was sort of a scattershot approach, which ultimately led to – perhaps – one of the spring's best new records being overlooked until now.
New Release: ...And It Shook Me
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Record Label: +1 Records
Sounds Like: Tinted Windows, The Jayhawks, Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick
Location: New York, N.Y.
If you're familiar with Tinted Windows – the infectious power-pop rock supergroup project by Fountains of Wayne (NMT) bassist Adam Schlesinger and their utter joy in celebrating hooky, brash rock music – then you'll be quite comfortable with the sophomore effort of the New York-based quartet, The Postelles. The -track album is laden with catchy, well-crafted rock-n-roll, the kind most American music listeners had access to for the better part of the second half of the 20th century. Today, its harder to find. The Postelles – which, by name, sound like they should be a female soul trio from the '60s – take the clean licks and hooky choruses popularized by groups like Cheap Trick and emulated by Tinted Windows and glaze them over with a thin layer of the sort of Americana and heartland rock acts like The Jayhawks were so adept at churning out and colored by the soulful quirkiness of an Elvis Costello. I have the feeling this is the type of music Nick Jonas wishes he could produce, but always is sucked into a vortex of saccharine bubblegum pop. These guys are able to span that narrow but deep gorge between high-gloss sugarwater and catchy, but malty rock. There will always be groups like The Decemberists (NMT, NMT) and Okkervil River (NMT) to push the creative boundaries of indie rock, but in the meantime, there's nothing wrong with enjoying quality work of the less heady variety.
Come for: "Oh My Luck" (inescapably hooky)
Stay for: "Sweet Water" / "Caught By Surprise" (I can't pick which I enjoy more; both draw heavy influence from early-career Costello and sound like you've heard them all your life, in the best possible way...)
You'll be surprised by: "Pretend Its Love" (it's the one that's different because of the solid guest vocals from Alex Winston; breezy and lighthearted)
Solid efforts: "...And It Shook Me" (although it was the leadoff single and is the album opener and title track, the numbers listed above are more fetching, still, its a good place to start); "You Got Me Beat" (the hardest-rocking, most Cheap Trick-sounding cut on the record); "Heavy Eyes" (I could have listed it in the Meh category, since the dropoff in energy level is noticeable compared to the other tracks, but I never really mind change-of-pace numbers and they still adhere to my 3-2-1 ratio for uptempo-midtempo-slow distribution, and here its more like 3-2-0. Plus the chorus hook is just as tempting as any of the others); "Waiting by Your Window" (clean, jangly guitars are at the forefront); "Running Red Lights (has a bluesy/soulful vibe with the R&B-style chorus vocals, with maybe hints of Ramones-era punk undercurrents elsewhere; bassist John Speyer's presence is notable here); "Tidal Wave" (befitting the title, insert this in a beach trip mix with Family of the Year's (NMT) "Treehouse" and Grouplove's (NMT) "Naked Kids"); "You Know I Won't" (rather than the typical somber closer, this one's bright and peppy)
Meh: "Parallel Love" (generally the same sentiments as "Heavy Eyes," but the chorus isn't quite as good; still, it's quite listenable, so feel free to disregard this categorization)