By Tom Reardon, August 2019 Issue.
It’s the dog days of summer here at the mighty Echo Magazine. One of the great things about summer hibernation here in Phoenix is the opportunity to listen to delightful summer jams that make you want to lounge around a pool and sip some atomic lemonade. Here’s some records that might make your summer even more pleasant.
Mike Krol – Power Chords
There is something so eminently familiar about the latest Mike Krol record. It’s got that cool, poppy, fuzzy, guitar-driven yet hook-laden sound that is perfect for summer. As I listen to “Little Drama,” which is the fourth track on Krol’s fourth LP, Power Chords, I feel as if I’m riding a rocket that has just been shot up into the Fourth of July sky. Will I explode before I cum or will it all be one big sparkly eargasm? The song just drives its point home so deliciously that I’ll happily light the fuse again and again (and again and again, just to get four in there one more time). My brain keeps coming back to “Song 2” by Blur, for some reason, when I listen to Power Chords. The energy and guitar sound are so similar and Krol, who is definitely keen on an overdriven guitar tone, does those little hooky things that Blur does so well. I’ve got to say that “Wasted Memory” is another one that makes me want to straddle a chaise lounge, drink super-powered vodka drinks, and appreciate a song that sounds like what The Strokes follow up to 2001’s Is This It should have sounded like. This record is chock full of rad.
Thom Yorke – ANIMA
Is it me or does anyone else get confused when the lead singer of an iconic band puts out a solo record? As I slide effortlessly into the opening track of Thom Yorke’s ANIMA, I can’t help but feel that this is a new Radiohead record. “Traffic” is the name of the track in question and for the life of me, I can’t tell the difference between this and about a dozen or so Radiohead songs. I also never noticed that, on occasion, Yorke slightly channels Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Farrell. To what extent this is good, I think it scratches an itch that was forged in the late 80s and that makes it all right. As the album progresses, there is really nothing to dispel the feeling that this isn’t a new Radiohead record, with possible exception of Jonny Greenwood’s exceptional lead guitar work that would be there if it were. Now, before you go getting ready to send me out on the deck without any sunscreen, this is not a bad record … it’s just not what I was expecting. It’s kind of like going to the beach and getting sand everywhere. You know it’s going to happen, but you don’t really care. ANIMA is like the sand. You won’t mind bringing it home with you, but once you wash it off, you won’t think about it until the next time you hit the waves. This record is “Perfect for someone who has never heard Radiohead but would love them.”
*Writer’s note — This one is more of a recommendation than a review:
Peggy Lee – The Best Of Miss Peggy Lee
Nothing says (or sings, I should say) summer better than Peggy Lee. Fuck the Beach Boys, Peggy Lee is the true goddess of summer. For those of you aren’t hip to Peggy, pick up a copy of The Best Of Miss Peggy Lee, fill up your flotation device, and float away on the most underrated voice in pop music history. The second track, “I Don’t Know Enough About You,” is maybe the best song ever written. Dave Barbour wrote the music and Miss Lee herself wrote the lyrics and it has been covered by a number of people, including Diana Krall. The original, though, is sublime and it will make you feel cooler in more ways than one. “I know a little bit about biology, and a little more about psychology, I’m a little gem in geology, but I don’t know enough about you” are some of the most fun lyrics ever, and that’s just one track off this crazy cool record. Another summer fun and frolic song, “It’s A Good Day,” will have you tapping your toes, but it doesn’t stop there. “Fever” and “Golden Earrings” are also on this one, as is “I’m A Woman.” Peggy Lee was a woman, that’s for sure, and this record rules.