La Di Da
(Big Deal)

You probably haven't heard of Gladhands before, and you probably won't be hearing their songs on the radio anytime soon.

That's really a shame, because this North Carolina duo write guitar pop as catchy as anything on the FM dial right now.

Stemming from the same Chapel Hill, N.C. gene pool as Ben Folds Five, Gladhands share a lot of the same characteristics. They write warm, hummable harmonic rock songs, they stir in vocals as thick as The Beach Boys at times, and aren't afraid to sing "la di da" in a modern rock track. And they have Ben Folds Five's bassist guesting on several tracks. But it took Folds a record deal with a major, not an independent label to get a single on the radio, and since we have yet to hear a Big Deal Records artist played on Q101, you're not likely to hear Gladhands played side by side with Folds anytime soon (even though they should be — radio programmers, are you listening?).

From the opening sliding guitar crunch and throwback falsetto of "Kill 'Em With Kindness" to the staccato electric piano march of "Smallsville" to the funky, non-PC lyrics and handclapping of "Gore Girls (Gimme More)," this is a fest of "Fun, Fun, Fun." Matthew Sweet and the guys from Jellyfish probably love Gladhands. Take the sage advice of "Forget All About It" and just sit back and listen to the Gladhands:

"I'm not complaining
I'm not campaigning
if you haven't got time to rest than take the record off now
now...forget all about it awhile."


Boston, Speed 2 and More

Boston is back on the road with guitar master Tom Sholz and original vocalist Brad Delp but, unfortunately, without a new studio album to promote. Instead, Epic has collected Boston's Greatest Hits. It's a good sampling of the seminal guitar band's amazingly slight catalog — they've managed to sell over 28 million copies of only four albums (16 million of their debut alone). Greatest Hits runs from "More Than A Feeling" and "Rock and Roll Band" to "Don't Look Back," "Amanda" and "Cool The Engines." There's a new instrumental guitar attack of "The Star Spangled Banner" coupled with a Sholz-penned "4th of July Reprise" and there are also two other new tracks which should have been left in the studio drawer: "Tell Me"chugs along like an ailing car and "Higher Power" (which also appears in a single edit at the album's end) has the riff to be an average Boston track, but is stalled by sterile backbeats and some uninspired vocals. Part of the reason these two songs never come alive is their reliance on second tier Boston vocalists David Sikes and Fran Cosmo, rather than charismatic original singer Brad Delp (who leads them on "Higher Power," but seems weaker than usual). The band hits The World Theater in Tinley Park, IL on July 18...

If you missed the recent "Summer Daze" tour that came to Rosemont Horizon earlier this month, you can catch selected studio performances from the participants on a new disc from CMC International. Steppenwolf, Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult and Pat Travers all are playing the heavy rock nostalgia fest and contribute new tracks to the CMC disc titled, appropriately, Summer Daze...

Geffen has just released Global Grooves, a collection of remixes from a variety of pop and alternative artists. Given the big beat treatment are: Berlin's "Sex (I'm A...)," Cher's "The Shoop Shoop Song," Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories' "Stay," Garbage's "Queer," and eel's "Novocaine for the Soul."... Pop, dance and reggae collide on the soundtrack to Speed 2: Cruise Control on Virgin Records. Reggae sensations UB40 and Shaggy start the disc off, followed by a silky ballad from Tamia. Jimmy Cliff's hit "You Can Get It If You Really Want It" is included and TK offers the synth-driven house-y dance instrumental "Speed TK re-mix." Common Sense turns up with the album's catchiest cut, the reggae slide "Never Give Up." There are a handful of covers here: Maxi Priest redoes Blondie's foray into island rhythms, "The Tide Is High," to good effect. Newcomer Leah Andreone clocks in with a restrained (for her) tracking of Carole King's "I Feel The Earth Move." And Betty Wright ends the LP with another cover: a torchy Tina Turner-esque slow version of The Police's "Every Breath You Take."