Maybe It's Me
Sometimes guitarist/singer Bill Priddle's ambling, nasal delivery is reminiscient of They Might Be Giants in a less than giddy moment ("Christ is on the Lawn"). Guitarist/singer Greig Nori's slightly smoother pipes are a bit more mainstream alternative rock-sounding, but both singers blend a retro love of super-harmonies with modern guitar grinds.
"Friend of Mine" opens the band's first major label release (after two prior independent releases) with a stompin' riff fest that drops a good dash of vocal sugar amid the six-string shreds. And "Stupid Thing To Say" walks right down The Posies' alley with falsettoes in the chorus and Byrds-ish melody lines. Then there's "Ever She Flows," a Bic lighter anthem that starts out with a Tom Petty "Won't Back Down" riff gone melancholy that kicks into a chimey chorus of throbbing bassline and guitar.
Treble Charger straddles that dotted line between oncoming rock sound (a la Posies, Goo Goo Dolls, Blur and Radiohead) and backwards nostalgia (The Byrds, Big Star and Cheap Trick). This is an album chock full of hummable slabs of pop rock. "Kareen" slams along with a fiery blush of aggression, while "Red" and "Christ is on the Lawn" slide down with a head-nodding warmth that offers the listener Nirvana in a snowcone slush of sugar. For hooks a-plenty and songwriting a step above the Weezers in the pack, try out Canada's Treble Charger.
Speaking of guys who know their way around a good hook or two, England's Lightning Seeds, led by Ian Broudie, have been crafting chimey, poppy ditties for a decade. Broudie sings with a Pet Shop Boys delivery and, like those countrymates, relies on a layered mix of synthesizers and guitars rather than a high power attack of guitar powerchords for the bite on his songs.
This time out, however, Broudie comes out sounding a little thin. "You Bet Your Life" has the nostalgic charm of a Monkees song, and the opener, "Imaginary Friends" offers a percolating synth backdrop and female "la-la-la" backgrounds to sell the tale of a maladjusted, internet chat group-using lonelyheart. Probably the best track comes in "What If," a horn-punctuated march away from the tarpits of a broken love with late-'60s sounding "ba-ba-ba"'s tossed into the energetic mix.
But while Dizzy Heights isn't exactly filled with duds, there aren't that many memorable bright spots, either. Broudie's high-toned, anglo-accented voice rapidly grows lulling, and the songs don't move far beyond pleasant-to-nod-to pastures. It's good to have the Seeds still making chimey happy pop, but pop rapidly turns to pap without some edge. You probably will want to test out Dizzy Heights, but it's best experienced in small, non-vertigious doses.
Rhino Records has paired with The Hard Rock Cafe to put together two compilations of classic rock: Hard Rock Cafe: New Wave offers a typical sampling of '80s radio hits, from The Knack's "My Sharona" and The Cars' "Shake It Up" to The Police's "Don't Stand So Close To Me" and Bangles' "Walk Like An Egytian." Also included are songs from Blondie, INXS, Joe Jackson, ABC, Tears for Fears, Thompson Twins, Men At Work, Soft Cell, Culture Club and more. Hard Rock Cafe: Classic Rock offers 16 tracks of the kind of oldies you're likely to hear on Chicago's WCKG 105.9 FM: Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" open the disc, which also includes Foreigner's "Cold As Ice," Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein," Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild," Foghat's "Slow Ride," and the closing cappers Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird."