I had a tough time picking favorite albums from the April releases. I felt like there were plenty of songs I enjoyed, but I didn’t find albums that I connected with beyond a song or two. The exception was the pop dance release Second Nature by the Lucius and Growing Up by the energetic pop punk band from LA, The Linda Lindas.
Second Nature – Lucius
Man, this album channels so many retro sounds. Love the disco vibe from the opening track, “Second Nature.” Part of being an old man is that songs like this remind you of acts like Denise Williams and Shalamar. But before you settle in with the feeling that this is just a disco album, the second track, “Next to Normal” throws in a little funk into the verses and a distorted guitar in the bridge. The lyrics are smart. The spooky sounding oohs are hard to explain, but they work. This song will so get stuck in your head!
The third track, “24,” is performed in the style of an Eighties rock ballad. The has harmonies brings to mind Swedish Pop icons ABBA. Later on the album “Promises” gives the same feel. It’s much more upbeat and has such a good hook.
The album includes a tune, “Dancing Around It,” that features Brandi Carlile and Cheryl Crow. It’s a solid tune that exists somewhere between power pop and dance music. The opening instrumentation sounds like it could be in a John Hughes movie, but the tune quickly shirts to pop dance. It’s a fun tune.
“The Man I’ll Never Find” is the albums small gem. It’s a lovely song. I particularly love the lyrics:
I thought that it would be you, I wanted it to be you
And I'm sorry, I was always looking for the man that I'll never find
When Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig hit the big vocal notes post-bridge they really elevate the song and the listeners emotional response.
The album closes with the song “White Lies,” This is a wonderful way to end the album. The gentle piano and the emotional harmonies put a lovely bow on the whole project. Like “The Man I’ll Never Find” Wolfe and Laessig hit some big vocals moments near the end of the song.
This is such a good album. The vocals are dead on, the production flawless, and the songwriting really works.
Growing Up - The Linda Lindas
What can I say about this uber talented teen punk pop band? I’ve described them as the Go-Go’s with an edge (the edge is the sound not the attitude) or a really sweet version of The Regrettes (before The Regrettes went pop). But that really isn’t fair. The Linda Lindas will chart their own path. The band has created a super enjoyable album.
The album opens with the song “Oh!”. The song features the vocals of Bela Salazar. The song is in the vein of the Ramones’ “Hey Ho Let’s Go” and is executed extremely well. My favorite tune is “Growing Up.” The Lucia de la Garza vocals are so good on this tune. She already can deliver a song like Lili Trifilio of Beach Bunny. I can’t wait to see how she evolves.
The third track, “Talking to Myself” made me realize something about the album. These songs are super catchy. They are fun. They all have such great sync opportunities for placement in movies, TV, and advertising. There was a time that would be a criticism. But given the success of the Bowling for Soup and Ezra Furman in sync opportunities and writing songs for shows those revenue streams are nothing to turn your nose up to.
The band slips in a bosa nova, “Cuantas Veces,” that morphs into a rock pop song.. It’s not a particularly strong tune, but it does suggest the band can grow and head numerous different directions with their music.
“Magic” is a playful fun tune that reminds me of some of the earlier The Regrettes songs. It’s catchy and fun.
The truth is that The Linda Lindas are no secret. The word is out on these talented artists. This is a fun album in and of itself. But it’s also a promise of things to come. This should be a fun band to follow and see where they go from here.