Power pop will never die. At least, it won't as long as whippersnappers like Jonny Polonsky are around to infuse it with the youth and exuberance he displays on his debut album, Hi My Name Is Jonny. Just 22 years old, Polonsky inundated his idol, Frank Black, with tapes of his music. Black was impressed enough to not only get Polonsky a record deal, but to produce his debut. The Black touch is apparent throughout the album, especially on tracks like "In My Mind" and "I Don't Know What to Dream at Night," both of which boast loud guitars, sharp pop hooks, and cute lyrics. Occasionally, Polonsky overdoes the quirkiness that makes his songs unique – "Evil Scurvy Love" and "It's Good to Sleep" are a bit too silly for their own good. However, Polonsky's pop smarts create some terrific, catchy love songs like "Gone Away" and "Half Mind," which sound excited to exist. "Love Lovely Love" is instant gratification at its best, and "Truly Ugly and Dead Too" is as fun a put-down song as you're likely to hear. Too short at ten songs, Hi My Name Is Jonny makes Polonsky a name to remember.
On March 16th, Rivers Of Nihil release their third full-length, Where Owls Know My Name, via Metal Blade Records. Whereas The Conscious Seed Of Light (2013) and Monarchy (2015) were thematically centered around spring and summer, respectively, Where Owls Know My Name represents the fall. And although that season is usually associated with death, for Rivers Of Nihil, the autumn serves as a rebirth.
If you're going to pillage someone else's ideas, then go for broke. Because even if you find yourself crammed between the barriers of creative space, utterly at a loss for ideas, expression, or thought, you'd still have a self-respect buzzing in your ear like a mad angelic insect, putting down the newspaper and taking out a cigar to remind you that, hell, if want to sound like Radiohead when even Thom Yorke doesn't want to sound like Radiohead, you might as well take it to preposterous, bombastic, over-the-top levels. Add church organs, mental electronics, riffs bouncing off each other like the monolithic screams in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you'll finally be in position to crack skulls like coconuts and make the world's speakers ooze gooey blood.
Bryan Lee could be called one of the last of the old-school blues guitarists. Born in 1943, Lee grew up to the sounds of the same seminal blues guitar idols (Albert King, Elmore James, etc.) that influenced scores of British and American blues and rock players. Based in New Orleans, Lee fortifies his approach to electric blues with aspects of Louisiana musical culture, both pop and blues. KATRINA is a tribute to that hard-hit metropolis, consisting of well-crafted originals (the emotion-laden title song) and choice covers (the oldie "Barefootin,'" the anthemic "Nobody's Business"). To put the icing on the cake, KATRINA is produced by contemporary blues ace Duke Robillard (no slouch himself on the guitar), who also contributes some fine acoustic six-string sounds.