GO FEVER – Go Fever
THE GOOD: Austin indie rockers Go Fever offer up a superb debut full-length.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Go Fever is actually three Texas boys fronted by Australian vocalist/lyricist Acey Monaro. Blessed with a charming but not overpowering accent, Monaro sounds like a cross between a slightly rougher Neko Case and a less polite Sonya Aurora Madan (Echobelly).
She’s the perfect vocal complement to all the banging below; the guys churning out a mix of rock, pre-Beatle pop, surf and just a dash of Tex-Mex by way of classic Sir Douglas Quintet. It’s a sound that’s distinctly Southern, yet completely separate from the various musical hubs in Tennessee or the Georgia swamps.
Vintage organs ring out alongside buzzing guitars over rock-steady backbeats. Monaro’s melodies across the top are exquisite yet possess genuine rock teeth. It’s a divine dusty (and danceable) concoction that should sound equally great in a beer-soaked Dallas roadhouse or hip Boston draught house. Distinct well-crafted pop knows no boundaries.
BUY IT?: Definitely.
MOTHER MOTHER – No Culture
THE GOOD: Canadian alt-rockers Mother Mother unleash their sixth.
THE BAD: So glossy. So calculated. So boring.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Co-produced by Brian Howes, a guy who’s worked with the likes of Skillet, Puddle of Mudd and Nickelback (asleep yet?), the new record is catchy and tight. Try to resist the ooey-gooey sing-song chorus of “Love Stuck.” The backbeats kick, the guitars growl and the harmonies are slick. What’s not to love?
Plenty! “No Culture” goes down like a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Yes, I just compared this record to a snack chip. The music may feel great in the moment, but all is instantly forgotten once the CD or Spotify stream clicks off. Just like so many empty calories, there’s no real substance here.
From the teenage rebellion running through “Back in School” to the heartbreak sprinkled atop “The Letter,” pretty much every song is a cliché. Plus the melodies and arrangements are utterly predictable. Textbook “safe” modern rock.
BUY IT?: No way. Life’s too short for insignificant music.
PORT CITIES – “Port Cities”
THE GOOD: Canadian alt-pop outfit Port Cities release their long-awaited (up North, anyway) debut.
THE BAD: Slick? You betcha. At times, you might feel as if you slipped into a Lady Antebellum set by mistake (never a good thing).
THE NITTY GRITTY: The group is comprised of three singer/songwriters (Dylan Guthro, Breagh MacKinnon and Carleton Stone) who already had established solo careers in their native country. Now, they’ve come together to offer up a polished blend of country, modern folk, rock and pop. The album ends up a tight collection of decent songs, cozy melodies and airtight harmonies.
At the same time though, the tracks come off as too precise, too polished. “Port Cities” was produced by Gordie Sampson, a Nashville songwriter who’s penned tunes for the likes of Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton and Rascal Flatts. So maybe the lack of authenticity here is his fault. I don’t know. What I do know is that the record morphs into “pretty background music” all too quickly.
BUY IT?: Skip it.