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The Inn Of Temporary Happiness
Back in the late seventies and early eighties, Richie Mayer fronted Loose Lips – a band that was a key component of the fertile Chicago music scene – and released a critically appraised EP called Hung Up On Pop. After four decades of silence, Richie has surfaced with his first solo album, The Inn Of Temporary Happiness, which is nothing short of dazzling.
A self-contained effort, the thirteen-track set flashes on the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s flair for playing a mercurial selection of styles that skillfully results in a concerted collection. Richie’s poised and evocative vocals are also wide-ranging, encompassing pure pop, roots rock and even a touch of soul and progressive rock.
Picking up pointers from both The Beach Boys and Jellyfish, the cheery She Is Why swirls with round and ripe melodies, complemented by a contagiously hummable chorus of “ba ba ba’s,” where the punchy Todd Rundgren influenced pop rock of You Don’t Get Me High Anymore is laced with a cool and breezy falsetto.
Signing on as a prime demonstration of Richie’s gift for crafting enterprising hooks and arrangements is Dangerous Rhythm. The song starts off on a tick-tocking beat, then ultimately swells into a sampling of electrifying guitar flourishes and exciting orchestration altogether.
As for the title cut of the album, a stately folk presence directs the course, and the frisky Sunshine Blues is simply a great pop song featuring radio-friendly assets by the pound. Get ready to click your heels and snap your fingers to the vaudeville inspired How Can I Leave When I’m Already Gone, while Sometimes I Feel Like I’m One Kiss Away plugs in as an epic performance, burning with power, heated emotions and cracking riffs.
Additional attractions heard on The Inn Of Temporary Happiness are Love Will Find A Way and Warmth Of The Sun, but each number truly possesses its own pleasing personality. By melding conventional pop values with just the right balance of other assorted genres and left-field turns, Richie has fathered an album where not a single moment is wasted.
Now that The Inn Of Temporary Happiness is on the decks and gleaning rapturous reviews, perhaps such acceptance will encourage Richie to keep the creative juices flowing. To think we’ve been robbed of his talent for all these years is a real pity. Not only should you buy a copy of The Inn Of Temporary Happiness for yourself, but purchase the record for your friends and family as well.
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Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men
Heart Inside Of Your Head/One Of The Boyz (JEM Records 2021)
Although the members of Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men have been mainstays of the Detroit, Michigan music scene for many years, the band itself is a fairly new entity. Made up of lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Nick Piunti, bassist Jeff Hupp, keyboardist Kevin Darnall and drummer Ron Vensko, the band issued its debut album, Downtime, in 2020.
Five-star reviews were delivered in droves, and the guys are set to return to the spotlight once again in the form of not one, but two smashing singles.
Despite the name, there is nothing the least bit complicated about the band. In terms of classic power pop, Heart Inside Of Your Head clearly exemplifies such a genre. Nick’s radio-rich vocals sound like a less rootsy version of Tom Petty, while the instrumentation is rock solid and to the point. Navigated by a riveting rhythm, Heart Inside Of Your Head is further layered with muscular melodies and grooving harmonies. Great lyrics as well, which are universally-themed and executed with passion.
On One Of The Boyz, Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men crank the volume to maximum decibels and turn in a fist-pumping anthem that combines the throbbing beat of Slade with the modliness moves of The Jam and the rebel bite of The Clash. Bouncing with intent, the rousing song contains a shouting chorus impossible not to sing along with.
Both these singles fully express Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men’s expertise for composing and playing the sort of hook-packed pop rock that refuses to go out of style.
Game Day (Clockwise)
After a fifteen year sabbatical from recording, Star Collector are back on board and sound better than ever. Weighing in as the Vancouver, Canada band’s fifth album, Game Day picks right up where these guys left off, meaning listeners are in for yet another exciting expedition of dashing pop rock performed at a high-octane level.
Since their inception in 1996, Star Collector has met a variety of personnel changes. The current version of the band features lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Vic Wayne, lead guitarist and vocalist Steve Monteith, bassist and vocalist Adam East and drummer and vocalist Adrian Buckley.
Dominated by the hot roar of soaring guitars, beefy drum beats and charismatic vocals blooming with melody and might, Game Day consistently reveals Star Collector’s astounding dynamics and ability to operate in an extra sensory perception manner. Astronomical choruses, supported by ribbons of rich and robust hooks are additional principal factors bedded into the songs.
Star Collector’s single-minded intensity arrives in full force on cuts like the title track of the album, the swaggering sneer of Rip It Off, the heavy-handed Super Zero Blues, Green Eyes and The Silent Type. For a brief moment of quiet and solitude, there’s Hook, Line & Singer, which is acoustic-based.
Think the arena rock flash of The Who and Cheap Trick, layered with the Britpop of The Jam and Oasis, and that is basically where Game Day is at. Not a bad thing at all, especially when considering Star Collector has both the motivation and energy to make their songs fresh and imaginative. Well-oiled and sizzling with rockstar attitude, Game Day is a power chord fan’s ticket to the promised land.