Allan Kaplon / Notes On A Napkin

Allan Kaplon

Notes On A Napkin

https://allankaplon.bandcamp.com/album/notes-on-a-napkin

Here on Allan Kaplon’s most recent album, Notes On A Napkin, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based singer, songwriter and guitarist is joined by a cast of acclaimed individuals from the alternative music community. 

There’s Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel from The Spongetones, Pop Co-Op’s Stacy Carson, The Amazing Elena Rogers, Rick Blackwell, Jason Atkins, Russ Bettenbaugh, Eric Lovell, James Brock, Gigi Dover and Deanna Campbell. To top it off, Dan Pavelich of The Click Beetles, creator of the Just Say Uncle cartoon and editor of this spiffy publication, designed the striking art work on the album. 

While Allan’s deep and husky burr is more inclined to be associated with pedal steel guitars, dobros and mandolins than the mercurial pop rock hues and cues gracing Notes On A Napkin, his rustic vocals supply an original and appealing slant to the material. 

The title track of the album thrums to an edgy intensity, complemented by slinky and snarling guitar licks. Local Bus Station starts out draped in quirky reggae regalia, then abruptly escalates into a racing power-popping rocker. Also slapped on the rocking side of the coin is Flesh And Blood, a swinging neo- boogie number consisting of stabbing hooks, quicksilver rhythms, a burly backbeat and ripped riffs. In addition, there is  O’Henry’s Late Night Run, which is laced with a choppy funk bent. 

Festive orchestration containing dizzy squiggles and sound effects frame One Big Parade, and Every Single Day checks in as a crisp and catchy slice of  mid-tempo folk pop sporting a heartfelt sentiment.  Not surprisingly, there are a couple of country-styled songs on the album, specifically the swooning Slow Down Cowboy and Wonder Where The Angels Are, a bright and becoming gem charted of stirring melodies and jangling guitars.

Further marked by blustery harmonies, inspiring arrangements, snappy keyboard fills and sharp storytelling, Notes On A Napkin is an all-around pleasure. Prepared to be entertained and enlightened!  

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Pop Co-Op / Factory Settings

Pop Co-Op

Factory Settings (Futureman)

http://www.popco-opband.com

From the band’s website; “POP CO-OP is a group of four geographically dispersed musicians who focus on making the music they want to hear. They formed in 2016 as a result of Spongetones bassist Steve Stoeckel inviting friends on social media to collaborate in songwriting: Stoeckel threw out titles and music, asked for lyric snippets, assembled the snippets from contributors into full song lyrics, and recorded the song. Along the way, Stoeckel enlisted the guitar talents of Joel Tinnel, who introduced him to Bruce Gordon (aka Mr. Encrypto). Gordon already had several CD’s to his credit and subsequently introduced Stacy Carson to the group.

The group had so much fun creating a first song together that they decided to form a band and release an entire album. The effort was truly cooperative: each member wrote, recorded, engineered, produced, and mixed these 12 songs in every combination. “POP CO-OP” was the obvious band name.”

If this had been the only positive result of the creation of the internet, it would have been worth it. These four acquaintances mesh perfectly together, in a musical melange that is equal parts friendship, fun, craftsmanship, and reverence for the very best of what is often humbly referred to as pop music.

“No Man’s Land,” which heralds these eleven splendid tracks, begins with a stomping Dave Clark Five beat and the best melody this side of Andy Partridge. Switching gears, “Keen To Be Near You” is a soft, Jane Austin-inspired ballad with lovely touches of mandolin and a vocal by Stoeckel that will melt even the hardest of hearts.

I think my favorite of the set, however, is the rollicking “Won’t Be Me,” which sounds like Billy Gibbons being backed by Chuck Berry and Rockpile. I really can’t get enough of this one, in particular.

Also, when you’re finished devouring “Factory Settings,” you’ll want  to pick up the quartet’s 2017 debut, “Four State Solution.” It’s a seriously inspired start to what will undoubtedly be an illustrious discography.

D.P.

http://popco-opband.com/

https://popco-opband.bandcamp.com/album/factory-settings

https://popco-opband.bandcamp.com/album/four-state-solution