Monday, October 29, 2012

REVIEW: The Ampersands - This Is Your Adventure Too

The Ampersands are a New York-based rock band playing power pop - really good power pop, smart and catchy a la Fountains of Wayne. On This Is Your Adventure Too, you will hear echoes of all kinds of indie rock you have enjoyed, and there's plenty of creativity and smarts on this record... name me the last rock record you heard with two 5-syllable words in the lead track?

Opening track "Exoskeleton" (one of the big words - the other is "photosynthesize", because, hey, why not challenge your listeners to think if you're talented enough to write this stuff?) is a very good example of the quiet/loud indie aesthetic, and of the creativity in their approach. This is a song about a guy who's decided that the way to keep himself from getting hurt is to construct a protective outer shell (and no spine!) The first verse is intoned quietly, nearly whispered, until the guitars ramp up and it's off to the races. The second track, "Try This", is a very good song - bouncy, catchy - a real delight, with lyrics that intersperse encouragement and mythological imagery, another example of these guys' pretty unique approach. And they're happy for you to have a copy of this song for your very own - click here to download.

And you can listen, read their thoughts, stream and buy the whole thing at their website. It's as good an album website as I've seen - like I said, these guys are smart, creative and imaginative. If you like your music catchy, but with a brain, this will be something for you to enjoy.

On the website, it's set up as Side One and Two, and there does seem to be a split - Side Two's songs are mostly ballads, except for the last song. It's a short instrumental that doesn't really sound much like the rest of the record. Not surprisingly to me, these cats named it "Outlier". Like I said, smart. Lead men Aaron McQuade and Jim Pace have the voices to carry the ballads, too - and you know that isn't always the case with power pop bands.

All told, this is a very entertaining record - a welcome development and one of my favorites of the year so far.

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