Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Unlikely Friends - Solid Gold Cowboys

'Pop ups' are becoming part of our culture.  We have pop up retail stores and pop up restaurants.  Those of us who spend time with rock music know that musicians have been doing this for years.  Musicians don't have to leave their regular band or bands to play with someone else.  They can just pop up another band and write some songs.  This is relevant because today's feature is Solid Gold Cowboys, which was created by the Pacific Northwest pop up band Unlikely Friends.  The project started with Charles Bert and Dave Krain.  Charles is the vocalist and guitarist for indie pop/twee band Math and Physics Club, whose 2013 album received well deserved praise on these pages (here).  Dave is the vocalist and guitarist of fine Seattle indie pop band BOAT.  If I understand the story correctly the two decided to write and record a few songs together.  But pop ups can take a life of their own, and the sessions resulted in 13 songs.  Even a pop up band may need a label for an album - right?  Well, that seems to have sorted itself out because the man they dragooned to play drums, Chris Mac, also happens to be the head of Seattle-based Jigsaw Records.  Songs, singers/guitarists, drummer, label -- Unlikely Friends is in business!

Well, now that we've handled introductions, what do we have in the way of music.  If you are guessing  indie pop with a dash of twee, you'd be wrong.  The appropriate references here are the crunchy lo-fi indie rock of Guided By Voices and the hook-filled power pop of Teenage Fanclub.  It isn't glossy and it isn't twee.  But it is top flight songwriting from musicians that know their craft and are focused on fun (some of the lyrics had me laughing out loud).  At one point I had considered giving you a chart ticking off which songs were more like GBV and which were more like the venerable Scots, but I decided that the readers should have that fun.  So, listen to the songs below and if you like them go to the Bandcamp page liked below and stream the entire thing (noting, of course that a digital download of immediate and ongoing pleasure is only $7).  Admittedly, the third song linked below "Stupid Game", is really more of a '60s folk-rock song with a vocal reminiscent of The Cyrcle or Peter and Gordon, but I found it to be two minutes and sixteen seconds of bliss, so I had to include it.

And if you take my advice to go to the Jigsaw Bandcamp site, and after you buy this album, take some time to explore the other albums from the label.  Chris has great taste and makes a point of not gouging his fellow music lovers.

Jigsaw Records Bandcamp page for Solid Gold Cowboys (CD or Digital)
Jigsaw Records order page for CD
Mirror Universe Tapes

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