The Backstops – Bryce Harper
The opening 30 seconds of “Bryce Harper”, longing piano and all, makes Bruce Springsteen and Meat Loaf look like unambitious booze-rockers. The Backstops are, clearly, a band that takes their work seriously, and would rather you, the audience, do the same.
If further proof is needed, glance your eyes towards the group’s unironic, self-description of “piano punk”. I can only imagine a punk trying to audition for the band and figuring the heavens themselves must be pulling some cruel joke by forcing him to learn all of those key changes and fancy chords.
But, there’s more to this group beyond the self-styled heroics. They genuinely tap into a sound, popular especially in the 70s. The lyrics and singing, specifically, are honest, campy and optimistic. The Backstops are a lo-fi Broadway show with electric guitars.
The VCR – Close To Free
It’s a rare gem when you manage to find a band that sounds like teenagers, and play like hit-hungry professionals. In truth, I’ve no idea of the age of the members of the VCR. I guide myself by what I hear alone on this one.
The VCR could be the tale of kids let loose on their first holiday with their parents conveniently absent. It’s the soundtrack to discovering booze, sex and various pharmaceutical refreshment for the first time.
That might make the whole mix feel a bit sinister, so I’ll level with you. They also remind me of the moment Brit-pop attempted to tie its dying wagon to the electric-disco beats that are always fated to be big around the club scene.
“Close To Free” is really enjoyable if your optimism is what you’re leaning on at the time that you’ll be hearing this.