Monday, August 31, 2009

One Poor Correspondent Runs Out of Time

One of my favorite blogs is closing up shop.

In his 1,000th post, blogger Tom Nawrocki announced that he's ending his great blog One Poor Correspondent.

I discovered this blog recently and combed through most of his archived posts, wondering how I'd missed such a gem for so long. If you love music (and if you don't, why are you here?) and good writing, check out One Poor Correspondent.

The blog started as a general pop-culture blog, with short and snappy posts about music, movies, TV, news items, etc. Over time, the posts grew longer and some of the highlights have been stories about music and musicians and an ongoing series focusing on rock's one-hit wonders.

You can (and some of you will) spend days pouring over Tom's blog, but here are a few of my favorite moments:

Connecting Phil Spector with Leonard Cohen and the Partridge Family

The Best Album Titles of All Time

The Last Top 40 Hits for Artists in the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame

How the Guess Who got their Name

Morris Levy can't catch John Lennon (or can he?)

One Hit Wonders: Pilot

Thanks for the blog, Tom!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Should I Stay Or Should I Uke?

It's late August and it's about a million degrees out.

So I'm spending too much time on the Internets watching videos of blizzards, hoping they'll cool me off.

So far, it's not working.

Which brings me to the Department of Ukulele Clash Covers. How did it happen that there's an entire thriving subculture of Ukulele Clash covers? Let me tell ya:

33 years ago, the Clash played a gig in Islington, opening for the Sex Pistols. Johnny Rotten, noting that the Sex Pistols had opened for the Joe Strummer's band the 101'ers four months earlier, told Joe Strummer that his career was headed in the wrong direction and soon the only way Strummer's songs would be heard would be when someone played them on the ukulele. (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Strummer dismissed this as the clear ravings of a lunatic whose band would self-destruct after a single tour of the U.S. (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Joe Strummer may have had a point. But he ignored what we all now know: Johnny Rotten is the Nostradamus of Punk.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Losing My (Gluten-Free) Religion

I love Trader Joe's.

It's always just weird enough to be interesting, but not so weird that they don't have (some) semi-normal food.

But I think they must have some kind of machine in each of their parking lots that causes what I call The Trader Joe's Effect, which turns normal people into blithering idiots with no ability to make simple turns, drive ten feet further to an empty space, or anticipate what might happen five seconds in the future. (The machine might also temporarily make people unaware that anyone else in the world exists, but that could just be a side-effect of living in Los Angeles.)

And The Trader Joe's Effect usually extends into the store as well, where people routines leave their carts blocking entire aisles or just suddenly stop and refuse to move for 45 seconds while they contemplate gluten-free pot pies and look for products they've bought for years which vanish as if they were never for sale anywhere.

So when a new Trader Joe's opened a few blocks from Casa Clicks and Pops, I was thrilled that I could walk there and buy cheap semi-gourmet cheeses or mango chicken sausage while avoiding the slack-jawed insanity of a Trader Joe's parking lot.

The staff was lined up at the front in their Hawaiian shirts, handing out balloons. I entered the large, new building (with wide aisles and big windows) and noticed a huge display of Charles Shaw wine (aka "two-buck Chuck"), arranged to resemble the Getty Museum (with gourmet white chocolate bars set up as an edible Getty Museum monorail). And this was blasting from the store's sound system:

I asked a manager what the music was and he had no idea. "But it's vaguely sad, right?" he said. "And sad makes people buy cheap wine and free-range eggs."

So I wandered through the aisles, where people still acted like idiots and blocked my way (only in this store it was slightly easier to go around them). I guess the music served its purpose: by the time I left the store, they were down to the last dozen free-range eggs, the white chocolate monorail had been ripped from its tracks, and the Two-Buck Chuck Getty Museum looked more like a Two-Buck Chuck tribute to condo projects abandoned halfway through construction after the economy went south.

When I got home, I learned that the music in the store was the Vitamin String Quartet, a "group" that doesn't really exist. Vitamin Records has been using the name (and a shifting group of players) over the past few years to release dozens of albums that reinterpret various rock songs with string quartet instruments.

I was crushed. I hoped the "group" was the brainchild of some half-mad symphonic refugee who'd undergone a musical conversion at a sweaty punk club in some city's seediest section.

Sometimes, the truth is enough to make you lose your religion.

PS: To further disillusion you, there's no guy named "Trader Joe," either. (And the jury's still out on that Santa Claus guy...)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Never Travel Far Without a Little Big Star

Name-checking basks you in the reflected glow of cool.

There's a certain thrill that goes with discovering that someone shares your musical passion. It's an immediate shortcut that establishes you as members of the same tribe.

And when songs name-check your musical obsessions, isn't that just a shortcut to cool?

They Might Be Giants may just be the kings of name-checking bands I love (the dBs, Young Fresh Fellows, XTC) in their songs. Which brings me to the Replacements.

I was late hearing the Replacements, although I'd been reading rave reviews of their records for years. But what drove me to finally seek out the Replacements was the song "We're the Replacements," by They Might Be Giants (the flip side of their "Don't Let's Start" single). The song celebrated the wretched sloppiness that characterized many live performances by the Replacements. (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Early Replacements records were a bit too sloppy for my taste, but when they tightened things up a little, they were amazing. When their album Pleased to Meet Me came out, I thought the song "Alex Chilton" was amazing and I listened to it over and over again. The song -- an ode to Chilton, who sang "The Letter" for the Box Tops when he was only 16 and went on to form Big Star and release a series of idiosyncratic solo albums starting in the 1970s -- is a pure explosion of tribal joy set to a pounding beat (and an evocation of an alternate universe that loves good music enough that "children by the millions wait for Alex Chilton to come 'round"). (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Bonus: Yesterday, I was listening to the great Barenaked Ladies album Gordon, remembering how much I loved the song "Brian Wilson." In my mind, the song revels in Wilson's early genius and scratches its head over his long decline and involvement with Dr. Eugene Landy (the shrink who was accused of crossing ethical boundaries by moving in with Wilson and co-producing a Wilson solo album that included songs that credit Landy as co-writer).

(By the way, I have an astrophysicist friend who assures me that if Alex Chilton and Brian Wilson record a song together about They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies, that would bring about a musical singularity that could cause the entire universe to collapse. Luckily, that seems unlikely to happen.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bring on the Dancing Horses

Out of the fog.

It was cold. Colder than it had the right to be. Colder than the promise of August.

Years out of school, I still curse the back-to-school sales. "Not yet. A few weeks more. A few more chances for freedom."

And now at the beach. Absurdly cold. No one in the water.

But it's August. But not the East Coast August with the crowds desperate to get in a few rays of sunshine before Labor Day.

And not the California August where the beach is not so crowded because the weather after Labor Day will be exactly the same (although the post-Labor Day California beach will be strangely deserted).

No, this is much farther north. Where the tide fills sand bars in a huge bay, stretching out to a small island with bushes and brush. But don't get caught there when the tide comes in or you'll be swimming for shore.

And it's cold. How in the world did that happen?

They drive on the beach here. It's like another highway for four-wheel drive monsters and the occasional camper. I watch the gas guzzler speed by and in a moment it's gone.

And then the fog rolls in. Thick and heavy like a vengeful sea god, luring us to our deaths, to its depths. But we stay safely back in the cool sand. Watching. Until our view shrinks down to a few dozen feet.

And then, like something from a Fellini movie, distant horses break through the fog.

Beasts from another time, perhaps from another world.

Several pull a cart that's empty. Perhaps waiting for a Russian count. Or a damned soul being pulled off to a deep-sea hell.

And the horses dance past us. Shimmering. And dancing back through the veil of fog to whatever's waiting on the other side.

The few on the beach look to each other in astonishment. All of us wondering if we really saw them. If they were really here. And if we can somehow get them back.

Bring on the dancing horses. Wherever they may roam. (Link for Gmail subscribers -- with better video than what's embedded below.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Paris 1919

Looking for the connections.

We were in the same interdisciplinary class on "Fin de Siecle Vienna and the Roots of Modern Thought." She couldn't believe that so many great thinkers were gathered in one place at one time and thought we could recreate that at the end of the 20th century.

She was relentless, taking ever smaller notes on pad after college-ruled pad. And she drew connections.

If you wanted the nexus between Graham Greene, Einstein, and Desmond Tutu, she could show you, complete with illustrations and examples that were only briefly comprehensible when she explained them.

We didn't think then that she was crazy. She was just eccentric. And interesting.

And she'd call each of us at least once a week in the middle of the night with an outlandish theory that was just on the verge of explaining everything.

And she loved the Velvet Underground. She talked with no self-consciousness about her erotic dreams of Lou Reed and her schemes to recruit him into a modern-day salon she would hold with Stephen Hawking, the Pope, Bill Gates, and Larry Bird.

We all got worried when she started missing classes. After a week, we organized a search party, checking all her campus haunts. I found her locked in a study room at the library. She hadn't eaten or slept in days and she'd filled every bit of every page of 12 notebooks with microscopic theories that encompassed everything. Unwilling to go out to buy more paper, she started writing on the walls. And then on her skin.

They kept her medicated for days, finally letting her out just before midterms. Our professor begged us before she returned to class to concentrate on her brilliance and overlook her obsessions. That wasn't hard to do. She looked and acted normal. Her appetite came back. She started sleeping at night. Her class notes were a page or two, not a full notebook.

Later I realized none of that was normal for her. Because she was far from normal.

One night she called me at 4 am, begging me to go ice skating on a nearby lake in the moonlight. I didn't want to go out in the cold, but talked to her for an hour until she said she was going to sleep. In that conversation, she said it was wrong of her to focus so much on Lou Reed. After all, she said, it was John Cale who made the Velvet Underground what they were.

She told me there were at least four or five John Cales: the clasically trained viola player, the mellow singer-songwriter, the self-proclaimed Godfather of punk, the dark poet who once chopped the head off a dead chicken on stage, and the intellectual who always resented that the one thing he'd be best known for was playing in an influential band that never sold a lot of records.

I found out later, that I wasn't the only one she called that night; she held long, involved conversations with nearly every student in our class (none of whom wanted to go ice skating by moonlight).

I went by her dorm room the next afternoon and her door was open. Everything she owned was gone and the room was completely empty.

Except for a copy of John Cale's Paris 1919 sitting on her bare mattress. With a note that said "I needn't have bothered -- this record solved all the problems I've been working on for years."

Aside from that, there was no sign that she'd ever been there. During our last Fin de Siecle Vienna class, I looked out the window as it started to snow. The professor droned on, relieved the problem student was no longer around. I watched the snow falling, thought of her and her attempts to find that elusive common thread that would connect everything. And in my mind, I listened to this:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Three Days of Peace, Music, & Port-O-Sans

Unlike Abbie Hoffman, I never lived in Woodstock Nation.

(And maybe he didn't either, since Pete Townsend of the Who kicked him off the stage when he jumped up during their set.)

But I did love the music and went to see the movie Woodstock for the first time when I was 13 or 14. The performances(featuring Crosby, Stills, and Nash, the Who, Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and many, many others) were great.

Chances are, you've been hearing a lot of that music in the past few days and weeks.

You've probably heard news reports about the Woodstock Nation, "three days of Peace & Music," and the good vibes that prevailed despite the rain and crowds. It's been difficult to avoid Demetri Martin plugging the upcoming Taking Woodstock movie where he plays Elliot Tiber (and slightly less difficult to avoid interviews with the real Elliot Tiber).

You might even have heard the phrase "young men with unlimited capital" bandied about or the amazing editing of the Woodstock movie (by Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker) discussed.

But you probably haven't seen or heard my favorite moment from Woodstock. This is literally the first thing I think of when I remember the movie. I found the clip on YouTube and just saw it again for the first time since I was 13 or 14. For better and worse, this really says it all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Taraxacum Californicum

Warning: We're not in the carefree, bouncy teen pop world today.

Spirituality and hope are nearly impossible to do well in rock music.

Too often, the results are preachy and melodramatic or general and meaningless. Almost no one gets the balance right.

But Brandon Schott does. His new album Dandelion (coming on September 29, 2009) is a rare collection of 13 gorgeous, hopeful, piano-based pop songs shimmering with melodic hooks and heartfelt vocals. The music is spiritual but inviting, clever but not self-conscious, hopeful without being sappy, and melancholy but uplifting. These are the kind of songs that remind you of the simple power and glory of music.

Dandelion's stark, simple pop songs seem to come from a world outside of time, hearkening back to a less trendy time when achingly gorgeous melodies and yearning vocals ruled the airwaves. If Ben Folds and Jon Brion were to have a child (and who am I to say they didn't?), that child would grow up to be Brandon Schott.

From simple songs about appreciation ("May the Sunrise Keep Us Warm") to songs about lost childhood ("Four Winds") and hope ("Falling Forward," "I'll Be Waiting," "All Will Be Well," and "Unknown"), this is music for grown-ups. And the wolves are never far from the door, threatening to destroy everything you hold dear (especially in "Fire Season," my favorite track from the album). Yes, it's incredibly beautiful and catchy, but no, you won't find disposable tunes about high school romance, dancing, or who looks hot.

Ordinarily, that would be all you'd need to know. And I'm tempted to leave it at that and send you off to Brandon's MySpace page to listen to "Fire Season," which should convince you to buy the album.

But there's another side of the story. Explaining the title, Brandon says: "Dandelions remind me of childhood, of a certain way of seeing the world – of blowing seeds into the air as a kid, and watching them float on; a beautiful and weightless wonder. Yet, it's a weed – an unwelcome growth in an otherwise tended garden. A cancer."

Need anything else to tell you we've left the world of seemingly cloned teen pop singers far behind? We've stepped beyond metaphor here -- this is literal, life-threatening cancer he's talking about.

Because a couple years ago Brandon Schott was having chest pains, went to the emergency room, and walked out with a cancer diagnosis.

Most of these 13 songs were written during his treatment and recovery and the album was recorded largely with acoustic instruments in a church in Glendale, California (which lends an airy, resonant feeling to the music).

None of the songs directly mention cancer. Or religion. But they're all infused with the energy and hopefulness Brandon brought to his successful battle against cancer. And while you could enjoy the album without knowing any of this, the backstory brings a level of depth, beauty and grace to each of these songs – especially the gorgeous "Unknown," a duet with Brooke Fox.

Bonus video: Brandon recording "May the Sunrise Keep Us Warm" live with band (and string section) in St. Mark's Church in Glendale:

The bottom line: If you worship at the altar of McCartney-esque pop (and if you're reading this, chances are you do), Dandelion contains 13 benedictions to help renew (or restore) your faith.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Please Understand Me, Everything's All Right...

Crossing Jerry Lee Lewis with Joe Strummer.

Most of my friends in college had bizarre musical obsessions.

For me, the most bizarre was my friend Lisa, who liked country music. I'd never met anyone who liked country music before, so talking music with her was like taking graduate courses in psychology and anthropology. And while I understood (in theory anyway) that rock and roll had roots in country, rhythm & blues, and folk, I usually ignored the country part. (With the exception of rockabilly, which I always liked better when it was played really fast.)

So Lisa would try to get me to listen to Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, and Flatt & Scruggs and I'd try to get her to listen to the Stray Cats and the Ramones. She'd roll her eyes when I'd go see punk bands and I'd go off to study when she'd play her Tammy Wynette and Merle Haggard records (each marked in a corner of the back cover with her initials and a small sketch of a flower). We found a few areas of musical common ground: we were both lukewarm about the Eagles (too country for me, not country enough for her) and both liked Johnny Cash. We each had love/hate relationships with the Byrds (but she tolerated the early folk-rock records and I put up with the later country-rock albums).

Lisa also was from the South (and majored in philosophy, which she said followed naturally from a childhood spent listening to Hank Williams); I must confess that I'd sometimes get into late-night philosophy discussions with her partly to hear her accent when she pronounced "Schopenhauer."

One more thing about Lisa: she loved Joe Ely.

Ely, who grew up in Buddy Holly's hometown of Lubbock, Texas, started playing steel guitar as a pre-teen and was touring with his own country groups before he was old enough to drive.

Lisa mentioned that Joe Ely was playing in a local dive bar and she was shocked that I said I wanted to go.

I was actually shocked that she wanted to go. Because I knew something about Joe Ely that Lisa didn't.

While he was trying to break through as a straight-forward country act, he was befriended by Joe Strummer and spent a year opening for the Clash.

This invigorated Ely's live show and gave his country music a definite punk rock feel. His first studio album after touring with the Clash Musta Notta Gotta Lotta crackles with punk energy rearranging the DNA of 50s rockabilly.

Ely's live show was much more rock than country, which made Lisa angry. She thought I'd somehow tricked her into going -- even though it was her idea. We had a huge fight after that concert and our friendship never really recovered. (Link for Gmail subscribers.)

Years later, I was in one of the few surviving stores that sold used vinyl. While combing through the E's, I found a copy of Joe Ely's Musta Notta Gotta Lotta. I thought about the concert and the fight with Lisa. Then turned the record over and found Lisa's initials and a familiar sketch of a flower in the lower right corner.

I thought about how the record had traveled thousands of miles over more than 10 years to wind up in my hands. I wondered who else had listened to it and tried to intuit if they preferred the rocker Joe Ely to the country singer Joe Ely.

I thought about buying the record to honor my former friendship with Lisa.

But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a bad way to honor Lisa.

So I put Joe Ely back.

And bought a Hank Williams record instead.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

That's not a name, that's a major appliance

Three important things about John Hughes:

1. Molly Ringwald picked the wrong guy.

Yeah, Pretty in Pink is a great movie and one of best teen comedies ever. But...

Molly Ringwald's Andie shouldn't have wound up with Blaine, the rich and shallow preppy with the fancy car and flashy clothes.

Andie was a new-wave chick who loved music and hated everything conventional, so how would it make sense for her to ignore Duckie (the guy who knew her the best, who liked the same music and the same clothes, who understood every nook and cranny of her soul)?

Isn't it just wrong for her to go with style over substance? (And let's ignore the now painfully obvious fact that Duckie is clearly in the closet and might be better off winding up with an Andy instead of Andie.)

In the original ending, Andie and Duckie do wind up together. But test audiences hated the ending, so the studio poured tons of money into reshooting it to get Andie and Blane together.

This always seemed wrong.

Hughes must have thought so too because he took the exact same story, flipped the sexes of the characters in the love triangle, and emerged with Some Kind of Wonderful. Only this time, the movie had the right ending -- instead of choosing the popular rich kid with the right clothes, blossoming ugly duckling Eric Stolz winds up with his dorky opposite-sex best friend Mary Stuart Masterson (who liked the same music and knew every nook and cranny of his soul).

2. John Hughes rocked the multiplex.

Music was important to John Hughes. So important that The Breakfast Club opens with a quote from David Bowie's "Changes."

Hughes and his music supervisors had amazing taste in music (Echo and the Bunnymen, Suzanne Vega, Simple Minds, New Order, Paul Young, the Specials, Oingo Boingo, the Vapors, Kajagoogoo, and on and on) and used that music as effectively as anyone making movies in the last 40 years.

The songs he chose became iconic overnight -- even if none of us would ever have Spandau Ballet or OMD perform at our prom.

The music industry thought so, too and gave Hughes his own record label for about ten minutes in the mid-80s. (The label never amounted to much, possibly because Hughes himself seemed to have outgrown teen pop entertainment by 1988 and would try -- with much less success -- to establish himself as a more grown-up writer and director.)

Kelly Stizel, in PopDose's Soundtrack Saturday feature looked at the music from Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles. Take a look.

3. John Hughes movies matter.

But not because of the plots -- they tend to be really simple (parents forget teenager's birthday) and somewhat familiar (he likes her, but she likes someone else).

And not because of the dialogue, although it's often funny and memorable ("I can't believe I gave my panties to a geek").

It's because of the characters. Hughes wrote great outsider characters and treated teenagers as multi-dimensional human beings.

Between 1984 and 1987, Hughes created a series of unforgettable teen comedies (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Some Kind of Wonderful). And while the movies featured jocks and geeks and sportos and sluts, Hughes knew instinctively that people are more than their cliques and labels.

We related to his characters because they were complicated, funny, and often misunderstood. Yes, Hughes had an affection for outsiders. But, more importantly, he understood on a deep and instinctive level that all teenagers are outsiders.


Link for Gmail subscribers.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2009 Beatle News

Let me check a calendar -- is it 2009 or 1969?

I've spent the afternoon rounding up news on the Beatles (with full awareness of the irony that there even is news about a band that broke up nearly 30 years ago, half of whose members are dead).

Burning up the Internet in advance of the re-released, remastered Beatles albums (16 available in stereo, 13 in mono) and the Beatles Rock Band game are these little tidbits.

The first full-length clip of a song from Rock Band is "Birthday" and you can see it here.

Matt Hurwitz gives an early review of the sound quality of the new remasters (h/t to Steve Marinucci on reports that a "new" Beatles song is ready to be released. When the three surviving Beatles were finishing the Anthology project in the 1990s, Yoko Ono gave them demos of three John Lennon songs. Two -- "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" were reworked with additional instrumentation and vocals from Paul, George, and Ringo and released on the first two Anthology CDs. The third track "Now and Then" was worked on, but not finished. Reportedly, McCartney has been working on the track off and on for the past two years and really wants it to be released.

And finally, there's this: the possibly fake, long rumored "Revolution (Take 20)" -- a much stronger, gentler, and more accessible pastiche than "Revolution #9" leaked onto the Internet a few months back and is available here on YoutTube:

Thinking your August won't be complete without 5,400+ words on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but don't know where to go? Drop by Then Play Long, where Marcello Carlin is reviewing every #1 album in the U.K. from July 1956 on. (It's hard not to love a blog that takes on such a single-mindedly obsessive task, then sticks to it -- so far for nearly a year.)

And finally, because if you love something enough you have to be willing to risk destroying it, here's Dead Lazlo's Place doing a punk cover of "Eleanor Rigby." Yeah, baby.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Ramones on Lithium and Ukulele

I scour the internet for weird shit so you won't have to.

Exactly 25 years ago today, I walked into one of the great used record stores in the college town where I grew up and bought four Ramones albums on vinyl. They were cutouts from Portugal (for reasons I never quite understood) priced to move at $1.99 each.

Thinking today about that store (sadly long gone), I couldn't help but wonder what the Ramones would sound like if the band was on Lithium reminiscing years later about their favorite hangouts that were now closed. Here's an approximation (with extra cello goodness):

That kind of bummed me out, so I turned (as I'm sure you do) to the upbeat sounds of a Japanese ukulele master playing "I Wanna Be Sedated" while Mr. Bean looks on. Wonder no more:

If you need a palate cleanser after all that weirdness, get out your cutout Portugese vinyl. Or the next best thing -- the Ramones sitting around a table eating cereal while Joey sings and the world goes crazy around them (link for Gmail subscribers).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Road out of London Runs Through Canada (and Sweden)

Ever wonder why London is so expensive?

Are you craving music that wears its love of power-pop on its sleeves? Looking for something catchy but substantial? Wondering what would happen if the Raspberries and Big Star had a baby in Toronto?

The answer to all these questions is Luke Jackson and his video for "Goodbye London" (my new summer 2009 favorite song and video). Goodbye dodgy Thai cuisine, indeed!

Apparently, London is so expensive because the people compete for scarce resources not just with millions of other humans, but also with every bit of graffiti on every last wall (link for Gmail subscribers):

Jackson, by the way, is a Canadian singer-songwriter with a fondness for Swedish music whose new album ...And Then Some was recorded in Sweden (in a vintage studio with all-analogue equipment to bring out the crunchy power-pop of the songs).

And while I've never lived in London, this song makes me want to move there for a while just so I can play this song over and over again right before I leave.

The animation -- a combination of stop-motion photography and traditional 2D drawings -- was done by Murray John, who also did this cool UK commercial for a newspaper CD giveaway.

Video Bonus: "Come Tomorrow": More great power-pop from Luke Jackson.

Text Bonus: I wish I'd written these two phrases about ...And Then Some: It's "so catchy it just might need a flu shot" and the album sounds "like Teenage Fanclub if they were lost in Scandinavia and developed a taste for string sections." But I didn't write them -- Paul Zimmerman of First Coast News (in Jacksonville, Florida of all places) did... and the entire review is worth checking out.

Update: My bad. Luke Jackson is actually originally British and relocated to Canada a few years ago.