Well, it sure looks like Bubblegum Lemonade is back, and I couldn’t be happier. Some like it pop came out far too long ago for my tastes, and I’ve been clamoring for Laz to get back in the studio with his friends and make me some new hits! It looks like he’s done just that, with news on Friday leaking a brand new demo that sounds pretty near perfect…if you exclude the final mastering. Like all his work, it borders the line between great power pop and indiepop, filled with catchy melodies and infectious tunes. No word on a release, but let’s hope its sooner rather than later.
Some records come into your life without fanfare or expectations; they exist simply as a statement by an artist. Whether or not the band, Bubblegum Lemonade in this case, has received acclaim or accolades isn’t important, but what matters is the strength of said statement. In the case of Some Like It Pop, I don’t care what anyone has to say, this album is brilliant from start to finish.
“This is the New Normal” winds its way carefully into the opening moments, with a bit of strings and a tinkering bit of bells. Before you know it, you’re swept away in this gorgeous sensation of warm pop. The melody stands out instantly, but the mood of the song is greatly affecting; Laz adds a nice “ba ba ba baaa” to the mix to really emphasize a musician at the top of his game. And hits just keep coming. “It’s Got to Be Summer” again opens with a bit of playful tinkering, but at the 18th second of the track, you won’t find a musical sensation more compelling. What’s striking to me about Some Like It Pop is the attention to detail at every turn. Where the group went for straight indiepop on their last outing, this one is filled with touches and brushstrokes of genius songwriting that ultimately reward the listener, like when this tune trails off in its closing moments.
And things don’t always go as one would expect from Bubblegum Lemonade. On “Don’t Hurry Baby,” there’s a lush arrangement, leaving you with this dreamy balladry that will leave a lasting impression. There’s even a chugging guitar riff beneath the mix that adds a bit of rock n’ roll propulsion to the affair. And it moves into the album’s standout, “Dead Poets Make Me Smile.” The title of the song alone wins, but dammit if the song doesn’t win on every single level, rolling along with the back beat of the drums and the jangling guitar. Other songs like “First Rule of Book Club” have this wry sense of humor, but they also seem to be timeless pieces of music; it’s not draped in nostalgia or boasting some new direction, it’s simply perfect.
The closing statement from Some Like It Pop, “Mr Dreaming’s Bland House,” is the album’s longest tune, and also a final statement that serves as the perfect summation for the record. Melodies swirl throughout. Drums are spot on with their emphatic punch, though never over-intrusive. And the vocals have this perfect wash of fuzzy coating, including a nice dose of backing vocals. It all fits together so well, that you almost immediately start the record over. It’s understated in the perfect way, making the entirety so much more endearing. You’re not going to find a better pop album out there; they just don’t exist, so follow my lead to the blissful land left to us all by Bubblegum Lemonade.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/01-Have-You-Seen-Faith.mp3]
Download: Bubblegum Lemonade – Have You Seen Faith [MP3]
Christmas has come early! And so has the new Bubblegum Lemonade record! The band has been hard at work on their next LP, and while we expected it at some point this year or earlier next, news came today that their new LP was already in from the plants, so why not share the great tune with you all? Laz has been working effortlessly, and each new release sees his music grow; it’s great to see a musician progress so wonderfully. If you’re not digging the guitar work here, then you’re probably not an indiepop fan. And that’s okay, but you should really spend just a short bit of time with this tune. Like all tunes from the act, you’ll find it hard to ignore the splendor of a songwriter at the top of his craft. Some Like it Pop will be available next week from Matinee Recordings.
It’s strange to think that Hits in the Car is truly the debut record for Strawberry Whiplash; seems like I’ve been posting their singles or B-Sides for years now. Regardless, this collection of thirteen great pop tunes is pretty spot-on for a debut, going between infectious indie pop and noisy janglings; its all worth every minute of time you invest, and one can only suspect that you’ll get more back the more you put in.
Perhaps one of my favorite attributes of this sort of pop is the simplicity of both the entire construction, from song title to the execution of the track itself, it’s no small feat to pull this off as well as Strawberry Whiplash does. Take, for instance, “Everyone’s Texting,” which might seem like sort an arbitrary song, as we’re aware everyone is definitely texting. But, from the slight jangle in the guitar work, to the steadying drum beat, the song is more than just plain commentary; it’s pristine pop.
For me, one of the best things about Hits in the Car is the effortless playfulness that seems to coincide with the group’s work. You can listen to “What Do They Say About Me” and hear that nostalgic swirling guitar, but Sandra’s vocals, purposefully stuttering at points, show both the fun and attention to detail that goes into pop like this. Even smashing hit “Stop Look and Listen” plays with the vocal delivery, which either demonstrates the fun they’re having, or just their reliance on capturing the perfect hook–it all works for me.
Even more promising is some of the slight experimentation that comes into play on the album, showing that Strawberry Whiplash have other places they’re willing to go, musically speaking. “It Came to Nothing” has this great little power-pop swagger to it, as Sandra sings gently atop it all. Or you can listen to the band as they dabble in the noise-rock territory, one of the few songs where Laz takes control of the vocal duties. The other track where he features prominently is “You Make Me Shine,” a song that sounds remarkably like something you’d expect the Magnetic Fields to craft. You’ve got to credit a group that aren’t willing to be pigeon-holed by their own sound, or the masses for that matter.
When it boils down to it all, you can easily write about each one of these songs as great singles, and assuredly that’s what the group intended with the titles Hits in the Car. What’s surprising is that they pulled it off, rather successfully. You can listen to Strawberry Whiplash‘s new effort bits at a time, or as an entire collection, but no matter what, you’re going to find yourself loving it. It’s simple, it’s poppy, it’s experimental; really, it’s just a gem of a record.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/straw05.mp3]
Download:Strawberry Whiplash – Now I Know It’s You [MP3]
Strawberry Whiplash is one of those great band’s that unfortunately seems to fly beneath the radar of the masses. I’m not sure why, as the simple pop formula of Laz and Sandra is nothing short of perfect, and you’d be silly to say otherwise. The group’s been hard at work prepping their next album for your sunny travels, titled Hits in the Car, and it should be out later this year. But, you won’t have to wait too much longer for new tunes, as the band is set to release a new 7″ for the single, “Stop, Look and Listen.” Laz has been kind enough to allow us to share this great B-Side with you, which I’m sure will leave you salivating for more from Strawberry Whiplash.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Another-Rainy-Day-In-Glasgow.mp3]
Download: Strawberry Whiplash – Another Rainy Day In Glasgow [MP3]