Friday, November 8, 2019

A Pair of Jersey Releases I've Been Listening To All Week from Joseph Black and Fascinations Grand Chorus


I wanted to call your attention to a pair of releases from artists I've supported around here for a few years.

Joseph Black, Wildest Dreams EP

Way, way back in the infancy of CoolDad Music, I came across New Brunswick lo-fi pop band Honeydrum. With hints of Ariel Pink and early-80s R.E.M., I felt like Honeydrum were destined for bigger things. That materialized in two albums for Captured Tracks under the new name Donovan Blanc.

Last year, Joseph Black of Honeydrum / Donovan Blanc released his debut, solo LP, Northern Exposure. That album further solidified Black as one of the most unsung, underrated heroes of retro-inspired pop. Last month, Black released Wildest Dreams, the first of three, three-song cassingles in a project set to span the end of 2019 into 2020.

Black recorded, mixed, and mastered Wildest Dreams in Highland Park, NJ. The three songs on the EP are breezy, dreamy pop that draw on some sounds of the 80s that are soothingly familiar to my Gen X ears. There isn't a weak moment on Wildest Dreams, and closer "Lonelier Than Heaven Knows" is a standout. It's a short, romantic track reminiscent of Psychedelic Furs and John Hughes films.

Wildest Dreams is available as a super-limited 25 cassette run. It's also downloadable over at Joseph Black's Bandcamp page and streamable everywhere.

Fascinations Grand Chorus, Presentations of Electrical Confectionery

Speaking of bands I've been supporting for a while who have a bit of a retro vibe, Fascinations Grand Chorus -- the Jersey City duo of Stephanie Cupo and Andrew Pierce -- released Presentations of Electrical Confectionery last week.

I've always loved Fascinations Grand Chorus's commitment to their aesthetic. Presentations of Electrical Confectionery is ten songs showcasing the band's love of the timeless pop of Brian Wilson, Jersey forebears like The Shirelles, early AM radio, even the punk of The Ramones or The Misfits. The band also throw in a few tinges of psychedelia which results in some of the best sounds they've produced to date.

I've been playing Presentations... on repeat all week, and it's honestly difficult to single anything out. All the songs work seamlessly together. From bopping opener "Can't Let Go" to the mellow, Carpenters-esque "Echoes" to the surfily-tinged three-and-a-half-minute pop epic that is "Would It Be," there is something infectiously engaging about every song here. The spaced-out intro to "Cry Over You" gives way to an earworm embellished with some more spacey keys. Closer "Back Again" is a soulful bop that takes the album out on a vibe as upbeat as what kicked things off.

For me, though, "Future World" is the standout track here. Combining guitars and horns with Cupo's vocals and keys, the song represents a single confection that has all of Fascinations Grand Chorus's disparate electrical and analog influences as ingredients.

Presentations of Electrical Confectionery is available now. You can order a special limited-run CD over at the Fascinations Grand Chorus Bandcamp page, and you can stream the album pretty much everywhere.

No comments :

Post a Comment