That’s music from the Island of Long…which if you grew up there in the 1970s-80s might conjure up sounds, sights, and smells of large bars (aka small clubs) hosting rowdy rabble-rousers like Twisted Sister, the Good Rats, and Zebra. Oh, anybody remember Rat Race Choir? They seem to be back in action. How about Swift Kick? I think they played mostly covers – but completely cool ones. And Blue Öyster Cult, one of L.I.’s great success stories. To the muddled masses yearning to be at MSG, Long Island likely means BILLY JOEL. Yes, that guy wrote many a good song but… Let’s keep it fresh and new here, and at least borderline Schizomusical!
So introducing three recent releases:
Go to School by the Lemon Twigs
Hicksville? Long Island? A train station, an exit off the expressway. Later on, the home of – again – Billy Joel. But now, with the emergence of former Hicksville High School students the D’Addario brothers, Brian and Michael, making shockingly eccentric music under the name The Lemon Twigs, Hicksville is hip! British daily The Times likens The Lemon Twigs to a combination of Wings, Supertramp, Big Star, the Ramones, and Broadway musicals. And that’s pretty accurate. Check out the stuff on Go to School, the band’s second album: Wings? “The Lesson” and “Wonderin’ Ways” are quite McCartneyish. Supertramp? Take a listen to “The Bully” or “Never Know.” Big Star? “Queen of My School” sounds just like an outtake from Radio City. Don’t really know where the Ramones fit in but their spirit is certainly all over the place. Broadway musicals? I’ve never seen School of Rock but I imagine “Rock Dreams” would be at home there. Album opener “Never in My Arms, Always in My Heart” melds the Stones with the Strokes. Then there’s the incredible “Small Victories,” snagging a hook from Seals & Crofts’ 1972 hit “Summer Breeze”! And it’s all held together as a rock opera of sorts about, um, a chimp raised as a boy going to school. Okay…
Things Are Looking Up by the Walk-A-Bout
These guys have been regulars here at Schizomusica, and this past June they busted out with a 6-track album entitled Things Are Looking Up. The Walk-A-Bout is mostly Long Islanders including founder/guitarist/songwriter Kevin Anderson from Westhampton Beach – plus an Australian singer/lyricist with one of the most soaring and soulful voices ever. The album kicks off with the easy-going title track – an optimistic jewel in the midst of all the nonsense happening these days – then slides into “That’s Just the Way It Goes” with its mellow prog rock grooves (remember Grand Funk Railroad’s “I’m Your Captain/Closer to Home”?) and the equally mellow “By My Side.” “Consequences” stirs things up a bit as singer Darren “Sully” Sullivan breaks out the blues harp and new addition Dave Christian tosses off tasty electric guitar leads. Closing things out are two previously-released songs, the percussionistic “Oasis” and one of the band’s best, “Drifting Tide.” And things keep looking up for the Walk-A-Bout – check ’em out at the Music Speaks Out East benefit for cancer research at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead on October 20…along with of all bands Rat Race Choir!
Twentytwo in Blue by Sunflower Bean
From Glen Head, Long Island (and Brooklyn) comes Sunflower Bean, a trio with a sound from the pages of Joan Jett, the Go-Go’s, T. Rex, and the Velvet Underground, topped by a modern millennial sheen. Twentytwo in Blue is their second release, following 2016’s Human Ceremony, and it’s positively stunning. “Burn It,” the opening track, stomps along like Blackhearts-era Joan (thanks to singer/bassist Julia Cumming and drummer Jacob Faber), while “I Was A Fool” takes things down a notch, Fleetwood Mac-style, with intricate vocals from both Cumming and guitarist Nick Kivlen. The exquisite title cut “Twentytwo” is top-shelf jangle-pop with Cumming elegantly twisting syllables in the line “I do not go qui-ET-ly,” noisy glam-rock comes breaking down the door on the rollicking “Puppet Strings,” and haunting guitars swirl around Cumming’s echo-y vocals on “Only A Moment.” “Any Way You Like” recalls the delicate side of the Velvet Underground, then the band really channels Lou Reed on “Sinking Sands” and the outstanding closer “Oh No, Bye Bye.” Sunflower Bean will be at Brooklyn Steel on October 22 – don’t miss ’em!
On another note, this date marks Schizomusica’s two-year anniversary (and 60th post, if that has any significance), so thank you to all my readers, followers, commenters, criticizers, etc. Thanks also to Susan for giving me the idea two years ago and Sam for suggesting WordPress. Cheers!
Images courtesy theworldaccordingtofrankbarning.blogspot.com, jenesaispop.com, hero-magazine.com/Faith Silva, walkaboutband.com, pastemagazine.com, blog.urbanoutfitters.com/Nina Westervelt, dishingwithdiane.com