Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chris Richards - Mystery Spot - 2004

Chris Richards moves to the head of the modern-day power pop class with his first solo record, Mystery Spot. His work with the Phenomenal Cats and the Pantookas was solid and engaging pop, but this disc moves beyond that and should put him in the big leagues next to guys like Michael Penn, Matthew Sweet, and Velvet Crush. He has everything that those guys do. Hook-filled tunes you will be humming before they are half over, ringing guitars, soaring harmony vocals, heart-tugging lyrics about girls, girls, and more girls. Although the disc is on a microindie (or maybe because it is), the production is first-rate; Richards and Dave Feeny came up with a guitar-heavy sound that rocks, but has a light and poppy feel. Hmmm, power plus pop....That must be where they got "power pop" from back in the day. Tracks like the thudding "She Belongs to Me" and the chunky "Come Clean" are textbook examples of that sound. Elsewhere, Richards conjures the ghost of Marshall Crenshaw on "Everyday Girl," drops some sweet pedal steel into the mix on the pair of beautiful ballads "Draining" and "She's Just Falling Out of Love," sits behind the electric keys and brings it down a bit on the sweet "Gracefully," and rocks quite convincingly on the excellent opener "Is There Anybody Else?" The rest of the album is packed with great tracks, not a stinker in the bunch. If you dig Falkner, Sweet, Keene, or any of the other giants of the power pop continuum, you need to seek this record out.-AMG

Chris Richards - Mystery Spot - 2004/rs
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