The Like: Release Me

RIYL: Matthew Sweet, The Bangles, 60’s Mod rock

The Like return for their sophomore effort, Release Me, a 13-song set clocking in at just under 40 minutes. This collection of ’60s inspired pop rock gems will rock your socks off and keep you dancing for the duration of the record. Release Me has enough cool to satisfy retro-alternative hipsters and turn the heads of aging mods looking for some kickin’ new tunes to play at their next Vespa rally.

Founding members Z Berg (vocals/guitars) and Tennessee Thomas (drums) parted ways with Charlotte Froom (bass/vocals) and entered the recording studio with famed producer Mark Ronson, the man responsible for Amy Winehouse’s spectacular soul album, Back to Black. The English producer certainly has a knack for recreating the sounds of a different era, but Release Me would be pure novelty if it weren’t full of strong, catchy power pop that sticks to you like the sweetest tasting bubble gum. Mind you, this gum has a little bite.

While the music is sunny and very danceable, once you get past that bright veneer, you’ll find that Release Me is an album full of women scorned, breakups and broken hearts.   Even if you’re not in the mood for some Alanis angst, you can look past the lyrics and just rock out. “He’s Not A Boy” (the first single) and “I Can See It” are so damn good, they deserve radio play all summer long, and then some; while “Catch Me If You Can,” “In the End” and “Release Me” will make sure no fan is sitting down during the band’s upcoming concerts.

By the end of the album, the organ begins to wear thin, but as soon as you start thinking you may want to break that keyboard player’s fingers, the album is over. It won’t be long until you’ve scrolled back to the beginning and started the whole thing over again.

If you’ve ever wondered what the Kinks, Zombies or Who would have sounded like had they been an all-girl group who played their own instruments and sang in perfect harmony, the Like may be your answer. Here’s hoping that they continue to grow as artists like their obvious influences. (Polydor/Downtown Records, 2010)

The Like MySpace page
Click here to purchase Release Me from Amazon


Butch Walker and the Black Widows: I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart

RIYL: Candy Butchers, Fountains of Wayne, Bryan Adams

Before he became as ubiquitous in the pop/rock music world as Kara DioGuardi and Diane Warren, Butch Walker was so totally cool. He fronted an indie modern rock band called Marvelous 3, a group that put out a few blistering albums of awesome power pop. Then Walker went out on his own and delivered one of the best rock albums of all time in Left of Self-Centered. Naturally, he started to get phone calls from other artists and labels and managers, wanting him to write with, produce and guide artists such as Pink, Bowling For Soup and Avril Lavigne. He also released a few more solo albums along the way. And while nothing measured up to Left of Self-Centered or the Marvelous 3 stuff, Walker has clearly taken two steps backward with his latest, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart. Maybe it’s because this one comes a little over a year after his latest, Sycamore Meadows, because being that prolific has a tendency to water down the material. In addition, part of the problem here is that while some of the songs seem catchy while you’re listening, you won’t be singing any of them afterward, because they’re not memorable, at least not based on the very high bar Butch has set for himself. There are a few exceptions, like “Stripped Down Version,” which has some slick guitar work and pretty harmonies, or “She Likes Hair Bands,” featuring lyrical snark reminiscent of the Marvelous 3 days. But on the likes of “Trash Day” and “House of Cards,” some of you die-hard Butch fans will be hitting “skip.” And while the closer, “Be Good Til Then,” carries a beautiful sentiment and was written for his very young son, the repetitive melody is more tired than anything Walker has ever delivered. I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart, will, sadly, have Butch fans saying that they liked it better when his songs had heart. (One Haven 2010)

Butch Walker website


Social Code: He Said, She Said

There’s something that’s different from most power pop and Warped Tour fare when it comes to Canadian rock band Social Code. On the band’s debut US EP, He Said, She Said, Social Code sets itself apart from the pack a bit with a lot of guitar-driven energy and with Travis Nesbitt’s raspy vocal (think Hawthorne Heights and Fall Out Boy having a child). The title track is the kind of stuff that will give record labels and radio programmers a collective wet dream. But Social Code is just paying the bills with that and with the catchy but slightly grating “Beautiful.” That’s because the best tracks here are “Perfect Grave” and “The Shortest Line.” The former has a dark, melody-driven approach ala the Goo Goo Dolls, and could launch this band into superstardom if the right people hear it. Love it or hate it, this genre is still here to stay for a while, and Social Code is worth keeping your eyes and ears on. (LABEL: Fifth Season Music)

Social Code MySpace Page