Much like the Close But No Cigar list contains my quick takes on albums that didn’t make it to my “best of” list this year (that will probably slot somewhere south of #40 on the list when all is said and done), the Bridesmaids didn’t make it either. But they were a lot closer, and most probably were on the Top 25 in pencil at one point. Music is subjective, and my lists morph over time as some albums grow and some fade, so this is really a snapshot.
Yesterday I listed five worthy near-misses; here are five more.
The Shame Idols: The Light Is Always On
Warning: you will burn through two subwoofers listening to this album, and rightfully so. Tim Boykin, who also masterminds the power pop band The Lolas, first came to my attention over a decade ago with what was then a melodic hard rocking trio. Thankfully unearthed after a decade, the best way to describe this (now quartet) is taking the pile-driving rhythm of The Ramones, adding Cheap Trick’s commercial superior songwriting chops…and then enlisting Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi to play lead guitar over Johnny Ramone’s rhythm. Completely infectious, relentless and (with songs like “Hey Daddyo” and “Cinderblock Head”) just plain fun. Welcome back, Timmeh!
The BellRays: Hard, Sweet And Sticky
Let’s get one thing on the table up front – Lisa Kekaula might be the closest thing we have to Tina Turner today. And I’m talking “Proud Mary” Tina, not that “Private Dancer” crap. The BellRays have a small catalogue of smoking punk soul albums in their wake, and while not widely known, their growing audience is loyal and hardcore. It’s for that very reason that this latest effort is causing some camp division; a more polished commercial sound that some see as sanitized or (God forbid) an attempt to reach a bigger audience that prior classics like Let It Blast couldn’t rope in.
While “Blue Against The Sky” and “Footprints On Water” could fall into that Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight territory, there’s plenty of fire here as well. You don’t title a song “Psychotic Hate Man” and then not back it up with a pile driving punk beat, right? “That’s The Way It Should Be” and the aptly titled “Pinball City” will also push your foot to the floor, while the seductive “Wedding Bells” is a bluesy torch showcase. If you don’t know this band, start anywhere, but plan to get their entire catalogue soon.