mommyheads, shirk and speed the plough in the big takeover

Jack Rabid’s excellent, long-running magazine The Big Takeover was particularly good to us in it’s most recent issue (Issue No. 70), featuring reviews of The MommyheadsShirk Circus, and Speed the Plough albums.  Since the reviews are only available in the print editions, we’ll repeat them here, but we urge you to go subscribe to a publication that’s been great to us since the 90s, that’s run by a huge supporter of indie music, and that features excellent writing and photography, online and off.

So.  Here goes:

The Mommyheads • Delicate Friction

Forgive me for once again encouraging those who love great pop music to seek out this band’s 1997 eponymous Geffen album.  Produced by Don Was, it’s an absolutely stellar collection I have rescued dozens of times from American cut-out bins to give to friends – it is one of exactly nine CDs my six-year-old son rotates through at bedtime (the others are Pet Sounds, Beatles classics, and a Nilsson compilation, so…).  That said, through the enthusiasm of some ardent fans in Sweden, lead Mommyhead Adam Elk has put the band back together for Scandinavian touring and this new collection of ace choons.  The guy can write ’em, and he sure can sing ’em!  This is prime indie pop with an occasional whiff of ’70s prog sneaking in – and a welcome return to form.  (Corin Ashley)

Speed the Plough • Shine

Part of The Feelies’ extended family (four out of five Feelies have gone through the STP ranks), it somehow seems logical that Speed the Plough took a hiatus of their own in tandem with their Jersey pals.  Released in 2010, Swerve marked the band’s first release in 15 years, as well as a new line-up, with John and Toni Baumgartner’s son Michael joining on guitar along with Ed Seifert and Marc Francia’s sons, Daniel and Ian, comprising the rhythm section.  Fortunately the new seven-piece band didn’t wait nearly as long to return with another album.  With Feelies/Wild Carnation bassist Brenda Sauter lending vocals to three tracks, Shine is a mixture of pop and folk sounds that stick to an NPR-ready track of mellowness.  The album reflects the members’ rapport with one another, making each track’s natural intricacies all the better for it. (Stephen Slaybaugh)

Shirk Circus • This Band Will Destroy Your Life

New Jersey’s Shirk Circus released two fine alt.rock/pop records in the early ’90s before disbanding.  But a third record was underway when the split occurred, and bandleader Josh Silverman and producer Ray Ketchem decided to finish the recording nearly 15 years later, a few years before Silverman’s unfortunate passing.  This Band continues in the tradition of the trio’s earlier LPs – simmering, organic guitar rock with catchy hooks and an emotional forthrightness that was already out of fashion in the early ’90s.  Silverman’s specialty was a combination of muscle, melody, and vulnerability, displayed to best effect here on “Number Fifteen,” “Desperate Time” and a cover of Wally Bryson’s pre-Rasberries classic with The Choir (of “It’s Cold Outside”/Nuggets box set infamy) “I Only Did It ‘Cause I Felt So Lonely.”  A welcome return and a fond farewell.   (Michael Toland)

Thanks to the awesome writers and publishers of The Big Takeover for the props!


~ by Al on June 7, 2012.

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