The songs of Penny Blacks’ most recent CD, last year’s The Silver Screen EP, feature some of the joy and youthful excitement of mid-1960s pop. All four songs were written by Jason Ogden, and each of the tracks is really enjoyable and has some interesting lyrics.
The opening track, “Our Old Rooms,” is a fun, kind of sweet pop tune. It has such a positive vibe, with a catchy groove. And the violin gives the song a slightly more serious beauty. This is a song wrapped in the colors of memory and hope. “It’s the color of me and you/It’s the color of your phone beside my bed/Well, all you have to do is call me/Please do.” And then at the end he sings, “It’s the color of regret/Regret is red.”
There is something in the vocal approach at the beginning of “Gentlemen Marry Brunettes” that reminds me of the Ramones. It’s still a pop tune, but there is a bit of a snarl to the vocals at the beginning. There are some interesting changes in this song, like when he sings, “If I wake up without you/With your song in my head/Will I still smell your scent all over my bed.” Some of the changes bring to mind The Grownup Noise, the way they use a change of tone to great effect in telling the story and creating an exciting sense of movement within a song.
There are more fun positive pop vibes to begin “Wherever And Ever I Go.” So the first line comes as such a surprise: “I’ll meet you at your father’s grave on Christmas Eve and I’ll say I’m sorry.” The first time I listened to this EP, this is the song that grabbed me the most. This song has moments when the vocals are allowed to be completely the focus, with the instruments nearly completely falling out. Like on the lines, “You won’t have to remind me how much I owe/I’ll stay up late on weeknights and move the furniture around with you/Whenever you need me to.” But the song also has a solid rock groove.
I dig that a song called “The Digital Age” has an early rock and roll feel and rhythm. This song too has plenty of interesting changes. I like that this group will take pop elements but then be willing to drop them or change them to suit what the song is saying at the moment. It’s like taking something familiar and giving us a new look at it.
CD Track List
- Our Old Rooms
- Gentlemen Marry Brunettes
- Wherever And Ever I Go
- The Digital Age
Penny Blacks are Jason Ogden on guitar and vocals, Chris Braydon on guitar, Adam Kierstead on bass and vocals, Clinton Charlton on drums and vocals, Dan Chamberlain on keys, and Ali Leonard on violin. Joining them on this release are Jessica Rhaye on vocals, Amy Stewart on vocals, Brad Dryer on trumpet, and Richard Kidd on trombone.
The Silver Screen EP was released on March 15, 2013.