Monday, July 24, 2017

The Hangabouts: “Kits And Cats And Saxon Wives” (2017) CD Review

The Hangabouts are a groovy pop band based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a trio delivering fun pop music with a certain 1960s feel on their new release, Kits And Cats And Saxon Wives. This album features all original material, written by the band members. The Hangabouts are composed of John Lowry on vocals, guitar, organ, mellotron, piano, synthesizer, bass and percussion; Gregory Addington on vocals, guitar, bass, drums, piano, synthesizer and percussion; and Chip Saam on vocals, bass and guitar. Several musicians (including Molly Felder) join them on various tracks of the new CD.

The album opens with its title track, “Kits And Cats And Saxon Wives,” a song with a playful Beatles vibe and some delightful blending of voices. It’s followed by “Cricket Time,” which has a more straightforward feel. Of course, in this song’s title could be another nod to The Beatles, as The Beatles took their name because of their affection for The Crickets, Buddy Holly’s band. “Beetles are lighting/Mosquitoes are biting/It’s cricket time.” Then “Sinking Feeling” has kind of a sweet sound, even with lines like “I love you, yeah, but it’s a sinking feeling/I’m never coming up for air/I’m lying here, staring at the ceiling/Wondering how I got here.” It’s a duet, featuring Molly Felder (from Swan Dive) on vocals.

There is something catchy about “Evelyn Wood,” and I found myself enjoying it almost immediately. “Evelyn Wood, what’s the hurry, babe/We’re going faster than I think that we should.” It’s a delightful pop song, with a cool little instrumental section at the end. “Turrialba” is an incredibly short instrumental track (approximately thirty seconds), a mood piece. I’m curious in what direction the band would take it if it were to go on longer. For me, things then get even more interesting with “Selling Out,” an intriguing pop gem. “But everybody’s worried that you’re selling out/When you know you ought to be telling us/What’s in your heart instead.” This one too shows its Beatles influences. It’s followed by “Mrs. Kite,” another of this album’s most interesting songs, with some psychedelic vibes. And is this one’s title also a nod to The Beatles (“Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite”)?

“Too Hot To Sleep” has a mellower folk vibe, which works quite well with their vocals. I particularly like their voices on these lines: “Watching headlines on the wall/Hear your breathing rise and fall/By tomorrow you won’t recall/Tonight.” This is one of my favorites, and of course it’s a great song for the summer. “Sensation Overnight” also has something of a sweet folk sound, and is another of the disc’s highlights. Plus, check out these lines: “Cautiously glamorous/I rule the universe/And now/It’s turned upside down.” Yeah, the phrase “cautiously glamorous” stood out for me the first time I listened to this disc. The album then concludes with “Follow The Sunshine,” an innocent and fun pop song.

CD Track List
  1. Kits And Cats And Saxon Wives
  2. Cricket Time
  3. Sinking Feeling
  4. Evelyn Wood
  5. Twelve Songs
  6. Turrialba
  7. Selling Out
  8. Mrs. Kite
  9. Taking You To Leave Me
  10. Too Hot To Sleep
  11. All Day All Night
  12. Sensation Overnight
  13. Follow The Sunshine 
Kits And Cats And Saxon Wives was released on April 28, 2017 on Futureman Records.

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