Saturday, July 25, 2015

Love Love: “Love Love” (2015) CD Review

Love Love is a fairly new Boston band centered on two talented singers and songwriters, Chris Toppin and Jefferson Davis Riordan, along with Darren Ray on lead guitar. You might recall Chris Toppin from the 1990s band Fuzzy, and Jefferson Davis Riordan from Evelyn Swoons. The band’s self-titled debut album finds them joined by several guest musicians, including Eric Schmider, Aaron Gelb and Joe Klompus, all of whom played together in The One Smith (previously known as Mollycoddle). This CD features mostly original material and boasts some great tracks, like “Dreaming” and “I Like You Weird.”

It opens with “Murderpedia,” which was the first song that Chris Toppin and Jefferson Davis Riordan worked on together. It’s a good, solid rock tune, with rather unusual lyrics. Check out these lines: “Angelita of Barcelona/Rescued alive from a witch’s lair/Told tales of ten young girls before her/Made into potions sold at the fair.” Chris Toppin takes lead vocal duties, cutting loose, particularly on the chorus.  Jonathan Ulman plays drums, and Winston Braman plays bass on this track. “Murderpedia” is followed by “Hey Fella,” with Jefferson Davis Riordan on lead vocals. This tune has a good, slow groove, and again with some interesting lyrics. “Hey fella/You’ve got a face looks out of place everywhere that it’s been shown round” and “She knows one of these days you’re going to have to right what she made wrong.” This track features Russell Chudnofsky on guitar and Joe Klompus on bass.

For me, however, the album begins getting really good with its third track, “Dreaming,” a song that pulls me in almost immediately with these lines: “Just let me be/In love with fantasy/A child with a child’s ability to make things easy.” It’s a strangely gorgeous and haunting song, and I love the way their vocals work together. “Why did you, why did you have to stop dreaming?” This is also the first track on the album to feature horns. That’s Aaron Gelb on tenor sax, Cale Israel on trombone and Ezra Weller on trumpet.

“Dreaming” is followed by another of my favorites, “Big Backyard Moon,” which starts off sweetly, in the folk realm, with Chris singing, “Though there’s trouble all around us/I still love you/And I want you to know/Everything is gonna be all right.” It’s pretty, and I love it, but when the song kicks in, it gets even better, with a good country rock vibe. This is a song to make you feel good. And then suddenly the horns come in, taking the song up another notch. This is a wonderful song.

Their vocals are at the center of “Bailing,” which opens with a section sung a cappella. It’s beautiful, but it’s when the song kicks in that I really begin to love it. There is something fun about this song. I really dig the percussion on this track. Jonathan Ulman is on drums, and Matt Tahaney is on percussion. “No place safe when water’s on the rise/There ain’t no place to escape to but into each other’s eyes.” And when Chris sings “Stick it out with me,” the power of her voice reminds me of Leslie Knauer (of Kanary).

I seriously love “I Like You Weird.” As you might guess, it’s a fun song with a certain sense of humor. This is the kind of love song I can sink my teeth into and relate to. I’m not sure my girlfriend will appreciate knowing that this song reminds me of her, so let’s just not tell her, okay? “I like you weird/I like you off your rocker/Go nuts, baby, just take me along with you/Yeah, I might be queer/But you’re looking better and better.” Aaron Gelb is on tenor sax and Ezra Weller is on trumpet on this track.

“Sunday Morning” is one of album’s most interesting songs, with a kind of dark tone at times, and with two distinct perspectives, the dual lead vocals working as a sort of conversation. “I’m not going through this anymore with you.” It’s followed by “Skin,” another powerful and unusual track.

“Lost Battle” is another highlight, with some wonderful vocals. The album concludes with its only cover, “Bright Morning Stars,” a traditional song also known as “Bright Morning Stars Are Rising.” The track begins with a little studio banter, which is unnecessary but doesn't mar this beautiful rendition, performed a cappella.

CD Track List
  1. Murderpedia
  2. Hey Fella
  3. Dreaming
  4. Big Backyard Moon
  5. Bailing
  6. Maryland
  7. I Like You Weird
  8. Wide Open Skies
  9. Winter Changes Everything
  10. Sunday Morning
  11. Skin
  12. Leave Myself
  13. Lost Battle
  14. Bright Morning Stars
Love Love is scheduled to be released on October 16, 2015. 

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