Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Parthenon Huxley Thank You Bethesda 2013

There is a power pop thing going on here for sure, but there's also that perfect pop rock record ala Fountains Of Wayne's Welcome Interstate Managers. There are comparisons galore (Sloan, Crenshaw, The Hang Ups, Tim Easton), but Huxley makes it all his own. This is a genre that is derivative by nature, so when an artist can stay within a style and yet express himself so clearly, well, you should pay attention.

Huxley is certainly no newcomer, having made solo discs and produced and written songs for other artists since 1988. He's had a way with a hook from the beginning. A particularly strong songwriter, an above average singer, a hot shit guitar player: what else is there? Well, his arrangements are always interesting.

The hard-rocking title track kicks things off in fine style, a tribute to either nature or hallucinogens. Angelino is a fine riff rocker with a funny "becoming a star" lyric. Luckiest Man is a sweet love ballad that is neither cloying or trite. Buddha, Buddha has a fun lyric hung on a terrific song structure, and three great guitar leads, two from hot shot guests. And a fine Wurlitzer break from Daniel Clarke. Long Way To Go is a lonely road song that leads into a hot lead guitar.

Beautiful shuffles in for a nicely different take on a classic love song theme. A long look back at the thrills and chills of real life is the mid-tempo Roller Coaster, and it includes some super guitar from Huxley and another shining moment from keyboardist Clarke. A Feeling That Won't Fade Away is an airy, acoustic guitar driven soft rock that is a pleasant surprise. Huxley takes on everyone's reference, The Beatles, with Love Is The Greatest Thing, and manages to turn a Beatlesesque intro into a gutsy guitar rocker with a first rate hook-filled chorus. The CD ends with the closing ballad Turn The Soil, another long look at aging that is written to perfection.

The real difference here is the consistent song quality. Well, that and Huxley's many exceptional skills. Huxley has given us a CD that doesn't require any track skipping. Put it on and play the whole thing. An album, the old fashioned way.

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