“Honey and Tears” Album Review

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May 15, 2015 --- If you’re from Boston and have even the slightest iota of local music cred, you know Richie Parsons, the scrappy ringleader of the Boston punk band Unnatural Axe back in the tail end of the seventies. That group of Dorchester hooligans responsible for “They Saved Hitler’s Brain”  were influenced by the likes of The Ramones and the legion of pop references that drove that three minute, three chord freight train. Heck Ritchie even released a 7” with The Gremies as part of the surf punk influence that bred the band Agent Orange ( who’s guitar pogo stick  Arnson would eventually birth The Insect Surfers, one of the most relevant instro bands playing today.)

This hip quartet is no stranger to pumping out addictive melodies about modern day romance; case in point: 2010's "Animal." It's hard, nearly impossible to deny the rhythmic finger tapping, head bobbing contagion of this hit single.  

Thereafter, circa 2012, the bondonis of sound boldly reminded us how "Everybody Talks." So perhaps  Pop Psychology is a much needed therapy session for the masses... ...giving love struck listeners a solid dose of hip danceable tracks fused with a romantic, modern day psyche-tapping sound that we all so desperately need.

Back in the day he couldn’t “wait ‘til the summertime.” Now thirty years plus years fast forward to Ritchie lamenting on the seasons spent. It’s the stuff of pop fodder for sure but delivered with a refined sincerity, the same that fueled Parsons snarl in his youth, the tracks laid down here result in a new confection of pop perfection.

Teaming up with Ken Stringfellow of The Posies fame was an inspired choice. Where once was  crunching walls of power bar chords, now are vulnerable but equally evocative open chords a la Big Star (the legendary band which Stringfellow reunited with Alex Chilton in the nineties.)  The eponymous Brother Cleve provides lush key fills beneath deft harmonies creating at times a Phil Specter-esque vibe to many of the tracks. He even throws in a little accordion into the mix to good effect.

Parson shares a keen pop sensibility not unlike his Boston bred peer Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne (previously a member of the country twang Boston band Blood Oranges.) In fact many of the tracks here have a country inspired feel, more Roy Orbison/Chess Records old school, not the new fangled roots style now on the post-Mumfords airwaves. Perhaps it is Stringfellow’s recent dabbling in that style bleeding through or perhaps it is  that a good pop song sounds like a good pop song no matter the genre.

This is a soundtrack for the season, a male version of the best of  Best Coast. The track “Evelyn” echoes of the Beach Boys“ Let’s Go Away For Awhile.” I did hope that the track “Summer” was going to be a remake of the Unnatural Axe single. The closest to a harkening back to his former days is the song “Mix Tape.” It has hooks as sharp as anything off ofWeezer’s (again Boston roots here folks) notable “Everything Will Be Alright In The End “ release from 2014. Let this be said, if the radio waves weren’t reduced to godless corporate drivel, the lead track from side one (yes this has “sides”) “When Fall Begins” should be flooding the airwaves. But alas…

Richie hasn’t forgotten his roots, he has grown up, savoring that which drove him years ago. The matured brew is still slightly sour, but mulled with an optimistic melancholy. - Miss Stacey (former publisher, Cheeseball Magazine).

Honey and Tears by Ritchie Parsons was released on July 1, 2014. It can be purchased by logging onto his bandcamp page or by visiting CDBaby.com or by logging onto Amazon.com.

CD Review by Miss Stacey/Need406.com - Copyright © 2015 Need406.com - All Rights Reserved.

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