“Up In Flames”/“Traveling Song”
* * * 1/2 / * * * *
BEST IN THE WEST
If all The Strangers had going for them was Alex Pollak’s magnificent blues growl, they would still have enough to distinguish themselves from their contemporaries in both the teenage scene they emerged from and the garage-rock boom they align themselves with. It helps a lot that their first two singles, “Up In Flames” and “Traveling Song,” are really fucking great. The former is held back by its banal lyrics but contains some great guitar work and builds smoothly but powerfully from a gawky teenage love song to a heart-on-fire exhortation. The latter is even better, starting as a chugging blues before exploding into a fuck-all guitar stampede that finds a medium between blues-rock pastiche and the spastic garage-punk of Thee Oh Sees and the Ty Segall Band.
GIRL NAMED T
“I Fell In Love With The World Today”
* * * *
The first single from Girl Named T’s upcoming sophomore album, Wait By The Rabbit Hole, showcases Theresa Sawi’s ability to write pop songs that are sugary but not saccharine, infectious but not bothersome. “I Fell In Love With The World Today” sounds like a ‘70s piano rocker filtered through a contemporary Top 40 song, keeping only the best of both--the celebratory, twirling-in-the-street vibe of Elton John or Jeff Lynne’s Electric Light Orchestra and the radio-friendly sheen of the latter. Yet unusually for a pop tune this tight, there’s a bliss-out factor--it’s as easy to lean your head back and ride the good vibes as it is to dance to this song.