Sunrise Highway’s self-titled album (independently released in 2010) struck a chord with a few power pop fans. Although not a patch on the sole album from the sadly missed Oranjuly, it had a homespun appeal and some of the tunes (‘Life on Mars’, especially) showed great promise. Four years on, their ‘Windows’ full length was picked up for wider distribution by Kool Kat Musik (home of DIY singer-songwriter Stephen Lawrenson, Cleaners From Venus etc). For those expecting more of the lighter tones of that earlier record – particularly the jauntier Brian Wilson/Jellyfish inspired piano tunes – ‘Windows’ may come as a disappointment.
As far as homages to the early Beatles are concerned, The Rutles will always be the best loved, but then their songs were strongly modelled on the already very familiar. As superb as the parody evident in the likes of ‘Number One’ and ‘Goose Step Mama’ may be, they will always be just that – parody. On this, their second disc, New York’s Merseypunk pioneers Beat Rats show they clearly love The Beatles’ early work as much as Neil Innes does, but although the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll prevail, they’ve been far less tempted to use obvious existing templates to create their brand of fun. As far as celebrating the sounds of the very early sixties are concerned, you won’t find much that’s more authentic sounding.
On his 2012 full-length LP ‘A Shade of Orange’, Dorset based singer-songwriter Nick Capaldi championed a whole world of sixties pop and rock influences with stunning results. Whether tackling the R&B grit of ‘You Ain’t No Woman To Me’, the hard beating soul of ‘Read Into Me’ or the sun-filled, Hollies-influenced pure pop of ‘You As an Island’, one thing was obvious: he was an artist to watch. His follow up release, the 2013 EP ‘The Golden Summer’ proves that Capaldi is more than just a one-shot deal, its four original songs equally as good as anything on the debut.
Somewhere behind the retro childrens’ book artwork and drab brown packaging, Stephen Lawrenson delivers ten pieces of relatively sunny adult power pop on his debut release for Kool Kat. Fans of the genre will undoubtedly have fun in spotting the dozens of influences this particular singer-songwriter has twisted into his own vision, but while, by the time of its closing notes, ‘Obscuriosity’ has found its feet to become a great piece of work, it doesn’t actually start off too impressively…