Just in time to kick off the new school year on an upbeat note (no pun intended), The Bazillions have gifted us with their third kindie rock album, Rock-n-Roll Yearbook. The album’s 12 tracks build on what a solid fan base has come to know as their 1960’s-esque pop rock sound complete with fine-tuned vocal harmonies. This concept album follows the arc of a full school year and kicks-off with the high energy song Back at School which lyrically speaks to what there is to look forward to at the start of a new school year. The album continues with songs themed around ubiquitous childhood experiences like learning to take turns, how getting a new pair of shoes makes you feel like a super hero (too true, we adults also know all too well there is nothing quite like a new pair of awesome kicks), and celebrating the end of the school year. One stand out track is Who, What, When, Where, Why which shows off singer-songwriters Adam and Kristin Marshall’s educator’s background. The song lyrically speaks to curiosity and questioning and using the question words to help organize and solve problems. Musically the song is encapsulated in an R.E.M-esque jangle rock groove. Good Stuff. Another great track that again, sound-wise, echoes the 80’s era of ska/ rockabilly/ mod rock fusion is Wide Open World of Adjectives. By the second to last track, Keep Your Identity Safe, the 80’s ska and rock sound drops off and we find ourselves listening to a quiet, contemplative folk song that is much more in line with one of the band’s original influences, the 1960’s folk rock group The Mamas and Papas. Stem to stern, Rock-n-Roll Yearbook is a fun, high-energy, family-friendly way to embracing the start of the new school year. Rock-n-Roll Yearbook drops on August 25th.
Early September brings us Brighter Side, the eighth full-length Gustafer Yellowgold release from Grammy nominated songwriter/cartoonist Morgan Taylor. Brighter Side is a continuation of alien Gustafer Yellowgold’s adventures here on earth and his recollections of his former life on the sun. The album is divided into “earth” themed songs and “sun” themed songs which together, explore experiences of this little alien’s life that are complex. Hot Nights (featuring Pat Sansone from Wilco), one of the “sun” songs, talks about how difficult it was for Gustafer Yellowgold to sleep while living on the sun because it was so physically hot. This falls into stark contrast with the “earth” songs Lucky Day and Meet Me by the Fun which speak to his charmed life in the Minnesota woods where he currently resides. Conceptually, this album mirrors the journey of self-awareness that occurs in children as they reach the age of 8-9 years old. They start to take in a more nuanced view of the world and try to find their own identity within this world that is opening up to them. In this same way, Brighter Side challenges listeners young and old to remain optimistic despite the ups and downs of life. All of this wrapped into 1970’s inspired indie pop complete with wonderfully infectious hooks. You will be singing along in no time! Brighter Side releases on September 8th. In the meantime, check out Hot Nights music video, the first single off the album.