With Regards, Archie Noble

Let’s start with the obvious: If you like the Beatles — especially their early recordings — you’ll find a lot to love about Archie Noble. Indeed, With Regards, Archie Noble has the sound of a love letter to an earlier era of music. And while it’s tempting to call it a “simpler” era of music, that would be a grave error. Yes, the recordings are presented in mono and any studio effects are limited to some heavy reverb on the vocal tracks, With Regards represents a painstaking re-creation of a genre that some might considered lost: Mersey Beat (aka Mersey Sound or Liverpool Sound).

To be certain, the songs collected herein are not cover versions. Rather, they’re original tunes — mostly love songs, defined broadly and taking various forms — performed by Noble in the style of bands like Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, Peter and Gordon, and Chad and Jeremy.

Central to the success of Noble’s approach to music is that he’s not playing the nostalgia card for laughs or, for that matter, the sake of nostalgia. This is the music of neither the Rutles nor the Wonders, nor even Beatlemania, for that matter. It’s the music of an artist with an ear for jazzy chord changes and endearing, homespun harmonies who also happens to have a mop-top haircut.

Discovering Archie Noble is like stumbling upon a 60s beat group that somehow never got old and has managed over the course of the intervening decades to stay true to the music they love. Think of it as the musical equivalent of a Wes Anderson movie: a deceptively simple retro package containing an aesthetically complex tapestry of emotions.

Tetley: Born in the TS6

I’ve been listening to a lot of music that might be termed “retro” lately, and my friends in Thee Rakevines (who also make some pretty cool retro-sounding music) recently recommended an artist named Tetley, who falls very neatly into that category. His latest release, Born in the TS6, draws on a classic garage-rock sound to delve into contemporary issues. The songs call to mind a range of bands of previous decades. For example, the opening track, “The Lake,” sounds like a combination of the Moody Blues (particularly their 1973 hit “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band”) and the Jam (especially “Thick as Thieves” from their 1979 Setting Sons album). Echoes of both bands — along with hints of the Stone Roses and (possibly?) Oasis –waft through the remainder of the six-song EP. Heavy doses of reverb and phasing effects give the tracks a swirling psychedelic feel, while a driving beat propels the proceedings forward at a steady pace that straddles the tenuous divide between anger and fun. Altogether, Born in the TS6 is a great collection of songs that has the feel of catching a really cool, hip, and groovy underground band at a seaside resort somewhere in time between 1965 and the present day. Pretty excellent organ-playing, too.

MCCC on the Air Interview

Huge thanks to Michele Cuomo for interviewing me on Montgomery County Community College on the Air! In this interview, I talk about music, teaching, writing, the Beatles’ White Album, my new book about the Beach Boys, and my good friend Tom Powers. I also share a demo of asong I’ve been working on, “Someday Soon.”

Listen to the interview here: MCCC on the Air Interview