February 20, 2019

Ben Poole – Anytime You Need Me – Manhaton

By Kristi Kates | Nov. 24, 2018


Poole’s latest is a somewhat short effort, with only eight songs, but the tracks themselves have enough depth that you’ll find this worth repeated listens. “Take It No More” is a tune that’s actually over a year old, and while good, it also shows how far the bluesman has evolved since then. More impressive are the balanced grooves of “You Could Say,” the Lindsey Buckingham tones of “Further On Down the Line,” and the set’s two covers, including Poole’s spare take on Jude Cole’s “Start the Car.” ***

Like Pacific – In Spite of Me – Pure Noise
Like Pacific returns for its sophomore album, often the “make or break” moment of a band’s career, and for the most part, they take the safe route here. The tracks here are very reminiscent of their first collection of songs — a kind of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, right down to the familiar riffs of “Admittance” and “Had it Coming.” That said, they’re catchy enough tunes, with fired-up vocals, streetwise lyrics, and beats that keep propelling the set forward with plenty of energy. **

State Champs – Living Proof – Pure Noise
Pop-punkers State Champs, hailing from Albany, New York, brought in a host of co-writers for this set, among them All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth and members of Blink-182. As a result, the tracklist is a little uneven in quality, although opener “Criminal” immediately catches with its spiky guitars and head-nodding beat. Other highlights include the dual-guitar attack of  “Crystal Ball” and the faintly romantic “Frozen” (Elsa not included). If you’re a collector, make sure you snag the white vinyl version, which sounds great and looks even cooler. ** ½

Downpilot – This is the Sound – Tapete Records
The “down” in Downpilot is pretty literal on this album, with the Paul Hiraga-fronted band taking on a pretty dark tone both lyrically and instrumentally. There’s plenty of political commentary, as evident on “Historian,” “High and Guided,” and “Thievers,”  but while there’s plenty of edgy aggression audible as the band airs its opinions, the assault is cushioned a little by subtly executed synth lines and textured violin riffs. ** ½


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