Live In NYC

Lannie Flowers

Spyderpop Records, 2014

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Power pop is often my musical comfort food of choice. For whatever reason, the sound of twin guitars, a driving backbeat, and smartly-arranged gang vocals consistently lifts my mood. There’s just something inherently endearing and affirming about the genre that the Beatles took from prototype to perfection.

In all honesty (and honesty is what we peddle here), there is nothing that really stands out about Lannie Flowers’ new disc Live In NYC other than this: he means it. Flowers understands and respects and inhabits the power pop genre completely, delivering every note and word of every song with a genuine passion and commitment that elevates the familiar to the compelling.

Opener “I Didn’t Know” exemplifies Flowers and band’s approach, with an anthemic opening that dives directly into the first verse, thundering along until the first guitar solo kicks in at 1:18, lasting all of 11 seconds. It’s all about concision: riff, verse, chorus, solo, rinse, repeat and you’re out. Flowers’ excellent band features Alan Davis on guitar and keyboards, Rodney Bollinger on guitar, Neil Schnell on bass, Brandon Bumpas on drums, and everyone on background vocals.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Okay, there is one really interesting thing about Flowers: while it’s not a constant thing, at certain times on certain songs, the Texas native sounds eerily like Mick Jagger. On “Around The World” it’s all very Lannie, bouncy chords and soaring verses until you get to the chorus and a little Mick sneaks into his phrasing. Interestingly, the Jagger tone seems to come out the most on the tunes where Flowers deploys acoustic rhythm guitar, as on “Favorite Song” and “Rusty Circles” (not to mention the latter features an organ that feels like it was lifted from the session for “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”).

Toward the middle of this set, captured live at The Trash Bar in Brooklyn, “All Dressed Up” has a bit of a snarly edge to it, before they move into a reverent cover of Big Star’s “Back of a Car.” And really, shouldn’t every power-pop band in existence give a nod to Alex Chilton and friends at some point? “Another Weekend” is a highlight, its surging opening riffs and spacious arrangement bearing more than a passing resemblance to The Who’s immortal rendition of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues.” It’s a fresh entry in the grand tradition of songs about getting to the weekend and busting loose.

Even the bass and drum solos tucked into “I Don’t Know” are remarkably concise by rock standards, and flow naturally right back into the song. The two encores are among the best cuts here. “Circles,” the title track from Flowers’ most recent solo outing, encapsulates what he does so well, starting with heavy guitars, then dropping quickly into a melodic verse, with a searching, longing quality to the vocals and lyric. It’s both intelligent and rocking in a very tight 2:44. Closer “Turn Up Your Radio” is one more descendant of Chuck Berry’s “Rock n’ Roll Music,” urging the listener to “Turn up your radio / And have a good time tonight / Just let yourself go and / Everything’ll be all right.“

Live In NYC captures Lannie Flowers and band in their natural environment, playing their hearts out for an appreciative club audience. It might not be rocket science, but it’s damned fine rock and roll.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2014 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Spyderpop Records, and is used for informational purposes only.