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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Throwback Suburbia

Shotglass Souvenir

Review by Larry Toering

Throwback a shot and enjoy the Suburbia sounds of one of, if not the northwest's finest power pop band’s latest offering. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Throwback Suburbia has been around for some time now, making records and selling out shows in the immediate area and beyond. Their new CD is a well crafted piece of self produced work. It’s a album of classic retro and cutting edge modern music. Since they installed a fifth member on keyboards the songs have gained another dimension to round off their glossy but straight forward sound, and it's come full circle. Not enough can be said about the quality of musicianship they display. There’s a chemistry that works and that's often the make or break factor for a band. This is one group that understands everything about recording first class songs. There is good stuff throughout that continues to grow with each listen, but is also instantly recognizable for its sheer quality and goes from there. I'm convinced Throwback Suburbia can do no wrong.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Give and Take

Instant quality is what you hear when this infectious little riff pops in, and the vocal melody is just as strong. Even though everything on here is of this standard, this is a perfect way to start it all off. The sing-along factor is written all over this fabulous tune.

Setting Sun

Speaking of sing-along factor, it gets even better on this track, which is a contender for the best on offer here. One just has to hear it to fully appreciate what I mean, but if any chorus should remain on repeat, it can be found here. This is excellent!

It's You

This CD contains a lot of similar songs but that is a good thing. This is just another great song to add to them all. The vibe is so strong at this point, that there is no turning back as these songs are just hard to not like. The falsetto comes on strong on this one too, accompanied by some snappy guitar fills that go along with those vocal parts.

Here Again

The tempo drops a notch here on this beautiful ballad, yet it's up there with the best of these tunes. The lyrics are what really drive this one from start to finish. This gives the listener a chance to relax and absorb what's going on musically. This is great stuff!

Down To Love

This is definitely a high point on the disc. It's just so good, yet somehow so Portland in essence. It has that special something that makes it identifiable that way. All of these cuts are danceable pop tunes in structure, but this is also one that holds other qualities. The piano textures from their latest addition to the group really stand out here as well. In some ways this is probably one of the best songs here. It's just surrounded by such goodness that it's not an easy job to call.

Sinking Feeling
What a fine little gem this is, one of the more Beatles-like tunes, as there are several. Of course, that means the Beatles are an influence on this group, but not that the song could be mistaken for the Fab Four. This is a different time and place.
Side Effects

This also has a real Portland vibe to it, as well as a familiarity I can't quite nail, but there is little need for that, as it just grows on its own and I easily forget that much about it. The title is mentioned here, so it's a significant track within the set that way. It's a fine ballad with both modern and retro factors to keep it balanced perfectly, with an over all classic doo wop feel.

Caroline
This is one of the harder hitting moments of the disc, with drummer Mike Collins providing a powerhouse performance, lots of cowbell and all. I can't think of one song titled “Caroline” that I don't like, as I add this to a list of several. I love the background vocals here too, as spot on as anywhere else on the disc. Still, they are especially good here. When they come back for the final build up and then drive it all home, the level of songwriting just can’t be denied.
Best of Intentions
This is a slower groove, another essential ballad that finds the vocals stretching out a bit, going naturally into territory not found elsewhere here. For some reason it's one of the better vocal performances, and this features a killer guitar solo. It has to be one of my hot picks for those reasons. Your mileage certainly might vary, but I love this at least as much as anything on offer here.
Get Her off My Mind

This has an almost funky vibe, but still contains all the same stuff to be found on every track here. It's just a little more experimental, with a kind of choppy arrangement.

Neither Here Nor There
Lately I've noticed a good thing concerning final tracks on albums, as they seem to be paid more attention to in the department of momentum. Some of the time the last track usually appeals the least, but some have been stepping it up and this is a good example. This belongs anywhere on the disc, and goes to show how difficult it might be to arrange tracks, or perhaps how easy on the other hand.
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