CD Review: Todd May – Rickenbacker Girls
I have a tendency to lean toward guitar pop. You know, three minute twenty second songs with infectious melodies, chiming guitars and souring harmonies. And preferably up tempo start to finish. So Todd May’s Rickenbacker Girls is not my usual fare. I was not very familiar with his work but, having read that the title was a reference to the pilot’s daughters he knew in high school outside Rickenbacker Airforce Base, I found that interesting enough to give it a spin.
The one thing that’s good about roots rock or alt country, whatever you want to call it, is that it tends to be economical on ornamentation. The song, for better or worse, stands on it’s own. That’s what makes guys like Martin Zellar, Randy Weeks, The Jayhawks, and more recently, John Fulbright so compelling. These guys are out there, pretty much buck-nekked, to stand or fall on their songwriting merits alone.
For the most part, Todd May stands pretty tall with Rickenbacker Girls.
“Why Don’t You Come Out Lately” is a soulful number reminiscent a little bit of Dan Penn and one of my immediate favorites. “Left to Your Own Devices” is as close to an all-out country song as the LP has, and hints at what a descriptive storyteller May is. “Alphabet City” has been described as a post card from the city and probably the most radio friendly song on the LP.
“Your the kind of girl who rides on the hood of your cousins black Cammaro in the harvest parade…You’ve never been to Alphabet City. No you’ve never really been to the city at all….Nobody’s gonna mistake you for Nico and nobody’s gonna mistake me for John Cale. You’ve never been to Alphabet City. No you’ve never really been to the city at all”
A Velvet Underground reference…how could you not love that?
Finally, “Gadflies and Magpies” has guitars to die for and a sing along melody with a killer hook. It’ll put a smile on any powerpop fan’s face. If someone tried to convince me that it was originally written in the 60’s for The Monkees, I might just fall for it.
Those of us in North Carolina will have the opportunity to see Todd perform in Chapel Hill on April 18th @ The Cave (Early show). I plan to be there. You should too.
Below, watch the video for Todd May’s “Josephine Calling”.