Josh Ottum - Watch TV (Tapete Records)

Josh Ottum - Watch TV (Tapete Records)

Thrilling revival of all that is good about 70's AM rock and a certain 80's high fidelity sound (you know you love it), from America's Pacific Northwest. Goin gone has authentic prog-pop chops (a bit like a calmer Darwin Deez) and a knockout chorus (two different ones, in fact) that recalls the theme tune to The Greatest American Hero. The spectre of Chicago (the band) hangs comfortably around the twin guitar solo of Fool in the night. The very next song, Storms in the summertime, takes a left turn with synth gurgles and handclap syncopations - sounding quite like a 21st century Steely Dan - underlining the experimental heart beneath the pop hooks. The gorgeous male falsetto of Green in the sun belongs on primetime television (not a putdown), which is appropriate given the title of the album. Not built for two seems at first like the type of electric piano ballad not heard since Dean Friedman's I am in love with a McDonald's girl, but it reveals decidedly more depth as you are thrown pleasantly off-balance by the tempo shifts and free jazz cymbal squalls. Throughout, the laconic, underdog vocal cuts through the plastic textures and deliberate pop clichés like a knife (oh go on so, a "hot" one) through butter. Also the production is a joy, as you'd expect from something recorded with Richard Swift and Casey Foubert. A joy of an album that provides a pretty good answer to the question "What is the The Underground of Happiness?"

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