Explorer Tapes – Self-Titled
This 14-cut CD was produced/recorded in 2015. The typical reason it never saw the light of day, until now, is the standard record company regime change. So, it resided for 6 years with no interest in releasing the “product.” It’s a sad industry reality that has happened for years. Even notable bands like Jules (Shear) & the Polar Bears on Columbia had their final LP shelved for years. If a record label doesn’t show interest after 3 years (not 6) you’d think they’d lease the masters to a small label. Give it a chance.
I say this because 6 years of absence can be deadly. There’s a good chance this has passed its freshness date despite fine performances & excellent production value. Fortunately, Omnivore in conjunction with Warner Brothers has teamed now to make this a reality.
This self-titled debut Explorer Tapes (drops Aug 13) finds the 2 Texas composers Max Townsley (Vocals/Guitars/Electric Sitar) & Drew Erickson (Vocals/Piano/Hammond B3/Clavinet/Horn Arrangements) with producer Mike Elizondo (Basses/Keyboards) playing durable attractive melodic tunes.
The duo initially sought a publishing deal. They were signed by Warners who recorded these sessions then shelved them as new regimes will do. Despite their hit for Keith Urban (“Texas Time”).
The other songs bloom with similarities to writing teams such as Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart (“Out & About,” “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight”), & Godley & Crème (10cc). But Max & Drew’s material falls short of the excitement quotient sparked by an Elton John & Bernie Taupin, Carole King & Gerry Goffin (“Run To Him,” “Up On the Roof”), Ellie Greenwich & Jeff Barry (“Da Doo Run Run,” “River Deep, Mountain High”).
These songs are commerciality rich for mainstream consumption. That’s not bad. They’re better than Diane Warren. Some work well within that framework. They have jewels in their bag of tunes: “Julia,” is lovely. “Kids These Days” is superb. Could’ve been part of a Broadway musical about city streets. “Change Looks Good On You,” if tweaked is a potential Steely Dan song with its good groove, melody, & performance. “Radio,” is sweet & 60s pop.
“Everybody’s Crazy,” & “Sunset Strip,” are well-written ballads with good lyrics. “Easy To Love,” is as shiny as 10cc (“I’m Not In Love”). Some tunes are simply dated while others retain potential.
The majority are pop-oriented songs but good ones. They’re high quality that with luck could splash in the commercial mainstream. Musicians: Aaron Sterling (drums), Danny T. Levin (Trumpet), David Mayer (Tenor Sax), Ross Gasworth (Cello), Michelle Gasworth (Viola), Katie Sloan (Violin), & Roger Manning Jr. (Keyboards).
The 52-minute CD is available @ http://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/explorer-tapes/