\Nero Simon and the Sunsetters – Treasure Chest
This debut collection is a varied showcase of catchy radio-friendly tunes & the group sounds good. It starts with a Beach Boys-like “Treasure Chest,” with the added tastiness of a sax. The vocals are bright & though they don’t have the complicated harmonies of The Beach Boys this music does take a deeper dive into Beach Boys’ more serious era. With none of their abstractions. A well interpreted soft-rock potpourri.
The song even feels like its origins are not California but the Keys of Florida & the Gulf. A nice sunny shift. The band glides easily from one style to another on varied subjects. Retro convertibles, cheap sunglasses & dollar store sandals. Yet, when they touch upon topics like bad decisions, money, doomed romances, road trips & just wanting to escape – they take nods to past pop-rock & put a nice splash into the currents.
“Forever,” moves from the Beach Boys & introduces Melissa Mason’s vocals – a blend of Christine McVie/Christine Collister smokiness with Nero’s lead vocal. The song is mindful of mid-60s groups that also had melodic brief charmful songs like The Beach Nuts’ 1965 hit “Out In the Sun.”
Out of 10 cuts, I found 7 that were delightful. The lyrics are simplistic but never silly. There are gin & juicy moments but most importantly the band doesn’t create empty-headed amusements. There are inspiring contours in many compositions & the simply lovely “When the Lovin’s Good,” is one.
The Atlanta, Georgia recorded CD produced by Nero Simon, Treasure Chest (Drops March 18–Islamorada) & surprisingly moves from the light beach songs to the more incendiary “Starboard (Escape To Cozumel).” It has good lead guitar & a David Luckhurst (Crazy House) type approach. While not as over-produced as Crazy House (“The Whole Creation,” “Shake,” “Heaven Said My Name,” “Find The Words To Change Your Mind”) it touches that rim.
The songs are sprinkled with good grooves. Nothing on this effort is overdone, pompous, or too retro. The most retro thing is that it adds past ingredients & musical flavors but never as its main focus. From that high-spirited Luckhurst depth, Nero Simon and the Sunsetters take “Blue Heaven,” into a Tony Carey (Planet P) “Pink World,” territory without its 1984 tragic overtones. “Blue Heaven” is a musically layered beauty with chiming guitars.
“Ocracoke,” has bright acoustic guitar & is well performed. The finale’s a cover of the solo Jay Ferguson (Spirit) song “Thunder Island,” from 1977 — done with finesse with a Jimmy Buffet spin & hot lead guitar. It fits nicely. Group image courtesy of their website. The 41-minute CD is available @ https://www.nerosimon.com/
The band: Nero (guitar/vocals), Melissa Mason (vocals), Sam Ross (drums), Steve Flores (guitar), Marcus Durham (bass), Michael Lyman (percussion), & Michael Hester (keys).