December Friend – Splendor Never Dies
This collection has a pop edge in the tradition of the old 70s English bands like Stackridge, Korgis, Klaatu & New Muzik. With their upbeat, melodic storytelling style it’s actually refreshing since it’s modernized & contemporary. It’s rock’s easy listening.
Produced by Jeff Victor & John Wlaysewski the 43-minute CD with its 10 songs makeup Splendor Never Dies (Drops March 24–Mifflin Street). Songs like “Should We Be Dancing,” & “Slow Smiles,” while not sounding like The Kinks it does reflect the Ray Davies school of songwriting.
The Minneapolis-based December Field is an indie-rock collaboration with Joel Leviton, Jeff Victor & John Wlaysewski. Though recorded home remotely in studios in Minneapolis & Brooklyn, NY the songs are basically upbeat, dipped liberally in psychedelia & generational shifts, examining the overlooked beauty in an ever-increasing difficult world with multiple vocals that blend seamlessly into each song.
“Always Something Special,” – with titles like that it’s all reminiscent of the catchy pop-rock The Beatles shined up way back when. And December Friend succeeds in many of their compositions. They apparently take their time constructing each line of their lyrics. With descriptive pieces, virtually no cliches, sentences that sound like they came from natural conversations & words chosen that are seldom if ever used in song lyrics. They sometimes come close to an obscure excellent band The Beaver Brothers (“Ventriloquisms”) who also wove songs of clever tales with catchy melodies & dynamics in their vocals. “Every Flower Every Scar,” is exceptional.
Leviton’s songs are penetrating observations, yet they maintain the order of attracting ears with their perfect marriage of lyrical images & compelling music. Are these songs fodder for today’s radio? Probably not, but a crafty DJ who discovers these hidden gems will no doubt find something worth airing to an audience who may be weary of the repetitious dance tunes with their techno soulless beats & treated vocals.
Some people like processed American cheese but many would prefer cheddar. This music is cheddar. This is why it’s worthy of Americana-Roots music. It tries to maintain a traditional music genre (taste) that has managed to shoulder its way through the mainstream for decades. That’s gutsy.
Highlights – “Should We Be Dancing,” “Slow Smiles,” “Always Something Special,” “Every Flower Every Scar,” “B’s Magic Sound,” “Skater Kid” & the superb “Ghost In the Wind.”