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The Seatbelts’ Joy Ride (Super Torque) contains no surprises for anyone already familiar with the band or indeed anything that guitarist Rick Mills has put his name to in the past. Mills and fellow guitarist Chris Flanagan indulge in some frantic and frenetic, borderline obscene riffs that convey in vivid and lurid detail the very vibe one would wallow within if a joy ride were on the agenda. There are lyrics courtesy of smooth-as-jazz front man Greg Upshur, but the joy of the ride is in the surf rock cacophony. “Let’s go out to California,” Upshur sings on “American Bandstand”. Fuck that, quite frankly, though the awesome melody and Skid Marx’s bass boom is still appreciated.
The Belle Islanders feature this week’s City Slang star Dave Edwards of the Look. This is his cleverly named reggae band, and this Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us (Hanzie) album is surprisingly good. I say “surprisingly” because, be honest, how many rockers have you heard try their hand at reggae and the results not be abysmal. Thank God, Edwards made the wise decision to not put on a West Indian accent on tracks like the cover of “Dream Lover” and the title track and, while the songs don’t hit the mark every time, there’s fun to be had and it certainly isn’t as embarrassing as Snow’s “Informer”.
Local jazz singer Kathy Kosins is back with a new record, The Space Between (Little Tootsie/Maristar), an album which sees Kosins further explore the places that her infectious, hypnotic purr can take the listener. When she sings “Drowning in a sea of love” during the song of the same name, one could quite happily imagine drowning with her, and that’s only the beginning of the album. As she takes us on the journey of the following ten gorgeous tunes, this critic came to the conclusion that Kosins is some kind of jazz siren.
The Bus Stop Poets’ self-titled EP is an odd thing – it’s like the happiest, chirpiest indie rock recorded since the early Travis single “Happy”. “(It’s A) Beautiful Day,” they sing on the opening song that bears that name and, you know what, they’re right. The suns might not be blasting in a Michigan summer manner, but things could be worse. Bless you, you jangly power-poppy, alt-rock prophets. You made me smile in the rain.