I like smart pop music. Sometimes I like lightly-textured tunes that feature a catchy melodic line that makes me bob my head while I drive – or write – or do whatever. Usonia – the trio from Minneapolis who went to Iowa to record this little disc have captured a hybrid of sonic nostalgia and tech-lite resulting in a disc that I can’t seem to stop playing.
The warmth and humor come through as clearly as their musical influences that are deeply entrenched in the Beatles and sounds of the 60s. “Good-Luck Goodbye” feels like a pop concert on the U.S.S. Enterprise. Picture Captain Kirk and Uhura doing some space-age version of the pony.
Ross Vander Werf’s vocals are allover the map. He goes from plaintive to powerful. The vocal timbre is complimented by the (sometimes) odd instrumentation. Vander Werf also plays guitars and keyboard.
Zack Carroll – guitars/accordion – is clearly one of the reasons for the textural pastiche. He adds sounds and ideas in the empty spaces filling the sound up – but not overdoing it.
George Hadfield – bass/keys – keeps a relatively low profile until “Three Hours” where he comes roaring in. His understated playing – though -is choice – not lack of ability. Listen close.
If there is a problem with this disc – is that it is only 10 songs. I would have loved a few more cuts of music this smart. Usonia has released a perfectly constructed and performed collection of music. Their next disc will not be self-released (unless that is what they choose.)
Stand Out Tracks
The History of Ghosts
It’s Your Night
History of Ghosts
I Am Happy Now
Off You Go