Alex Siodmak is from Casale Monferrato in Northern Italy and with the assistance of friends, Davide Ghione, Sebastiano D’Alessandro and Riccardo Marchese, he is Sunbourne Rd.  Now available on CD, and previously only available as downloads, the 19 tracks present on “Manners maketh men” represent all of the 18 tracks included on Sunbourn Rd.’s three digital releases. Buy it at Kool Kat Musik.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Alex about experience, inspiration, and the experience of total freedom.

And, of course, about “Manners maketh men”. Power Pop Rock Perfection!

How did this record come together?

Alex Siodmak: Here’s how it started. Ray Gianchetti, the boss at Kool Kat Musik, contacted me because he was particularly interested in one of the three works I had recently made, “Teenage Lyrics,” a collection of singles. From there, it was easy to decide to merge a bit of my recent career and bring the last 2 EPs on the very same album.

I appreciate the variety of this cd. The songs are very different because the three discs we put together come from different experiences. My writing has changed a lot in the last period.

Ah, the disc price is also excellent. There are 19 songs. I keep you company for an hour.

How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?

Writing is such a cathartic experience. And even though I now know how to master the tricks of the trade (I mean that I am well aware that I can also write on request), certainly starting from my experience and inspiration is something else. Maybe I’m a little selfish. After all, the music I make must, first of all, meet my standards, and curiosity is one of them. I am always curious to know what I did a few months before: what I felt and how I explored this condition in musical form.

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

Absolutely! As I said before. There is no better way to open up to the world than through your music. But when you want to do it in real life, just by talking, here come the filters. You begin to evaluate a bit of everything, including the consequences, more or less practical, of the things you will say. For me, writing is singing your emotionality, and it proves to be an experience of total freedom.

You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? And why?

Oh, God. Ok, this will be a “no Beatles answer” because it would be obvious.

I would say: John Prine; he had this refined eloquence; Ken Stringfellow, he’s probably the most underrated artist of recent years, and in the 60s, he would have given Brian Wilson a hard time. I love him so much, and sooner or later, I wish we could cross our paths; and – continuing the dream -.

Alex Chilton, I wish I could say “we wrote this together,” even if it was a little bit horrible. He is my point of reference: not musical because we are on very different steps, but in seeing the relationship between music and life. He didn’t pursue success (even if he had and deserved it). It is said he didn’t give much of a damn about the consent. He just wanted to keep himself creative and free. This pushes me to do my thing even today with the same enthusiasm of 20 years, and this time I am a little more mature!

When was the last time you thought, ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

I am always very focused on the song I am recording at that particular moment. Once the work is finished, my interest shifts to future projects. Therefore I am always chasing a new hit – as you call it – hoping that people will enjoy hearing my creations. I hope there is fun on both sides.

Lyrics are too often taken for granted. What is the line of text, or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember? And why?

“True to myself

That’s what I need to be,

 You searched for love

That’s what we’re made for”

Because it’s damn simple, but by the association of ideas, you could talk about it for an entire evening. And also because if you manage to put together in the same sentence “true” and “love,” you are either banal and short of ideas, or you wrote your next hit.

Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?

Help! – The Beatles

Thirteen – Big Star

Buddy Holly – Weezer

Be Mine – R.E.M.

The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

My goal is to capture the essence of the song, that magnificent thing that I touch the moment I just wrote it (maybe just a sketch), and I decide to take it to the studio to refine it. It is important not to stray too far from that vision. The continuous rehearsals and the overdubs often take you somewhere else than at the beginning, and I can’t deny that at times it is fascinating if it works. Yet, I always prefer the spontaneity of the song just composed. Especially today, I am moving in this direction. I am looking for fidelity to the origins. So fun is not building on it but taking away from it until you reach something beautiful and pure essential. How many times can I do it? You will have to buy my album to find out.

Lannie Flowers – Home (Q&A)

BIG STIR RECORDS and SPYDERPOP RECORDS jointly announce the first major release of their new partnership: a full digital and physical relaunch of the acclaimed album HOME from LANNIE FLOWERS, out July 23, 2021. Hailed upon its original 2019 release as “a masterpiece” (Mike Lidskin, Woody Radio) and the best album of the year by Goldmine Magazine’s John Borack, Home – accompanied by a brand new single showcasing the title track and an exclusive b-side – stands to reach new ears and hearts with its dazzling demonstration of the Texas guitar-pop legend’s songwriting prowess.

When I heard ‘Home’ in 2019, I was convinced that Lannie Flowers had been influenced by the ‘great’ Texan storytellers such as Townes van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Blaze Foley. Nothing could be further from the truth, as he told Sweet Sweet Music.

Still, ‘Home’ is a record of brilliant stories told from an adult perspective. The type of stories the storytellers mentioned above mastered.

Lannie Flowers can do that too. He proves that on ‘Home’ fourteen times.

Home’ is different from your other records. When did you know you wanted to make something different? And why was it important to you?

Initially, I wanted it to come out after “Circles.” Because in my mind, it was part of a trilogy.
First was “Same Old Story.” Which is from a teenager, early 20’s point of view.
Then “Circles” was from an older person’s view.
And “Home” is more of a looking back perspective.

The last song on “Circles” is a song called “Rusty Circles.” It’s more of an acoustic song, unlike most of the rest of the album.

And the last line of the song is “I’m coming home.” So I thought that would be a great lead-in to the next record.

But it was important to me to make it sound different and more mature because it was about more mature situations.

You got great reviews when the record first came out. How easy is it to receive compliments?

It’s tough for me. When I read reviews, it’s kind of like they are talking about someone else. But it’s very humbling and rewarding. Nice to know that someone is listening.

There is a great storytelling tradition in Texas. Was this tradition, more than ever, an inspiration?

Not consciously. But I’m sure a lot of that unknowingly crept in. There are some great songwriters/storytellers from here. But they are way out of my league. I was a rock and roll kid. So when I was younger, I didn’t pay as much attention to that stuff as I probably should’ve.

I think ‘Anyway’ is such a beautiful song. How did it come about?

I had this little Paul McCartney-ish tune around for a while but couldn’t think of anything to write about. So, one evening, my wife talked about her friend’s son named Dylan, who moved to the city. That gave me a first line for the song. The rest was just storytelling.


“One of her super powers is leaving things as there are”.

It’s these kinds of opening lines with which Anton Barbeau lets you into his world, where nothing is what it seems because when I think I understand her character and super powers just before the end, the song takes on a completely different meaning.

‘Oh The Joys We Live For,’ Anton’s latest record, is beautiful and tastes slightly different.

Have you ever walked into an ice cream shop to try gorgonzola ice cream? Just do it; it’s delicious! And it tastes like listening to an Anton Barbeau record.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Anton Barbeau about how Oh The Joys We Live For came about.

Order here (Big Stir Records)

‘Nothing is what it seems,’ or are we, as listeners, too spoiled to look for the real meaning in art, your art?

I really can’t help the way my songs come out. My brain goes where it wants to. My ears and eyes willfully mishear and misread things constantly. I try to write “normal, formal” songs, but I always end up subverting my work as I go along. With that said, I’m still making music – for the most part – that’s meant to sound pleasing in the ear! I love pop music, and I want to be liked by people! But as far as “meaning” goes, I tend to place that lower on the list of concerns than feeling and texture.

My lyrics are sometimes sung for the sake of sound. I’m reminded, though, especially with some of the weirdo interpretations of the songs on Joys that I’ve read, that many people look first for meaning. Nothing I can do about that except to point out that “Crystals” is about shoplifting, and “Cowbell Camembert” has more dancing in it than any other Anton song.

I get lost every time after the last two lines of ‘I Love It When She Does the Dishes.’

This song is probably the most realized one from a batch that was originally intended for a record which was to be called Christian Wife. That album was to revolve around a married couple living in a small conservative American town and playing out their traditional man-and-wife roles. Except each of them has a whole other secret, dark life that they keep to themselves. “Dishes” was the only song that got anywhere with that theme. It’s sung in a monotone, with male and female voices singing together and separately. The final lines are the only clear indication that something sinister is likely to happen beyond the body of the song. 

‘One of Her Super Powers’ is not an ode to the Power Pop genre.  Why was it important for you to write the song?

I find power pop, as a musical style, to be full of archetypal charm. I grew up in love with the three-minute pop song, rich in harmonies and jangling with guitars. But power pop as a genre is stifling. It’s primarily a hobbyist’s dream, steeped in musical self-limitation and seeming to revel in stunted emotionality. The song of mine you’ve mentioned hopefully takes loving advantage of the aforementioned style but gives the genre a much deserved lyrical kick in the shins. 

I think you made a European-sounding record.  A conscious choice or are you not concerned with it at all? Or: Was there a specific sound/vibe/feeling you were looking for (that would connect those 12 songs that are different from each other)?

I wrote and recorded half the record in Berlin, so maybe that rubs off. And the songs on Oh The Joys We Live For are coming from 5 different failed projects… the fact they sit so well together is quite a miracle. Oh The Joys We Live For is one of those albums that “makes itself.”

My previous record, Manbird, was a VERY intentional work. A double album that specifically dealt with my life divided between Europe and California. I’ve toured Spain something like 15 times; I lived in the UK and have toured there endlessly. Berlin for nine years… I sing with a French band in Paris… I’ve been so all over the place that it makes sense if various sensibilities rub off on my music, but at the same time, my songwriting and my record-making are now really blurred in time and place. I’d suggest that an earlier album, Berliner Grotesk, is the truest “European” Ant record…

The last time you wrote answers to my questions, you were in a cafe in Berlin.  Much has changed.  Were you in control of much of that change?

I remember specifically answering your interview questions from a Turkish cafe in Berlin. Soon after, I was hoovered out of Germany, catching whatever flight I could find. I’m only now – in three weeks – finally able to return to Berlin. So, no, there’s a lot of life clearly beyond my control! And yet, we’ve all shared that same sudden upheaval and have learned new patterns and ways of holding on and keeping close. I was able to release Manbird during the pandemic, and, ironically, not touring made it possible for me to give that album the proper promotion it deserved. Big Stir also released a reissue of an album I wrote/produced for Allyson Seconds called Bag of Kittens, and now we have the sweet Oh The Joys We Live For album out in the world, so good things have come during these long, difficult days!

Edward Rogers – Catch A Cloud (Q&A)

Catch A Cloud, Edward Rogers‘ eighth solo album is a soul-searching, stripped-down personal statement, a trippy swirl of music and ideas, observations of what was going on around him at the time, which influenced both the music and the lyrics of the songs.

If you like Ray Davies or Willie Nile’s latest records, you’ll enjoy Catch A Cloud.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Edward about what it’s like to make a very personal record that sounds different from what you’re used to doing.

Grab a cup of coffee and sit down. The record deserves attentive listening.

How did this record come together?

I decided to make it more of a solo project for this record, which meant fewer musicians and backing vocals. I used many loops and samples to accomplish a more adventurous sound; certainly, Catch A Cloud has a different sound from my previous releases. Most of the work was done in my home studio with my producer, Don Piper. After all the tracks were sorted out, we hand-picked the musicians to add texture to each of the songs. The lyrics are much more personal on this record, and so the vocals are more sparse in hopes that the listener will enjoy the experience.

How great is the urge to stay creative?  To keep writing songs and lyrics?

I’m always afraid that I won’t be able to write the next song and the gift will be taken away. I try to spend 4-5 hours a day working on new song ideas unless I have a live obligation. To me, the song-writing process is so delicate and so easy to lose.

You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? And Why?

Good question! I’ve already had the pleasure of writing with several good songwriters (George Usher, Amanda Thorpe, Steve Butler). If I lived in fantasy land, I would love to have written a song with Kevin Ayers. I love the airy psychedelia feel that he got from his melodies. They always so seem so simple, and I would imagine we would also have a little bit of a rave-up and drink along the way.

I love the work of Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy). He reminds me of a modern-day Noel Coward. I’d love to provide lyrics for him to add a piano melody. Here in the USA, he’s a ‘best-kept secret.’ 

Finally, I would love to write a song using my lyrics with Paul Buchanan; you might remember him from The Blue Nile. His voice and the sparseness of the songs always thrill me as a listener. I’m going to be a little cheeky here and add Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sprout). I’m not sure if he’s writing anymore or how he does write, but as a fan, I would love the opportunity.

Lyrics are too often taken for granted.  What is the line of text, or are the lines of text you hope listeners will remember?  And why?

I think real music lovers, like myself, take the time to appreciate the lyrics as much as the music. If I had to give you an example on Catch A Cloud, there is a song called “What Happened To Us”, which if you or your readers give it a spin, you’ll know the message is a very intimate part of my growing up and probably also yours. At one point in my life, I thought I was always going to be the kid, never having to grow up – kind of like Peter Pan – not realizing the world changes every second and one day, I would have all the responsibilities in life just like my parents did before me.

Seems one day we just woke up

Our youth stolen away

Searched through some old pictures

Now look so dark n gray

What happened to us

Did it happen to you?

We all grew old

Didn’t know what to do

Never really had a clue

Not a second to think it through

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

In one word, YES!  Technology has moved so fast that songwriters and musicians can also now be producers and engineers, and it enables a songwriter to record a high-grade demo of his or her songs.  As far as getting it heard, the artist often has to be his or her promoter as well, so rather than being an art form, it’s also a profession. Usually, to get your music heard in America, it’s all about who you know, not what you know.

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

Although it didn’t apply as much on Catch A Cloud, most of my recording experiences have been recorded live in the studio. There’s nothing better than hearing the magic being made right in front of you and then going into the control room and listening to the playback and know you’ve got a good take. It’s hard work and takes a lot of concentration, but it gives everyone in the room a euphoric experience when it’s right.

SORROWS – LOVE TOO LATE… the real album (Q&A)

All Music writes: For their second album, 1981’s Love Too LateSorrows were paired up with legendary producer Shel Talmy, who in the mid-’60s had worked with the Whothe Kinksthe Creation, and the Easybeats; unfortunately, the idea of working with Talmy was better than the results, and the album didn’t fare as well with critics and sold no better than they debut. Sorrows broke up in the mid-’80s and the albums fell out of print, never appearing on CD as they became the stuff of legend among fans of ’80s pop.

Well …

After four decades and a protracted legal battle, original SORROWS members ARTHUR ALEXANDER (vocals, guitar), JOEY COLA (vocals, guitar) and RICKY STREET (vocals, bass), joined by next generation powerhouse drummer LUIS HERRERA bring you LOVE TOO LATE… the real album. It is, as Arthur says in the sleeve notes, “real Sorrows, playing real Sorrows music, as only Sorrows can”, and those who were there to hear these songs performed live in the band’s heyday will attest that the newly-recorded Real Album is the real deal indeed. 

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Arthur Alexander about how ‘ LOVE TOO LATE… the real album’ came about.

Release Date: August 13, and you can pre-order here (Big Stir Records).

LOVE TOO LATE… the real album’ by SORROWS, the legendary band’s all-new 2021 recreation of their long-lost 1981 album. How did the recreation come about?

The idea for it came about two weeks into our original album sessions in London after I heard the results of what started emerging and walked out of the studio, never to return. What I heard was a mockery of our music and the band being destroyed right in front of me. Unbeknown to us, our record label and Shel Talmy, our Mr. Legendary Producer, had decided to take an ass-kicking rock & roll band and turn it into some amalgam of Fleetwood Mac and Barry Manilow backed by The Doobie Brothers wannabes.

Just so we’re clear on this, nothing against the artists as mentioned above, but that is not SORROWS!

If you’re doing a recreation, you may not want to stray too far from the original. Did you, therefore, impose rules on yourself about what was and was not allowed?

Everything was allowed. In fact, I couldn’t stray FAR ENOUGH from this piece of crap with my band’s name now attached to it. This was not a SORROWS’ album. This record was a total sham, orchestrated by the producer and label “bosses” in hopes of striking gold. Instead, what they struck was a solid wall, a record that had nothing to do with the band, the band who wanted nothing to do with the record, and the radio people and our fans who (instinctively) said: “what the fuck is THIS?!”

The record was a total flop, the band in a death spiral.

The end.

Well, not quite!

At what point did you know it was a good idea?

At what point? Let me see… well, in part, I already answered this question above, but to drive the point home…. it became a good idea when I heard the lead vocal (let me repeat that: THE LEAD VOCAL!) on one of our songs being sung by some castrated studio hack Shel Talmy brought in, being *featured*… on OUR album!

So much has changed, Arthur, since the early 1980s. What change in the music industry had the most impact on you?

Frankly, everything has changed. As it always does. At the forefront of it is the technology that gave us the internet, new tools to work with music, and practically unlimited access to the audience out there, unprecedented till then. It was the latter that was the most significant impetus for me to bring this project to fruition, knowing that when it’s all said and done, I will be able to bring SORROWS music to the people out there, show them how it should have been done and leave that abomination foisted on my band in the dustbin of history, forever.  

What’s the gig you will never forget? And why?

Oh, that’s an easy one – the night we got signed to a record deal! We were working on our demo at that point with our producer at Mediasound, one of the most fantastic studios in NYC at that time. We had just basic tracks done and some scratch vocals.

Somehow, the demo leaked out, and we were told that Pavilion Records, one of the CBS Records associated labels, was interested in us. They asked if we had a show coming up; they wanted to come down and check us out. We did, the following week, at Max’s Kansas City.

Of course, we were convinced, as it happened so many times before, nobody would show up. The night came, we took the stage, looked into the audience… and froze. The freakin’ place was packed to the gills with CBS suits!

Appropriately, that night we played what must have been the absolute worst show in the band’s history.

Everything that could have possibly gone wrong did go wrong. I broke FOUR strings during the opening song… and it was downhill from there. So we’re sitting in the dressing room after the set, miserable, depressed, and pondering the end of our career (we didn’t know then THAT was yet to come!), when a bunch of the Suits barge into the dressing room, and the Chief Suit demands to know if we can come to their office next week. “Why?”, I ask.

The Chief Suit barks back, “to talk… if all goes right, as of next week, you are CBS recording artists”…..


Of course, we also found this turn of events very upsetting because we realized that this will effectively prevent us from ever finishing that demo, which we were told was an absolute ‘must have’ for a band to get a record deal!!!

In retrospect, we should have perhaps said: “geez, thanks but no thanks, but we’d rather finish that demo.”

Joe Symes and the Loving Kind – I’m Gonna Find Out Someday (new song, new video)

SSM: Joe, you just released a great new song. What are your plans for the second half of 2021?

JS: The second half of 2021 will be to promote yet another release of our new 4 track Ep.

4 brand new songs that are very catchy and powerful.

Also along with Live radio sessions to promote it. And we start to confirm more dates for 2021.

SSM: You use beautiful b/w pics in the video. How came that about? Were you looking for a specific ‘mood’ for the video to represent the song?

JS: The pictures were taken by Jake Tierney who’s a new photographer from Liverpool who contacted our management after he heard our second album “Phase II’.

He’s a big fan of the band and works with only Black & White photography at the moment as he says it creates a mood and likes to capture the band in a relaxed mood instead of posing for normal pictures which he says can be a bit formal.

His company ‘The Academy’ put the video together and will be working for the band from now on, and we are very pleased with the video and it represents us at this time.

SSM: The last year was crazy. How did you survive?

JS: Last year was a strange time for everyone and a bad time for everyone. We just continued to work ourselves online with Radio interviews, promoting the band, writing, rehearsals when we were good to get together and being in touch with everyone. Let’s hope we can all get back to normal very soon.

Geoff Palmer – Charts & Graphs

Geoff Palmer’s Charts & Graphs will be released on July 23.

Recorded by David Minehan (The Replacements), and mixed by Mike Kennerty (All American Rejects), the album will be released by Stardumb Records on vinyl, Rum Bar Records on CD, and Memorable But Not Honorable on cassette.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke with Geoff about the initial spark, the creative juices, and hearing your art come to life.

How did this record come together?

It came together much like my other records, haha. First, I get a batch of demos and song ideas organized and then start working with friends to make them come to life. I enjoy the early stages of writing an album. I like the whole process, but the initial spark up to the studio is always exciting. 

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

Asking for opinions started pretty early on back when I first started writing. I’ve always liked working with people and getting the creative juices flowing in a group setting. Everybody hears things differently, and when you are with other writers and players, you respect that input is valuable. 

If I did everything myself, I fear it would get too repetitive. But, when I look back at the catalog of albums and bands I’ve made, I feel proud that there are many different feels and styles in there. It all fits under the same basic umbrella, but there is variety. I believe that is because of working with and taking advice from outers. 

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?   

Success does change over the years. You want different things in life, and what was important yesterday might not be today. I love change. One thing that has always been a judge of success for me with a record or a band is doing something new, playing new places, trying new ideas for writing styles, new production ideas, anything we haven’t done before. I love meeting new people through music. If a song on the record catches on in a new genre, that is a success. Always try to open new doors and keep the old ones open too. 

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

I remember the first time I went to a studio to record properly. I was sitting down in the control room with the tape machine spinning and hearing the sounds come out of the speakers! Like, wow, that is us! It was so cool. Since then, I’ve always loved the studio. It’s probable my favorite part of being in a band. Building a song and hearing your art come to life is very fulfilling. 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

Oh man, double-edged sword. It’s much easier to record and work on writing and production ideas because most people have decent little studios at home. It allows the option to work with people that before would have to fly out to a studio, and financially most times, that wasn’t an option. Releasing music is easier too, but that can flood the market a bit. I’m pro digital and using any modern marketing tools to connect with a listener base that will hopefully enjoy my tunes. Luckily for me, I have a label like Stardumb Records to release my stuff. That is a huge help because the label has been going for years and has a trusted name. 

Order here

Richard X. Heyman – Copious Notes

Richard X. Heyman is a singer-songwriter who writes pop songs, but you already knew that.

“Copious Notes” is the name of his new record, and it contains 12 beautiful new songs.

Subdued and reflective. At times, Heyman chooses to show that his roots are in New Jersey.

Listen to, for example, “Choices We Make”.

On Saturday nights, I’d like to hear that song in a version of Southside Johnny.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Richard about how he and his wife Nancy worked on the new songs.

How did this record come together? 

Copious Notes” began in the summer of 2020.  It was a harsh climate here in the U.S.  The pandemic was peaking, and the political and social mood of the country was polarizing.  After the release of my previous album, “Pop Circles,” I decided to take an extended break from making music. I had lost interest in writing songs and didn’t even touch or play any instrument for many months. 

One day I sat down at the piano and started fiddling around.  I came up with a couple of waltzes which eventually turned into the song “Cedarbrook Park.”  As the days went on, I kept on writing more piano instrumentals.  Every now and then, Nancy would ask about a particular piece and suggest I demo some of them.  That is how this new album came to be. 

I subsequently turned those tunes into songs by adding lyrics and arrangements, sometimes combining two into one.

Lyrics are too often taken for granted.  What is the line of text or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember?  And why? 

This album was written and recorded while we were in quarantine.  Though it is subtle, the lyrics reflect the atmosphere around us.  The opening line of the first track, “Nearly There,” is “The dark is getting to you, in this you’re not alone/But there’s a bright spot waiting where the light once shone.” 

In “Tell Me When,” I tried to address the division in the country, and I suppose, the rest of the world.  “If now ain’t the place where we can change the course of what’s going on, if now ain’t the time to rearrange the world that we stand upon, then please tell me when.” 

The song “Oval” is about being open to discover that things aren’t always as they seem or were initially presented to you.  I love that you can learn something new about yourself and the world around you at any time in your life.  “Once I thought the world was round…it’s oval, and tiny as a gem.” 

I was thinking one day how an event that was so cataclysmic could unite people who were so feverishly opposed to one another.  All the problems and conflict would evaporate and become insignificant. 

From the song “One and All”:  

“Sides were drawn and the split was wide, 

And before too long we saw the rising tide, 

When the waves grew into a giant wall, 

And it rained on all the people, one and all.”  

The album concludes with a glimmer of hope and optimism with “The Greater Good”:  

“To the greater good that’s waiting there, 

Though times are tough, hardships everywhere

Looks like we’re pushed past the breaking point

This whole damn world seems out of joint  

But all this love that we saved up 

Can be withdrawn to fill this loving cup 

For the greater good.”  

“To the greater good that we can share

It’s within us now if we don’t despair 

A brand-new day is close at hand

Happens overnight, like falling sand 

What we’ve been through will be overcome

If we do our part we can reach the sum 

Of the greater good”

Cassettes are back.  Which five songs would make your first mixtape?  

  1. “Dancing in the Street” – Martha & The Vandellas
  2. “Twist and Shout” – The Isley Brothers
  3. “When Will I Be Loved?” – The Everly Brothers
  4. “Move On Up” – Curtis Mayfield
  5. “Out of Sight” – James Brown

These are, of course, just the first songs that popped into my mind. They all make me happy and remind me why I love music.  If I was asked this question every five minutes, each list would be very different!

Recording music – what’s all the fun about? 

Recording for me is an arduous process.  Unlike a band, I start each song by banging out a drum performance.  There is no music other than me singing to myself (not particularly fun!).  Then I put on a piano.  From there, it’s a matter of laying down one part at a time. All the vocals and each instrument. 

Nancy engineers and has lately been playing a lot of bass. 

The fun part for me, at least, is when all these elements are completed, and I can lie back on our bed (we record all this stuff in our bedroom except for the drums, which are done at Eastside Sound Studios) and listen to all our efforts and hopefully enjoy what has finally coalesced into a song.

You can’t control the way people “hear” your music.  But if you could make them aware of certain aspects you think set your songs apart, what would they be? 

First and foremost, I hope, the entire song washes over them, and they feel the emotion that I tried to put into it.  I really hope the listener, maybe after the initial hearing of a song, latches on to the lyrics. I think when dealing in a melodic harmony-based genre, the words can be overlooked.  I put a lot of effort and care into the lyrics, and it’s nice when I get a note from someone about that aspect of the recording.  It’s not for me to critique the music I put out there. 

I will say that it comes from my heart and soul, and I try to do the best job possible with each release.

“Choices We Make” can be found on the Sweet Sweet Music’s favorite Power Pop Songs of 2021 Spotify playlist.

Joel Tyler Wall – Green Wave

Green Wave is Joel Tyler Wall’s first solo effort. The record reads like a Brit-Pop/Pych Pop primer. More ragged than the music of Diamond Hands, the band Joel and Jon Flynn form, but of the same quality.

Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Joel Tyler Wall about his favorite songwriters, finding a melody, and the excitement of playing a new song back through the monitors.

How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?

The urge to stay creative is always with me. Thinking of a song, listening to a song, playing instruments, finding a melody, recording.  They all fit together for me and are always on my mind. If I’m not working on something, I get anxious. haha

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

For me, yes. I recorded all these songs at my studio, where I do most of my work, so that process was easy. Finding people that are interested in it and want to talk about it is hard as an independent artist on any level.

Recording music. What’s all the fun about?

One of the best things for me in the studio is creating something that wasn’t there before. Coming up with an idea and fleshing it out, then the excitement of playing a new song back through the monitors.  It’s never dull.

Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?

1. Beach Boys “She Knows Me Too Well”

2. Neil Young “When You Dance I Can Really Love”

3. Rolling Stones “Sweet Black Angel”

4. T-rex “Children of the Revolution”

5. Harry Nilsson “Mucho Mungo”

You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? And Why?

Bob Dylan – iconic

Marc Bolan – guitar and lyric hero

Jon Flynn – my Diamond Hands writing partner, of course

Buy Green Wave at Kool Kat Musik

You can find the title track of Green Wave on Sweet Sweet Music’s favorite Power Pop Songs or 2021 Spotify playlist.

Ed Ryan – Don’t Follow Where They Lead

‘Don’t Follow Where They Lead’ is Ed Ryan’s 4th solo record since ‘Roadmap’ from 2016. Ed has an unmistakable sound of his own but puts the accents slightly differently on each record. This time you will also hear short instrumental songs and heavy rockers. Again, they are just accents, and the high quality of the songs, to which we have become so accustomed, is assured throughout. Ed still sings like Sting’s brother; his guitar solos are sharp and hard, his melodies are pure and straightforward, and his lyrics dig a little deeper.

I’m not kidding; I’m an Ed Ryan fan.

How did this record come together?

It took a while for Even Time to get released, so while I was waiting I accumulated a lot of new material. I started working on two albums simultaneously, one of rootsier, more jangly songs and one of harder pop/rock tunes. I decided to follow the rootsier direction and completed the album, but I just didn’t feel excited by it.

In the midst of this, I wrote and recorded what is now the title track of the new album “Don’t Follow Where They Lead”. It didn’t fit with my finished album, but it excited me. I decided to hold onto about half of the finished album and then just write without an agenda…and found myself with an album I’m happy about!

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

It started with writing that title track but it was really when I started sequencing the songs. Everything tied together musically and thematically. The songs have contrast and variety but they feel like they’re part of a whole, not just a collection of disparate tunes. This truly feels like an album.

How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?

The urge to stay creative is like breathing for me, it’s a lifelong obsession. Music runs through my head constantly, if I didn’t love it so much it would drive me crazy! I always want to learn more and continue to improve, you can never learn enough. That’s why after years of being a working musician I went back to school to get my Masters in music composition.

I’ve written a lot of Instrumental music, a few small pieces of which appear on the new album. I generally have to toil over the lyrics because I’m very self-critical, but the music comes naturally.

What’s the gig you will always remember and why?

There are so many but I’ll have to go with the night my band The Rudies opened for Iggy Pop at Irving Plaza in NYC. This was ’80-’81 and Iggy was touring the Soldier album. We were a last-minute unannounced addition to the bill. We came out to a crowd expecting Iggy and instead got some local CBGB power pop band lol! They hated us, booed, and spat at us.

Luckily, we were a very loud, aggressive band, closer to Cheap Trick than the skinny tie brigade. We dug in, gave as good as we got, and by the third song they were ours! So I guess the why would be the old triumph over adversity adage. I was a huge Iggy fan and we got to hang with him in our dressing room later. All in all a very memorable gig.

When was the last time you thought “I just wrote a hit”?

I don’t know that I’ve ever thought that, but I always recognize when I’ve written something special, a cut above my average. Actually, I’m working on a new tune I started two weeks ago and it’s sounding really good to my ears … so I’ll go with that!