THE SCENIC ROUTE
ALBUM: THE SCENIC ROUTE
reviewed by NADJA DEE
Artwork and Design: Alan Lennon www.lennondesign.co.uk
KEY to this album
(Hint: The closer to center white, the more Power Pop)
Mix of Byrds style jangle rock, fuzzy guitar Power Pop like Aimee Mann, America adult contemporary and locomotive lyrics like the best 80's rock.
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THE SCENIC ROUTE
Double Potion Records
Mike Foy (Drums, Vocals)
Ian Grier (Keyboards)
Alan Shields (Bass Guitar, Vocals)
Andrew Taylor (Vocals, Guitars)
Scott Tobin (Bass Guitar on 'Broken From The Start')
Produced, Engineered and Mixed by Andrew Taylor at Dropkick HQ, Inch House, Edinburgh, Scotland May – July 2019
Mastered by Alastair Taylor
All songs by Andrew Taylor
It must have been difficult for Andrew Taylor to start in the music scene, always having to correct that his name was ANDREW, not Andy, Taylor.
Andy Taylor (Duran Duran)
(The Andy Griffith Show)
NOT THIS ONE
or This one
It's election night.
Do I need to say more than that? OK, let's talk about anxiety, stress and the fear that America (I'm looking at you bible belt America) is going to throw this country, once again, into the hands of a maniac.
Don't worry, that's where the political rant ends on this album review. But, it's not just an excuse to vent, no. It's the reason that I've decided to review an album that was released nine months ago, back in February, before this election, before the pandemic, before we watched 2020 take the world to Hunger Game levels of terror.
That's when this album came back under my radar. I was shuffling music on my iTunes, as do when I'm pressing the grey matter for meme ideas. Feeling anxious about the election, and then Dropkick's Track #1 Feeling Never Goes Away came on the speakers.
From the jangle of the first guitar chords, to the opening lyrics:
What's the crime in finding myself
When you already know me more?
It takes a lot of time to survive
What I know you've been pushing far
But, I'm alive, today
I'm alive, today
I hope this feeling never goes away
And that was all it took to relax me. The remembrance of a song that I didn't realize I knew, music that had already become a part of my body's musical chemistry. A familiar old friend I didn't know I loved so much.
It's easy to play an album, getting acquainted with the songs, and then moving on to the next one. A song may even pop up on a random shuffling and then vanish into the night like a fog. You don't even realize it's impact on you, until it's gone, you don't value it's power until you meet it again, it's notes ringing in your ears like the warmth of a holiday fire.
That's what The Scenic Route by Dropkick has done for me. It's given me a bit of peace from this election, a solace in these troubling times.
Track #1 Feeling Never Goes Away
Official World Collaboration Video
Andrew Taylor is no newbie to music, as folks probably know his previous Dropkick releases since he's been releasing music since 2011. Or you know his brilliant collaboration with Gonzalo Marcos on The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness (TBWTPN), but if you don't know those, then he also released special solo "Lockdown Sessions" in April, May, June and October.
Saying that Andrew Taylor is prolific is like saying, "Stephen King likes to write." At this rate, if he keeps it up, he's going to give Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney a run for their money as music seems to flow out of him.
But is it any good? Yoko Ono said it best back in 1966...YES!
Andrew Taylor's Discography
Yoko Ono's Ceiling Painting (1966)
Most of the music on The Scenic Route falls into categories that I wouldn't call Power Pop. The tags on their Bandcamp page put this album in a myriad of genres:
But I think the music is better described as a mix of:
60's Byrds Jangle Rock
80's Yes / Grateful Dead Rock
80's America Pop Rock
90's Aimee Mann / Tom Petty Fuzzy Guitar Rock
Which, I realize, is pretty much the same as the existing tags. But, there's more to it than putting simple labels like "jangle pop" on this music. (Which most musicians despise being put into a box, so I'm sorry for that.) I'd rather describe what this music made me feel, the way the momentum of a song reminded me of other albums that have brought great joy to my life.
There's no denying the jangle-folk-rock in Feeling Never Goes Away, that was the key sound for so many great songs by The Byrds.
Or how Track #2 Catching On, reminded me a Grateful Dead song, not in the melody as much as in the way he sings the lyrics. (And I'm not a big fan of The Dead, aside from the song, Touch Of Gray)
Track #2 Catching On
And then there's the fuzzy guitar blended with keyboards sound that made Aimee Mann and Jon Brion's collaboration on I'm With Stupid so great. Listen to a song like:
Track #3 Disappearing
Video for Disappearing
Or a song like Track #5 For Too Long, which goes back to February 26, 2012 when they posted a video for Recording Session 21.
Track #5 For Too Long
Recording Session #21: For Too Long (2013)
So many songs reminded me of the great songs on America's View From The Ground, with that easy groove and likeable sing along nature. Especially in songs like:
Track #6 A Matter Of Time
Or in a slower song like
Track #9 Broken From The Start
Both of these songs have that easy America feeling. But that's the thing about Dropkick, they make it seem so easy, while creating songs that calm you down while remaining songs that you want to hear over and over again, even after you've just listened to them.
If there's anything that I've learned from this hellish year, 2020, it's that I no longer take things that relax me, that calm the nerves, for granted. And if you need a reminder, just think about what you wish you could do to stress, to this pandemic, to this last joke of a presidency... namely DROPKICK IT! There's this great Godzilla scene where he's battling this giant beetle named Megalon and he does a mile long dropkick.
Take a page from Godzilla, when in doubt...DROPKICK!
Godzilla -vs- Megalon (1973)
The Scenic Route isn't going to make everyone's best list, because it's one of those albums that has to speak to you. You may not be ready for it, or it may not be the right prescription for you at this time.
Sometimes you get sick and all you need is soup and sleep. But other times you get sick and you need full prescription anti-biotics. Dropkick's The Scenic Route has proved itself to be the right antidote for this stressful election, for all the anxiety that 2020 has given me. But, it may not soothe you in the same way it did me. Just like those commercials for drugs warn, take only as directed.
The album ends on the gorgeous You'll Always Be There. It's a song that could be one of Loggins & Messina's best unknown tracks, or any of their contemporaries like Dan Fogelberg or Tim Weisberg. It's a lovely song, a country twang in a pop soufflé of pure comfort.
Track #10 You'll Always Be There
There's not much else that needs to be said for this album, but if you like this then check out the HUGE discography from Dropkick and all the Lockdown Session releases. This album came out in February and if you didn't know about it then, you probably know about it by now. Still, if you're like me, you didn't realize how powerful, how therapeutic and how necessary this album is, and that it's the perfect music to soothe you at this time.
Music soothes the savage beast
Dropkick treats the same beast to a spa day
And if you didn't know, or if you've forgotten, then please go have a listen. We know better than to think 2020 doesn't have something else around the corner to throw at us, but if you have have The Scenic Route on hand, you'll be ready.
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DISCLAIMER: HOP ON POWER POP doesn't give stars, a grade or any sort of quantifiable rating. What HOP ON POWER POP does is let you know what H.O.P.P. thought of the music by the band at this particular time. If an album isn't to our liking or fitting into the Power Pop genre enough, we simply won't review it.
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