Short-format Roundup

Nearly all of my reviews focus on albums. Only when the material truly merits an exception do I cover EPs or singles. Here are quick looks at three new releases that handily meet that standard.

Stay – “I Can Hear the Grass Grow” b/w “Get Going”
This Barcelona quartet is characterized as indie-psych, but on “Get going” they display a sensibility reminiscent of “Bang a Gong” era T. Rex, with a bit of early ‘70s Rolling Stones thrown in for good measure. The tune is a slyly swaggering slice of rock ‘n’ roll. The Move cover leans more into the psych side of the band’s approach. The arrangement answers the (likely unasked) question, “What would the song have sounded like if Kula Shaker covered it but didn’t have any electric sitars at hand?” It’s exceedingly well-done, meriting a new recording of the classic.

Andre Cruz & Chris Lujan – “Can I Call You Rose” b/w “I Like the Way You Love Me”
This sweet soul single brings together elements of ‘70s soul/r&b and a lilting reggae beat. “Can I Call You Rose?” was originally recorded by Thee Sacred Souls; their recording was reminiscent of Philly soul. Cruz & Lujan lean into the beat a bit more, while maintaining the romanticism of the original. The flip sound so authentically vintage that it’s unnerving; the performance, the arrangement, the production aesthetic – they’re all spot-on. A delight.

The Morning Line – Scene EP
This Bay Area indie group deals more in EPs than it does in full-length albums, with two of the former and one album (2019’s North) to its credit. But quality wins out over quantity, and this clutch of melodic midtempo rockers is a solid listen. Uncluttered production and arrangement with a close-in feel are the hallmarks of this seven-song set. Imagine Fountains of Wayne without the irony, or Cheap Trick with less guitar roar. Nice stuff.