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Instincts Pay Off For Nick Piunti

piuntiGuest Review By Dave Caruso

With the hook-filled and infectious Trust Your Instincts, Detroit-area Power Pop veteran Nick Piunti has made his best album so far.  This is not hyperbole.  There are many reasons why so many music reviewers and bloggers are making such a big deal about it.

Make no mistake, Trust Your Instincts has all the hallmarks of a great Nick Piunti album (and they’re all great).  Fans will recognize his edgy, guitar-based band arrangements, his signature wordplay (see “As Far As I Throw”), his themes of loss and longing and the familiar pop influences which pervade the grooves.

Nick has been writing and recording since the early days of his first band Dwarf (1972 – 1986).  More recently, he released a handful of albums with his band, The Respectables (2005-2010).  But with each new solo release (2013 – today), Nick’s songwriting has grown incrementally tighter and more commercial and his artistry has continued to mature.  This is especially noticeable in the finer details, like his well-crafted bridge sections, and his meta last line of “Stay Where You Are:” “I think I’m gonna fade out.”

Piunti has never sounded more confident.  His vocals and harmonies (see “One Hit Wonder”) are his strongest yet. The album mix is gorgeous.

His world-class band (primarily Nick on vocals and guitars, Donny Brown on drums, Andy Reed on bass & synth, Ryan Allen on additional guitars) is firing on all cylinders and in harmony with one another.  Nick has clearly trusted each player with more freedom within the song arrangements.  At every opportunity, they conspire to lob sneaky little molotov cocktails of melodic catchiness at your ear canals, setting off chain reactions in stereo.  (See “Blame in Vain.”)

On Mr. Piunti’s previous album, the lack of keyboards threatened to limit the amount variety of depth in the arrangements.  But with his latest endeavor, there’s more color and texture in the guitar chords bass parts and stereophonic effects than ever before, making the overall sound fuller and more interesting without the need for synth layering.  Just listen to “Stay Where You Are” and “This Ain’t the Movies” for proof:

 

 

No opportunity for a musical hook is wasted and yet, thanks in no small part to the steady and tasteful drumming, there’s still plenty of space for the music to breathe.  “Vaguely Familiar” demonstrates this perfectly.  I also like the way the ending chord doesn’t resolve.

 

One thing is certain about Trust Your Instincts. Nick has learned to listen to his own advice.

Trust Your Instincts by Nick Piunti is available at iTunes, Amazon.com, Bandcamp and more.

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Dave Caruso is a melodic pop indie songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist from Detroit, Michigan.  His influences include: Elvis Costello, Neil Finn, Elton John, Del Amitri, Ben Folds, The Beach Boys and The Beatles.

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The Big Show #11: Twenty-Two Rockin’ Pop Songs For Your Listening Pleasure

Retro RadioThe eleventh edition of The Big Show spins twenty-two rockin’ pop songs for your listening pleasure.

It features recently released music by Nick Piunti, Dave Caruso, The Persian Leaps, Lisa Mychols 3, Jet Black Sunrise and Rick Hrmodka, as well as an archival, previously un-released track by Spinning Jennies.

Perennial favorites The Grip Weeds check in with a cover of The Byrds’ “She Don’t Care About Time.” This is followed by a set of neo-60’s tracks by the Boston-based band The Forz, The Kaisers, as well as “The Wonders” doing the theme song from the film That Thing You Do.

Rounding it all out is Guided By Voices doing “Surgical Focus,” The Grapes Of Wrath doing “Isn’t There” and a classic piece of West Coast Pop by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. Of course.

There is, quite naturally, much, much more. The complete track list appears after the embed

So, give it a spin, and check out the main mix at Pop That Goes Crunch radio, streaming 24/7.

Tracklist:

1.  Nick Piunti, “Time Machine”

2.  The Grapes Of Wrath, “Isn’t There”

3.  The Grip Weeds, “She Don’t Care About Time”

4.  The Forz, “What Can I Say”

5.  The Wonders, “That Thing You Do”

6The Kaisers, “Shake Me”

7.  Dave Caruso, “Your Fake Friends”

8.  John McMullan, “You Are Dreaming”

9.  The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, “If You Want This Love”

10. The Persian Leaps, “(Goodbye To) South Carolina”

11. Guided By Voices, “Surgical Focus”

12. Mothboxer, “Sunrise”

13. The American Professionals, “Other People”

14. The Marvelous Beauhunks, “Top Of The World”

15. Baby Scream, “Unicorns”

16. Lisa Mychols 3, “Ready For Action”

17. Spinning Jennies, “I Before E”

18. Jet Black Sunrise, “Granite”

19. Roto’s Magic Act, “Happier Than Ever”

20. Rick Hromodka, “It’s All In Your Head”

21. Zeus Henderson, “In Black And White”

22. Who Hit John, “Winslow Winston”

Dave Caruso’s Tasty Songcraft

Dave Caruso: Carboard Vegas RoundaboutIt’s not all hard-driving Power Pop here at Pop That Goes Crunch. Quieter, more introspective work is occasionally in order. Dave Caruso’s new long-player, Cardboard Vegas Roundabout, fits beautifully into that space and delivers ten finely crafted tunes that sound particularly great on the car stereo (especially with the top down or the sunroof wide open), or on the headphones late at night after a hard day of work or play.

Caruso cites his main influences as “Elvis Costello, Neil Finn, Elton John, Del Amitri, Ben Folds, The Beach Boys and The Beatles.” That’s a rather tall order, but Caruso is more than up to the task.

“Mystery & Sweetness” begins the festivities with a swaying mid-70s vibe and sweet vocal harmonies on top of a beautifully strummed acoustic guitar. The harmonies kick into high gear on the next track, “Champion,” in which Caruso lays down some of the most complex vocal arrangements of the year, and succeeds over-and-over again. “Your Fake Friends” is a relatively driving piece of jangle pop that nicely skewers supposed camaraderie in an age of status updates and social media “likes.” These virtues crystallize in “The Art of Erica,” in which Caruso serves up the bitter with the sweet in a track that likely will find its way onto my year-end “Best Of” list.

Samples of each song on Vegas can be heard on Caruso’s website, where you can purchase the download of the album, as well an extended 22-track CD which includes alternate versions demos, bonus mixes and 12-page booklet with song lyrics, photos, liner notes and credits. Click over there right now, and drink in Caruso’s tasty songcraft.

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