Here’s the inaugurual Independent Clauses free association music review. Whatever comes to mind when you see these phrases is all you will need to know about Thomas Neptune:
Matchbox 20, OneRepublic, Goo Goo Dolls, Maroon 5, anthemic pop.
If you’re nodding your head enthusiastically, you need to get your hands on a copy of Neptune’s Down to Earth EP. He’s got the songwriting skill to make it with the big boys, especially as displayed in the stadium-filling “Unbreakable” and the celebratory “My Ohio.” “We’re Beautiful” shows his Matt Nathanson/Jason Mraz side, as well. If you’re into modern radio pop (and I do love a good pop song), then you should be all over this.
(However, I can’t support his excessive use of his own picture in promo materials. It’s just weird.)
Jim Ivins Band impressed me with their slick modern acoustic pop sound last time out. Their newest set of songs doesn’t disappoint either, although it doesn’t appear under the happiest circumstances. Their contributions to Songs of Life: The Kathy Ivins Project is two new tunes and a full-band version of a previously released solo track to commemorate Kathy Ivins, the mother of Jim (lead vocals/guitar) and Jack Ivins (drums). She passed away of cancer in 2010, inspiring these tunes.
And they are a fitting tribute, as they build on the strengths from their previous EP. The melodies are strong and memorable, the band is tight and well-arranged, the production is warm without being saccharine, and the overall impression left by these tracks is positive. “Moving” features a massive chorus and a generally powerful feel, while “You Can Have It All” features some neat syncopated percussion and a wiry, direct feel. The chorus is no less memorable for the lessened heft of the songwriting. Comparisons to Goo Goo Dolls and the very best moments of Matchbox 20 abound, and as a child of the ’90s I mean those comparisons as compliments. “Stages of Your Life,” the updated acoustic track, doesn’t have the same pop as the full-band compositions, but it’s still passable.
Good art often emerges from tragedy, and these tunes can be counted in that long tradition. I hope someone writes songs this solid for me when I’m gone; quite an honor. Purchase the album these tunes come from here; two other bands offer up tunes to complete the set.