There are albums you can pop into the CD player, hit play and just can’t stop listening to without being able to explain why. The Powder Kegs, a Philadelphia-based band, has crafted an album just like that: it draws you in and leaves you wanting more.
The album, “The Amanicans,” begins strong with the song “Hospital,” a medium-length track with catchy repetitive percussive elements and upbeat guitar progressions. The track draws the listener into the world of The Powder Kegs, which mixes a little bit of rock and roll with frequent head-bobbing rhythms and a bit of indie funk cameo appearances from the organ or tambourine.
“Hospital” proves to be an excellent introduction to the overall sound of The Powder Kegs’ LP, showcasing a chronic optimism which sounds as cheerful as any top-40 hit without the usual sacrifice of depth of character.
This positive outlook carries throughout, even when dishing out heavy lyrics with songs such as “Say You Love Me” and “Falling Together, Coming Apart.” The Powder Kegs avoid moping and give their heartfelt musings a positive spin and a sunny cheer.
There is a sense of familiarity with The Powder Kegs, and they certainly aren’t completely unique in all their material. But they seem quite willing to acknowledge their influences, tipping the proverbial hat when appropriate.
“Wendy is Water” pays a thoughtful tribute to The Mamas & The Papas with the lyrics which opine “All the leaves are drowning,” with what seems to be the exact same tonality as The Mamas & The Papas “California Dreamin’” lyric “All the leaves are brown.”
Although this entire album is strong, with the exception of the strangely disjointed second track, there are a couple songs which are worth a careful listen. “Say You Love Me” is a must listen, if only for the subject matter, as it is as close to a love song as The Powder Kegs ever get.
“Wendy Is Water” and “Broke Time” are also good showcases of the rock talent and loquacious lyrical meanderings which seem to be a common theme.
Finally, there’s “The Amanicans,” the title track off this album. “The Amanicans” is absolutely devoid of any catch and intriguingly still manages to convey the thought that there is something undeniably fascinating about it. Sounding like a more instrumental and less nasal Bob Dylan song, the rock sensibilities of The Powder Kegs are toned down a bit and this track seems like a great one to end the album on.
While perhaps not startlingly original, “The Amanicans” is certainly an album which lends itself to a good mood, sunny weather and late-night deadlines. It’s like an annoyingly positive friend that just won’t shut up and its happy exuberance and infectious optimism offer a welcomed reminder that listening to music should be fun.
Tune in to KSLC 90.3FM to hear tracks from The Powder Kegs’ new album, “The Amanicans.”
Eric Tompkins/KSLC 90.3 FM
Eric Tompkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.