Power pop for teenagers played, really well, by their dads.
Opening with a rock and roll riff, and a Farfisa organ, ‘Put You On Hold’ is a solid slab of early sixties garage rock. However, it is country-tinged power pop that dominates ‘Candy Coated Cannonball’ by Jeremy Porter and the Tucos. Porter seems to have a good touch with a pop-rock song like ‘Dead Ringer’ about a girl who is a “Dead ringer, For a pop singer, I fell in love with on a record sleeve”. It’s lightweight, throwaway, bubble-gum pop produced with some panache; but there is little in the way of the influences the group cite from Uncle Tupelo and Gram Parsons through X to Hűsker Dű and Cheap Trick. Unfortunately.
There are a few diversions into more interesting territory. ‘The Things All Men Do’ takes a slightly different direction, driven by heavier guitar riffs and picking up a trace of menace and, bizarrely, some mariachi horns. This then leads into the country-rock ballad ‘Downriver Song’ which chronicles the erosion of jobs and descent into terminal decline, possibly of small-town America. Although it could equally be an elegy for their economically destroyed home city of Detroit.
Porter previously played in local punk bands before moving into this power-pop style and there seems little of that left in the mix. Although the Stones can pull off a song called ‘Some Girls’ Porter really doesn’t have the swagger for ‘Girls Named Erica’, who it turns out “can be so boring”.
I am left with the impression that here we have some solid teenage rock and roll played by a band who might have developed a more complex and thoughtful approach, but have just become very good at what they do: good time power pop, with big riffs and poppy tunes. And there’s nothing wrong with that.