Scruffy Boys' Treehouse

Pop songwriting seems so easy for Irving, ?Simon Dawes & Benji Hughes!

Irving. The mostly hi-NRG pop effluvia of Irving’s recent Death in the Garden (Eenie Meenie) is toe-tapping excitement only a total churl would curl a lip at. Their determinedly superficial party rave-ups about gurls, luv and more gurls seem designed to cast off significance in pursuit of their perfectly reasonable goal of being the world’s most happy-go-lucky bar band. Leaning on ’60s pop roots, with sunny harmonies and wiggy Farfisa organ, they hybridize a lot of Honeycombs/Swingin’ Blue Jeans melodies and harmonies, such groovy blasts of jangly, wiry riff and thumping 4/4 coming off all the richer for their exceedingly irrelevant synth fluff. (John Payne)

Simon Dawes. Simon Dawes is a band, and in fact said L.A. combo has a thumpingly good recent EP called What No One Hears on the Record Collection label, and a debut full-length, Carnivore, on the same fine label. It’s very Kinks, as you might say, with singer-guitarist Taylor Goldsmith’s Ray Davies–like lazy, snarly-sweet delivery in the forefront as his bandmates riff about sloppily — but very, very musically — with their mid-’60s/early-’70s electric and acoustic guitars (in a Mersey Beat mode, decidedly nonmetallic), shakers and tambourines shimmering away, the boys adding a nice harmony vocal when the mood hits. Very off-the-cuff-sounding stuff, yet boasting an almost majestic force and heft. Tues., Dec. 12, at the Roxy. (John Payne)

Benji Hughes. Singer-songwriter Benji Hughes looks like a roadie for Lynyrd Skynyrd, writes gorgeously pithy urban poetry, sings in a breathy baritone, and is calling his forthcoming New West debut A Love Extreme (a play on Coltrane’s A Love Supreme). No, this Charlotte native doesn’t play bebop, but his indie-pop is heartfelt, funny and irreverent. “Why Do These Parties Always End the Same Way?” sounds like early Beck poking fun at the house-party scene; “Waiting For an Invitation” is a country-tinged ode to missing one’s chance at love, at rockin’ stadiums (“Maybe you’ve been waitin’ too long/For somebody to throw your kinda party . . .”). Hopefully, Hughes’ chance at recognition is around the corner. (Kate Sullivan)

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