(2021 - Wildflow Records - USA)
Listen and stream:
Download (sorry, the physical album is sold out, unless you find an aftermarket or used copy):
A very retro mix of fun and upbeat styles ranging from 60's thru 90's, psych, surf pop, sugar pop, power pop, ingredients of new wave, cold wave, post punk, classic rock, and tongue in cheek lyrics often giving the listener a smile (even a giggle). Even if a bit lo-fi, this stuff is performed extremely well, all addictive, and totally righteous music . One can tell the band is sometimes having fun, and they intend the listener to have even more, however strong issues are tackled. Their influences are supreme, with top notch acts like Beach Boys, Jan and Dean (undeniable 'COVID-19') , Todd Rundgren, The Who (very strong nod - see my end notes), the more cheerful OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark), and other Factory Records acts from that early 80's Manchester collection in the chirpy mode (check out 'Substitute for Science' and '3 for $12.99'), and lots of other groups from the 70's ('Wrong', 'Greaser', and 'Wish Myself Away') will bring up more than a couple of famous bands that got radio fame. A whirligig of delights.
A favorite type of album for me is one that goes for a different sound with each song, keeping from ever guessing the next move. And of course all material being strong, 'Oblivious' is just that. Addressing quite a lot of controversy, this was started just before the Covid pandemic, but just two songs completed, the project had to be handled differently than planned. It was also to be the most collaborative of anything DC music veteran Anthony W. Rogers had done since before his solo career. For those interested, he used to be in bands Ten Below, and The Now. He has released three solo albums preceding 'Oblivious' (2021), including 'Identification' (1993), 'Wrong' (2015), and 'One Day- A Journal' (2018). All of them similar to this new release, with a perfect variety of pop, rock, and allsorts, also using some humor, odd touches, and concept-like order of songs, keeping the audience attached to their seats, ears glued, and attention full.
Not all fun, with some very serious and contemplative songs, a beautiful ballad like 'Rain Cloud' (the ending composition), and then the all instrumental nearly all acoustic (it does have gorgeous synthesizer strings) pastoral 'William Burns' ( a piece written about a black man hung in Maryland on October 6, 1907, for the alleged murder of white Cumberland police officer August Baker), that is not out of place, as nothing is on this album. You need to own it and absorb to fully appreciate. There is even a song ('Invisible Mask') about the controversial mask that most of us were commanded to wear if we wanted to shop anywhere. Easy to see how Trump inspired this one is, bringing the topics to present day, even if the music is rooted in earlier times. Another Beach Boy/Tom Petty nod. Even a tune about the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement called 'Listen' is part of the lineup, that cools down a bit, and includes horns, a laid back groove, and sweet harmony. In the scheme of things, Mr Rogers has a stellar set of musicians helping hm make a fantastic release, sure to please both fans and newcomers. Great contributions from his sons Blake and Joe (Blake wrote more on this one), brothers Aaron and Sean Liller, friends Bryson Bush and Pierce Miller. Having his family so involved in this project, Anthony renamed the band Babyflow verses making it his usual solo album.
This is a limited edition of 250 vinyl albums (I have 242/250), and endless download. I LOVE what this record label says about themselves. "Wildflow. WE'RE DIFFERENT. WILDFLOW is an independent label focused on making our music projects available digitally and via vinyl records. We limit these to 250.We still believe in the sacred art of the album format. Attention spans be damned." I say HEAR HEAR!!!!
He also used a nice painting by his wife Lisa Rayden-Rogers as the cover. A bold sun with varied blue rays. The whole affair was first based on a formula of The Who 'The Who Sell Out' which used commercials as themes, and took the music world for a spin. It certainly does keep the revolving door approach, and the entertainment value is sky high. RECOMMENDED!
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 5 - 10 - 2021