Review: Pop Gun’s “American Soul”

by Bill Brenner on June 6, 2013

Music is one of my main coping tools, and I’ve latched on to a new CD from some old friends that I know will get me through the stresses of a new job and the slow commute that goes with it.

I’ve already determined that Pop Gun’s American Soul is an excellent soundtrack for ensuring the painful wind from the Longfellow Bridge across Storrow Drive and onto I-93. I could swear at the drivers around me and bang my fist on the steering wheel. Instead, I’m listening to Pop Gun.

Mood music:

(Disclosure: I know these guys well. I worked with drummer Greg Walsh at a small weekly newspaper nearly 20 years ago. In more recent years, I’ve gotten to know bassist-vocalist Harry Zarkades and guitarist-fellow Hillie James Melanson.)

I’ve had Pop Gun’s Trigger CD for a long time and have my favorites for sure, but American Soul has a depth and weight that comes with the 20 years of life experiences these guys have had since the songs for that first CD was written.

My favorite track is “Love and Wine,” written and vocalized by former guitarist Bruce Allen, who recently moved to Colorado. (Harry Sabean replaced Allen.) It’s a song full of light and fresh air, especially when Allen sings, “The sun will shine, and love is a vine that we’ll tend together.” When he sings that love is like wine, “sweet when it’s young and it only gets better,” it resonates with me after nearly 15 years of marriage.

“Bitter Heart” is another favorite. Melanson sings this one, and the mix of melody and crunchy riffs remind me of some of Boston’s classic bands, like The Cars and Aerosmith, with a bit of The Neighborhoods mixed in for good measure. His vocals are a smooth contrast to Zarkades’s more serrated tone. That’s one of the things that makes this album work for me: the vocal variety in the songs.

Erin and I attended Pop Gun’s record-release concert last week and the new tunes passed the critical test of scoring direct punches live.

If you’re a fan of Boston rock, this CD carries on the rich tradition that makes me proud to call this place home.

Buy American Soul. You won’t regret it. The best place to order one is the Pop Gun Facebook page. The guys will get back to you in short order.

For locals, you can pick up the disc at The Record Exchange in Salem, MA, and Dyno Records in Newburyport, MA.

Pop Gun Photo by Melanie Carr

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Greg June 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I’ve always respected your opinion Bill, but you’re way off on this one!
Oh no, wait. It’s good!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: