June 10, 2016 11:12 AM

The first time I heard “Everybody Thinks” was two days after I learned I would be leaving the job I held for three years and, honestly, thought would carry me to retirement in 20 years. Long story short, it was not my choice. Cuts, you know, have to be made these days. In a small town, the news of my leaving almost beat me home (writing for The Ind is not my full-time gig). I am glad I e-mailed my wife about it in the minutes after it happened or it would have made it to her ears by someone else’s lips. People talked. But, as the Viatones point out, “Everybody thinks, but no one knows.”

For the first time, I felt the gravity of the situation hit me. Over its somewhat Fleetwood Mac vibe — think “The Chain” aided by backing vocals of Giver’s Tiffany Lamson — and a steady kick drum beat, Blayze Viator unfolds poignant lyrics that perfectly summarized my week. The dynamite chorus stayed with me as I dealt with the sad-faced well-wishers who only minutes before had been spreading my business.

Under normal circumstances, the rest of the album would have put me in a sunny disposition. This self-titled record — the second by the band made up of members of Brass Bed, Feu Follet, Nicest of the Damned — has a great summer-is-coming feel. Somehow, they blend classic rock and pop circa the Beatles and 1970s with slight modernization. Bouncing from a style that is very akin to the onset of “Help!” on “Blink of an Eye” to the big, busy sounds of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club” on “Call You in a Minute,” it isn’t hard to see why this record features a gray cover with only the band’s name on it (an obvious nod to the White album).

The album — not by coincidence — kicks off with a countdown just as Sgt. Pepper’s title track. Viator does a distorted, disembodied voice on “Call You in a Minute” that sounds a whole lot like John Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper’s fare. Other times, he strikes a pose as an indie pop/rocker doing his best impersonation of Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips doing an imitation of Lennon.

Furthering the throwback feel, “I’ll Come Undone” has surf rock licks. “Where Would I Be?” is a rare alt. country track with electro beats, vocals delivered along the lines of Coyne and spaghetti Western sound effects going wild. While it doesn’t exactly fit, it stands apart from countless other alt. country attempts indie rocker are making. With its playful pop-for-pop’s sake attitude, “Blink of an Eye” borders the Beatles and the Monkees.

But what really makes the record exceptional is not the merging styles but the songwriting. Many indie records are laden with random — even if poetic — lyrics that almost seem to be an attempt to prove their own obscurity. The Viatones, instead, sing songs that you will get. Furthermore, these are songs that don’t forget to stick — great catchy songwriting with hooks that do their job.

In all honesty, “Everyone Thinks” might not hit you as hard as it hit me, but it is still a tremendous song that can be taken many different ways — another sign of surefire writing. Despite your frame of mind, your job prospects, the day you had at work, it is undeniable how stellar the Viatones sophomore effort is.


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