Michigan's history of dance-soul pop is well known, as is the state's propensity for odd, loud, challenging music made by unique individuals. Of ourse, one would always hope that somebody would come along and bridge that gap. Luckily, one mand did. Warn Defever, of the wonderful His Name Is Alive, released two albums, Stars on ESP and Fort Lake, that bridged the gap between artsy-rock, Motown soul, and Brian Wilson-pop. The critics hated it. It was too bad, because those records were fun, and the world could use a little more fun these days.
Fortunately, quitely watching in the wings was one young fellow, Fred Thomas. His band Flashpapr had been recorded by Warn at his famous timeSTEREO studios, and I guess that Defever's influence rubbed off. If you've been a His Name is Alive follower, then the cast of All Your Summer Songs will look quite familiar. The lineup consists of friends of HNIA as well as Defever collaborators, incliding folks from Ida, Retsin, Godzuki, as well as Tara Jane O'Neil, Jessica Bailiff, and Ted Leo. Of course, who does what is never made clear, so you'll just have to figure out who does what on your own. Indeed, at times All Your Summer Songs sounds like a companion to the lost His Name is Alive classic, Emergency Album. Compare the lineups, and you'll realize it is almost the same band.
Either way, All Your Summer Songs still sounds GREAT, and it's due, in large part, to the wonderful singing. Erika Hoffman, of the futuristic popsters Godzuki and latter-day His Name is Alive, has a voice that deserves to be heard, and I've always held her singing close to my heart. On "Underwater Heartbreak" and "Alcohol," she belts 'em out like they're fresh off of Holland/Dozier/Holland's hit factory circa 1965. If you're not dancing around the room when "Alcohol" is playing, there must be something wrong with you. The only flaw that I find with All Your Summer Songs would have to be the boy singing. It's not quite the same, really, and I guess I'm just hooked on the girl-pop. The girls shine brighter than the boys on here, though there's nothing wrong with the XY singing.
All Your Summer Songs is a fast-paced and sugar-laced record that's full of sunshine and sweetness, it's no wonder they've become a healthy alternative to Emo. Really--you'll never understand how SHOCKED I was when I read that Saturday Looks Good To Me was going on tour with Emo Superstars Saves the Day. It just seemed an odd pairing, but it's okay, because it's for the best. See, Fred Thomas' work-ethic is to be admired--he's released several albums you'll probably never hear--and he is a young man whose star is clearly on the rise. All those years and all those excellent songs written in obscurity paid off, and, just think--this is only the beginning! A fun, fine record that you should seek out, especially if you love pop or miss His Name Is Alive's pre-R&B style.