Every now and then you get touched by a Rock and Roll record that’s unexplainable in as much as it makes you feel on top of the world but you have no idea how or why the songs touched you in such a way that you wanted to do nothing else other than listen to the record and play it, again and again, and again. Well, the Blips did that to me from the first time the opening song ‘Inside Out’ came hurtling out of my speakers.
Quite why they had this effect on me I don’t know. they’ve not even recorded anything groundbreakingly original or anything of the sort. What they have done is pen ten stonkingly good power-pop tunes that just ooze class from the melodies to the arrangments to the production it’s just such a great album. The verses are spot on as are the melodies and the solos are just right never over noodling and always to the betterment of the song. Take the break on ‘Throw Me Around’ it goes into a duel solo that just grinds out until it falls back into the most excellent chorus. I mean it’s not about anything in particular but it sounds like the most important song ever for three and a half minutes.
Maybe its the fact that five frontmen have formed a band? Probably should be a disaster where egos get in the way – but, no not at all – maybe the stars have aligned for this one album? The group formed after Will Stewart – an accomplished songwriter and guitar player who has released several acclaimed records under his own name and with the Birmingham-based group Timber – sent a few curious text messages inviting a group of friends and collaborators to convene and write some tunes together. That group included: Taylor Hollingsworth, Wes McDonald, Eric Wallace, and Chris McCauley.
For over 20 years, Hollingsworth has built a dedicated following by composing incomparable rock, blues, punk, and pop music under subtle variations of his name. He also writes and performs with Dead Fingers and Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band (among many other projects and groups). He’s considered by many to be one of the nation’s most innovative and adventurous guitar players.
McDonald, who plays drums in The Blips, has been making records under one moniker or another — including Terry Ohms and Vulture Whale — since 2000. His studio, Ole’ Elegante, in Birmingham served as ground zero for The Blips as they wrote, practiced, and recorded their first 10 songs with Les Nuby engineering.
McCauley, the leader of seminal Birmingham band Holy Youth, and Wallace, a well-respected guitar ripper who’s toured the globe, were already collaborating on a one-and-done punk project called Bad Hops when The Blips formed.
McCauley’s sensibilities are informed by bratty punk music and simple, yet melodic, lead guitar riffs. Critics and friends have described his singing voice as “squirrely” – a criticism he cherishes. The Blips between late-2019, and, February 2020, had written and recorded ten tracks – two weeks prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shut down. Through persistent text messaging and emails, they found a way to mix and master the songs from a distance, resulting in their first full-length record. the very record I’m gushing over right here!
The Blips sharing lead vocals, guitar, and bass duties, this surprisingly cohesive and high-energy album ranges from straight-forward garage rock to hit-and-run rockers to pop ballads with massive lead parts and gang vocals. Imagine reinventing ‘Wild Thing’ and calling it ‘Wild Thing II’. yeah, they have and what are you going to do about it? All the genres within power pop are present from the punky ‘Yes, Yes No Yes Yes No’ to the more Costello meets Stranglers like strains of ‘Out To Sea’. ‘Gold Rush’ is more laid back like Neil Young meets Teenage Fanclub if you like with a smart chorus. Man, ‘Patty’s Patio’ is snotty 80s’ new wave-inspired goodness and the perfect aperitif for the closing song ‘One And Done’. Right, I can’t sit here typing all night I’ve got to listen to the Blips album again and again for good measure. I suggest you check it out – you might get bitten like I did or you just might not get it at all, that would be sad but hey music isn’t for everyone but if you don’t like this album then I feel sorry for you because it really is a belter.
Author: Dom Daley