Friday, May 31, 2013

Review - Parthenon Huxley - Thank You Bethesda

Like any skill, songwriting takes work. The good ones make it look so effortless and easy that any schmoe thinks he can string three chords together and have a hit. But to consistently put together memorable songs album after album, year after year? That takes moxie! Although not widely known, Parthenon Huxley has the touch. He honed his skills writing songs for other artists and now spends his time writing solo albums and filling the shoes of Jeff Lynne in the touring version of E.L.O. alongside many original members. Back in the day he formed a band with Rusty Anderson, now Paul McCartney’s long-time touring guitarist. The man had pedigree.

His latest album is Thank You Bethesda and it does not disappoint. Style-wise there’s a bit of Beatles and a bit of E.L.O. but also a whole lot of positive, high-energy rock sprinkled with lyrics of wisdom and humor. The title track teases us with mellotron flutes before a spongy bass takes the lead on a high octane tour, leaving you to breathlessly fix your windblown hair. “Angeleno” is a playful swipe at the fame-obsessed culture of Los Angeles with lyrics of “Sign here for your major motion picture / Sign here on the standard release form.” Though intentionally cheesy background vocals mock the entertainment capital it’s done with such playful panache that the cowbell fits right in. “Buddha, Buddha” takes an easier pace, giving band members room to lay down noodling guitar and keyboard solos, distracting you while the chorus worms its way into your brain. The sizzling “Love Is The Greatest Thing” is classic rock at its best, featuring some simply drop-dead gorgeous guitar tones while Huxley sings “I wanna believe The Beatles / They mean so much to me / I wanna believe that love / Love is the greatest thing.”

In addition to the rockers Parthnon writes a mean ballad. “Long Way To Go” takes a look back on life with lyrics of “I’ve been playing the show / And it’s taken me place I would never have known: / Albert Hall to Pucon” but still he “Can’t love my baby when I’m stuck on the road.” “Beautiful” is a masterpiece, a wonderful love song that any women would be thrilled to receive (“I wish you could see see yourself like I do / I know that you would love the view”) that packs perfection into three minutes.

Be warned: the music of Parthenon Huxley isn’t for everyone. Fans of One Direction, for instance, probably won’t get it. But for those of us who have a few decades under our belts and are tired of hearing songs by Boston played ad nauseum and perhaps yearn for the kind of quality in music that used to be so plentiful, well then, step right up and let the melodies of Thank You Bethesda fulfill your musical sweet tooth.

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