(2013) by Beverly Paterson
For the past few years, Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel of the Spongetones have been moonlighting as a duo. Clinging tight the melody-matted pop rock essence their long-running North Carolina band is universally adored for, the terrific twosome, needless to say, craft an immediately likeable sound.
Here on Jamie and Steve’s third full-length effort, Imaginary Café (Loaded Goat Records), we’re once again showered with a showcase stashed with clever songwriting and instrumentation.
An imaginary café, as Jamie informs us, is a place where the guitars are always in tune, the voices are in great shape, the audience smiles after every song, and it’s the perfect gig. Well, in my opinion, the fellows have accomplished such a lofty feat!
Sprinkled with sheets of spacey distortion, complemented by a quirky angle, the title track of the disc nails psychedelic exploratory practices to a new wave outlook with impressive results, and then there’s the super catchy “Gold Mine” that bounces merrily to rousing rockabilly rhythms tinged with touches of Merseybeat magnetism.
A hard-edged undercurrent penetrates the angst-ridden “A Dangerous Man To Know,” and “Your Name Here” strolls and rolls to an easygoing, lazy summer day kind of pace dripping with the type of tipsy dance hall music overtures Ray Davies of the Kinks possesses an affinity for.
Suffused with harmonious singing, punchy guitar chords, spirited keyboard movements and herds of biting hooks, Imaginary Café radiates righteously with radio-ready fare. Jamie and Steve are top of the line pop rock architects, and this highly enjoyable record is a solid testimony to their creativity.