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Twinn Connexion— Songs From the Heart
(The Twinn Connexion Group)

Sophomore efforts don’t usually take more than 40 years to come together, though in fairness, Twinn Connexion is a fairly unusual proposition. Identical twin brothers Jay and Jerry Hopkins were teen sensations in the late ‘60s, releasing a single album of contemporary pop music on Decca Records before seeing their label support all but evaporate in the wake of a sell off.

Jay Hopkins became a stock trader on Wall Street before his untimely death on September 6, 2001, and his brother Jerry, who resides in the Hudson Valley, became a successful painter.

According to the sprawling liner notes, Songs From the Heart is something of a bubblegum pop version of a posthumous Tupac Shakur album, with Jerry Hopkins and Jim Barbaro taking previously recorded vocal tracks and bits and pieces of songs from back in the group’s heyday and finishing them in the past year in a Woodstock recording studio.

Surprisingly, this process is more hit than miss, and if Songs From the Heart isn’t destined to be a classic, it’s worth seeking out.

With its breezy harmonies and sparse guitar accompaniment, album opener “Think I Will” sounds as though it was actually completed back in 1968, a possibility made more believable when the next two tracks—“Nothing’s Changed But Me” and “Barbara Pepper”—unfold. It’s not that the songs themselves don’t work, but the deliberately retro production sounds canned and inauthentic. The ship is righted on “Run Out to Meet Myself,” another song that sounds as though it’s been beamed directly from the past. Both the first and fourth tracks were among the bonus material on a recent CD re-release of the group’s debut, though there is no indication here that they’re the same.

Songs From the Heart boasts 16 tracks, well over half of which come off as totally plausible solid ‘60s pop tunes. It’s just a shame Jay Hopkins couldn’t be around to hear how it sounds.

www.last.fm/music/twinn+connexion


John David Schrader— Daylight Crashing
(Bugbird Records)

Nearly one minute in, and I began to wonder if there was some sort of malfunction with the CD pressing. But Daylight Crashing’s opening track, “Shock,” stayed true to its name, beginning with a delicate piece of classical music before commencing with the rock.

Daylight Crashing is an album that wears its ambitions on its sleeve, namely bringing anthemic guitar-driven rock music back from the dead. In a world of Lady Gagas and T-Pains, this is no easy proposition. But if anyone is up to the task, it could well be John David Schrader, who wrote, produced and mixed Daylight Crashing. He also played most of the instruments, and it’s a testament to his vision that he’s able to wear so many hats and still make it all come together this seamlessly.

Most of the album’s 15 tracks fall into the same basic formula, and rock along either politely (“Racing April”) or brusquely (“Breathe”), creating a collection Jon Bon Jovi would give his eyeteeth to come up with today.

www.johnschrader.com


Kirsten DeHaan— Thorns on a Crown
(SirLady Records)

Kirsten DeHaan’s new EP, Thorns on a Crown, comes on like a dream, with opening track “1984" like a P.J. Harvey outtake where the legendary indie rocker held up on the vocals and went for sexy instead of stunning.

Some of DeHaan’s previous work has been licensed for use in MTV reality programming, and the tune here most likely to make a similar jump to the small screen is “The Night Shift,” which spends its first two-thirds as an introspective monologue before opening up and getting aggressive down the stretch.

“I’m Coming Home” is firmly on the mellow side from beginning to end, and might set up nicely the teary middle half of an episode of The Real World, while the EP’s closer, “Ms. Daisy” works as the soundtrack to a redemptive monologue.

If it sounds formulaic, maybe that’s the intention. And there’s really nothing wrong with that, anyway. Is there?

www.kirstendehaan.com



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