The Melody Mine: Album of the Week

This week’s Featured Album comes out of Minneapolis and is a mix of jangly pop, dreamy girl group send-ups and ambling, tuneful folk.

‘All The Happy People’ is Spencer McGillicutty’s third album and follows on from one of our favourite albums ‘Games’.

‘Games’ was full of catchy melodies and sixties style three minute pop rockets, ‘All The Happy People’ thankfully follows in this fine tradition.

‘You Haunt Me’, ’1944′ and ‘Up Half The Night’ will instantly grab your ears and give them a damn good shake, in fact so much so that you’ll wish you had a time machine to take this band back to the 1960s with you so you could get your groove on in real authentic style!

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CityPages feature: Spencer McGillicutty on writerly songwriting and school days

CityPagesSpencer McGillicutty — they’re a band, not a person — mine the sounds of early-’60s AM gold on their third album, All the Happy People! Throughout, the local group swings effortlessly between cotton-candy sweet group sing-a-longs and wistful acoustic balladry. Employing a rotating co-ed cast of four charming lead vocalists and with an ear for precise group harmonies, this is irresistibly winsome ear-candy for fans of Wes Anderson soundtracks who don’t want to visit the cemetary or a convalescent home. It’s heartening to know this kind of music is being made by living, breathing human beings nearby.

Prior to their CD release show tonight at the Triple Rock Social Club the group’s core members Mitchell Johnson (vocals/guitar/keys), Ryan Ruff Smith (vocals/guitar), Brittany Miller (vocals) and Nicole Wilder (vocals) took time out to talk with City Pages about looking backward for artistic inspiration, embracing an innocent lyrical worldview, and their collegiate beginnings..

City Pages: Your sound is obviously strongly redolent of the early ’60s, but so are your songwriting methods. While Mitchell and Ryan write all the words and music it’s often Nicole or Brittany singing lead vocals. This sort of Brill Building approach isn’t exactly in at the present time in indie-rock. What led you to it?

Mitchell Johnson: It’s just more fun writing songs for people that have way better voices than us [laughs]. It’s cool to let go of the typical rock-star ego of “I want to sing everything that I write.” I enoy writing from someone else’s point of view and being able to sort simultaneously express myself and hide behind a different identity or gender. That’s really what Spencer is all about, we all have our different strengths and if somebody is better at singing a song we hand it to them, and if they want to change a lyric, that’s great.

Ryan Smith: From a craft perspective writing a song you’ll know someone else is going to sing provides a a nice shortcut to thinking about point of view in your songwriting. I feel like when I’m singing a song It’s easy for me to know what I’m feeling and then just assume other people will inherently understand it. When I’m writing for a different person I find it forces me to be clearer in a good way.

MJ: Deep down I think we want to be…

RS: [cutting Mitch off] Girls! [table erupts in laughter]

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CityPagesHarkening back to a more innocent pop-music era, youthful quintet Spencer McGillicutty — they’re a band, not a person — mine the sounds of early-’60s AM radio gold to produce their present-day melodic riches. The local group’s third album, All the Happy People!, swings effortlessly between cotton-candy sweet group sing-alongs and wistful acoustic balladry. Employing a rotating coed cast

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MetroMix Twin Cities

Metromix Twin Cities Logo

Big hooks and a charmingly retro lyrical approach (“That girl kisses boys she doesn’t even know!”) power the albums 13 tracks of hand-clap friendly jangle-pop adorned with the kind of cute touches (dollops of xylophone, brassy blasts of baritone sax) rarely heard since Phil Spector’s heyday. Modern music so steeped in nostalgia is rarely this delightfully irresistible.

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Dagger Zine – Portland

Dagger Zine Logo
I hear a bit of Carole King in here, mixed with a healthy dose of the brilliant San Francisco band the Corner Laughers. And, gotta say it, there’s a lot of Carpenters going on here. “An Act of Contrition,” the opening track, brings the Karen hard, as does “Telephone Signals.” Beyond that, Spencer McGillicutty rocks out a bit (the utterly catchy “It’s Easy to Fall in Love” and “Secret Best Friend”) and turns in a gem of a tune in the introspective and garage-band-like “Claire Carnaby.” In all, the four-piece outfit (which had help from 18 contributors chiming in on the glockenspiel and French horn, among other instruments), has released a fine record.

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Chattanooga Times Free Press

Chattanooga Times Free Press I was blown away by the band’s brilliantly nouveau take on late ’50s/early ’60s doo-wop. Song after song features pristine vocal harmonies and infectiously orchestrated melodies that would have sounded at home at an “American Bandstand” sock hop….They produce new music that, by dint of evolutionary momentum, should sound completely outmoded. Instead, they’re so completely vested in paying homage that they manage to be simultaneously familiar and fresh…

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Baka Diary CD Purchase


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Leicester Bangs – UK

Leicester Bangs Logo Well, this is fun. Spencer McGillicuty and his band of willing helpers are in awe of the girl groups of the ‘60s, Carole King, Beach Boys harmonies and killer tunes. A massive dose of exquisite pop music that should be ruling whatever charts it comes into contact with…Their old-school approach to pop music is charming and full of joyful respect for a style that went out of fashion sometime in the mid-‘60s. If any of the above piques your curiosity, or you’ve pleasing memories of the glory days of Mari Wilson, take a stroll over to their MySpace home and wallow long and hard in some of the most lovingly crafted pop you’ll have heard in a long time.

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FensePost: THE indie music blog

FensePost Logo If you dig the carefree pop of the 60s, with a predilection toward girl-groups of that era, you’ll easily fall in love with “Hide And Seek” and, not surprisingly, “It’s Easy To Fall In Love”. Backed by orchestration provided slew of friends, this quartet has been dubbed The cutest band in the land, and their music is fits that statement perfectly.

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Flake Records – Japan

Flake Records

Fashion which I do not think I’ve got no work for years to listen!

ジャケもバンド名も素敵なこのバンド!コツコツと活動を続けている男女混合4人組の自主制作2ndアルバム!これが自主制作とは思えないクオリティで素晴らしい!60年代レトロテイストを軸に据えつつもポップの才気的アレンジでTHE BEACH BOYS~JELLYFISHをも彷彿させるピュアポップ!RILO KILEYやベルセバ等とも比較されるように時代を超えるスタンダードなポップサウンドが詰まっています!モータウンなリズムとノスタルジックなメロディと男女混合のコーラスワークがとにかく最高!掘り出し物以外の何者でもないです!!CAMERA OBSUCURAのファンは是非!!!流行ものでは無いけども何年も聴ける作品かと思います!!M2の”IN MY ARMS AGAIN”とか超名曲っしょ!!!

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Apple Crumble Records – Japan

2004年に結成されたアメリカMINNEAPOLIS出身のSpencer McGillicutty氏を中心とした5人組セカンド・アルバム。影響を受けた音楽はTHE BEATLES、THE BEACH BOYS、CAROLE KING、BURT BACHARACH、PHIL SPECTOR、モータウン、ELVIS COSTELLO、ベルセバ、THE PAPAS & THE PAPASなど。60年代ポップにインスパイアされたサウンドで、モータウン、THE VOLUNTARY BUTLER SCHEME、90年代後期のUSインディ・ポップを思わせる全11トラック:のどかなウーララ女性コーラス・ハーモニー&後半からハンドクラップをフィーチャーした1、モータウン・リズム〜爽やか女性コーラス〜ハーモニカ〜ピアノ音の軽快ポップ2、シュビドゥビ女性コーラス&オルガンが60年代してる3、ピアノ&女性コーラス&ホーンがフィーチャーされたモータウン・リズムの4、シックスティーズなサイケ・オルガン&女性コーラスの5、ジャジー〜 AOR風味の心温まる70年代SSW調6、ピアノ&鉄琴の音色に男女混合ボーカルのジャジー&ラウンジーな7、高音ボーカルが印象的でホーン&女性コーラスが加えられた8、ほのぼのとした大合唱&ホーンでI’M FROM BARCELONAを思わせるのどかな9、ピアノ&OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHNのように清らかな女性ボーカルで後半からホーン&鐘の音色で壮大なバラード調10〜女性ボーカル&クリスマスみたいな鈴の音色のしっとりとした11

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