Peaks & Valleys

Chris Richards and the Subtractions

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Veterans of the mid-west power pop scene, Chris Richards and The Subtractions, are back with their new full-length record “Peaks and Valleys”, the highly anticipated follow-up to 2012’s “Get Yer La La’s Out”. The new record is the first with newly added Subtraction Andy Reed, who also is in The Legal Matters with Chris Richards along with longtime rhythm section consisting of Todd Holmes and Larry Grodsky. Reed brings along his guitar and some of the famous Matters’ harmonies to “Peaks and Valleys, the first recording bringing Chris and Andy together since The Legal Matters critically acclaimed “Conrad”, released in late 2016 on Omnivore Recordings. “Peaks and Valleys’ is packed with some of Richards’ best songs ever, with more guitar interplay and bigger harmonies this time around. Any and all guitar pop fans will find a new home in these “Peaks and Valleys”!

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Get Yer La La's Out

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Follow up to 2009's - Sad Sounds of the Summer. A perfect soundtrack for your summer. Also available on CD and LP.

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Sad Sounds of the Summer

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A power pop tour de force that was released in 2009 to much love and critical fanfare. Chris Richards has been kicking around the Detroit music scene for the better part of 20 years, releasing a handful of noteworthy records as a member of Hippodrome and the Pantookas, but he didn't start recording under his own name until 2004 with his fine solo debut Mystery Spot, and Sad Sounds of the Summer, his first disc with his new backing combo the Subtractions, confirms his status as one of the Midwest's unsung heroes of contemporary power pop. Richards has been in the game long enough to have a firm command of the classic hard pop lexicon, and he's learned to write a memorable hook and a ear-catching melody with the same ease and aplomb as Tommy Keene, the Posies, or Sloan. But Richards' tunes have a freshness, energy, and punch that shows he's a kindred spirit, not a follower, and the big guitars, spot-on vocal harmonies, and walloping backbeat of songs like "I Can't Quit Her," "I, Miss July," and "I Do Declare" are pure pop bliss of the sort that was supposed to have died out in the 1990s. Richards' guitar work is straightforward but powerful throughout this album, lending the melodies plenty of body and force, and bassist Todd Holmes and drummer Larry Grodsky (both veterans of Richards' earlier bands) give these performances the rock-solid framework they need. Dave Feeny's clean, resonant recording makes this album sound just as good as the songs deserve, and the result is one of the best examples of Nuevo power pop to emerge from the Rust Belt in many a moon; the title might be Sad Sounds of the Summer, but this disc is 37 minutes of guitar-powered joy that will satisfy your craving for hard-rocking pop all year round.

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Mystery Spot

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Chris Richards moves to the head of the modern-day power pop class with his first solo record, Mystery Spot. His work with the Phenomenal Cats and the Pantookas was solid and engaging pop, but this disc moves beyond that and should put him in the big leagues next to guys like Michael Penn, Matthew Sweet, and Velvet Crush. He has everything that those guys do. Hook-filled tunes you will be humming before they are half over, ringing guitars, soaring harmony vocals, heart-tugging lyrics about girls, girls, and more girls. Although the disc is on a microindie (or maybe because it is), the production is first-rate; Richards and Dave Feeny came up with a guitar-heavy sound that rocks, but has a light and poppy feel. Hmmm, power plus pop....That must be where they got "power pop" from back in the day. Tracks like the thudding "She Belongs to Me" and the chunky "Come Clean" are textbook examples of that sound. Elsewhere, Richards conjures the ghost of Marshall Crenshaw on "Everyday Girl," drops some sweet pedal steel into the mix on the pair of beautiful ballads "Draining" and "She's Just Falling Out of Love," sits behind the electric keys and brings it down a bit on the sweet "Gracefully," and rocks quite convincingly on the excellent opener "Is There Anybody Else?" The rest of the album is packed with great tracks, not a stinker in the bunch. If you dig Falkner, Sweet, Keene, or any of the other giants of the power pop continuum, you need to seek this record out.

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