Hard to believe, but it's been an entire decade since Cincy-based singer/songwriter Roger Klug released a new record. That project, Where Has the Music Gone: Lost Recordings of Clem Comstock, was an ambitious “concept” album on which Klug recorded a batch of songs in varying styles and under different band names, presented as the unearthed work of “legendary” producer, Clem Comstock.
The tracks on that 1999 release were so precise and authentic in their delivery, one couldn’t be blamed for believing the Comstock “hoax” and thinking these songs were recorded back in the ’60s. That’s because Klug has a broad grasp on popular music, understanding from the inside out what makes a great song.
Klug’s recently-released new one, More Help for Your Nerves, is the best of the songwriter’s career, with Klug back to his usual “voice” — timeless Power Pop that churns out songs so infectiously rich with hooks the CDC might think about investigating. While Power Pop is sometimes derided for being a bit too “paint by numbers” without a lot of variation, sometimes, when the writer is as good as Klug, it transcends the entire genre. And More Help is incredibly varied, with Klug blending trademark peppier numbers with a capella passages, orchestral flourishes, jazzy shuffles and piano ballads without losing his fairly singular sonic identity. Just as Brian Wilson created pocket symphonies with his smart, crafty Pop tunes, Klug’s songs are luxurious and immaculately constructed and arranged, almost like three-minute orchestral pieces.
Klug would fit in on a package tour with Ben Folds, The Move, The Shazam, Big Star, Fountains of Wayne and Joe Jackson (Look Sharp era), but More Help makes it clear that he’d not be the opening act on that tour. More Help for Your Nerves is a Power Pop masterpiece, ranking up there with some of the classics of the genre. If the world was perfect, this is the kind of ear-friendly music that would be on Rock and Pop radio all day. Hopefully it won’t be 10 years before Klug tries to top this masterful effort.
Klug and his band — longtime cohorts Mike Tittel (drums) and Greg Tudor (bass) — perform Friday at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley with special guest Happy Chichester. For more on the album, go to mentalgiant.com.
More Local Notes
• Superb Indie/Folk trio Wonky Tonk will be the “Artists in Residence” for the month of May at the Southgate House, meaning the group will play each Wednesday this month in the club’s lounge starting at 9 p.m. Guests for the free showcases are The Happy Maladies and Soft Pain (this Wednesday), DJ Stump of Chick Pimp, Coke Dealer at a Bar (May 20) and Nick Coward and Mike Oliva of The Harlequins (May 27). (myspace.com/wonkytonkmusic)
• This Saturday in the Southgate ballroom, several local musicians have organized a showcase of bands that have been nominees for Cincinnati Entertainment Awards. The show features 2008 nominees Knife the Symphony, Chakras, The Flux Capacitors and The Harlequins, plus 2005 “Singer/Songwriter” winner Whitney Barricklow.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: [email protected]