Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Catching Up With The Brainy Pop Of California's The Corner Laughers

There's something irrepressible and brash about Karla Kane's frontwoman persona. It's like Mary Tyler Moore's Mary Richards formed a band and ended each song with a hat toss. I'm being silly but that's sort of the vibe I'm getting here.

Karla Kane leads The Corner Laughers, a California-based four-piece that makes winning pop in the style of Swan Dive, Rilo Kiley, and Aimee Mann...only a happy Aimee Mann. Frankly, their newest album, Matilda Effect, is loaded with great, expertly crafted pop. "Octavia A" rides the sort of jaunty melody that Mann collaborator Jon Brion would use in one of his film scores, while "Queen of the Meadow" showcases Kane's Lesley Gore-like delivery of the early Bangles-ish melody line.

Behind Kane we've got bass player Khoi Huynh and drummer Charlie Crabtree plus KC Bowman on the guitars. Bowman is part of the superb four-piece Pop4 and the guy peppers these tracks with spry licks (the delightfully propulsive "Sophie in the Streets of Stockholm") and near-Hawaiian hooks ("Lammas Land" which in its sunny vibe makes me think of my old island home of Lamma Island, Hong Kong, though I doubt the kids in The Corner Laughers mean that Lamma).

The sublime "Go Fly Your Kite" calls to mind again the late period pop of Lesley Gore for me. Like Gore's stuff, there's a decided West Coast vibe here that makes this song, like so many on Matilda Effect, such an absolute joy to listen to. This is the sort of thing that makes me dread the arrival of fall; maybe I need to move to Cali where I can crank this stuff out as I cruise the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down all year round?

What makes the music of The Corner Laughers so winning is that mix of elements in the service of tunes that are so joyous and so smart. The Corner Laughers have learned, as I wish so many bands would learn, that there's no shame in making music that makes people happy. You can still make them think too but first you've got to get the toes tapping and one listen to "The Girl, America" had me firmly in the fan-camp of this band. The Corner Laughers might be from California but on this song at least they sound like Scotland's Aztec Camera in spots.

Matilda Effect is out now from The Corner Laughers. I highly recommend this to anyone who's a fan of Aimee Mann, Paul McCartney, and Rilo Kiley. Decidedly upbeat, this is the sort of indie pop that deserves to be huge and played on Top 40 radio. Each cut made me smile a little and I need to do more of that so count me an instant fan of this four-some.

Matilda Effect is out now. Follow The Corner Laughers on their official Facebook page.