The members of Hummingbird Syndicate are a pure pop collective and their opening track to the Pop Tricks album, “Romance,” is as sweet a confection as you’ll find. Jon Macey’s production work for Elektra records as well as his two albums with Tom Dickie and the Desires on Mercury – along with his perfect ear – oversees a project that Archies vocalist and Barry Manilow producer Ron Dante would have totally immersed himself in during the ‘60s. Lynn Shipley as creative partner helps bring the harmonies and melodies in sync with the lyrics, and they generate a full and entertaining sound.
“After Stephen Foster” switches hats from that exquisite pop to pure Americana with the harmonies of Shipley, Mary Jaye Simms and Jennifer Lewis Bennet adding some gospel to the acoustic number.
Seven of the dozen songs are under four minutes, which makes for extended play when it comes to a serious and happily light-hearted outfit whose CD Baby page declares proudly: “ABBA meets the Ramones, Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris… Mamas & Papas sing the Velvets” and it’s so true, with the Abba leanings more geared towards Don Kirshner pop. “You Don’t Know (Much About Me) wander into territory owned by The Band with Marianne Faithful on vocals, splendid guitars bring it all to life in a wonderful way. As much as the music stretches over the individual artist careers of the parts that make up this whole, to anyone aware of Boston rock and roll, it is Macey who is the central figure with Stompers/Fox Pass rhythm section Lenny Shea and Steve Gilligan who add their talents along with Tom Hostage of Macey’s Parade, with the string slingers indulging in “electric and acoustic guitars, mandolins, mandolas, 12-strings, and B-Benders” according to the group bio. To that point, “Haley” is pure Macey’s Parade, more so than Fox Pass and Hummingbird Syndicate, which is fine, because this amalgam of Shipley/Macey/Gilligan/Hostage/Shea/Bennet/Simms etc. modern rock mixed with the long-established (over four decades) sounds these performers and recording artists have developed can shape-shift and blend in the communal spirit that their name indicates. A music mafia of colorful birds with iridescent feathers – which is why this review is in the Arial font…I think.
Along with the 12 songs on Pop Tricks there is also a CD single “Waterfall Away” b/w “I Want You To Stay” on Actuality Records. You can find the two additional songs on Soundcloud and they are as vibrant and exciting as the music on the full lengthy. As stated, the production is as state-of-the-art as the musicianship. With Chris Maclachlan of Human Sexual Response, L.A. guitarist Dan Coughlin, Andy Hollinger and Pop Gun’s Jim Melanson it is more like the Mamas and the Mamas and the Papas and the Papas, an ensemble that has delivered music distinctly different from anything on the New England music scene, a wonderful invention of multiple chefs drawing from the same palette in unison, never stepping on anyone else’s space. Remarkable.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.