Jamie and Steve – The Next Big Thing EP (2011)

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All good music connoisseurs are already familiar with Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel who for more than 30 years now, have been making the world smile with the ear candy they create with the Spongetones, a North Carolina band that has rightfully and regularly been referred to as America’s belated answer to the British Invasion.

All good music connoisseurs are also probably already familiar with the Jamie and Steve’s moonlighting gig as a duo. The pair’s debut album, “English Afterthoughts” proved to be pretty much an offshoot of what the Spongetones are praised for, and here on their eagerly awaited follow up record, The Next Big Thing on Loaded Goat Records, they’ve wisely retained the same style and approach.

Noggin bobbing rhythms, surrounded by tugging hooks and Jamie and Steve’s tuneful harmonies encase “Seaside Sparrow,” which further splashes a coat of hazy psychedelic contours across the canvas. These boys have forever flaunted their Beatle flag high, and this freaky fuzzy nugget falls somewhere between the foggy mist of “Blue Jay Way” and the mesmerizing motions of “It’s All Too Much.” Featured as the first cut on the disc, it sets the standard for the remainder of the album.

Skipping and hopping to a frisky temper, “Dancing on Ice” hammers skittish new wave impulses to a power pop backbone, where “Can We Start Again, Girl?,” “Over My Head and “Half a Mind” twinkle and shine with Jamie and Steve’s heralded hallmarks devised of vibrant vocals, sturdy arrangements and an enthused spirit. Imagine the Everly Brothers lending their golden lungs to the music of XTC while the Searchers supply the guitar parts, and that kind of gives you an idea what’s happening within the grooves. The title track of the record, shaped of a punchy complexion, closes the shindig with a buoyant bang.

The only problem with The Next Big Thing is that it’s a bit of a teaser, as it includes a mere seven songs. So come on, Jamie and Steve, get busy and start work on your “next big thing” as soon as possible! The album really does leave the listener pleading for more. A lot of musicians play guitar pop, but few have the insight and natural talent to transform their vision into magic the way Jamie and Steve have. Consistently catchy and flowing with earnest energy, The Next Big Thing sincerely does deserve to be the next big thing!

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