Jamie and Steve – Circling (2014)

Surely you know who these guys are, and if you don’t, you’re missing out on a lot of fantastic music! But for those not familiar with the twosome, they’re Jamie Hoover and Steve Stoeckel, who for the past few decades have been making music with the Spongetones, a North Carolina-based band universally admired for their shrewdly-chiseled pop rock songs.

When Jamie and Steve aren’t in Spongetones mode, they perform as a duo, and their latest and fourth release, a six-track EP called Circling (Loaded Goat Records) contests to be yet another slice of spectacular sounds.

Wrapped in a wash of distorted guitars fuming with urgency, “Orgami Woman” reels in as a piercing piece of mod-minted psychedelic pop, and the tirelessly catchy “Skeletons” hops and bops with folk flavored rockabilly rhythms. Beaming with bright and billowy textures, boosted by cool horn figures, the title cut of the disc exudes a juicy jazz angle, and “Wonder Girl” checks in as a pure and pretty midtempo pop sentiment.

Exploding with enthusiasm and the talent to match, Circling is so good that every single song sports a radio-friendly quality. Ringing vocals and iridescent harmonies join forces with rich and ripe hooks, while the arrangements are both practical and adventurous. The energy is vibrant and each song offers a new and different perspective.

Although the spirit of artists like the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, XTC, and the Traveling Wilburys tend to hang around the premises, Jamie and Steve, as always, add their own thoughts and ideas to the production. Not only does Circling continue the priceless pair’s tradition of excellence, but it also raises their already keen vision to even greater heights.

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Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.