Forgotten series: The Greenberry Woods – Big Money Item (1995)

It’s no secret bands containing family members operate on telepathic frequencies. From the Everly Brothers to the Beach Boys to the Kinks to the Bee Gees to the Cowsills to the Jackson Five to AC/DC, such a rapport is clearly evident. And let’s not forget the Greenberry Woods, which featured twin siblings, Matt and Brandt Huseman. Formed 1989, the Maryland based band also included the equally fine talents of Ira Katz and Miles Rosen.

The Greenberry Woods got off to an encouraging start, as their debut album Rapple Dapple pulled in rows of raves. Released in 1994, the disc shimmers with classic pop rock applications but emits a current day outlook sitting amiably alongside similarly slanted peers like Velvet Crush, Matthew Sweet, the Posies, Jellyfish, and Material Issue.

Proving Rapple Dapple was not beginner’s luck, the Greenberry Woods delivered a subsequent winner with Big Money Item (Sire Records). Produced by noted musician and knob master Andy Paley, the disc once again shines the laser on the band’s keen storytelling, revolving around the kind of awkward, vulnerable, and lovesick characters found in young adult novels. Hummable hooks and sweeping harmonies add further appeal to these soap operas and confessionals.

Equipped with all the proper power pop tools, “Parachute” and “Love Songs” jingle and jangle with vibrant motions, the rather bubblegummy “Smash-Up” is highlighted by a taunting chorus, “Punch Drunk” ripples with a dark intensity amid a tide of tugging melodies, and “Super Geek” combines charm with uncertainty to catchy effects. The spirit of the Beatles is called forth on the crunchy rhythm chording of “Back Seat Driver,” which lends a wink and wave to both “Drive My Car” and “Day Tripper,” while the pure pop procedures of “Oh Janine” and “Nice Girl” project warmth and sweetness.

Stocked to the rafters with strong and radiant vocals, tightly-stitched instrumentation, and creative arrangements, Big Money Item is the perfect pop rock album. Thriving on structure and routine, the Greenberry Woods may have stuck to the basics, but their songs were consistently tuneful and sincere. Record label politics prevented Big Money Item from becoming the big money item it should have been, and that was the end of the Greenberry Woods.

Nonetheless, the band’s reputation lives on, as their two discs are duly referenced by power-pop advocates.

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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.