Ice Cream Skyscraper – Mercury in Lemonade (2015)

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How good it is to know there are still musicians making real recordings, especially when they are as talented as the folks behind Ice Cream Skyscraper?

Formed by Huw Gower of the Records and Michael Mazzarella from the Rooks, the power pop legends are joined by an array of equally gifted players here on their second album, Mercury in Lemonade. Among the famed faces lending their moxie to the album are guitarist Rik Mercaldi (Genya Raven, Spuyten Duyvil), bassist Dave Hofstra (the Voidoids, Marshall Crenshaw), keyboardist Bruce MacPherson (Fleetwood Mac, Lesley Gore), and drummers “Mad” Mike Cullens (Chuck Berry, Mick Taylor) and Steve Holley (Paul McCartney, Ian Hunter), along with input from pianist Max Middleton (Jeff Beck, Kate Bush) and the Grateful Dead’s lyricist Robert Hunter.

Casting an atmospheric and eclectic spell, Mercury in Lemonade unifies influences as far ranging as soul, jazz, country, straight-up rock and psychedelia with satisfying results. A loose, casual and free-wheeling vibe shapes the songs, amplified by improvisational passages and trippy melodicism. Raspy vocals lead the ensemble, while the raw and unconventional instrumentation is nothing less than democratic.

Fueled by a ruggedly funky beat, “Groove Back” is one of many not to be neglected tracks on Mercury in Lemonade, as well as the shuffling and staggering rhythms of “Problem” and “Turmoil,” and then there’s a festive cover of Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” that features a rousing round of handclaps and shouting harmonies. Other A-list songs on the album include “Don’t Shoot The Messenger,” “Silverbird,” “Nineteen In 71,” and “For The Birds,” which floats and flutters to a lilting acid-dusted stance.

Clipping cues from the dark and light shades of late ’60s / early ’70s bands like Traffic, Spirit, Iron Butterfly and Led Zeppelin, Ice Cream Skyscraper is just as cutting edge as they are old school. Owing as much to the past as to today’s alternative to the alternative scene, Mercury in Lemonade is filled with interesting angles. A standing ovation!

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

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