Chris Lund's "Indian Summer" has arrived!
The long-awaited follow-up to Chris' 2017 Great Event Syndrome is here. It is aptly titled "Indian Summer", which is a long summer extending well into October or November. In literature it is perhaps best analogized as a time when one may recover some of the happiness of youth.
This record does that in spades. For those who grew up in the golden age of classic rock and younger generations currently discovering the music via their parents, this record will be revelatory.
The pastoral front cover, with Lund casually leaning against a Classic Z-28 car with sun filtering through the treetops behind might give the sense that this is merely a record of nostalgic overtones, but his T-shirt that reads "Bitch" belies that. This will be a Rock record.
From the strong opener, "Every Thing Is Fine" about a juvenile delinquent, we begin the ride. It is driven by pulsing acoustic guitar and synth in the verses and choruses that morph into Zeppelinesque riffing and growling vocals ("starting fires and wetting the bed") in the bridge and middle 8 sections. The uber-catchy chorus lines and harmonies are very Beatle-ish. Lund's vocal on this one channels Cheap Trick's Robin Zander.
The title track is up next and sums up the overall theme nicely. The swirling guitar opening leads to a classic lone quitar shuffle with Lund intoning the listener/girl, "come on, it's an Indian Summer and we've still got the time". This song captures the desperation of young summer infatuation bordering on lust. The music stays quite heavy in spite of a super Beach Boys style chorus that dips into three-part harmony at times. The electric guitars really power this track.
"Mary Jane" has a suspicious name. Hard-rocking and bittersweet all at once, it might be about a reunion with a long lost girlfriend, but with lines like "one deep breath" and "we won't have to meet in secret anymore" one cannot be sure. The intro starts with chiming descending 12 string and electric guitar arpegios and then, rifle-quick, switches to thunderous tom-tom drumming and slashing guitar chords, finally settling in to the hookiest guitar riff I've heard in a while. The killer chorus with Lund working the upper part of his vocal range and slightly Eastern influenced guitar fills will lend itself to many repeated listenings, with the tailout of the song flaming into wailing guitar solos and more drum thunder.
"Guarantee" is a semi-ballad and veers away from the youthful theme of the record. But the effortless changes the song goes through in just four minutes is impressive, with some very hooky moments in the chorus and middle 8 (which has wailing whammy guitar underneath the Lennon style vocal delivery). The guitar work here is Hendrix infuenced. The sky high wailing backing vocals add to the angst in the outro as the song's protagonist rages about the years and opportunities lost to a faithless realationship.
"Down the Line" is a hard-rocking runaway train about a rock star wearing out his welcome in a small town while on tour. The cops threaten to arrest him if he doesn't get out of town fast. The wailing Stratocasters all over this track are more Van Halen than Hendrix. It is stripped down rock - just acoustic guitar bass and drums drive the underbelly with the post-solo middle section evolving into a psychedelic purely acoustic dreamscape with ghostly backing "oohs". The calm doesn't last long as dream turns to nightmare with a Dream Police style buildup back into the chorus. Per se, this is the Helter Skelter of the record, the heaviest cut and a real tour de force.
Track 6, "Time Runnin'" is back to the primary theme of the first two songs, a teenage kid on the last day of school trying to get laid with a girl who's "been staring at me since last fall". Musically, it has a stellar chorus and great bridge that alludes to the time period with the line, "Come on in - and More Than a Feeling is on the Stereo - Come on in - I can still here the music play" A musical orgiastic exposion occurs pre-final bridge that you don't offen get in a great three minute pop song. Lund's bridges are so consistently good through the record, that they almost function as second choruses.
"Please Me" is a slow pleading lament driven by nicely layered acoustic and electric guitars with a Brian May influenced breakdown. The three part harmonies would be right at home on a CSNY record. This song has a free form feel with wonderful dynamics throughout that build more tension than in a standard ballad. Led Zeppelin's Babe I'm Gonna Leave You is an applicable template here.
"Military Girl" has a husband leaving his wife with "a note on the kitchen table" underneath Van Halen staccato style chord slices. Fortunately he finds a mililtary girl to drive around town with. This song is straight up rock and roll with great guitar and a rousing chorus to boot.
Track 9, "Killing Kindness" is a fast rocker. It shows how far Lund has come in his writing abilities, still staying in the Pop realm with a hook-laden chorus with some big three part harmonies and a Stones style verse but including (all in the three minute song format) a jazz rock guitar solo and later, a snaking Aerosmith style heavy blues riff guitar hook that pulls the listener right in.
Track 10, "Where You Goin'?" is a paranoid trip about a partner's suspected infidelity. The song is slow and sparsely arranged but the chorus is pure Beatle - nice and punchy with clever two-part harmony and dynamite chord changes. The subtle presence of synth on many of the previous tracks is not subtle here. It invades the musical terrain in harmonic feedback bursts, interrupting the unsettled calm of the songs verses until it completely envelopes the fadeout outro sounding space-age.
Track 11 is a reprise of Track 5. "Down the Line Reprise" comes on more like a heavy-metal mix of the other track with cranked electric guitar. The acoustic guitar is less audible, there are no guitars in the first verse and the production is more metal. None-the-less, it's an apocalytic close that drives home the Rock-balance of the record.
By all means necessary, get this record if you love classic rock and power pop style music. Find a long back road or highway, put it on the car stereo, turn it up, and slip away into an Indian Summer.
Reviewed by Rick Joseph 09/01/2022 - Independent