Crossword Smiles brings you optimistic rock full of insightful songs and intriguing lyrics on their new album, Pressed & Ironed.
Pressed & Ironed by Crossword Smiles
Crossword Smiles debut album is called Pressed & Ironed. Their music leans hard into the early alternative rock vein. Think of bands like Big Star and The Replacements with splashes of Bob Mould, Joe Jackson, and Crowded House, and you’ve got the ticket. Crossword Smiles is Tom Curless (guitar, vocals, drums, and keys) and Chip Saam (bass, guitars, vocals). Helping lend a hand on this album are Joel Boyea (Keyboards on “October Leaves” and Guitar on “This Little Town”), Greg Addington (Keyboards and Guitar on “Parallel Lines.” and Guitar on “The Girl with a Penchant for Yellow” and “Second Guesser”), John Lowry (Keyboards and effects on “The Girl with a Penchant for Yellow”), Rod Capps (Violin and Viola on “This Little Town”), and Dave Feeny (Pedal Steel on “Walk Softly”). You can get your copy of their debut via Big Stir Records.
Pressed & Ironed
Pressed & Ironed opens with the delightfully uplifting pop-rock song “Take it on the Chin.” Imagine a sunny spring morning, the birds are singing, and life is grand. Sure, you may have just been kicked to the curb by your significant other, lost your job to a robot named Earl, or got jipped out of a latte by the mega corporate coffee. It doesn’t matter, the sun is out, and this song is playing. It is time to smile and move on.
There is charming wit in the lyrics of “Second Guesser,” with just a touch of sadness. That sadness comes through in the music with a lead guitar runs that call up visions of worry and doubt. This song had me thinking about the times I’ve second guessed and wondering about folks that spend their whole lives talking themselves out of opportunity. I had a solid flash of Joe Jackson on “The Girl with a Penchant for Yellow.” It could be the steady beat and funky punky rhythms. The dream-like keyboards suggest wet city sidewalks and new horizons.
“Walk Softly” is a beautifully enchanting song that nods toward a Jeff Buckley feel. The steel guitar is poignant and thoughtful, almost seeking. An acoustic guitar shimmers with British folk revival. This tune is nearly the best on Pressed & Ironed. I thought of the term “namaste” when listening to “Lotus.” It is an up-tempo rocker with lyrics suggesting a bit of Hindu philosophy. “Where’s the Sense” is a straightforward rock song with an Eddie Cochran meets George Harrison solo to season this one up nicely.
As I mentioned, “Walk Softly” is almost the best tune on this album. The top honors go to the song called “Parallel Lines.” I love the cool pulsing rhythm, ethereal guitars, and tasty bass lines. The understated yet emotive guitar solo is the key.
“October Leaves” evokes apprehension in the opening guitar lines. This gives way to a joyous uplift during the chorus. You can see the leaves falling on this one. “This Little Town” includes some fun violin that had me thinking of John Mellencamp. While the musical vibe is lighthearted, the lyrics dive into the sorted underpinnings of small town life. I had to laugh, as little towns don’t change, and the gossip is never in short supply. Crossword Smiles rounds out Pressed & Ironed with another feel good rocker called “Feet on the Ground.” Great vocal harmonies combine with a message of getting your shit together. The chiming quality of the lead guitar makes a nice counterpoint to the distorted rhythm guitar. A fine way to wrap up a fun and reflective album.
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