Tammany Hall Machine

Record review

Texas Platters

Tammany Hall Machine

The greatest risk in channeling the classic pop sounds of the Sixties and Seventies is winding up with nothing more than tuneful derivation. The Tammany Hall Machine expresses earnest reverence with just enough distinction to avoid falling into that trap. Augmenting solid pop songcraft with strategic dashes of psychedelia and twang, the local quartet's taut 11-song debut sounds familiar in a unique way. THM has a discerning ear for arrangements, having the sense to pile on or pull back at all the appropriate junctures. Opener "Intro" tricks you into thinking this is an idyllic, Wilco-leaning road trip, then "Apple Moon" pops its happy way toward a confluence of the Move and Cheap Trick. Pianist/guitarist/vocalist Joel Mullins has a warm, everyman kind of voice that resonates with longing romantic idealism on songs like "Factory Light" and "Pretend." Perhaps the most clever song here is "SL & SC," which uses the TV rating codes for "strong language" and "sexual content" to advance a wry hook-up narrative. "Happy Birthday LSD" is a psych-pop romp that goes slightly haywire before landing in a melancholy lap steel haze. Die-hard fans of purist pop should take this wild ride.

***

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