Once upon a time that I previously thought wasn’t so long ago, but now I have my doubts about, I cherished the idea of the artists that were “all mine.” I found myself in small fan groups and we shared mutual obsession and feared the day when those artists “went mainstream” and abandoned us for the bright lights.
Cut to 20+ years later and most of those bands are dead and gone.
It is normal to find that kinship with others and their art, but if a larger group of people do not get let in on the secret, said artists quit. They have to. You’d be surprised how indifferent mortgage companies and car insurance providers are to your vision when you owe them this month’s bill.
Why do I bring this up? 2017’s A New Set of Downs introduced The John Sally Ride to the world. The team of Sal Nunziato (Drums),
Sal Maida (Bass), and John Dunbar (Vocals, Guitars) offered easy-to-love songs with a late-’60s vibe, but without faker affectations. It was the kind of record one would assume, even in the rarefied power pop circles, would be endlessly talked about. Those who got it really got it. The record was pretty much what everyone was asking for, after all.
Now we are presented with Nothing Doing, an album that takes everything that was great about the previous record and goes one better. Need proof? The driving Diddley-shuffle of “I Won’t Let Failure Go To My Head” is clever, tuneful, and disturbingly sticky in the brain. If you like your earworms, you won’t mind this one crawling around.
“You Wear Your Heart On Both Your Sleeves” is a perfectly executed example of classic pop, riddled with hooks and a harmonized chorus that sticks the landing. At first the listener may think this is going to be a soft ballad, until Nunziato kicks out a KISS-worthy beat and upends any preconceptions.
“The Laughs We Had” is a expert tearjerker bolted down with a Mellotron keyboard line for color and a crunchy guitar for the chorus. The melodic pop put-down of “Don’t Flatter Yourself” doesn’t go ugly but is certainly insistent. Dunbar’s sweetly-sung lyrics undercut the potential meanness the song could have swayed toward, but that would have resulted in an abrasive combination – cathartic in the moment, but hard to handle after the fires die down. The rhythm section of Nunziato and Maida do well enough to let you know it’s no joke.
If it isn’t clear by now, I see The John Sally Ride as one of those bands that end up being hoarded by those who fall under their charm. Don’t do it. If you know someone who appreciates British Invasion-era pop and constantly bemoans the loss of its practitioners, Nothing Doing is the homegrown answer to that problem. Do them, and yourself, a favor and let them know.