Calendar Days (The Militia Group)
by Scott Hefflon
The Rocket Summer grew on me like a beautiful summer day. I always initially recoil from warm beauty and relaxed smiles. Don’t trust ’em. Gotta keep yer edge, gotta stay cynical, gotta push past all the dipshits standing around chatting, enjoying such a beautiful day. Can’t… resist… Sigh.
Ok, so this 20-year-old kid, Bryce Avary, who wrote, performed, and recorded the 10 songs on this debut, has a magic touch. He has the rare ability to craft simple yet touching tunes with some quirky twists and lots of “cliché” melodies, yet I’m afraid to listen closely to the lyrics (or read them in the booklet) cuz, like The All-American Rejects, they sound sweet, but they’re pretty shallow and sappy.
Musically, The Rocket Summer is part Ben Folds piano ballads (sans lyrical brilliance), and part smooth powerpop with a goose thrown in every so often to keep you alert. The casual strums and young, aching voice of “That’s So You” will moisten panties, lemme tell you. And unlike most indie poppers (thinking Chris Carrabba and Kris Roe here, but plug in most any name), Bryce can actually hit all the notes, and he really stretches it sometimes. And not only that, he tries the “tricky stuff,” the quick high-to-lows ya better practice a whole lot before singing in public, dig? Interestingly, while this young upstart usually sticks with the comfortable, sweet stuff with a few harmonies and “ba-ba-ba”s worked in, he “builds” into a belt-it-out at times, and sometimes his voice flutters frailly, sometimes it catches, and sometimes you can hear him back away from the mic as he belts it out so he doesn’t peak out the levels. Honest, intimate stuff.
(1215 N. Red Gum St #L Anaheim, CA 92806)