Secrets by the Highway (Velvet Blue)
by Tim Den
Perhaps it’s because talent fountains Richard Swift and Frank Lenz engineered/produced/mixed Secrets by the Highway, but this is a distinctively different Map than the one found on their last release. The “band” (which is really just guitarist/vocalist/leader Josh Dooley who, along with Swift and Lenz, often moonlights in Starflyer 59) sounds much, much “lighter,” with sprawling Californian sunshine replacing past shadows and noir-like darkness. Remember The Orange Peels? No? Uh… well, they were of the same ilk: Rickenbachers played through Fender Twins without distortion, reverb up just a slight bit, lots of major 7 chords, jangly melodies, The Beach Boys’ harmonies… get it yet? It’s that “West Coast Sound” that just never gets old. Map might’ve warmed up their spirits a bit, but that’s about the only thing that’s changed. The songs are still great, the artwork is still fab (love the simple pics inside the sleeve), and the writing is still swift. The band has already finished its next album (produced by Jason Martin of Starflyer 59). I guess it just keeps getting better, huh?
(9121 Atlanta Ave. #237 Huntington Beach, CA 92646)