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Osegueda's take


"Pop Songs and Kyries"
Blake Jones & the Trike Shop:

from  James Gardner writer for "The All Music Guide"

   Hearing Pop Songs and Kyries, the new CD from Blake Jones' Trike Shop, takes me back to a time, long ago, when my record collection was on the scale of one shelf rather than a couple of rooms. When listening to a new album music wasn't a cursory exercise, but an involving experience. Like those cherished Sixties albums, Pop Songs is immediately appealing, and like the best of them, it reveals depths of songwriting and arrangement (both by lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Jones) with repeated listening.
Even when the arrangements are spare, as on the opening "Improvisational Song" sounding like a lost track from one of Nilsson's early albums they are tasteful and apt. "Clever Things" could sit alongside the strongest cuts from The Kinks' Face To Face, with its descending progression, Dave Davies-style vintage guitar, and slice-of-life lyric about digging through record bins and trying to woo a girl without coming on too strong. The visual lyrics of "Snapshots" lead to a chorus that is insanely catchy, despite the sophistication of the vocal arrangement.
Jones and the Trikes seem to channel the Friends-era Beach Boys (with McCartney sitting in on bass) on the intriguingly-titled, "Beauty Loses A Round." If you want to hear Brian Wilson influence that doesn't resort to feeble imitation, give "Beauty" a spin.
If you're lucky enough to ever have been so in love that you lose track of the days of the week, "Once" will have you nodding your head at the sensation of feeling like "part of the moon and stars." The album's tone changes with the eerie, buzzing guitar fills of the brooding "One Telling Kiss," with an ominous electric piano giving it the feel of one of John Fogarty's darker swamp rockers. Something tells me the guy in this song isn't too happy with what that kiss is telling.
We hear kyries #2 and #3 (did "Kyrie #1" wind up with the Wilburys' Volume 2, I wonder?), the first based around a kind of delirious toy piano arrangement, leading thematically into "Virginia Woolf," which evokes the tormented brilliance of the author. With its swirling, reversed guitar and monster riff, "Kyrie #3" (the loud one) takes the litany to trippier, more cerebral places than the Electric Prunes ever imagined.
My impression is that offering the litany, "Lord, have mercy," in two radically different arrangements demonstrates that it need not drone along like an expression of doom (which, charlatan I am, is what most Gregorian chant sounds like to me - with the exception of the Benzedrine Monks of Santo Domonica). For all this album's sunny songs, maybe Jones and the Trikes also believe that the kyries' plea for mercy bears repeating in these "never been this bad" times.
On a superficial listen, "Summer's Just Half the Dream" may seem like just a pleasant little bossa nova number, and it is breezy as a perfect day at the beach. Once I caught on to what the other half is (the line "since you're not here" tipped me), though, that breeze turns into more of an ill wind.
Modern protest music, for lack of a better term, is unbelievably uncommon, considering the post-9/11 reality we're living in, and to my mind, no one does it better than Dan Bern. So I'm putting "RedWhite&BlueSoBlue" up with Bern's best. Recorded as a solo acoustic performance on a live radio show, Jones' scathing delivery demands our attention. Socio-political commentary doesn't come much more acerbic or more perceptive than the line that ends with, "let 'em eat cake." Nothing else on album will prepare you for the last two tracks, and I won't spoil them except to say that "Miserlou" makes me regret that American International Pictures never got around to crossbreeding surf and sci-fi.
Now that I've done a thousand words hammering the themes of classic albums and the Sixties' great pop practitioners, don't get the impression that Pop Songs and Kyries is some kind of relic. With well-crafted, memorable songs and performances, Jones and his band have achieved a classic feel, but with modern sensibilities. This is the good stuff ... this is pure pop. - James A. Gardner


Jones' Unique Pop Sound is Worth the Long Wait
By Mike Osegueda / The Fresno Bee

"POP SONGS & KYRIES" Blake Jones & the Trike Shop
Blake Jones hasn't released an album in four years.
Forgive him; he's a bit of a busy dude.
He's been heavily involved in the Rogue Festival. He plays in the Beetles, the local Beatles tribute band. And he's a music teacher at Kings River Union School, just outside of Kingsburg. He deserves a late pass because "Pop Songs and Kyries" is worth the wait.
The 13-track CD, recorded with his revolving-door band of friends, the Trike Shop, is a fun musical journey, showing us what pop music is capable of when you strip away the glamour, glitz and gimmicks and get to the music. Well, Jones does have one gimmick. His theremin, a rarely seen, interesting instrument that's played hands-free. Other than that, it's just feel-good pop music.

"This is more or less the greatest hits of my last four years of writing," Jones says. "So I'm hoping just the cream of the crop came through."

Lineup: Jones singing, playing guitar and theremin with Leland Vander Pool, Martin Hansen, John Shafer and Mike Scott filling out the Trike Shop. The band always had been a loose group of friends, but as recording for this project came to a close, this lineup became solidified.

Style:"It's like guitar and theremin," Jones says. "We throw some left-handed curves in there." Sales pitch: "Hear some pop music that's not Wal- Mart-ized or McDonald-ized," he says.

Influences: "Sixties pop music, '50s science fiction and maybe even a little dash of vocal music from the 1460s," Jones says.

Trivia: Jones' music has been featured twice on the International Pop Overthrow compilations put out by Not Lame Records. "Snapshots" was featured on Vol. 6 of the series, and "Clever Things" was on Vol. 7. It could be the soundtrack to: "Those '60s Italian Fellini movies," Jones says. "Those kind of surreal '60s movies. Everybody's riding Vespas, and they all going to this underground cavern for a party, and we're the house band." Check them out live: The "Pop Songs and Kyries" release party is at 9 p.m. today at Club Fred. 2 a.m. Orchestra and The Neptunes also perform. Tickets cost $5.

Key tracks: "Clever Things," "Virginia Woolf," and "Mr. Theremin's Miserlou." Buy it at: At the show, through his Web site or at Tower Records in Fresno. Cost: $8.



Reviews of A-Sides & B-Movies:


"Cool & Strange Music" magazine

"File Under: Mad Pop Inventions" appears in the upper right hand of the front cover of this album, a tribute to the same style of categorization that Capitol Records employed on their records throughout the '60s as a useful consumer hint. But right here and now, it provided a clue to at least two of Blake Jones' major inspirations: the melodic pop of Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney. Also hovering above and within this collection of well-constructed pop songs are the melodies of Todd Rundgren as well as the occasional (and non-satirical) trace elements of Frank Zappa. A-Sides & B-movies is a clean, orderly and unabashed pop album of the highest optimism. I wouldn't be half-surprised if "Did You Know It Was A Dream" was composed as a tribute to Brian Wilson himself. Best track: "My Baby Lacksadaisy". Best reason #1: Its companion track, "Lackadaisy" sounds uncannily like an outtake from the unreleased Beach Boys album, SMiLE. Best reason #2: The Hawaiian slide and the uplifting melody stayed with me for days....what pop music is supposed to do, remember?

-Seth Wimpfheimer



The Amplifier

A-Sides and B-Movies - Blake Jones and the Trike Shop (Whispermaphone)

Enter the world of happy home recordist Blake Jones, who combines guitars, toy pianos, cheesy organ, theramin (!), layers of harmony vocals, and a 60s-70s pop ethos. A Trike Shop album is a fun trip, like DIY king R. Stevie Moore but without all the tape hiss. If the bass is a little thin, it’s more than made up for in eclectic content. There’s the dead-on Zappa experience of “Ross Used to Play Us His Frank Zappa Records (Cold Pepsi and Croutons),” the surf-guitar soundtrack feel of “No, Waiting for the Rebirth of Wonder, the innocence of “My Baby Lacksadaisy,” the retro sci-fi feel of “Makin’ My Honey Like a B-Movie,” even a touching Christmas track “The Light Still Shines.” Jones has the cahones to back Jill Jansen’s contralto with “chunky, plucked, and surf” guitars on “Carmen’s Big Aria.” And you get 16 tracks for an unheard-of $7, shipping included, at or The Trike Shop, 1801 21st Ave., Kingsburg, CA 93631 (make checks out to Blake Jones).

-Don Thomason (contributing writer)


Immedia Wire Service

BLAKE JONES & THE TRIKE SHOP A-Sides & B-Movies (Whispermaphone)

The true nature of the independent spirit flows through the veins of Mr. Jones, a zoned-out composer and terrific guitarist. Where some will hear atonal madness, others will get that same zany awed look as you find at concerts by Mike Knealley or others who fell under the spell of Frank Zappa. Not for the lovers of boy bands, but rewarding for those who are REALLY into music.


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