Anton Barbeau

A Splendid Tray

by ="Description" CONTENT="Anton Barbeau, A Splendid Tray (Frigidisk) rating: 9.0, review by David Fufkin


Anton Barbeau is a musician of great reputation from Northern California and this release does him justice. Northern California can brag about having as its residents some of the best power pop songwriters in the world. In addition to Barbeau, the area is home to Scott Miller (formerly of Game Theory and presently of The Loud Family who also have a very good new CD out), Chris von Sneidern, The Orange Peels, and many artists I am probably forgetting.

The reason I am focusing on the area is that this release has what I call a power pop Northern California sound which I would describe as very dynamic (not in a wow! kind of way, but in a soft/loud kind of way), musical (melodic, well written), and interesting in the sense that the material is not a slave to sounding like The Beatles or Big Star or whatever pop band that any COOL person does not need to hear in rewritten, lesser form. I mean there is only one Beatles and Big Star, right?

I notice Scott Miller produces the fourth track on the recording, and I hear some of his sound in here, all over it in some of the guitar anthem, non-cliché synth sounds. Of note for those unfamiliar with Barbeau are his vocals that possess an urgency and quality similar to John Lennon, without merely aping him. Here are some contemporary names of singers he resembles: Michael Mazzarella (The Rooks), Richard X. Heyman and Robert Harrison (Cotton Mather). Strong singers all. Lyrics are exceptional throughout. Standout tracks include “Creepy Tray” which with its catchy chorus has a Richard X. Heyman feel circa Heyman’s Hey! Man! release (Sire, 1990). Another cool track is the plodding “Gone,” a melodic, dark rocker. “Dazzle Girl” is classic Northern California pop—see above.

All in all, in a perfect world, Barbeau could have a gold record with this, because it’s really quality stuff. But it’s not a perfect world, and in this Internet-driven, independent time, the hope for artists like Barbeau is that they can sell 10,000 records without the major labels a/k/a “The Man”. If you are reading this and you are a power pop fan (God, I hate that term), this recording is worth your hard earned money.

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