The New AM

The Imperial Sound

Pravda Records, 2018

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


A six piece outfit from Chicago with an affinity for 1970s AM radio sounds, The Imperial Sound features members that were previously apart of The Service and The New Duncan Imperials. With their new, shortened name, the reinvented band deliver a debut album here with hooks, horns, and harmonies aplenty, and they even bring in guests like Kelly Hogan and Nora O'Conner, among others, to sing these pop tunes loud.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The listen starts with the vivid brass and frisky swinging ideas of “Yesterday,” where Nora O'Connor's strong vocal help make this memorable tune a fine introduction. “Daylight” follows and displays the band's pop prowess with a busy, glowing atmosphere, and “The Quarry” is a cautious and anthemic excursion that's '70s inspired and features vocals from soulful Kathy Ruestow of The Diplomats Of Solid Sound.

In the middle we get the playful hand clapping and retro sounds of “Back On Your Table,” while “Ain't Crawling Back” (featuring Kelly Hogan and Peter Himmelman) brings in organ and brass solos for a spirited adventure. “You've Been A Fool,” one of the best here, starts with bright horns before warm guitar work invades the eclectic rock tune.

The back end is just as radiant with some of the best work present. Included is the sunny, power pop of “Six To A Room” and the barrage of horn hooks on the powerful “I Feel Strange.” “A Man Like You” finishes the record and is a neo-classical Chicago soul tune where Robert Cornelius handles vocal duties on a rousing, mature closer.

An extremely well done first album, The New AM finds The Imperial Sound bringing us all the things we love about artists like Elvis Costello, Todd Rundgren, and The Replacements and funneling it through their keen sense of pop that's a little rugged and contains a whole lot of elegant power. If only more of today's pop music came with this much substance.

Rating: B+

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