Smash Palace

Smash Palace is 60?s jangle rock,nto a modern alternative rock style that?s all their own. It?s like listening to songs you know but haven?t heard before.Click here to edit subtitle

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GOLDMINE Power Pop Plus CD Reviews

Posted on November 3, 2018 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (0)


They’ve been around for decades (first as Quincy, until Mr. Jones got ticked off and made them cease and desist), and on their twelfth release, Smash Palace has crafted another beginning-to-end winner that jangles, pops, rocks, and generally does all the things that melodic pop/rock fans crave. Leader Stephen Butler has been around since the beginning, and he and his brother Brian co-wrote all five tunes here, one in tandem with guitarist Cliff Hillis (“Heart of a Loving Man”;) and another with bassist Fran Smith, Jr. (“It Happened to Me”;). The band’s website touts the release by claiming, “It’s like listening to songs you know but haven’t heard before,” and guess what? Their website is 100% correct. Essential listening for pop fans, with the only complaint being that it would be nice if they’d release another full-length one of these days. Grade: A

Smash Palace*Do It Again Zip Records 2012

Posted on June 5, 2012 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)

DAILY VAULT ALBUM REVIEWS by Tom Haugen 6/4/2012

Stephen and Brian Butler have an interesting story. The brothers fronted the outfit Quincy in the early ‘80s, releasing a record on Columbia and gaining steam before producer Quincy Jones put an end to that. Unhappy with the name Quincy, Jones sent the Butler brothers a cease-and-desist, and the band broke up.

 

Undetermined to stop making music, the Butlers forged on under different monikers before deciding on Smash Palace in 1985. The band released a self-titled disc on Epic in 1985 and followed it up with some MTV rotation and high profile tours. However, that didn’t last long, and they soon took songwriting jobs for major labels, working behind the scenes with more recognized artists.

 

Smash Palace officially reunited in 1999 and has since churned out a new album every couple years, and even if they’ve remained under the radar from the mainstream world, that isn’t stopping these New Jersey rockers. Inspired by The Beatles and later influenced by the punk and New Wave bands they saw play in NYC, the band continue on with their power-pop melodica, …Do It Again being their eighth album.

 

“Living It Lonely” sets the disc off on the right pace with an instantly memorable guitar work and jangly vibes, and although a good portion here sounds like a timeless college rock meets bar rock venture from the mid-‘80s, they delve deeper into their bag of influences with laid back rocker “Tell Her Now” which brings Tom Petty to mind. “Can’t Make It Without Her” has a ‘70s rock feel to it, illustrating that the Butlers are well versed in all generations of rock music. Meanwhile, “Tell Her Now” sounds like the tune The Kinks forgot to write.

 

In a world when straightforward gritty rock ’n’ roll is becoming more the exception than the rule, it’s nice to know bands like Smash Palace are still penning guitar driven rock that spans all decades since the ‘60s. There’s definitely a lot of mediocre bands out there keeping this sound alive, but Smash Palace aren’t one of them. File this one under extraordinary.


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CD of the Day, 7/5/10: Smash Palace-7

Posted on July 6, 2010 at 1:10 AM Comments comments (0)

ABSOLUTE POWERPOP  July 5, 2010


Smash Palace has been around since the 80s, but somehow they've managed to come up with what might be their best album in a deep catalog of quality releases. Whether it's the Revolver-styled cover or the dawn of a new decade or something in the air, these veteran Philly poppers have one of 2010's best on their hands.


Long-time Palace fans will love this disc of course, but this is also a perfect time for the uninitiated to get on board. They're versatile among the many power pop styles - whether it be a mid-period Beatlesque sound, Byrds-like jangle or straight up power pop, they do it all well. The 1-2 punch of "Win it All" and "How Can You Say?" is perfect way to open the disc, with both being energetic and melodic rockers. "Holding Out for You" is the kind of tuneful ballad that might have been a hit in their 80s days, and "Human Kind" might just be the best song on the album, a punchy rocker with some jangle that definitely lives up to the promise of the Revolver cover art.


The second half of the disc doesn't slack off either. The Tom Petty-ish "Here it Comes Again" would have made a great Side 2 opener in the days of LPs, with its insistent melody and "whoa-oh-oh-oh" backing vocals. The gentle acoustic guitar-and-piano ballad "Bridge of Sighs" is another triumph, and "Dead End Street" is classic Smash Palace. "Somebody Up There Likes Me" boasts some nice Harrisonesque slide guitar and "Solo" closes the album in style with yet another catchy melody. It's certainly a lucky "7" for both Smash Palace and anyone who picks up this disc.



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Smash Palace: Everybody Comes and Goes by George Graham

Posted on December 20, 2007 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The Graham Weekly Album Review #1509 12/19/2007

Two thousand seven has been a great year for intelligent, upbeat melodic pop in the tradition of the Beatles. There have been first-rate CD releases by Fountains of Wayne, The Red Button, Tim Finn, Daphne Loves Derby, Cantinero, Jason Reeves, Tim Blane and several others. The year closes out with more musical riches, the latest recording by Smash Palace called Everybody Comes and Goes.

 

New Jersey-based Smash Palace has been going on various forms now for a quarter century. Brothers Stephen and Brian Butler formed a band called Quincy in the late 1970 , and the band released an LP for Columbia Records in 1980. They were managed by the late Hilly Krystal, owner of the famous club CBGB's. After the release of their album, the band were promptly sued by Quincy Jones for supposedly using his name, as if there were no other Quincies in the world. So Quincy ended up disbanding, but the Butler Brothers started over again, calling their band Smash Palace, and also landed a deal with Epic Records, which released the band's first LP is 1985.

 

Given the vagaries of the music business, Smash Palace went on an extended hiatus and the Butler Brothers became staff songwriters for a music publishing company. But in 1999, they decided to re-form the band. By then, Brian Butler chose to retire from touring, but he continued to collaborate with Stephen Butler in songwriting and in the studio. They released three independent CDs.

 

In what could be the most classic story of rock band discovery, Smash Palace had booked a tour of England in 2005 and happened to get a gig in the famous Cavern Club, in Liverpool, where, of course, the Beatles established themselves. A representative of an American record label, Zip Records, was also there and decided to sign the band, based on their performances, especially after effusive praise by a BBC disc jockey for their live show. So Smash Palace also found themselves as a band "discovered" in the Cavern Club.

 

So last year, Zip Records released a sampler of music from Smash Palace's independent releases called Best of... 99-06. The band has been attracting more attention since then, and also put in an appearance on our Homegrown Music series here at WVIA.

 

Now, they are out with their sixth recording, and the first all-new one under their deal with Zip Records, and I think it's their best yet. Everybody Comes and Goes also features some guest appearances by members of their original band Quincy, some musicians that the Butler Brothers has been playing with since school. Smash Palace's basic personnel remains from the earlier recordings including guitarist and vocalist DyAnne DiSalvo and bassist Phil Rizzo. The drummer chair varies, with a couple of tracks featuring Anthony Bezich, who played on their Homegrown Music appearance, and their current regular touring drummer Greg DiDonato. Stephen Butler does most of the lead vocals and lead guitar, and his non-touring brother Brian Butler, who co-wrote almost all the songs with Stephen, is heard on some vocals and percussion. As on their previous CDs, the band did the recording in their own, analog studio they call The "Smash Palace." In their CD notes, they boast that it is a computer-free recording, meaning that all the recording and mixing were done the old-fashioned way with tape. That process definitely helps to keep a great, live-sounding vibe to the sessions.

 

In addition to being a reunion with some of the members of the Quincy band, the CD's title is also a tribute to Alex Takach who was an original member of Quincy who was killed on the streets of Philadelphia by an unknown assailant in a break between sets. The CD contains a snippet of a tune by that name that Takach wrote and recorded as a demo.

 

Like much of the music of this ilk, all the tracks on this CD are love songs in one form or another -- celebratory, lamenting a breakup, missing one's lover, etc. The band doesn't really break any new ground lyrically, but the music is so hummable and the words are straightforward and memorable, so it's hard not to go away with one or more of these songs stuck in your head.

 

The CD opens with one of those tunes, She, about the pursuit of love, that does tend to show the band's Beatles influence. Smash Palace gives us all the requisite ingredients, first-rate vocals, ringing guitars and old-fashioned analog keyboard parts, not to mention some great writing. <<>>

 

A little rockier, resembling some new wave rock of the late 1970s is Didn't Anyone Tell You? It's another strong track. <<>>

 

Also showing a bit of Fab Four influence, especially from the Revolver era is a When You're Down. <<>>

 

Somewhat more laid-back in sound is Is This a Dream, whose slightly melancholy sound belies the wistfulness expressed in the lyrics. <<>>

 

An album like this would not be complete without a song about lost love. Smash Palace obliges with Dressed in Black, to which they add a lot of class. <<>>

 

Another high point of the album is Don't Ask Me Why, whose lyrics of encouragement are are given a great musical setting that adds some interesting touches to the kind of archetypical pop rock tune. <<>>

 

Smash Palace draws on yet another classic pop song topic, missing one's significant other, after having to spend time apart. The song is called Caroline. One can hear echoes of roots-rock groups like The Band at times. <<>>

 

With the band not shy about showing their Beatles influence, they include a George Harrison song as the final full track on the CD. I Want to Tell You was recorded for radio appearance the band did. <<>>

 

Everybody Comes and Goes, the new sixth CD by the long-running band Smash Palace, is the group's best yet. It's full of great composing, appealing vocals, and generally straight-ahead lyrics that make this another outstanding melodic pop, British-invasion-influenced album in a year with a wealth of such recordings. Smash Palace takes the elements that made the Beatles' music so great -- appealing tunes but always with an interesting touch or two such a bridge that goes in a different direction than you might expect, or some clever arrangement ideas. And the band sounds as if they are having a great time doing it. The traditional, non-computer-based recording technique helps ensure an organic sound, with the what you hear being more of an actual performance.

 

And speaking of sounds, we'll give the CD an audio quality grade close to an "A." While not an audiophile recording, it's got all the right ingredients and sonic treatments that capture this music well, and it takes well to a good stereo system.

 

This kind of melodic pop is spanning about three different generations of artists -- the people who made the music in the first place, as well as some early-twenty-something musicians today who probably heard these sounds from their parents' record collection. Smash Palace is sort of in-between, forming in the 1980s and continuing on and off for more than 20 years. They have definitely hit their stride on their new CD.



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