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Smart songwriting, great hooks

New Prehistoric Times
New Prehistoric Times
By The Northstar Session

Self-released: 2008

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This review first appeared in Turbula in April 2008.

After starting life as a solo plaything for singer and guitarist Matthew Szlachetka, then seeing him move to L.A. and connect with fellow songwriter and singer (and drummer) Kane McGee, the Northstar Session has grown into a tight, four-piece band. The first full-length album (following two very solid EPs in earlier incarnations) from the Northstar Session finds the band still built around the decadent-as-Belgian-chocolate melodic hooks that Szlachetka, and now McGee, seem able to turn out at will, as well as smooth as silk vocal harmonies and thick-pile power-pop arrangements.

The 11 tracks on "New Prehistoric Times" have a timeless pop feel to them, but the addition of Paris Patt on bass and Dave Basaraba on keys has given the band a bit of a rougher edge than the two earlier EPs. Nobody will confuse them with, say, the Allman Brothers or Lynyrd Skynyrd, but there is a bit of a country vibe to its power pop that reminds a bit of vintage America or Poco.

But its s'mart, imaginative songwriting (and intriguing arrangements) is what's at the heart of things here – and on that score, the Northstar Session would seem destined for an ever-larger audience for its brand of accessible, radio-friendly pop music.