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Music Review: The Red Button – She’s About To Cross My Mind

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If you didn’t know any better, you’d think The Red Button hailed from North West England, near the docks of the River Mersey. The songs on this band’s debut album, She’s About To Cross My Mind, recall music made in the mid-sixties by the likes of Gerry & The Pacemakers, Herman’s Hermits, and, of course, those four moptops from Liverpool.

The truth is that The Red Button, comprised of principle singer/songwriters Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg, call Los Angeles home, but the nostalgically groovy sound they create transcends its origin and era.

With eleven quick shots of quintessential pop, She’s About To Cross My Mind gives credence to the notion that good music is indeed timeless and, in this case, comes with a wicked back-beat. The garage-rock styling of “Gonna Make You Mine,” for instance, sounds like a blend of The Searchers and the 13th Floor Elevators, melodic yet with drums pounding.

In fact, drums play such a crucial role on these songs that even the direst lyrics sound optimistic within the framework of such buoyant music. The album opener, “Cruel Girl,” serves as an ideal example, telling a story of a susceptible guy who, despite his girl treating him wrong, can’t muster the willpower to walk away. Even as this admitted fool narrates his anguish, you can’t help but bop your head with a smile on your face.

As much as rhythm factors into the momentum of this music, it’s ultimately the inspired use of melody and harmony that distinguishes it as remarkable. Songs like “Can’t Stop Thinking About Her” and “Floating By” seamlessly thread Swirsky and Rueberg’s vocals into a lovely two-part harmony. And the modest melodies of “It’s No Secret” and the title track, especially, impart a warm sensibility that’s not expressed enough in contemporary pop music.

While the songs undeniably strike a nostalgic chord, for the most part, they don’t sound overtly derivative. The only instance that cuts it close is on “Free,” which begins with a guitar progression so comparable to The Beatles’ “Rain” that you almost wind up doing a double take to make sure you’re not listening to Past Masters, Volume 2. Even then, though, the song soon takes its own direction and ultimately sounds like something fresh.

Overall, She’s About To Cross My Mind is a commendable effort by The Red Button. In the span of thirty-two minutes, this band has crammed a staggering amount of musicality and heart into eleven infectious pop songs.

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About Donald Gibson

Donald Gibson is the publisher of www.writeonmusic.com and a freelance music journalist whose byline has appeared in such publications as No Depression, Spinner, The Seattle Post Intelligencer, Cinema Sentries, Blinded by Sound, and Blogcritics, where he was the Senior Music Editor (2011-2012) and Assistant Music Editor (2008-2011). He has interviewed and profiled such artists as Tony Bennett, Lucinda Williams, Jakob Dylan, Allen Toussaint, Boz Scaggs, Charli XCX, Justin Hayward (The Moody Blues), Susanna Hoffs, Bruce Hornsby, Delbert McClinton, Jonny Lang, Alan Parsons, Bill Frisell, Joan Armatrading, Christina Perri, Don Felder (The Eagles), Jimmy Webb, Katie Melua, and Buddy Guy, among many others.