Handclaps & Tambourines

Librarians With Hickeys call their new album, Handclaps & Tambourines, “the perfect album for your next rock-and-roll book club meeting with the band’s melodic muscular indie pop (coffee and snacks not included).”

I have a love/hate relationship with music books. I’ve read my fair share of them, and when I was much younger than now, I had a sound mind for remembering much of what I read. The song “When We Were Young” captures some of that. A broad appreciation of all kinds of music gave me a solid foundation to build my music kingdom. I loved the knowledge the music books gave me, but I have found that the books tend to become dust collectors after the first read, with only a few exceptions. Now I find myself “Stumbling Down Memory Lane.” an excellent tune for a melancholic glance over our shoulder looking back to where we have been.

I think a music book club would be an exciting gathering of music lovers. Of course, we would have to have music playing while we discussed what we were reading. My music book of the month is Vinyl Cafe Turns The Page; I have read Stuart McLean‘s Vinyl Cafe books voraciously.

Putting the book aside, let’s talk about what is on the virtual turntable. Let’s get to the elephant in the room right from the start. Librarians With Hickeys. What’s up with the name? I couldn’t find an answer to that question, but it caught my attention, which is what a band wants. Well, they caught my attention, and I listened to them, got past the name and fell in love with the music that Librarians With Hickeys were making on their second album, Handclaps & Tambourines.

The lads in Librarians With Hickeys have done their fair share of listening to music over the years. Singer/guitarist Ray Carmen, lead guitarist/vocalist Mike Crooker, bassist Andrew Wilco and drummer Rob Crossley — write, play, sing and record like they have shelf upon shelf of music books and records. Their music sparkles with the best of 60’s sugar-coated pop, as heard on “Me And My Big Mouth,” inspired by singer/guitarist Ray Carmen’s obsession with the Monkees. “Fairground” is a fun summer listen. At the same time, we wait for “The Last Days Of Summer,” which features the haunting viola of Larysa Bulbenko (The Armoires). The opening barnstormer “I Better Get Home” rocks a 60’s Hammond organ, which never gets old.

Glam rock from the ’70s can be heard rising to the occasion on the song “Lady Overdrive.” Lead guitarist Mike Crooker dials in his wah pedal on that track and then makes his lead singing debut of the equally glitter-filled tune “Over You.”

’80s college rock? Check got that on the track “Can’t Wait ‘Till Summer” with its ringing harmonics and the 2021 hit “I Can’t Stop Thinking About You.” 

’90s indie rock gets checked out on tracks like the instantly memorable lead single “Ghost Singer” (with Christina Bulbenko and Rex Broome of The Armoires joining Crooker as the ethereal Greek chorus) and “I See You.” 

Back to the present day, Librarians With Hickeys have crafted an album that would be perfect for a drive with the windows down and the volume up. It gets a full release on October 14th through Big Stir Records.

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