Retro has been the classic black on the indie and pop music scene for a while. Most of the time, bands just incorporate retro elements into their sound or spackle on a thick layer of irony. Guitarist Reno Bo channels the past instead. He brings a purity and joyous naïveté to these songs that evoke the late '60s and early '70s. Happenings and Other Things riffs on classic sounds that trace from the Beatles, through ELO, to Tom Petty (or maybe the Traveling Wilburys, to combine the three).
The album starts off strong, with There's a Light. This anthemic rocker owes a lot to the Band. The arrangement and the vocals are totally unselfconscious, with expressive guitars playing rich bluesy licks. The simple background vocals fill in the perfect harmony. The chorus hooks so strong, it's hard not to join in.
The rest of Happenings and Other Things clicks with the initial listen, with songs like Off Your Back and You Don't Know hitting that Harrison-ELO-Petty space. Sugar Suite Blues comes out promising Aerosmith, lifting bass and guitar lines. The vocals and the bridge changes reset the vibe to Little Feat meets T. Rex.
All down the playlist, these are simple songs that rise above simplicity. It's a fizzy, bouncy instant classic. Pour a clean Paulaner Helles and sing along.