Song of the day: The Counters – "When You Come Round"

March 25, 2012

I was recently contacted by Rupert Heath (Hi, Rupert!), a young Canadian gentleman who asked me to have a listen to his album, This Doesn’t Mean We’re Friends. It was recorded with the help of some fellow Canadians, and Rupert called his gaggle of chums The Counters. I’m reliably informed (by Rupert) that the album will be released on April 1. (Or 1 April for people who live in Australia, England, and other countries that have words like “colour” and “aluminium” instead of “color” and “aluminum”.)

I’ve listened to it a few times now, and I’d say that overall the music is slighty country-inflected power pop (what most people would probably call “roots rock”).

Unfortunately for Rupert, country-inflected power pop isn’t really my bag. I don’t mind it, but it’s not really the first thing I reach for when I get a power pop urge. This means that my hideously biased comments will probably be useless to people who do like country-inflected power pop. (I had originally thought of calling it “country-infected power pop”, but that’d probably sound a little mean.)

But Rupert did ask, so I’ll do my darnedest – my darn-tootin’ darnedest – to try and be at least moderately useful with my comments.

1. When You Come Round
The opening track is a Straight-From-The-Skinny-Tie-Power-Pop-Playbook power pop song. It’s in the key of A major, a very popular key (along with E major) for power pop ditties. If you like Standard Regulation Prototypical Power Pop, I reckon you’ll like this. I thought a few of the vocal harmonies were a bit iffy, because in various parts of the song they ignored the guitar chords being played. For example, a guitar occasionally played an A suspended chord, but instead of the backing vocal singing a D note there (because that note is in A sus) the vocal sang a C sharp (it’s in A major, but not A sus). Apart from the minor vocal gripes, I didn’t mind this song. But I wasn’t keen on it ending on F sharp minor.

2. Please Don’t Say
A traditional country song (i.e., country music from way back – before the time of rhinestones and Taylor Swift). And I like it. I liked it more than the opening track. This song is in the key of D major. (I’ll tell you later why I’m mentioning the key of each song.)

3. New Orleans
A rootsy power pop song in F major. I thought it was OK.

4. Roses
Strings! Classy. But the vocals were, um, not. This song is in the key of C major. I reckon, in order to help the vocals, that the song would have sounded better in a higher key – say, E flat major. The vocals in the middle eight (1:46 to 2:10) are sung higher, and it sounds much better to me than in the verses.

5. Border Line
Another rootsy power pop song. (Well, it sounds rootsy to me.) It made me think of Nick Lowe. I didn’t mind it. I liked the little refrain from 1:58 to 2:05 (it’s only four bars long, so I can’t really call it a middle eight). And I liked the drumming in this song, too (especially the fill from 2:11 to 2:13 – very tasteful). This one’s in the key of A major.

6. Give Me What You Can
When the bass guitar started this song, it instantly reminded me of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me”. I thought the song was pleasant. I liked the chorus effect on the guitar. The more I listened to this song, the more I liked it. This track’s in A major.

7. Death Won’t Slow Me Down
Another traditional-ish country song. This one’s in D major – like the other one.

8. Haunted House
Slow-to-mid-tempo (ever-so-slightly) rootsy rocker. Key of A major.

9. Prairie Rose
An acoustic, Band-ish number in the key of G major. (As far as the lyrics go, it’s very Band-ish.) Trivial observation: In the little guitar lick from 4:00 to 4:02, the guitarist had a bit of trouble keeping hold of his or her strings.

10. Alias Duped
Rewind that master tape! (I think there might be a bit of irony here, because I’m guessing that this album was recorded digitally, with no actual tape used anywhere in the recording process. I’m probably wrong, but that’s my guess.)

11. Cowboy Song
This song is another one of those down-on-the-prairie, traditional country tunes. This one is different to the other two traditional country songs on the album because this one’s in the key of C major.

Okey dokey. That’s the end of the unhelpful comments.

I wanted to mention the key of each song because it seemed to me that A major was used a lot on this album. (It felt to me like an “A major” album. Some albums have “keys” for me.) I tallied it up, and the final score is…

Songs in the key of A major:  4
Songs in the key of D major:  2
Songs in the key of F major:  2
Songs in the key of C major:  1
Songs in the key of G major:  1
Songs in no key at all:  1

I think Rupert likes A major.

Official website (It’s not active yet, but if you go there you’ll see a generic page with a photo of an attractive lady smiling at a laptop computer.)