now hear this
skip navigation

Split Squad

Blurt Magazine thinks we are just super!!

September 09, 2016

Before the Fauntleroys and the Empty Hearts appeared, however, the Split Squad had come on the scene. Chiefly the brainchild of bassist/singer/songwriter Michael Giblin of powerpop underground faves Parallax Project and Cherry Twister, the band also includes guitarists Keith Streng of the Fleshtones and Eddie Munoz of the Plimsouls, keyboardist Josh Kantor of the Baseball Project and the Boston Red Sox (not a band) and shares the services of Clem Burke with the Hearts. Minus 5/Young Fresh Fellows leader Scott McCaughey contributed heavily as producer and sessioneer as well, and Linda Pitmon has been known to deputize onstage. The group launched its debut LP Now Hear This… (Red Chuck) earlier this year, and it’s a doozy. Giblin and company mainline both the punk-fueled power pop of the late 70s (particularly Munoz’s erstwhile homebase) and the garage raunch R&B of 60s stalwarts the Small Faces (whose “Sorry She’s Mine” get a spirited run-through here) into a fizzy frenzy of muscle pop and caffeinated soul. “She is Everything,” “Touch & Go” and “Feel the Same About You” sounds like lost gems from the heyday of late 70s L.A., while “Hey Hey Baby” and “Now Hear This” kick the door off the garage and onto the dance floor. “I Can’t Remember” and the cover of Bettye LaVette’s “You’ll Never Change” showcase Giblin’s comfort with soulful balladry, while “I’ve Got a Feeling” and a take of Terry Reid’s “Tinker Tailor” nod toward heavier territory. “Superman Says,” co-composed by producer McCaughey, jumps right into the early 70s glam rock pool. Burke really cranks up his love for Keith Moon here, and everybody involved sounds like they’re having a blast. But the real revelation is Giblin, whose sharp ear for melody and amazing voice carry the day, despite being the least well-known amongst his peers. Now Hear This… is such a satisfying slab of soulful rock & roll it makes one hope these folks never go back to their day jobs.

The word “supergroup” need not always inspire a sneer, not if bands like these ply their trade in the name of friendship and fun.

Blurt Magazine