North Jersey-based Mike Daly & the Planets follow their impressive 2017 self-titled debut with a new 11-song outing, “All It Takes Is One.” They will celebrate the release of their sophomore LP on May 3 at Tierney’s, Montclair, with The Anderson Council and The Brixton Riot. PHOTO BY BOB MAKIN
Wanna put a smile on your face? Listen to “Slack,” the opening track of Mike Daly & the Planets’ sophomore LP, “All It Takes Is One.”
For more than for 30 years, Daly has written fun songs with clever wordplay, but “Slack” may have topped them all with a Beatles-meets-Redd Kross sense of power -pop complete with entertainingly endearing backing harmonies by guitarist John Reynolds, bassist Jim Van Sickle and drummer Jim Smith. Daly hysterically explains how he once had ambition but hopes he never gets it back. Instead, he’d rather “slack.” The fun rhymes on this song fill me with joy and that, in large part, is what music should be all about.
I also really love the cut-out ending, which, of course, Nirvana used effectively throughout their all-too-brief recording career. “Slack” is the Makin Waves Song of the Week at Asburymusic.com, as well as on Spotify and YouTube playlists. The album also contains:
“Any Given Night,” a Tom Petty-like, Springsteenesque narrative about a wild friend who dies that reminds me of a cross between “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and “Bobby Jean,” while Reynolds rings true with a couple of Mike Campbell-like solos riddled with attitude, yet also filled with chops
“Find the Pleasure,” pretty, passionate jangle that will please fans of Thy Byrds and R.E.M. as it aims to advise a young person as they come of age about the various avenues of life, such as pleasure, pain, passion, wisdom, hate and fear
“Come Along,” a journey down the rabbit hole into the madness of a relationship, featuring a guitar-rippin’ intro akin to The Beatles’ “Revolution”
“Here She Comes Again,” a chunky, crunchy take on heartache at the hands of a fickle female
“Nonsense,” an oddly rollicking lament about the nonsense of life that combines the lyrical folk-rock and salt-and-vinegar vocal approach of Bob Dylan with the power-poppin’ roots-rock of Traveling Wilburys
“Stupid Me,” a deeply meaningful epic that cleverly rhymes for seven minutes about hanging onto hope until an inspiring gang-vocal that recalls “1,000 Keys” by The Cryptkeeper Five” comes to close with another great use of a cut-out ending on what should have been the closing track
“Weary,” a passionate pop exercise in self-loathing
“The Hardest Drug,” harmonic love song that compares dependence on a relationship to addiction
“Star,” an energetic love song, featuring a great harmonica solo by guest James Higgins, dedicated to a woman who lacks confidence but is the star in the eyes of her lover, according to some of the most fetching rhymes on the album, such as the second verse: “It’s not just lust. It’s not even about us. Know that you’ve always had my undying admiration. It’s about you and that voodoo that you do --the sparkle in your eyes, the mischief in your smile. If I could give anything to you, I’d give you the confidence to be the star you are.” I just wish this otherwise strong song had an ending as dynamic as Higgins’ harmonica solo because it kind of just fizzles out and deserves a better finish.
“She Walks Among Us,” a ’50s-style punk-tinged ditty that’s a throwaway as the closer within this sequence, but would have worked great on the “Abbey Road” tip coming after “Stupid Me” if that were the second-to-last track.
No doubt Daly is one of New Jersey’s best and most unsung singer-songwriters with a rich baritone croon and a knack for clever wordplay, like our own Elvis Costello. He and the Planets will celebrate the release of “All It Takes Is One” on May 3 at Tierney’s in Montclair with two other vital veteran acts: The Anderson Council and The Brixton Riot.
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.