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Super Genius

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Album Review

Super Genius began by chance. Singer and songwriter Mike Barry hired three Boston-area studio musicians to collaborate with him on a batch of new songs. Soon however, such a rapport had developed in the studio that a real band seemed like a better idea. Super Genius was born, with Barry on guitar and vocals, Milt Reder on lead guitar, and Dean Cassell and Dave Mattacks on bass on drums, respectively. Their self-titled debut on the Boston indie Ignatius J. features mannered pop in the tradition of Warren Zevon or John Hiatt. It's a predominantly upbeat affair, with an ear for memorable choruses, though the closing kiss-off to an ex-lover, "I Used to Be," is a slow-burning jam with a smoldering lead guitar line from Reder. Lyrically, Barry's songs examine themes of romance, greed, and class warfare, but always seem to remain at a safe distance, scratching the surface of emotion but retreating before anything of substance is really said. While the songs might lack the cynical sophistication of Zevon, Super Genius' music may be more about the accomplished, hooky groove established by its four musicians, anyway. Mattacks in particular shows quite a bit of depth, handling the Wurlitzer and synthesizer touches on "Understand" and "Maybe I Am," in addition to his day job as Super Genius' drummer.

Super Genius, Super Genius
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