I am pleased to report that there is no sophomore slump for the quartet of Herb Eimerman, Magnus Karlsson, Joe Algeri and Stefan Johansson (all excellent pop musicians in their own right)! Rickenbacker 12-string guitars ring and chime throughout the disc’s thirteen tracks. Standout jangly tracks include “Got A Hold On Me,” “More Like Than Different,” “Sign Out,” “Talkin’ Bout Summer,” “Too Far Gone,” “A Shag And A Cup Of Tea” and “Lyin’ On The Ground.” High Tea is a long-distance collaboration by the Britannicas – much like their kindred spirits in Starbyrd. Without a doubt, this is some of the finest pseudo-60s pop music to be released in several years.
The power pop trio, comprised of Herb Eimerman (USA), Magnus Karlsson (Sweden), and Joe Algeri (Australia) are back! “Got A Hold On Me” starts our jangley Byrds-Beatles power pop goodness, written by Eimerman. Karlsson’s “Talkin’ ’bout Summer” is reminiscent of Chris Stamey till it gets to the harmony-filled chorus and Algeri’s hard guitar fuzz dresses up “The Moment Passed.” The psychedelic “Bleed Between The Lines” has a trippy retro Rickenbacker rhythm line. Unlike the debut, the tracks don’t feel forced into any Merseybeat template, and it feels like more of a group effort doing what they like and sounding natural at it.
Ironically none of the band members are British, although late ’60s rock is clearly the guiding influence. “A Shag and A Cup O’ Tea” could’ve been a real funny novelty song, but instead is a whimsical come-on. Each band member brings unique qualities for their respective songs, they work well on Kinks inspired “I Work At The Post Office” and Mod flavored gem “More Like Than Different.” The echoing production of “Will Someone Cover Your Fall” chugs along, then add to this an excellent cover of Del Shannon’s “I Got You,” and there are plenty of gems here to place this in the highly recommended category. Get it now!
Joe Algeri has formed a live outfit and is more prominent on local stages than he has been for many years, and to celebrate he has retreated to the studio to make the sophomore album with his intercontinental pop project The Britannicas. Joining the original trio on High Tea is another of Algeri’s Swedish friends, Stefan Johansson, on drums.
Nerk Twins’ Herb Eimerman is said to be the soul of the band, but he is also a man who is studiously versed in the history of power pop. His opening salvo, Got A Hold On Me, could be an instant classic as it captures everything that is good about the genre from The Raspberries to Matthew Sweet and all that comes in between.
Algeri is the team captain and also the more experimental mind of the collective. The Moment Passed moves from abrasive guitars to toned down sweetness and hits some other touchstones on the way to keep the listener honest. To ensure that his pop prowess can’t be questioned, Algeri effortlessly offers up I Work At The Post Office to take home the chocolates. Karlsson rounds out the group as the resident heartbreaker with his softer, yet no less melodic, tunes like Sign Out.
High Tea is another step forward for The Britannicas who benefit greatly from the three different voices and personalities without having to sacrifice talent. On High Tea, the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts.
High Tea, the title of the latest effort from The Britannicas, has an appropriate regal significance but the CD could have just as easily been named Iced Tea. Not only because of its July release date, but also because these 13 songs sport breezy power pop arrangements. The international trio, comprised of American Herb Eimerman, Swede Magnus Karlsson, and Australian Joe Algeri, continues to draw inspiration from original British Invasion bands as well as American acts like The Beach Boys and The Byrds.
Karlsson’s catchy “Talkin’ ’Bout Summer” celebrates a season when romances are fun though often temporary, and Algeri serves up memories of teenage action from 1965 amidst the hard-edged pop of “The Moment Passed.” The members of The Britannicas share similar traits when it comes to songwriting, but each has his own style and quirks. Algeri, who also performs as The JAC, tends toward offbeat material like the Kinks-inspired “I Work At The Post Office,” while Eimerman favors love songs with enigmatic lyrics. His “Bleed Between The Lines” sounds like it could have been a hit single in 1965. On his catchy “Come On Boys,” Karlsson incorporates church choir harmonies and acoustic guitar as he advises young adults on how to navigate relationships and a troubling world.
High Tea also includes “I Got You,” a well-executed Del Shannon cover that The Britannicas previously contributed to a tribute album to the late American singer. Other highlights include Eimerman’s jangling love song, “Got A Hold On Me” and Algeri’s simultaneously ribald and touchingly romantic “A Shag And A Cup O’ Tea.”
I came to the party a little late, last year I’d loved a cover of Del Shannon’s “I Got You” by a band I assumed was another young member of the power pop brigade the Britanicas, they sounded like a cross between the Apples In Stereo and Badfinger. I wrote about the song and my Facebook friend Herb Eimerman told me he was the bassist for the band and pointed me in the direction of their 2010 eponymous debut album.
Suitably impressed, I patiently awaited the sophomore effort or a tour or something. And what I got was the delightfully titled High Tea though I won’t be getting the tour I don’t think. The Britannicas are the Dr. Luke of rock, they build songs through file sharing, Herb in the US, singer Joe Algeri in Australia, and guitarist Magnus Karlsson and drummer Stefan Johansson from Sweden. Obviously, the question that arises immediately is, whither band chemistry? Listening to the mix of Byrdsy zoom lens and country guitar break on Karlsson’s “Will Someone Cover Your Fall”, this is no Sweetheart nascent country rock but still some sort of group dynamic rethinking and the chemistry… well, ask yourself this, if I hadn’t told you the band weren’t in the same room, would you think they were born in the same studio and raised in captivity?
“More Like Than Different” and first single “Got A Hold On Me”, two Eimerman originals, lead the way: Producer Algeri is too quirky with his own material, they take a coupla spins to kick into high gear, but Herb is ear candy, sweet but not sugary melodic. Algeri is a rougher rocker, and also has a quirky sense of tempo, on “The Moment Passed” he zooms forward before slowly down and some electric guitar is thrown in and then it winds slow and emerges forward again. It is vertiginous and while it is translating time by definition, it is also strangely druggy. To use the classic terms, Joe is playing Lennon to Herb’s McCartney and Karlsson’s Harrison. The trio play off each other’s expectations, and their own (I could have sworn “Bleed Between The Lines” was Algeri) , they leave you wondering what is coming next and it is always worth the wait.
The twelve tracks on the album, three remixed from Three Sided Single, the Del Shannon cover, the first single, and seven brand spanking new tracks are all worth your while though I do have one problem with the band: I find their lyric a little generic. Storytellers yes, and good ones, but they don’t always match the intensity of the music. The just about perfect “A Shag And A Cup Of Tea” (except for the song title, of course) with a lovely break, tells a good story and well, it moves forward, and it has the whining sense of loss. A nice axiom would have made it a masterpiece.
Still, this is a superb better living through science for anybody married to high melodic pop songs. Dr. Luke should be so lucky.
What difficult second album? The various band members of the Britannicas hit that hump years ago with their previous projects, like a good wine, they’re just getting better.
The Britannicas are Herb Eimerman (solo, Nerk Twins - USA), Magnus Karlsson (happydeadmen, the Charade - SWEDEN) and Joe Algeri (Jack & the Beanstalk, the JAC – AUSTRALIA). The lads are separated by thousands of miles of ocean but they use modern technology to make old-school pop music.
The 2010 self-titled album drew critical acclaim and just plain amazement within the indie and power-pop scenes around the world; how can something supposedly so disjointed sound so cohesive and melodic?
Their secret is still more instinctive feel rather than science; Herb is the bottom, the soul and the harmony of the band, Magnus is the twee and the twang in the middle, and Joe brings the soft and hard edges to the mix and completes this crazy sonic experiment. This time around they are also joined by another talented Swede on drums, Stefan Johansson (the Lemon Clocks, Yesterday Girl Records).
So can we expect more of the same on the second long-player? No, High Tea is better – more organic, more melodic, sweeter, brighter, louder – built on a palette of amazing guitar tones and rich vocal harmonies.
High Tea opens with the band’s recent, effervescent Got A Hold On Me single. In addition we get all the tracks from the 3 Sided Single, remixed and remastered. All up there are 12 originals plus their wondrous cover of Del Shannon’s I Got You from the recent tribute compilation.
Official release is slated for 11 July worldwide and is available as a download and a limited edition CD pressing on JAM records.
released 11 July 2014
HERB EIMERMAN (USA) - vocals, bass
MAGNUS KARLSSON (SWEDEN) - vocal, guitar
JOE ALGERI (AUSTRALIA) - vocals, guitar, keys
With special guest:
STEFAN JOHANSSON (SWEDEN) - drums
Recorded in respective home studios around the world. Mixed and produced by Joe Algeri.
Mastering by George Luif from Tranquility One Studios.
Design and layout by Dimitri Dimitriadis.
Original art concepts by Erika Algeri.