Golden Rules the Thumb
Nice Cast Records
Licorice is the third album by Golden Rules the Thumb, a group spearheaded by singer/songwriter Tyler Jackson that includes many fellow stars of Portland’s Indie Rock Golden Age of the 2000s, members of bands like Gully, Brenda, Cult Maze and The Rattlesnakes (look ’em up, kid!). Jackson, who emerged back then with a duo called Foam Castles, has been assembling various combinations of these players to flesh out his songs over the years. This lineup is the best yet.
Opener “Seeing Things” is like a rock royal flush — just lay the cards on the table, because it’s unbeatable. Great groove, killer chorus. Bring in Tess Van Horn’s backing vocals, some fuzzy electric guitar courtesy of Greg Bazinet, and let Henry Redman blow his tenor sax at the end just to gild the lily some more.
“Sweet Summertime” proves Golden Rules can out-pretty everyone, too — Shannon Allen, who plays electric cello on the album, slathers this track with piano like his father, local jazzman Flash Allen, did on Golden Rules’ outstanding self-titled debut three years ago. Other standouts include the catchy strummer “Tomorrow’s Money Today,” the lush ballad “Where Am I (Iris Song),” and “Nite Bird,” which has another great beat by drummer Jonas Eule, who co-wrote several of these songs.
“It’s a nice time but I waste it all the same,” Jackson croons on the closer. Having finished another stunningly good album that’ll barely make a blip on commercial rock radar, let alone make back the money it cost to make, I suppose he has a point. But, of course, Jackson knew that before he laid down the first track, and he and his friends spent months perfecting this work of art anyway. Nothing on Licorice was wasted.