Chris Church: Backwards Compatible

You can purchase Backwards Compatible from SpyderPop Records.

If there was ever an album that we needed in March 2020, it’s Chris Church’s new “Backwards Compatible.” It’s a smart, tuneful, full-frontal assault, and a splendid follow-up to his highly acclaimed 2017 effort, “Limitations Of Source Tape.”

What’s that mean, exactly? The unplanned circumstances around the album’s release involve “social distancing,” tension, and a great deal of uncertainty. Something unique happens during stressful societal times. We turn to music that’s within our comfort zone, and side-step the music that stirs more ambivalent or indifferent reactions. We really like the things we like, and gravitate toward them. In sunnier times, this would be a great album. In March 2020, it’s great squared (yes, I just coined that term).

Why is it so good? For starters, Chris is a smart songwriter. He’s mastered the sweet spot of blending optimism with a little dash of benign sarcasm (“Hey man, looks like you got trouble again…Hey man, even a loser can win, now and then…Don’t ask me how I found out, I know what I’m talking about…”) Second, he is a master of the hook, especially when it’s propelled by chunky “Do Ya” rhythm guitars (as it is on this song, “Kiss It Goodbye”). Third, the elements he uses in his songs are all arrows in his quiver. In the age of 2020 Power Pop, there are a few albums out there that bring the jangle and say “Our work is done.” Actually, it’s not…there has to be a tight, tuneful, song as the foundation, and what needs to be added needs to be added, and then you’ve got a final take. Too many songsmiths have something missing or don’t add enough. Chris never has this problem,

The 12 songs are all crunchers, heavy on the guitar with fantastic and bombastic drumming from the triumvirate of Nick Bertling, John Hawkins, and Jon Leeds. The closing track, “Pop Dreams,” is an anthem for every rock & roll kid who played air guitar to Cheap Trick in the 70s (and beyond). The best part of all of this is that the album is also remarkably clean, the instruments are all well defined, and it’s one of the best-produced albums I’ve heard in recent times.

Yes, you want it, but more importantly, you need it. Backwards Compatible is a pure shot of rock and roll adrenaline at a time when we need it most.

Chris handles guitar, bass, synthesizers, lead & backing vocals, with the able assistance of Nick Bertling, Scott Cornette, Doug Davis, Lori Franklin, John Hawkins, Jon Leeds, Bill Lloyd, Matt Lutton, Samantha Morgan, Lindsay Murray (A.K.A. Gretchen’s Wheel, who provides background vocals on all tracks as well as layout & design for the CD, with with a cover painting by Brian Beaver), Charles Shoewake, and Reed Shoewake. The album is produced by Lori Franklin, Engineered by Scott Cornette, and Alan Petsche is Executive Producer.