June & The Exit Wounds Reviews

A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please

Marina Records

"Hailing from Urban-Champaign, a college town just south of Chicago, by day Todd Fletcher is a systems operator. By night, he is writer, singer, guitarist and pianist for June & The Exit Wounds - a perversely inappropriate name for these delicious, keyboard-coated pop confections. A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please - which he co-produced with friend Ellis Clark over at his mom's house because his neighbours didn't appreciate the heart-rending balldads oozing romantic anguish through his apartment walls - is the first record Fletcher has released, although he recorded with postpunk ingenue Nikki Sudden (ex-Swell Maps and Jacobites) as well as US orchpop outfit The Chamber Strings.

The LP was finished back in March 1999, when it was distributed by US company Parasol. It is now down to Marina - the German reissue label for The Pale Fountains, The Bathers and sundry other precursors to Belle and Sebastian - to spread the word throughout Europe.

It does sound like a group name, and yes, Todd recently got together a band for some local gigs, but really, June & The Exit Wounds is just a vehicle for Fletcher - the latest example of that distinctly American breed: the multi talented wunderkind.

Like the early work (1970-1 era)of his namesake and all-time hero, Todd Rundgren, Fletcher uses a simple piano, bass and drums configuration to pattern his lovelorn diary entries, although unlike June & The Exit Wounds' most obvious contemporaries, Ben Folds Five, the odd bit of guitar does creep into the mix alongside the tortured boy vocals and poignant chord sequences. He may be almost 30, but the words are pure teen angst. Look at the Titles: How Much I Really Loved You, You're Breaking My Heart, Awake All Night...

These may not be chaste devotionals, but neither are they erotically charged lust songs. Imagine a world where development is arrested around adolescence. Lets Shack Up Together is a lyrical sibling of Brian Wilson's Wouldn't It Be Nice. Meanwhile, the tune features a deliberate steal of the keyboard solo from power pop legends the dBs' She's Not Worried.

And yet many of the influences on Fletcher's music are of the pre- or non-rock variety: early Seventies bubblegum and teenybop, easy listening (his parents were big Chicago and Carpenters fans), show tunes and cartoon soundtracks. Oh, and Cathy Dennis, the Britdisco popette from the early nineties who was actually a cut above (she was into Laura Nyro, for starters) and who has a track here after her.

Weird...but nice." - (Paul Lester, Uncut, 04/2000)


"Despite their punk rock name, Todd Fletcher's Chicagoan band ply gentle symphonic pop. But it's pop rooted firmly in the late Sixties/early Seventies tradition of Brian Wilson and Todd Rundgren. Unlike our own (British) retro journeymen, however, Fletcher's muse, at its best, is delicate, bright and reflective. Standout You're Breaking My Heart is a gentle, melancholic ballad that recalls Harry Nilsson in finest tearjerking mode." - (Paul Connolly, Metro - The Times, 03/2000)


"More than a new discovery, June & the Exit Wounds is the vehicle for Todd Fletcher, a 30-year-old from a small town three hours south of Chicago with a penchant for the exquisite piano balladry of early Laura Nyro and Todd Rundgren - hence the extraordinary resemblance between How Much I Really Loved You and the Runt's 1970 US hit, "We Gotta Get You A Woman". Fletcher has worked with ex-Swell Map Nikki Sudden and orch-pop collective The Chamber Strings, and you can tell from his debut album, A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please. Comparisons with Ben Folds Five are inevitable, but only slightly obvious is Todd's love of bubblegum (The Archies, The Partridge Family) and soundtracks for cartoons, especially Peanuts." - (Uncut, 03/2000)


"Curious name for a light and breezy soft pop outfit steeped in the '60s sounds of the Beach Boys. An odd little album too. Released in Europe on stylish german imprint Marina - sometime home to the likes of Shack and The Bathers. Perky melodies float on gorgeous vocal harmonies, vibes noodle and a gently stolid piano lends a persistent air of melancholy. June and the Exit Wounds appear to be the extravagant alter-ego of one Todd Fletcher, from out of Champaign, Illinois. A hugely impressive work." - (Time Out, 2/2000)


"A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please is a pastiche of bright pop in the Brian Wilson/Beach Boys vein, but that's just a first impression. Much of Fletcher's work has the evocative brilliance of the piano pop of Todd Rundgren's early work, particularly the era that produced The Ballad of Todd Rundgren and 'Something?/Anything!', with a little Randy Newman, Harry Nilsson and Matthew Sweet thrown in for good measure. Vocally, Fletcher is a slightly more brittle and vulnerable singer than any of the aforementioned vocalists. The Rundgren/Wilson mind meld starts right off with the disc's opener, the gorgeous How Much I Really Loved You, sporting a lilting melody that incorporates equal parts of 'I Saw the Light?' and 'God Only Knows' to great effect. When Fletcher switches the focus to guitar, he has the sprightly pop spark of middle period XTC ('Field Day', 'Hey Hey Hey'). Fletcher shows his versatility on the lounge pop of I Shouldn't Be Surprised and the dancey funk of Cathy Dennis, and then jumps right into Newman/Nilsson territory on Let's Shack Up Together. The slightly left of lo-fi edge of Haven Hamilton may keep this out of widespread radio contention, but Fletcher and his revolving cast have created a pop gem that deserves to be considered in the same light as Rufus Wainwright's vaudeville pop debut from last year. Todd Fletcher can hide behind pseudonyms all he likes but there is a pop ethic that runs through A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please that will raise his profile in spite of his best efforts to remain faceless." – (Pop Culture Press)


"A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please is a pop-lite masterpiece for the 90s. The vocals similarities between Fletcher and Brian Wilson are at times uncanny, and the sweeping harmonies of the backing vocals on tracks like the album highlight Let´s Shack Up Together, and the ooh-ooh outro of How Much I Really Loved You will simply delight all those who worship at the church of Wilson." – (Amplifier)


"A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please is a delightful, melodic melange and a true classic of the soft-pop genre. You just cannot go wrong with A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please. Todd Fletcher has fashioned a beautiful, everlasting kind of album. The 'group´s' name aside – make sure not to scare the kiddies with it – there isn´t a single misstep here. June & The Exit Wounds carry on the vocal harmony tradition in grand style." – (Pure Pop)


"There is no electronic or synth anything, no sampling on this debut album, just mellow California crooners, latter-day Beach Boys jamming at the Tiki-ti with occasional falsetto harmonizing and some piano-man sentiment. It´s easy listening, old school lounge music. Let´s shack up together baby/ Make all the neighbours talk, and Cathy I really love you/ I want to touch you they say with earnest, Beatles-style candor. Without a trace of irony to the lyrics, but a little Smashing Pumpkins angst to band leader Todd Fletcher´s voice, this debut album keeps you groovy and amused." – (GEAR)


"The indie pop record of the year? The craft is top notch as well as the performance. A great pop voice with all the right touches… A brilliant pure pop album that´s as timeless as the heroes it mines for inspiration." – (Yeah Yeah)


“Unapologetically Brain Wilson-ish, June´s Todd Fletcher writes everything´s- so-darn-peachy arrangements and then backs them up with with generous amounts of playfully giddy lyrics. The few guitars that can be heard on the album are mixed way back behind the harmonies and the vibes. How Much I Really Loved You, Field Day, and Let´s Shack Up Together all tie for most sensitive and sweet (in an Elvis Costello & The Attractions manner). Not that every song is all about sunshine and happy days, but with A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please even the heartache puts a smile on your face. Chamber Strings´ Kevin Junior kicks in some of the Beach Boys-iest backing vocals ever on Highway Noise. June & the Exit Wounds has a good thing going on here, take advantage and give that silver lining a quick polish.” – (Faster Than Sheep)


"California Sunshine-Pop! Aufs neue Album des unstet arbeitenden Brian Wilson zu warten gehoert nicht zu den vergnueglichen Dingen im Leben der Beach-Boys-Fans. Da kommt der singende und fleissig komponierende Multiinstrumentalist Todd Fletcher, dessen Stimme deutlich an Wilsons erinnert, gerade recht. Sein mit faehiger Band eingespieltes Debuetalbum endet aber nicht bei den Beach Boys. Stattdessen haben auch Todd Rundgrens brillantes Pop-Piano, die Art, wie Harry Nilsson einst Randy Newmans Songs interpretierte und - aus neuerer Zeit - Matthew Sweet und XTC mehr oder weniger deutlich hoerbare Spuren hinterlassen. Heraus kommt bei alledem recht leckerer, keineswegs nur im Sommer zu goutierender 100 Prozent pure Pop, soft & mellow, der mit Let's Shack Up Together und Highway Noise seine Hoehepunkte hat." (TIP, 1/2000)


"Die Kleinstadt Champaign im US-Bundesstaat Illinois scheint ein anregender Ort zu sein. Todd Fletcher jedenfalls, Multiinstrumentalist und Sänger, wurde dort derart heftig von der Muse gekuesst, dass er vorliegendes Album aufnahm und sich damit prompt einen Platz unter den bemerkenswertesten Debuetanten des neuen Jahres sichert. Die Rezeptur seiner elf soften, poppigen Eigenkompositionen beruht auf einer Mischung aus spaetem Brian Wilson, fruehem Todd Rundgren und einer Vielfalt an ohrwurmartigen Melodien, die leider nur mit dem ueberstrapazierten Woertchen "beatle-esque" treffend zu beschreiben ist. Angenehm ironiefrei schwelgt der offenbar erst kuerzlich von seiner Liebsten verlassene Fletcher im Gefuehlswirrwarr und schwankt dabei zwischen ungestuemem Optimismus (Let´s Shack Up Together), ungebremstem Sentiment (How Much I Really Loved You) und triefendem Selbstmitleid (I Shouldn´t Be Surprised). Nach viel zu kurzen 45 Minuten ist klar, dass Kitsch hier kein Schimpfwort, dass aber lieblicher Beach Boys-Westcoast-Pop das Allergroesste ist, und dass eine vergessen geglaubte britische Dancing Queen in der amerikanischen Provinz noch immer ueber gluehende Verehrer verfuegt (Cathy Dennis). Die Tristesse, die in den Texten so ungebremst zum Tragen kommt, wird von fluffigen, manchmal geradezu froehlichen Arrangements wieder aufgefangen. Mit haemmerndem Ben-Folds-Piano und sehnsuechtigen Harmoniegesaengen deutet Fletcher sich (und uns) einen Weg aus dem Jammertal. Das Leben, man weiss es ja, ist eben bitter und suess zugleich. Und jetzt ganz schnell noch bisschen mehr Haven Hamilton. Bitte!" (Rolling Stone 2/2000)


Kuesten-Popper Millenniums-bedingt veroeffentlichte die internationale Musikpresse zahllose "Best Of"-Listen und ebenso oft nahm das legendaere Beach Boys-Album Pet Sounds (1966) vorderste Plaetze ein. Kein Wunder also, dass es immer wieder Musiker gibt, die sich an Brian Wilson & Co. erinnern. Auch Todd Fletcher, der Mann, der hinter June & The Exit Wounds steckt, kann und will seine Wurzeln nicht leugnen. Zu oft erinnern seine Pop-Songs auf A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please an die kalifornischen Westcoast-Popper. Allerdings duerfen auch Randy Newman und Todd Rundgren als Paten fuer Fletchers beeindruckendes Debuet, das mit traumwandlerischer Sicherheit auf dem schmalen Grat zwischen suesslichem Kitsch und lieblicher Romantik wandelt, genannt werden. (Rheinische Post 2/2000)


Die neuen Beach Boys Kalifornischen Sunshine-Pop vom Feinsten serviert Todd Fletcher aus Illinois mit seiner Band June & The Exit Wounds. A Little More Haven Hamilton, Please heisst ihre Debut-CD mit elf rhythmisch-romantischen Songs, die an die Hits der Beach Boys erinnern und an den jungen Randy Newman. Ein Album zu Traeumen, das Sehnsucht weckt nach Freizeit, Sonne und endlosen Straenden. (Welt Am Sonntag 2/2000


 
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