Tommy Keene has been making sterling guitar-based rock for more than 30 years, and with “Laugh in the Dark” he continues the welcome trend.The Washington, D.C.-based singer-songwriter bases his sparkling sound on tried-and-true rock ’n’ roll archetypes: the melodic drive of Big Star, the slashing power of the early Who, the yearning ache of the Replacements.“Out of My Mind” shows Keene at the top of his game, his youthful voice set against a dense tangle of driving guitars that push the song’s bright tune with such force that its melancholy undertones take a couple listens to surface.
Tommy Keene delved deep into his record collection for Excitement at Your Feet ( Second Motion Records), his 10th studio effort and first LP of cover songs, due for release Sept. 17. Those who have followed Tommy’s career know his definitive versions of Alex Chilton’s “Hey Little Child” and Lou Reed’s “Kill Your Sons.” Here he covers iconic artists such as the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Bee Gees — but apart from Donovan’s “Catch the Wind,” none of Excitement’s 11 tracks ever troubled the U.S. singles chart.
Instead, Excitement is largely about the artist’s personal musical inspiration. Tommy pays tribute to his aforementioned British Invasion heroes, but also his East Coast punk/new wave roots with covers of Television and Mink Deville. On a more contemporary note, he also tips his hat to Keene Brothers partner Robert Pollard with a cover of Guided By Voices’ “Choking Tara.” Other gems include Echo & the Bunnymen’s “The Puppet” and Roxy Music’s “Out of the Blue.”