By Carl Anders
The sun's out, I'm driving along the quays in my Ford Focus with the window down having a cigarette and even though smoking in my car is officially illegal under the new smoking ban, I don't care. The day's a good one and Paparazzi is proving to be the soundtrack of the day.
And why wouldn't it be? Both Hoover and Lloyd have a remarkable pedigree when it comes to music and in particular pop, having served over 20 years in the business ultimately coming together to co-write, produce and perform paparazzi.
Comparisons can easily be drawn with all the classic pop and influences on the record, from the Beach Boys to early Elvis Costello, but this record is closer to more contemporary interpretations of pop, in particular its more reminiscent of Summerteeth than of the Beatles say, though with a healthy dose of Big Star.
Each track is a valuable lesson in making music for all of us. Girlfriend/boyfriend gone? All alone? Instead of sitting there staring at the empty bottles and writing songs whilst wallowing in your own self pity, why let a broken heart stand in the way of foot tappingly good pop music?
And there you have it, the themes are familiar to us all but the presentation of the songs is the ultimate symbol of perfect pop representing the stage when you realise the sun is out, you're over it and it's time to get back on the scene.
Stick it in the car, crank up the volume and tell me I'm wrong.
By Rick Cornell
It takes all of, oh, 1.8 seconds for Jamie Hoover and Bill Lloyd's Paparazzi! to grab you, as guitars gallop out of the gate in full-on hook mode. Just a quick side note to literalists and professional contrarians: guitars, in fact, can gallop and chime and ring and caress and a whole bunch of other things, all of which Paparazzi! demonstrates by song #4. It's exactly the kind of album you'd expect from the meeting of two pop music A listers such as Hoover (member of Charlotte's legendary Spongetones, in-demand producer, musical cohort of Don Dixon and Graham Parker, and so much more) and Nashville's Lloyd (formerly half of the Everly-ish duo Foster & Lloyd, architect of one of the best pop records of the '90s in Set to Pop, and, well, so much more). And rounding out the gathering of royalty on Paparazzi! is guest drummer Dennis Diken of the Smithereens. The best of a uniformly glorious bunch of songs is "Screen Time," which comes off like "Killer Queen" as re-imagined by two extremely talented Anglophiles from the US South, with the femme fatale in question de-lethalized down to a drama queen. As a bonus, the pair's writing is frequently as agile and clever as their melodies, with the minor-twist title of "The Bucks Stop Here" just one example. Based on Hoover and Lloyd's habit of cowriting by mail and telephone, it's tempting to label this collaboration Pen Pal pop. But with a nod toward Paparazzi!'s title, let's go with Picture Perfect pop.
Pop Culture Press Issue 58, Spring & Summer 2004
By Kent H. Benjamin
The ever prolific Bill Lloyd returns with a new album in partnership with Jamie Hoover of the SpongeTones, as well as the Smithereens' Dennis Diken on drums. The result is pretty much a marriage made in heaven. Between them, Hoover and Lloyd have contributed to something like 50 really great records, and this is easily one of the best for both of them -- a dozen songs and every one's a classic. Lloyd is one of the absolute masters of the jangly guitar sound, and a shared love of the Beatles is quite evident on this record. Sometimes the pair channels post-Beatles masters like the Dwight Twilley Band on "The Buck Stops Here" (with a riff resembling "I'm on Fire" and patented Phil Seymour-style backing vocals). On cuts like "It Coulda Been Me," the similarity is to a great Foster and Lloyd track, "Really Not Alone" goes straight back to the Beatles, like some long-lost Help outtake. The really great thing about it is that the pair, long-time friends -- though I don't think they've worked together much in the past -- sound like they've been in a band together for years. It's really good to see this finally out at last (Bill sent it to me last spring); after living with it for a while, it feels kinda like a pop masterpiece. If you like upbeat pop music with flawless arrangements, and a fresh, feel-good vibe, this one's pretty much unbeatable.
The Rage published: 08 April 04
By Lucas Hendrickson
If one were inclined to dig deep enough, one would probably find these prophetic words etched into the primary education transcripts of both Bill Lloyd and Jamie Hoover: "Plays well with others."
For those in the Nashville power pop know, reciting Lloyd's resume is a tad redundant. Foster & Lloyd. Feeling The Elephant. Set To Pop. Freedom Speaks. Standing On The Shoulders of Giants. And now The Long Players, soon to be Nashville's newest must-see recurring musical happening.
Hoover's credentials are equally impressive, anchoring Charlotte, N.C.-based power-popsters The Spongetones since their inception in the early '80s, as well collaborating with producer Don Dixon and guitarist Bryan Shumate in The Van Delecki's.
Hoover and Lloyd had been fans of each other's work for years. Mired happily in the influence of The Beatles, XTC, Jellyfish and anything else that came across the aural path, they decided to team up to flex their collaborative creative muscle. Musical workout partners, if you will.
Enlisting Smithereens skinsman Dennis Diken, Hoover and Lloyd have crafted a dozen power-pop gems, sparkling in their guitar work, harmonies, hooks and the occasional flash of snarkiness. Whether the song calls for "sing pretty" or "sing like you've got sand in your throat," both men can pull it off. Be it a stomper like Screen Time or a lamenter like It Could Have Been Me, every element fits just so, but without the annoying shine that tends to inhabit mass-produced so-called "pop" these days.
If there were a School of Pop, Hoover and Lloyd would both be full-blown tenured professors with students thumb-wrestling for the chance to get into one of their classes. This is one Paparazzi you won't mind hanging around your car.
They come bearing a long, rich power-pop heritage, so a collaboration between Jamie Hoover (Spongetones) and Bill Lloyd (Foster and Lloyd) is something to savour. Paparazzi’ subsequently bears a hefty weight of expectation, yet from the first snatch of a drum roll it transpires all too quickly that this is a partnership carved out at the gates of power-pop heaven. As ever, this is a sound indebted heavily to the hooks’n’harmony traditions of luminaries McCartney and Big Star, yet Paparazzi’ rarely falls away from a territory that’s rich in originality and as quirky as it comes. It’s only the first step on a creatively lucrative journey, but Paparazzi
POPISM radio show; Serbia & Montenegro
By Goran Obradovic
Considering all the (by) projects involving these two guys, they could easily make a double V.A. comp, chockfull of influences spanning from rootsy American tradition, through Brit-invasion and new-wave-ish power-pop, to the most contemporary guitar-driven soundscape. Both being all-round studio wizzards, it comes as natural that they’ve done it all by themselves, except for a little help from their Smithereen-friend, Dennis Diken, on the drum stool. The overall impression is that this could be a commercial pop record, with the strength to invade the charts, but an option not to release it through some of the major labels, makes it sure actually, that it will end up on the shelves of only true pop fans first and then Š who knows. Some of the highlights include the Spector-cular production of Warner-era Costello-ish opener “Show and tell the world, the “spongetoned” mid-’60s Lennonism “Better left alone” (complete with the “She loves you” guitar coda), not unlike The Rooks using the same trickery, the moody/jazzy “maccaronies” of “I can’t take it back” or the Jellyfishin’ stickiness of “Still not over you” as well as some folk-rocking twang of “Really not alone” and “It could have been me”.
Paisley or not, this is pop music of the highest order, that could set some standards on the contemporary (power) pop scene.
Americana UK magazine (UK review of Paparazzi)
Jamie Hoover & Bill Lloyd “Paparazzi” (Paisley Pop 2004) This collaboration between long-term Spongetone JH and BL and featuring Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken, sounds exactly as you are imagining it. Dead on harmonies, huge chords, tight playing, power pop wearing its influences on its tight trousers. These are true craftsmen; you can imagine them having their sandwiches out of a metal lunch pail after spending the morning nailing together the huge guitar break on ‘The Buck Stops Here’. The hard hats come off for ‘I Can’t Take it Back’ - handle with care, broken heart, minor chords, softly sung. The Move, REM, Big Star, oh, and quite possibly the Beatles can be discerned on songs (especially ‘Really Not Alone’). These boys could knock together an album for you in a week, remodel your band in a few days, immortalise your thoughts as quickly as you have them. No pretence or pretensions just music for the sake of it - www.paisleypop.com DC
Swiss Paparazzi review
by Robert Pally
7 out of 10
Wenn zwei ausgewiesene Songwriter und Musiker wie Jamie Hoover (Spongtones) und Bill Lloyd (Solo, Foster & Lloyd) sich zusammentun, darf man schon etwas erwarten. «Paparazzi», dass die beiden praktisch alleine eingespielt haben, nur am Schlagzeug sass Dennis Diken (Smithreens), ist denn auch eine Ansammlung von 12 vielschichtigen und stimmungsvollen Songs. Mit einem Hintergrund, der von den Beatles über Tom Petty bis hin zu den Traveling Wilburys oder den Byrds reicht, haben Hoover & Lloyd aus dem Vollen geschöpft. Hoover brachte wahrscheinlich mehr den Pop-Hintergrund ein, während Bill Lloyd, der mit Foster & Lloyd Countryrock spielte, vielleicht für die leichten Country-Tendenzen zuständig ist. Songs wie «Show & tell the world», «Better left alone», «Screen time» oder «It could have been» dürfen sich mit dem Material von Petty oder den Traveling Wilburys messen lassen. Während «Really not alone» neben den Beatles keine schlechte Falle macht. Und «Still not over» und «Walking out» sind veritable Power-Pop-Songs. Ansprechendes Songmaterial haben Hoover & Lloyd, jetzt fehlt ihnen eigentlich bloss noch der Bekanntheitsgrad.
Back to Even Reviews
Mojo Magazine #139 (UK)
**** (four stars)
Back To Even
New Boss Sounds
Deft guitar and harmony-driven powerpop from fine Nashville songsmith.
Formerly of hit country duo Foster & Lloyd, and more recently co-writer of Beth Nielsen Chapman's Trying To Love You, Bill Lloyd now mines the rich seam of powerpop. Ringing guitars and Beatles harmonies - few can pull this off, but Bill has a knack for lasting melodies and nagging hooks. Bendy guitars introduce the optimistic title track, in which he announces that, after a period in the doldrums, he has cleared the deficit and is "back to even", a neat lyrical premise. The quality is maintained throughout and such is Bill's surefootedness that other songwriters line up to collaborate, notably Don Henry, Peter Case, Clive Gregson and the aforementioned Nielsen Chapman. Discs such as these are rare and often buried by a
glut of mediocre releases, but if early Rembrandts, Fountains Of Wayne or, dare I say, the better aspects of Busted tick your boxes you'll love this.
Bill Lloyd / Back To Even (New Boss Sounds)
When the rootsy-pop Mount Rushmore is constructed, Bill Lloyd will be holding down the George Washington slot (my tabletop mock-up has Marshall “Abe” Crenshaw on the other bookend; the Tom and Ted slots remain open). Many folks introduction to Lloyd come courtesy of the mid-80’s country duo Foster and Lloyd, but he started out in the late Œ70’s, first with Southern Star (a band that also featured Kim Richey) and then with the new-wave leaning Sgt. Arms. In addition to three previous full-length solo albums, Lloyd has recorded with The Sky Kings and with Jamie Hoover, teaming up with the latter earlier this year for a hook lover’s feast titled “Paparazzi. And his discography reveals involvement in an incredible 28 “various artists” projects ranging from tribute albums to regional and international compilations.
Lloyd’s work has consistently been of such high quality that, of Back To Even, you might think “ho-hum, another four-star-effort” and elect to pass it by. Here’s some unsolicited advice: don’t. Instead, dig in and appreciate any number of memorable moments, some striking, some subtle. There’s the album-opening title track whose first 15 seconds define the word catchy while housing the memorable scene and album setting line, “I’ve been in the red and I’ve been in the black/ It’s good to be back to even”. Seek out Rusty Young’s pedal steel exclamation points on “Dancing With the Past”, and Richey’s harmonies and Peter Case’s harmonica on the Lloyd/Case co-write “For the Longest Time”. (Other guests and /or co-writers include Don Dixon, Clive Gregson, Beth Nielsen Chapman, and Nashville chamber pop band, Swandive).
Perhaps, most of all, savor the collective chime that is “Kissed Your Sister”, which is equal parts nostalgia and regret with an undercoat of giddiness. The song, like Bill Lloyd, is monumental.
The Disc of the Day was a battle in the Pop-Rock arena. That’s where I find so much truly quality Nashville music. Can I get a witness for Bill Lloyd? What a treasure he is on so many levels. We’re a lucky town to have him.
Bill Lloyd / Back To Even (New Boss Sounds)
Track: “Back To Even” Writers: Bill Lloyd / Don Henry
In a town full of pop talents, this guy reigns supreme. Does anyone have better Beatlesque hooks? Does anyone make records as charming? Does anyone deserve pop stardom more? The answer to all of the above is “no”. And the answer to this crunchy bopping CD title tune is a resounding “YES”.
Robert K. Oermann
THE RAGE / Nashville, TN.
Whip around the cable television landscape at about 3AM, and chances are you’ll find the Little Giant ladder system infomercials on no fewer than five different channels. The miracle device promises two dozen different configurations, anticipating your every ladder need. if you find yourself needing to paint the inside of a stairwell situated over a pair of hydrangea bushes, than this thing is the tool for you.
What does any of this rambling have to do with this record? Simple. No matter what power pop configuration you need (and there are far more than two dozen), Bill Lloyd is your man.
Back to Even finds Lloyd in comfortable surroundings, crafting solid , hooky, pop tunes with a group of friends that includes songwriters Don Henry, Beth Neilsen Chapman and Bill DeMain and musicians such as drummers Ken Coomer and Greg Morrow; guitars Clive Gregson and Rusty Young and bassists Byron House and Robert Reynolds.
However, the songs on Back to Even take on a slightly darker hue than past Lloyd efforts, due most likely to personal tumult over the past couple of years. There are equal parts regret (Almost Taken, The World is a Different Place Without You), analysis (Me Against Me, For the Longest Time) and acceptance (the title track , Dancing with the Past) that showcase the gamut of real, adult emotion in the face of unexpected personal change. But Lloyd is a master of showing the light within the dark, as well, rolling out the fun tracks like Dial Nine and Kissed Your Sister as counterpoints to the records overarching heaviness.
With Back to Even, whether he intended it or not, Bill Lloyd shows that power pop doesn’t have to always be about girls or cars or fanciful flights of imagination; that it’s a musical form capable of conveying more than the jangle normally let’s on. Leave to a master craftsman to figure out a new and better way of use his tools.
Back To Even (New Boss Sounds)
Bill Lloyd is back! Any release from Nashville’s enormously talented pop savant is a cause for celebration and his new record, Back To Even, certainly does not disappoint. Featuring co-writes with Peter Case, 20/20’s Steve Allen, Clive Gregson and Swandive’s, Bill DeMain, this is a joyously hooky feast for the ears, with classic-sounding pop songs like “I Got It Bad” , “Dancing With the Past” and the cheery title cut vying for best of-disc with moodier numbers such as “Me Against Me” and Almost Taken”. There’s even a al all-too-brief steaming-rocker-with-scratchy-guitar called “Kissed your Sister” with Lloyd rhyming the title with “pop up like a blister”, “a game of Naked Twister” and “like that song by Mister Mister”. Genius, I say.
John M. Borack
USA TODAY 11.23.04
Bill Lloyd “Back To Even” (***)
Guitar-based pop-rock (sometimes known as power pop) used to be music’s dominant form in The Beatles mid-60’s heyday. Now it’s a niche populated by hundreds of artists worldwide competing for a relatively small sales market. Because everyone in the narrowly focused but populous power-pop arena uses essentially same straightforward structure, style, instruments and chords, distinctive artists are hard to find. But Lloyd is a master of the form. Guitars chime, harmonies soar, hooks abound on effortless-sounding songs such as Another Side and the title track. And to his advantage, he deploys effective country elements held over from his late-80’s incarnation as a star in the duo Foster & Lloyd, when he and like-minded artists such as the Desert Rose Band forged a fabulous country/pop-rock hybrid that revitalized Nashville.
BACK TO EVEN **** (NEW BOSS SOUNDS)
Nashville power-pop godfather returns.
Those who remember him from 80’s country-rock duo Foster & Lloyd, or from his guest slots with Marshall Crenshaw and Steve Earle, will know Lloyd has an expert at country and power-pop fusions similar to Pat Buchanan. The 15 tracks here include collaborations with Poco’s Rusty Young, Peter Case and Beth Nielsen Chapman who’s “Dancing With the Past”- symbolizes the twangy country/tangy rhythms on offer. Essentially though, this is a class solo disc with some perfectly executed bittersweet pieces like “Me Against Me” and “Kissed Your Sister” to lengthen the summer.
HARP MAGAZINE NOV/DEC. 2004
Back to Even (New Boss Sounds)
JAMIE HOOVER & BILL LLOYD
Power pop titan Bill Lloyd tends to keep us waiting a good while between each release, so the near-simultaneous appearance of two Lloyd projects - one a solo album, the other a collaboration with longtime Spongetone Jamie Hoover - qualifies as an embarrassment of riches. Back to Even features plenty of vintage Bill Lloyd music (along with, by his own admission, some unusually personal lyrics). There's jangling and kerranging power pop, naturally, but lots of other pop as well: country-rock/power-pop double-yer-hybrids reminiscent of Foster & Lloyd, somber acoustics, jazzy ruminations, Badfinger recapitulations, new wave echoes and way-cool instrumental bridges and snippets. There's plenty of collaboration on the songwriting and playing/singing fronts, too, from Lloyd pals such as Peter Case, Swan Dive, Don Henry and Beth Nielsen Chapman. On Paparazzi, it's all Lloyd and Hoover (except for the able assistance of the Smithereens' Dennis Diken on drums): The credits inform us that all of the songs were co-written and performed by the pair, and lead vocal duty is divided equally. There's no sense of "Hoover" or "Lloyd" contributions here; just classic sounding songs that, if more narrowly constructed than those on Back to Even, still run the gamut of the power pop vocabulary with ease and style.
THE BIG TAKEOVER
Bill Lloyd - Back to Even (New Boss Sounds)
Lloyd’s epitaph will begin with former half of the country duo Foster & Lloyd who fused Merseybeat with the Everly Brothers.’ Long after the split, Lloyd pays the bills (as does ex-partner Radney Foster) as a Nashville tune-spinner while issuing sporadic solo outings that appeal to an audience with credit card accounts at Not Lame. The title cut is a stunner‹so much so that at first the rest of the album pales in comparison. Repeated plays reveal a gifted pop troubadour who can wear his grief on his sleeve ("The World’s a Different Place Without You") or shove his existential angst into your face ("Almost Taken") and leave you wanting more. With help from an able-bodied assortment of fellow singer/songwriters (Peter Case, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Bill DeMain, Pat Buchanan, Don Henry, Steve Allen), Lloyd has delivered another fine slab of thinking man’s pop.
- Brad Harvey
Bucketfull of Brains
Winter 2004 Issue #67
Back To Even (New Boss Sounds)
The venerable one is back with an excellent disc that showcases his classic style, as well as adding a few new wrinkles. Longtime fans will be able to feast their ears on that familiar, beautiful jangle which permeates tracks like “Back To Even”, “Dancing With the Past” and “I Got It Bad”, but Lloyd breaks some new ground with the raga-inflected instrumental “Hindon’t” and the coffeehouse jazz of “Me Against Me”. Other standouts include “Dial Nine”, an up-tempo tune with some really cool chord changes, the spare acoustic balled, “The World’s A Different Place Without You”, the rootsy “For the Longest Time” (co-written with Peter Case who knows his way around a root or two) and the dirty but sweet, “The Perfect Crime”. If this album puts Lloyd back to even, one wonders what gems he’ll provide when he’s ahead.
SAN DIEGO CITY BEAT
Bill Lloyd: Back To Even (New Boss Sounds) 8.6 out of 10
Goes Well With: the dB’s, Tommy Keene, The Windbreakers
Singer-songwriter Bill Lloyd was one-half of the now-defunct Foster & Lloyd, the duo that dominated country radio in the minute and a half between the exit of The Judds and the entrance of Brooks & Dunn. And if there was any doubt as to who was contributing what, the duo’s 1990 separation made things conspicuously clear. Radney Foster returned to country’s Top 10 with “Nobody Wins” while Lloyd dove headlong into the pool of Beatles-influence that informed his pre-Nashville career.
Back to Even, Lloyd’s third release since the split, continues in that classic pop vein, and while this is a solo record in every sense of the word (Lloyd produces, engineers, sings, plays guitar, bass, mandolin, piano and
harmonica) he’s occasionally and ably supported by ‘80s Southern pop icon Don Dixon, Mavericks’ bassist Robert Reynolds and Kim Richey, among other local friends. It proves once again that music, if not relationships, is very often abiding.
Bill Lloyd Back To Even
Label: New Boss Sounds
If you like: The dB's, smart pop
Song to download: "Dancing with the Past"
Three out of Four Stars
Bill Lloyd tasted the Big Time as the back end of Foster & Lloyd, a duo that fused pop and country in a way that was listenable and downright inventive. Lloyd still lives in Nashville, where he maintains a presence in country music - keep in mind that Lloyd was once under the not-wholly-incorrect impression that country music was what Dave Edmunds played.
Still, Lloyd is a passionate student and fan of pop; his string of critically acclaimed solo albums is a textbook of pop at its most ingenious.
His latest pop excursion, Back To Even, is among his most varied and, ultimately, best, works. To goose things along, he co-writes with and employs a host of should-be-household-name talents, including Peter Case, Kim Richey, Don Dixon and Beth Nielson Chapman. Some songs jangle (the title cut), other songs rock ("Dial Nine"), but all boast subtle twists of melody and arrangement that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. It takes multiple listens to fully grasp, but Back To Even is one of those albums in which repetition is a pleasure, not a chore.
This is Lloyd's best, most consistent solo effort, and that's saying a mouthful. Plenty of jangle, but plenty of a lot more, too, populates these solid tunes. What is most striking is the command the artist has over his warm, soulful voice; never has it sounded so true.
Lloyd gets off to a running start with the infectious title song, an in-your-face rocker. "Dancing with the Past" keeps things moving in an upbeat fashion, as Lloyd puts a vote in for looking toward the future instead of living in the past. The song's co-writer, Beth Neilsen Chapman, contributes some lovely backing vocals.
The lovely instrumental "Hindon't" is played from first note to last by Lloyd, showcasing his instrumental skills to great effect; dig the allusion to George Harrison's sitar playing as the song comes to a close. The straight-ahead rockers "Dial Nine" and "Kissed Your Sister" are two-of-a-kind; both feature strikingly catchy choruses and infectious beats. In a fight to the finish, I think "Sister" would win, cheesy synth line and all, mostly because the song comes alive in widescreen fashion, notching only 2:05 on the clock, and suggests a game of "naked Twister" for your listening, dancing and romancing pleasure.
Back to Even throws the occasional aural curve ball, as in the light, jazzy "Me Against Me," which features Don Dixon on bass. The deliberately-paced "The Perfect Crime," co-written with popster Pat Buchanan, seems somehow different from the album's other fare, as does the closing anthem, "Oasis," on which Lloyd plays everything except drums (most notably some great, bitchin' solo guitar). "Nothing can erase this oasis of love," Lloyd sings on this song, that will go down as one of his best.