Listening to “Jangleholic,” the opening track to Les Fradkin’s Arist Kit Sampler, may find you responding with, ‘Guilty as charged.’ Some of us are just suckers for that jangling electric guitar sound. On it, Fradkin does his best Roger McGuinn-fronting-the-Byrds impression. This is a sound that just hits all the right pleasure points, and Fradkin simply nails it. In fact, everything on six-song release is a treat to the ears.
Speaking of California Bands (Byrds), one titled “God Bless California (Oooh L.A.)” comes next and applies a lightly rollicking Beach Boys groove. With its vocal oohs and aahs, it sounds like one of multiple Beach Boys California girl songs. It not only sounds like California Beach Boys music, but it reads like something they’d write, too. It’s all about celebrating California. Not all the state’s homelessness, but the pretty girls and beautiful scenery. “Magic Attic” also includes Beach Boys sonic vibes, mainly because of the vocals, which find Fradkin singing it in a Carl Wilson-esque falsetto.
Fradkin has been inducted into The Akakemia Hall Of Fame, which took place on August 10, 2023. The organization’s website enthuses, “The Akademia Board has unanimously voted to hereby induct into the Hall of Fame Les Fradkin.” The Akademia Music Awards is “dedicated to recognizing top musical talent from all across the globe.” The executive team listens to hundreds of submissions every month, so Fradkin’s induction is quite an honor.
“Everything Is Wrong” is different than what comes before it. Although it still has a bit of a retro feel, its instrumentation sounds closer to ‘80s pop. Kind of like one of those big Hall & Oates hits. Lyrically, it’s a commentary on how crazy our world has become. The world is a dysfunctional mess in many regards these days, and Fradkin’s commentary is spot-on.
Another one, titled “System Crash,” mines much of the same commentary territory, only this time Fradkin does so with a much gentler touch. It’s a bit of a ballad-y tune. Nevertheless, its lyrics and music sound a bit science fiction-y. Musically, it may remind you of ELO – especially the classical-y, choir-ly vocal part toward the track’s end. It also features a fine electric guitar solo, as well.
The project ends with another jangly – although less so than the opener – inclusion. It’s a love song, a sentiment Fradkin deftly avoids singing about throughout the rest of this project. Of course, it also includes lyrics about music and the radio. This guy is obsessed with creating music, it’s clear. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. After all, many of us jangleholics are similarly obsessed with listening to music, so, we can both relate to and understand Les Fradkin.
There is plenty to love about this sampler. If you enjoy hearing classic rock elements applied to contemporary songwriting, you will almost certainly dig these half-dozen tracks. It’s all the good stuff, with no filler. If you’re a fan of historic California rock and pop music, you’ll probably love this set even more. Les Fradkin knows his music history, and knows how to create great, history-referencing rock sounds.