It's good to see Brian Wiegert leading a band again. He was at the center of the foursome Team Tomato, a band that made mostly solid records, gained some national attention and then went kaput. He was a binding force for the Red Headed Strangers, the country project of the Sullivan family, but with Picture Day, Wiegert is back slinging crunchy guitar chords and sharp lyrical darts. With this band, Wiegert is joined by his Team Tomato teammates Luis Actis on drums and Jordan Ross on guitar (Steve Sesti is on bass), so there's a temptation to look at Picture Day as a slight revamp of what came before. But where that band played genre hop-scotch a little too much for listeners to get a clear picture of a defined sound, Picture Day is relentlessly focused on the pop-song pleasure principle. The hooks on a song like "Immaterial" work well with Wiegert's high and clear vocals, and the loud/quiet/loud dynamic of post-Pixies indie rock are deployed with precision.
Wiegert professes a serious Guided By Voices jones, and while that streamlined, song-a-minute style is in the band's DNA, Picture Day prefers a high-sheen polish more reminiscent of Cheap Trick or Badfinger. The multitracked vocals push that immediate sense of harmony to the fore, and these songs are better for it. Lead single "Mandoline" gives a good taste of what's to come: Wiegert and Ross square off their guitars like duelists: One is rangy and resonant, the other is sustained and laser-focused like an arena rock solo. The country feedback "Long Division" gives the EP its shot of romantic tension, and its minor-key twanginess offers just the barest hint of Wiegert's rootsier affectations. That track smartly bleeds into the more modern-rock-indebted "Happens Daily," which rides punctuated guitar upticks and Actis' relentless cymbal work.
Every Day Is Picture Day is the band's second release (another five-song EP was released in the summer of 2011), but this disc effectively serves as an introduction to a band that has been flying under the radar and honing its style. The EP may be short on surprises — the Gospel of Power Pop allows for few revisions, after all — but these five songs are equally short on disappointments or missteps and long on muscular pop nuggets.
Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.