Johnny Bertram’s second LP with his Golden Bicycles can be described as Americana, cowboy pop rock. The Portland via Mississippi songwriter has the earnest lyrics and sensibility of many of the folk rock releases from this year. The special part of this album is it is fleshed out with a full rock band, complete with electric guitars, piano and organ, great vocal harmonies. The album starts out innocently enough, with its haunting lead track, “Waves.” But, when the electric guitar enters the mix, it flips that cowboy esthetic on its head.

I heard this album early in the year, and it stayed on my radar, and I listened to it quite a bit. It has a very modern mix, which is great since it prevents some of the simpler tracks like “Sawtoothe Range” from becoming too campy. There is a great spectrum of styles on the record, from the near perfect brit rock of “River” to the folky americana title track, it seems this band can do almost anything. Additionally, Johnny drops some memorable lyrical gems in this track, like “I’m not losing hope, I’m just wondering why we suffer so long then we die.”

Neon City’s sound is very clean, like a lot of the rock albums from the early 2000’s. This contrasts nicely with the western-leaning lyrics which vein through most of the album, keeping it from being too much of a southern rock release. He tells a great story, much like Ryan Adams can. In fact, “A Stranger’s Bed” sounds much like an Adams track. “Miracle” is another stand out song, with great guitar tones and bass lines to match Johnny’s clean vocal delivery. Then the Petty-esque “Mistake” proves less is more, and sometimes the simple songs can be the best. Sitting still is definitely a lost art.

This is a unique yet familiar, under the radar release that will please people with many different musical tastes. Hopefully, this album becomes a success and Johnny Bertram and the Golden Bicycles will continue to get some much-deserved exposure.