Steve Barton and The Oblivion Click
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Steve Barton and The Oblivion Click

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By the looks of the photo on the CD’s inner sleeve, one of L.A.’s fabled jacaranda trees has crashed upon a humble backyard recording facility. Perhaps it’s to say that not even a hypothetical freak accident can dissuade Steve Barton from going forward in his singer-songwriter post-Translator years, despite his relative obscurity since he and his former band ruled the college airwaves with the jangly-nerved “Everywhere That I’m Not.” Barton remains a true foot soldier, pursuing the rock’n’roll mystery. His love affair with Britpop and his knack for tunes that roll off the tongue and from his guitar effortlessly have cemented his status as a lifer. For this thematic homage to time, Barton takes on its passage in crashing waves of sound and verse, from the Hitchcockian (Robyn variety) “Cartoon Safe,” and “Goodbye Oblivion” to “Winter Light” (righteous first-wave art punk). Throughout, Barton maintains his real-deal ties to the road that leads all the way from Memphis.
By Denise Sullivan

First printed in Sep/Oct 2007
- HARP Magazine


Review by Hal Horowitz

Pop rocker Barton formed a touring band called the Oblivion Click after 2005's Charm Offensive comeback, and the group now gets credit alongside its ex-Translator frontman on this 2007 release. The quartet also road tested these nuggets for two years before recording them, so the sound is tighter and more confident than previously. It's also harder hitting and not quite as jangly as in the past, with such atmospheric interludes as the reflective opening to "Maps and Bridges" which quickly transforms into a stomping rocker and then back. The song's chorus of "I wanna' lose my way," might indicate a break from his past, which the tougher yet more self-reflective tone on much of this set confirms. "Beverly Park" tells the story of an amusement park the singer used to frequent that was torn down, further cementing the disc's sense of change and acknowledgement that you can't go home again. Barton's snappy pop-punk remains in fine form as exemplified by the pogo-ready opener "Cartoon Safe" whose spitfire words fly by so quickly they beg for a lyric sheet to follow along. The subsequent "Peeping Tom" references a Brit invasion sound somewhere between the Who and the Beatles but never seems slavishly imitative of either. Barton's voice isn't terribly commanding so it's down to the songs to bear the brunt of the album's success and they acquit themselves admirably. A few lovely ballads such as the solo piano driven "Under a Broken Sky" show tenderness beneath the more typically rocking façade. Barton proves himself a better than average keyboardist, a talent that isn't obvious in most of his work. The six minute "Great Expectations" serves as the disc's epic centerpiece, a ruminative track that deals with Barton's somewhat shaky career and future dreams. "Time is like fire, it burns as it goes," sums up his outlook as the tune ebbs and flows with intensity, both questioning his path and somewhat defending it. But the following "You Make Me Smile as Big as I Can" offsets the drama with a snappy pop rocker that shows this album's yin-yang balance and Barton's indisputable talent to convincingly show both sides of his personality.

- All Music Guide


Steve Barton & the Oblivion Click (Sleepless).

The third solo release from the former singer/guitarist of San Francisco New Wave-poppers Translator is an other disc filled with gritty, Beatlesque pop gems - and a few surprises. For a guy who's been in the biz for nearly three decades, Barton has a deep cache of ideas. "Cartoon Safe" opens with a driving, toe-tapping groove, a "Revolver" sound and rapid-fire lyrics. Whether he's singing about an apprehended voyeur ("Peeping Tom") or memories of an amusement park ("Beverly Park"), there's a fresh energy that permeates the entire disc. Rockers like "You Make Me Smile as Big as I Can" are obvious centerpieces. - Charleston Daily Mail


Discography

Previous releases:
TRANSLATOR:
Heartbeats and Triggers (415/Columbia)
No Time Like Now (415/Columbia)
Translator (415/Columbia)
Evening of the Harvest (415/Columbia)
Everywhere That We Were: A Translator
Retrospective (Sony Legacy)
All four Translator albums released on CD in
early 2007 (Wounded Bird)
• Previous Releases, STEVE BARTON SOLO:
The Boy Who Rode His Bike Around the World
(Sleepless Records)
Charm Offensive (Sleepless Records/Redeye)
• Previous Release, STEVE BARTON CO-WRITE:
John Wesley Harding on his Pett Levels EP
(Sire Records)

Photos

Bio

Steve Barton And The Oblivion Click will be releasing "Gallery" on September 30, 2008. The band is signed to Spectra Records.

Steve Barton was the main singer/songwriter/guitarist for Translator, the San Francisco band who recorded four albums on 415/Columbia Records, and toured with R.E.M., Gang of Four and David Bowie. Although Translator formed in 1979, it wasn’t until their 1982 debut album, Heartbeats And Triggers, and the single “Everywhere That I’m Not” that they made their first real dent in the music business. Initially lumped in with other ‘New Wave’ and ‘Power Pop’ bands from California, it didn’t take long to realize that Translator were quite unlike any other band on the scene. Their guitar-driven rock owed more to The Beatles’ Psychedelic phase than the Synth Pop bands they often shared stages with. As the band matured, their albums became more introspective and experimental, yet they always retained their own unique sound. Translator lives on to this day, soon to announce new recordings, rarities and reissues.

Following Translator’s initial break-up in 1987 (they reunited once in 1993 and once at the 2006 South By Southwest fest in Austin), Barton continued on as a solo artist, including co-writing John Wesley Harding’s “Summer Single” and sitting in as a guitarist on albums by several indie acts. Alt-Country singer Anny Celsi covered a Translator song that Steve wrote, “No Time Like Now”. His first solo album was The Boy Who Rode His Bike Around The World, released in 2000 – produced by his long-time friend, Lone Justice’s Marvin Etzioni.

With 2005’s Charm Offensive, Barton created the perfect pop monster. The record was produced by Ramone’s producer, Ed Stasium (who also produced two of the four Translator albums, and remains one of Steve’s close friends). The Boston Phoenix wrote: “The high quality of the songwriting makes the album more than the sum of its influences: the hooks and riffs come so dependably that it all feels effortless. And the lyrics take a few sharp looks into the dark corners of love affairs, proving that the thoughtful streak of Barton’s younger days hasn’t waned.” PopMatters called it “a most energetic and enjoyable effort, one where both the power and the pop are present and accounted for.” Mojo awarded it three stars, and the Sunday London Times called it “one of the year’s unexpected delights.”

Flicker of Time, the third album, was released in 2007 to critical acclaim.

The band signed to Spectra Records and will be releasing their fourth album on September 30, 2008.

The band will tour behind this release, and the songs from this album, from Steve’s previous solo releases, as well as gems from his Translator past will be featured.

Speaking of Translator, there’s a lot happening in that band’s world as well. All four 415/Columbia albums were recently reissued on the Wounded Bird label – the first time ever on CD. Different Time, an 2-CD set of outtakes, demos and live recordings was released on Almacantar Records lin 2007. Also upcoming is the CD release of "Time of the Miracles", a document of the band’s first reunion in 1993. And UK label Evangeline Records has just released a two-disc set called "Translator Collection". Translator will tour this year at times in which Steve Barton & The Oblivion Click are off the road.