Roger Joseph Manning, Jr.: The Land Of Pure Imagination (2005)
Pure Imagination was Manning's solo debut (for some reason also issued with the alternate title Solid State Warrior). And it's great, a nifty headphone-friendly work-out. The opening title track starts off as a quiet, stripped-down ballad before leaping into an all-hands-on-deck sonic barrage. There is some (relatively) straightforward power pop here, like the perky "Too Late For Us Now," a cross between Julian Lennon and maybe Freedy Johnston; and some more Brian Wilson-esque lush, orchestral summer sunshine (like "Wish It Would Rain," a song Manning had actually co-written with Wilson himself, though he apparently cut Wilson's contributions for the album version). Much of the album has a bit of a 70s soft pop vibe, suggesting the guy is as into the Carpenters and Todd Rundgren as he is, say, the Dukes of Stratosphear; a few of these slower tracks can plod a bit (I would have preferred a few more busy bits like "Creeple People"). But it's a delightful, engaging listen throughout.
Here's the video for "Too Late For Us Now":