Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from May, 2004

38. Keane - Hopes and Fears (2004)

I have to admit something: When it comes to Coldplay and bands that aspire to the same aesthetic, I find my reaction becoming increasingly, well, cold. Groups like this are very easy to admire and even easier to like, afterall, they find their inspiration in such crowd-pleasers as The Cure, U2, and Radiohead. But I just can't help but feel that there's something missing.

Sure, it's great sit-around-feeling-depressed-but-fine-with-it music. It's music for big theatrical sighs and deep musings of deeper feelings, and grand proclamations. It may sound like I'm poking fun (and I am a little bit), but there are times when you're feeling exactly like that, and this music is the perfect soundtrack. But what about the times you aren't feeling like that?

Anyway, we're being subjected to a lot of new bands lately, first billed as "the next Radiohead," now hailed as "the next Coldplay." This includes Travis, Ours, Snow Patrol, Starsailor, e…

37. Olympic Hopefuls - The Fuses Refuse To Burn (2004)

Olympic Hopefuls are a Twin Cities super-group of sorts, made up of members of Vicious Vicious, Kid Dakota, and Alvastar. Their new album is a crackerjack example of what makes power pop my very favorite kind of music.

As I write that, I realize I've thrown the term "power pop" in there without much explanation, so before I go on about this record I'd like to offer a definition:

Power pop (noun), 1. A form of rock 'n' roll music derived from the Beatles and Beach Boys whose proprietors usually obtain cult status among record geeks (and few others); 2. A form of rock 'n' roll music containing a majority of the following: handclaps, harmonies, keyboards, memorable guitar riffs and vocal melodies, lyrics about being misunderstood or how girls make no sense. See Cheap Trick, Big Star, Badfinger, Marshall Crenshaw, Jellyfish, Matthew Sweet, Fountains Of Wayne, et al.

The definition is a large one and could encompass countless acts. For example, would R.E.M. b…

Hanson - "Penny & Me"

The best pop songs have choruses that just won't quit. They break open and soar. They make you itch slightly when you sense the verse is coming to an end. They make you wish that there was just one (or two, or three) more repeats of that chorus somewhere in the song. As Roxette put it: Don't bore us, get to the chorus!

Hanson know a thing or two about that. Unfortunately cute and lumped in with the boy band phenomenon, the band never fit there, in retrospect. The boy bands had lots of awesome choruses too (I Want It That Way) but they also had choreographed dancing and strange facial hair and robotic presences. Hanson played their own instruments, and wrote their own songs. In their minds, on the boy band spectrum they were closer to the Beatles than the Backstreet Boys.

After their extreme overexposure (thanks to the aforementioned cuteness and a mega hit called MmmBop) Hanson quietly hammered out a solid second album (This Time Around) full of rootsy power pop, harmony…