Monday, March 01, 2010

[Music] Talkin' Bout, Pop Music

Talkin' Bout, Pop Music: I have, since my earliest encounter with The Monkees at age 6, been a complete sucker for the tightly crafted energetic pop songs. So I was saddened to hear of the death of Doug Feiger, leader of the early eighties pop band The Knack, and my suburban Detroit homey. (For those familiar: Feiger grew up in Oak Park around Nine Mile and Coolidge, I grew up in Southfield around Eleven Mile and Greenfield. Figure a couple of miles separated as the crow flies.)

Most people think of the Knack as a one hit wonder because radio stations played "My Sharona" until ears were bleeding coast to coast. In reality, that first album they released in 1979, Get the Knack was an absolute masterpiece. "My Sharona" and it's single follow up "Good Girls Don't" were top notch FM fodder, but the album is loaded down with pop gems as catchy and as tightly woven as anything on A Hard Day's Night or Help. My personal favorite: "That's What the Little Girls Do" which could be a yard stick for any two and a half minute power pop song. (Also, The Knack were clearly the most sexually frustrated band that ever lived, which probably struck a chord with many young men my age.)

Their next two follow up albums were fine too, but fashion is fickle and there was so much backlash against the success of the first and the ungodly repetition on the radio that nobody was really listening anymore. Various comebacks in the '90s got mixed reviews. Anyway, no pop collection is complete without Get the Knack. It holds up well musically -- really, really well; not just as nostalgia.

Speaking of not-nostalgia pop, a hearty recommendation goes to Vinyl Candy's 2009 release, Land. Here's the band and album description from their website:
Vinyl Candy is a Southern California indie rock outfit with features a richly talented young quartet whose seamless sound welds a mix of influences from The Beatles to Jellyfish to Oasis to Butch Walker. July of 2009 ushered in the release of Vinyl Candy's second album "Land". A concept album which takes the listener on a whirlwind journey from one rock stars rise to demise.
I also got a strong hint of Beach Boys from Land; it brought to mind Pet Sounds and Smiley Smile, which is stratospheric company.

The album is higher in concept than most pop, and it draws a bit on the baroque tradition of Pink Floyd, but infectious melodies and soaring harmonies in strongly written three minute songs are front and center throughout. Great stuff. I get the sense that this is a band that has the potential to go ballistic and kick out an album with like eight top ten hits. That is, if albums were relevant anymore, or there were such things as top ten hits.