It had been a hectic ten days for me here in the little cubicle assigned to me at Blogcritics' HQ. I had a huge pile of CDs to review stacked up on my desk that threatened to topple over if I even looked at them, no less grabbed one to play.
With a crazy schedule outside of this site taking place next week, I went into SuperCritic mode. Fuelled in equal parts by the lousy vending machine coffee (it's not so bad if you load it up with those flavored non-dairy creamers) and the always-giddy thrill of discovering new acts, I busted at least one of my humps to get through every single one of them by Friday afternoon, taking time off only for contractually obligated food and bathroom breaks.
Some reviews came easier than others, but dagburnit, I got every single one of them done in time. With nothing left in the hopper, I decided to sneak out of here a little early and get a head start on my weekend. Everyone else here does, and I figured I'd earned it. The only problem is that, to get to the back door in this joint, you've gotta go through the mail room. Completely out of habit, I glanced over and noticed a package sticking out of my mailbox.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
The CD was the self-titled debut from Everybody Else, a trio from L.A. that I had been looking forward to hearing for a while. I decided to head back to my desk, load it up onto my iPod so I could give it a cursory listen on the train home, and get out of Dodge. But as I was ripping the CD, I was beset by my customary complete lack of patience and hit the play button.
Why, you may ask, if I spent so much time last week writing, would I devote so much space in this review to giving you the back story. Well, it's because you need to know just how completely unprepared I was to be blown away by this album.
I tend to get frustrated with power pop, because most acts, even the ones I adore, suffer for one reason or another. Some lack the vocal chops to pull off their melodies; others try too hard to be clever that they lose sight of the importance of the hook. And then there are those who are so busy trying to be Brian Wilson that they forget that pop should be fun.
But Everybody Else has the complete package. It's been a long time since I heard a debut album from a power pop band that exudes this much confidence and command of their craft. Lead singer and songwriter Carrick Moore Gerety has a voice similar to the late Jim Ellison of Material Issue, and bassist Mikey McCormack and drummer Austin Williams each display an impressive set of chops.
There's not a bad song to be found on here, and several of them, like "Meat Market" and "In Memoriam" are excellent. Every chorus and bridge offers a new texture or rhythm, and they're equally at home, with the Motown grooves of "Makeup" as they are with the Cheap Trick/Cars crunch of "Rich Girls, Poor Girls" and "Without You." And it's all done with more "oohs" and "aahs" than a girl showing off her engagement ring to her friends.
Produced by Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), Everybody Else is the type of album that pop fans dream about, chock full of great songs where the hooks, even when you know they're coming, never fail to put a smile on your face.