More songs about guitars and gurls: been playing a lot of recent discs from the current crop of pop-‘n’-roll bands, so let’s weigh in on three of ’em.
- Geezers of the batch have to be Supergrass – now on their third release, Life on Other Planets (Island), an altogether solid exemplar of their T. Rex Meets Blur dynamics. Lots of heavily echoed vocals: you just know young listeners will be playin’ and replayin’ this thing over headphones, puzzling over lyrics that veer between opaquely English garden cosmic and I’m-justa-singer-in-a-rock-‘n’-roll band (paging John Lodge!) Does it all mean much? Probably not, but it sure sounds cool, particularly when singer/guitarist Gaz Coombes channels his inner McCartney, remakes “Let ‘Em In” as “Prophet 15” and invites Bowie’s Joe the Lion to the show.
- The Reunion Show opt for more contempo pastichery, blending Weezer-style nerd rock with strong 70’s era keyboardery: not as hook-filed as the other newcomer key-and-guitars band, OK Go, but not as pissed about the perfidy of womankind either. I tune out when the sound recalls Kansas too much (that’s one brand of audio-kitsch I can do without). But most of the band’s debut Kill Your Television (Victory Records) swooshes by so rapidly that the songs meld together into fun pop noise. “It’s all been done before,” the band tells us at one point, but perhaps it could be re-done with a trace more distinguishability?
- And then there’s The Exies, whose Inertia (Virgin) has the MTV imprimatur stickered on its outer plastic wrap (the network’s rediscovered guitar-based pop-punk big time). These guys do just about the same pose and greenish tones that Foo Fighters used on their most recent release’s back photo. And the similarity extends to their sound, too. I like the track the band’s chosen for its first video (“My Goddess”) – good hard rock that plays the angry lust card quite effectively – but the cut that’s been getting me to punch replay regularly is “Can’t Relate,” which adds a (dare we say?) Beatlesque chorus and amphetamine stammer into the alienated mix. Wish there were more on this disc like it, but perhaps it’s a sign of better things to come.
So there you have it: three discs of decent pop-rock. Nothing that’ll change your life (for that you need the new Go-Betweens release), but so what? Sometimes a singer and a rock-‘n’-roll band is just enough.