Monday, May 12, 2014

Rediscovered Albums - Fountains of Wayne / Fountains of Wayne

I have 1,800 CD's.  I got my first CD player for Christmas 1987.  Back then when you bought a CD it wasn't always music that you knew.  It may be based on the recommendation of a friend, you might just like the album artwork,  or it could be from a review in a magazine like Star Hits.  Hopefully you hit a home run and it was a keeper.  Sometime it was a strikeout in which you would try to trade it to a friend.  This one was a single. 

I had always knew who Fountains of Wayne were.  One of my customers is the father of Adam Schlesinger, the bassist and chief songwriter of Fountains of Wayne and Ivy.  I figured if they were that good I would have heard them and never pursued it further. 

This is where my memory gets a little hazy.  I heard the song 'Radiation Vibe' but I can't remember where. 

I want to say it was a video game but I can't find any information to back that.  Once I heard it I fell in love with it.  I went right out and bought their self titled release.

'Radiation Vibe' was the first track.  I already loved it.  It was a slice of Power Pop Heaven.  After that I wasn't impressed.  Nothing stood out at all.  I truly believe that sometimes you just are not ready for certain music.  You are not in the right state of mind for it or you haven't evolved enough to appreciate it.  There are reasons for this.  I don't understand the reasons but I respect them.  Here is a band that I should love.  Pure power pop with fantastic harmonies.  They were from the same mold as many other power pop band of that same time frame that I loved.  Guster, Supergrass, Weezer, The Lemonheads. I felt that I should love them.  I just didn't.  You can't always choose who you love.  I listened once and put it away...for over 15 years.

Fast Forward to 2014.  I am browsing Google Play for Tinted Windows.  This is the Power Pop Super Group consisting of drummer Bun E. Carlos from Cheap Trick, guitarist James Iha from the Smashing Pumpkins, singer Taylor Hansen from Hansen and bassist Adam Schlesinger.  I was bummed that they did not offer it.  Super group...maybe not...but good group...yes!  Under similar artists popped up Fountains of Wayne. 

I immediately thought of 'Stacy's Mom' from their 2003breakhrough third release Welcome Interstate Managers. 

It is a jangly classic.  I loved this song too.  But based on my experience with their debut I never bought their subsequent releases.  Although I didn't buy their music I knew what was going on with them.  I knew Schlesinger won an Oscar for co-writing the theme song to the movie That Thing You Do starring Tom Hanks.  I knew of the TV song writing credits for shows from Sesame Street to The Howard Stern Show to The Tony Awards.  They were having fun but I wasn't buying it. The one exception was Schlesinger's side project Ivy which I love. That is one band that I wish more people knew about. 

Finally I remembered Radiation Vibe and I bit.  I needed to hear this again.

I was driving in between athletic events for my two boys.  I was in the car alone.  It was the first real warm day of the year.  The sun was shining and my window was down.  This seemed like the perfect soundtrack.  I was already thinking as to what to put on next when 'Sink To The Bottom' came on.  I just got lost in it.  I was finally ready.  I understood.  I got it.  It was fun.  It was funny.  It was catchy.  And I was smiling.   By the time I got to 'Survival Car' I couldn't get enough.

I replayed this song at least 20 times until I knew the lyrics and could sing along.  It is 2 minutes of Power Pop Greatness.Song after song I was amazed at how happy this album made me. Some songs even made me laugh like 'Leave The Biker'.  They were mixing catchy pop with fun lyrics, 50's style backing vocals, and fuzzy guitars.  When I got to my destination I didn't want to stop driving. Later that week I went back and listened to their other albums but none of them seem to have captured power pop at its best like this one.  Don't get me wrong.  The other ones have moments, and it is quite possible that I am not ready for them, but I still believe that their debut just nails it.  I can't imagine had I not revisited this.  I really believe there is a 5 year rule.  Every five years you need to go back and listen to something that you hated.  You need to test yourself to see if you are ready.  I am not quite sure what makes you ready but I do know I don't want to leave that station without at least looking on the train first. 

Dammit...why can't Adam's father still be my customer?????????

I will see you when the needle drops!


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