Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wondering If Wondermints Will Rise Again

Most of my favorite power-pop albums came out in the late '70s and early '80s, but there were some wonderful releases of this ilk in the '90s as well. Matthew Sweet's 'Girlfriend,' Jason Falkner's 'Presents Author Unknown' and Velocity Girl's '¡Simpatico!' are a few that immediately come to mind, but anything by Wondermints would shoot by them all... with a bullet.

The band's 1995 self-titled debut album is arguably the best of the bunch, but today I want to give some love to their often overlooked third album. 'Bali' isn't as well known because it came out on a Japanese label, quickly went out of print, was briefly reissued domestically years later and, sadly, went out of print again. It's an old story, but I find this shameful. We are talkin' 1998. They were kings of L.A's power-pop scene, had just worked on the soundtrack to the first Austin Powers movie and were only a year away from becoming a permanent part of Brian Wilson's backing band.

For fans like me, Wondermints joining Wilson has been a blessing and a curse. Working with a god like Wilson all of these years is a chance you don't pass up, and the results have been nothing short of miraculous, but Wondermints as its own entity have been almost nonexistent since 'Bali.' There has been only one release of new material, and that was more than a decade ago. I'm still hopeful we will hear from them again one day.

Wondermints - Arnaldo Said (mp3)
Wondermints - Cellophane (mp3)


Uncle E said...

Upon your expert recommendation, Brian, I went to my local record store but could only find Kaleidoscopin', a comp of early and (?)rare stuff, which I instantly took a liking to. Anyone that commits to a cover version of the theme song to Peter Seller's great The Party is already off to a good start with me. Ironically and quite fortuitously, a few weeks later, since I was now looking for it, I found an abandoned copy of Bali at the local Goddwill, which I scored for $.49! Half off day! It's fantastic as well.
No Jellyfish mentioned in your post though? Or Sloan?

Brian said...

Hey Uncle E. Thanks so much for this post. You are the first person I know of to buy something after I posted about it. Big moment for me.

I'm happy Kaleidoscopin' worked out for you. That one came out a couple of years ago and is still relatively easy to find... for now. Being a rarities collection, this is probably the last Wondermints album I would have had you start with. So, I'm confident you are going to like everything else. Keep your eye out for the self-titled debut. It's really good.

I love The Party too. I'm wondering if that's a guy movie. Every time I pop it in the VCR (yes, I have it on video tape), my wife nods off.

I should have mentioned Jellyfish, but at least I went with Falkner. He was on the first Jellyfish album. I was way way late to the Sloan party. I didn't own a Sloan album until the singles collection came out in the '00s. Ridiculous. Must have been my anti-Canadian bias. Ha!

Uncle E said...

My wife actually SAYS she really loves the Party, and it's usually her who recommends watching it, but she, too, nods off about the time his shoe falls off in the pool. Me, I watch it all the way to the soapy, cheesy late '60's conclusion every time!