Friday, May 7, 2021

'90s Power Pop! Schwing!

Sup. Did you catch that '90s phrase? I don't think the '90s were fly, as the kids used to say, and haven't had many nice things to say about that time on these pages. The decade did, however, produce some of my favorite power pop. Acts like the Sugarplastic, Wondermints, Matthew Sweet, Velocity Girl, Velvet Crush, Jellyfish (and its many offshoots) are just a few off the top of my head that had their finest moments, but I'm going to dig a little deeper because all of those bands have made appearances here before. The following are taken from the third volume of Rhino's excellent 'Poptopia' series that came out in 1997. This CD was always great in the car because there was no filler and was best listened to loudly. Highly recommended. If you don't like it, talk to the hand. Are you hating these '90s phrases yet?

If, like me, you worship at the altar of Big Star, you're going to dig Idle Wilds because it's clear this Philly outfit did as well. The band was on the Ardent label, the same one that released Big Star's albums, and Jody Stephens was even their A&R man. Alas, all of that Big Star mojo wasn't enough to crawl out of obscurity, and Idle Wilds called it quits very quickly. It was many years before Big Star became appreciated by the masses. Perhaps it can happen for Idle Wilds too. As if!

You're All Forgiven

I may have found another reason to dislike the '90s... ugly album covers. These last two have been pretty awful, eh? I have nice memories of listening to Baltimore band the Greenberry Woods when 'Rapple Dapple' came out in '94. The guy who owned the record store I was working at was crazy about them, and we played it to death. These guys had everything going for them. They were signed to Sire and had opening slots with a bunch of bands you would know. Two albums of catchy AM pop were met with indifference, and that was that. "Trampoline" has always been considered their signature tune. If you don't like this one, best to move on, but it's fly.


Are you getting jiggy with it?

I'm bugging out with all of this '90s lingo. Let's wrap it up. The Tearaways were a Cali band and the only one on this page that stuck around beyond the '90s. I don't know much about their career, but the band's first album was a slow grower that eventually got quite a buzz going in power-pop circles, especially when considering it was released on the band's own Fried Records. The Tearaways jumped around to a couple of indie labels during the decade, but all of these years later, it's that debut, 'See the Sound,' for which they are remembered. It was produced by veteran L.A. producer Earle Mankey, best known (by me, anyway) for working with 20/20, the Three O'Clock, the Pop and other So-Cal-based bands. I always liked the chorus to this slow side of power pop. "Jessica something... what was her name? Something about her remains." Whatever.

Jessica Something

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