State of the Airwaves
Lit, love, and lousy pop punkBy Daniel J. Katz
Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t the really good singles supposed to hit the radio at the beginning of summer?
August is coming to an end, and some of the best songs of the year are turning up, all from albums yet to be released. The leader far and away is the first single from Our Lady Peace’s third album, a piercing rock tune called “One Man Army.” The song takes full advantage of lead singer Raine Maida’s flexible falsetto and the band’s skillful guitar playing, launching from a rhythmically stumbling verse into a spacey electric chorus. The requisite killer guitar solo makes the package complete.
Amazing song number two comes from Travis Meeks and his new incarnation of Days of the New. “Enemy” features the intricate acoustic guitar that made “Touch, Peel, and Stand” a hit, but a more modern touch is added in the form of synthesizers and a drum line less organic than in Meeks’ previous work. Repeated vocal hooks add a pop edge and finally make the band sound slightly different from Alice In Chains. This is Days of the New you can dance to.
Third song living in my tape player is the second effort from ex-Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell. His first single, “Sunshower,” was a rich ballad that appeared on the Great Expectations soundtrack. With “She Can’t Change Me” from his upcoming album, Cornell shows there’s still some rock in him. The chorus is driving and catchy, and the whole song moves along in time, creating the best waltz to hit the radio in quite a while (since Elliot Smith’s “Waltz #2,” to be precise).
Well, you know I’m not going to be all positive, so what to pan this week? How about Showoff’s “Falling Star,” a testament to what punk should not degenerate into? It seems like every minute of this song either tiptoes along at a snail’s pace or starts to get some momentum... before starting to tiptoe again. This song makes you want to throw a shoe at the radio. Cheesy and predictable harmonies, coupled with a lack of any real purpose, make it nothing more than boring.
A slightly better attempt in the power chord pop genre is Lit’s “Ziplock,” which is not a terrible song, but still a far cry from “My Own Worst Enemy.” The video, on the other hand, is very good, featuring a cameo by Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, playing the same father that he actually threw out in his own band’s video for “We’re Not Going To Take It.” Such funny stuff almost overshadows the mediocrity of the song.
Before you decide I’ve got no affection for good old mindless punk songs, how about Face To Face’s “God Is A Man?” Good old take-no-prisoners hard rock. Doesn’t try to be particularly catchy or revolutionary, but in its genre, this is quality material.
If you do want something catchy, there are some tunes out there to put a smile on your face. I’m normally not a big pop advocate, but there are exceptions (I’m still an occasional Ricky Martin fan). “Smile,” the first single by Vitamin C, a female popster with orange hair is a blatant rip-off of Sugar Ray’s “Fly,” with one major exception: “Fly” was really annoying. “Smile” is really endearing. Plus, there’s no hunky male lead singer for fourteen-year-old girls to become obsessed with.
And, as a music lover born and raised near Philadelphia, I have to give props to local boy G. Love, whose “Rodeo Clowns” is getting nationwide airplay with its funky shuffling beat and groovy vocals. I haven’t always dug G. Love, but his new album is very good. Hope he finds success with it.
As always, comments are welcome at email@example.com. Enjoy Orientation, and keep expanding your horizons.