Tag Archives: The Pursuit of Happiness

Mixtape! This is Your Brain On Pop…

Way back in the day – June 1997 to be exact – I slapped this puppy on a C-90 and shared it with my tape swap group. Damned if it still doesn’t sound good now. A nice mix of old and new (new then, anyway), famous and obscure, sweet and bitter. Someday when I have both bandwidth and time I’ll load these on a special tab, but just YouTube or MySpace or Google your way around for now.

This Is Your Brain.

This Is Your Brain On POP!

Any Questions?

The Nerves – “When You Find Out” How can you go wrong when you have not one, not two, but THREE great songwriters in the band? Well, that’s probably two too many…
Ginger – “Feel Like Falling Down” Always a Molson’s Ale in the fridge, always a Canadian pop band on my tapes. Can’t recommend the whole CD but this song is sweet.
Joan Jett – “Indian Giver” Yes, your eyes are working fine. Little Ms. Riot Grrrl does a nice job on this 1910 Fruitgum Company classic.
The Shazam – “Blew It” From Copper Records, the label that brought us the Badfinger tribute, comes this Cheap Trick/Who/Badfinger sounding band produced by Brad Jones, whose influence is strong here (that’s a GOOD thing).
The Clouds – “Aquamarine” An Australian band who I only heard of because they opened up for TPOH – spotty record but this track is killer.
The Guess Who – “Don’t You Want Me” Burton Cummings is a guilty pleasure of mine. This is the second version of this song, from “Road Food”. They could really rock live.
John Hiatt – “Doll Hospital” The greatest living American songwriter. His older stuff is classic; if all you know is “Bring The Family” you are missing a TON of great stuff.
The Chills – “The Male Monster From The Id” Martin Phillips and company – this one’s for all the girls. Another spotty record with some great songs.
Candy Butchers – “Til You Die” More Mikey! No knock on Adam Schlesinger of FOW, but Mike Viola deserves some props for his vocals in the movie THAT THING YOU DO. Buy this EP before its gone.
Blue Cartoon – “Parachute” Lee, who’s one of my SON OF TAPE TREE swap partners, is far too modest to tell you that he writes great pop songs. So I will – this stands up with the best of 1997.
Michael Shelley – “Going To L.A.” East Coast Beach Boys with great lyrics and a borrowed T-Rex riff. Mike’s HALF EMPTY is one of the best records of 1997.
Sylvain Sylvain – “Teenage News” Ex-N.Y.Doll had a much poppier side than the band ever did. Two great records and gone – I wish he were still making music.
Sutherland Brothers & Quiver – “Dream Kid” Great, great pop rock band, probably known best for “Sailing”. This version of the band featured future Attractiion Bruce Thomas on bass.
Stella Luna – “Nervous Man” A plug for Bruce Brodeen’s NOT LAME label and sampler. Jamie Hoover produced this new band’s track; can’t wait to hear the whole record!
Sparks – “Here Comes Bob” Besides being a vastly underrated band, Sparks had a great sense of humor. In this song, Bob has a strange way of making friends…
 
Redd Kross – “Pretty Please Me” I wanted to put “Mess Around” on this tape, but “Pretty Please Me” started off with more of a bang! Cannot believe this band isn’t all over the radio!
Semisonic – “Brand New Baby” One of the best of 1996, from the ashes of Trip Shakespeare. Semisonic’s debut CD was wall to wall great songs and was criminally ignored.
Richard X. Heyman – “Everything The Same” Permanent Press Records will release CORNERSTONE, Richard’s first new record in five years. He plays all the instruments on this song and is a pop god.
The Del Lords – “Stay With Me” In a better world, Scott Kempner and Andy Shernoff would be revered songwriters. This Dictators classic re-interpreted by Scott’s next great band, whose catalogue deserves better. Rhino? Ryko? Hello??
The Pursuit Of Happiness – “Pressing Lips” Speaking of great songwriters….Moe Berg writes ’em, the great band kicks them into gear, and those killer harmony vocals seal the deal
The Faces – “You’re So Rude” We lost Ronnie Lane this month. Although overshadowed first by Steve Marriot and later by Rod Stewart, “Plonk” was the backbone of the Faces, Small and otherwise.
Firesign Theatre – “Porgie Tirebiter” I’ve been slipping in a few non-musical interludes on this tape, but since this is a theme song, I might as well ‘fess up. If you haven’t heard “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers”, you haven’t lived.
Rick Derringer – “Something Warm” From “Hang On Sloopy” forward, Rick always had a knack for pop, even if he didn’t have the voice to match. Still, GUITARS AND WOMEN was a first rate album. He’s back to the blues now, though.
Godley & Creme – “Big Bang” Dedicated to the Jellyfish Listgroup – what should we call this, 5CC? For a laugh, play the Blues Brothers’ version of “Hey Bartender” at the same time.
Cheap Trick – “Oh Candy” From the first of two self-titled albums, a nice, bouncy cheerful pop song about suicide. You won’t be comin’ around no more….
Pat Godwin – “Amish My Ass” For every guy who ever got turned down with a bullshit excuse, Pat sticks it right back up her ass in one minute and twelve seconds.
Eric Carmen – “Hey Deanie” Maybe he lost his way off the path, maybe he is label-less because he is a problem guy. But forget the BS – it’s amazing how many different times Eric captured the innocence of summer love in a song.
Kyle Vincent – “Wake Me Up (When The World’s Worth Waking Up For” Am I the only person who thinks Kyle and Eric Carmen sound alike? This perfect single should be blasting out of every car radio right now! Why isn’t it??
Sparks – “Batteries Not Included” Part two of the Sparks humor brigade. Followed up on the record by a song called “Whippings And Apologies” which I’ll probably toss on another tape someday…
Mick Ronson – “Sweet Dreamer” (edit) Speaking of losses, I miss Ronno. He made Bowie and Hunter better, brought out a great side of Morrissey, and had an appreciation for classic American music like Patsy Cline. 

Any questions?

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T.G.I.F. – Oh, Canada!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Sloan blurb, two of my favorite bands are among the most underrated and unknown in rock, at least here in the United States. In their native Canada, of course, they are national treasures and further proof that while America is all too eager to pilfer their artists, sometimes our neighbors to the north know best.

The Pursuit of Happiness had a huge college radio hit with “I’m An Adult Now“, but most people never heard from them again, and even some of their own fans were unaware of the last two albums until after the band broke up. And while I hoped that “Someone Who’s Cool” would finally break The Odds far and wide, it merely buzzed a few radios for a couple of months. Every time either band released an album I would be convinced that radio would finally catch on, and every time I was left sadly disappointed…for them. Selfishly, I’m the beneficiary of their catalogue; a group of great albums I enjoy over and over again.

After saving the 90s for me, both bands sadly folded  but members have gone on to other projects; The Odds recently reformed and made another great record and hopefully will keep going. So get out your maple leaf and rock, here are Ten Oh Canada Tunes to brighten your day…if you don’t already know and love these bands you are in for a real treat.

(01) – The Odds: Someone Who’s Cool

(02) – TPOH: I’m An Adult Now

(03) – The Odds: It Falls Apart

(04) – TPOH: She’s So Young

(05) – The Odds: I Would Be Your Man

(06) – TPOH: Hard To Laugh

(07) – The Odds: Heterosexual Man

(08) – TPOH: Cigarette Dangles

(09) – The Odds: Fingerprints

(10) – TPOH: Young And In Love

Yes, I placed The Odds on the odd numbers on purpose.

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Sloan Celebrates Twenty Years

Oh Canada!

Indie powerpop favorites Sloan are set to release their brand new album The Double Cross in May. The title is a nod and a wink to their twentieth anniversary (XX = double cross), a feat that makes me tip my cap in respect…yet makes me feel old.

Our beloved northern neighbors have always sent us great music; Neil Young and The Guess Who were staples of my youth and consistently entertaining artists (Neil, of course, has a streak Cal Ripken would be proud of). But more recent faves like The Pursuit of Happiness and The Odds have not quite caught fire here despite making some of the most infectious and intelligent pop and rock music of their era – more on that tomorrow. Maybe Arcade Fire walking away with the Grammy is a good luck charm and a signal that musical awareness is hip again?

And Sloan is no different, falling firmly into that “how can they not be huge” category in the States. After album after album of great music – featuring the unusual balance of four solid singer/songwriters happily sharing the spotlight – Canadian fans have rightfully tossed out comparisons to the legends, right up to the holy grail of the Fab Four. Maybe hearing “Canada’s Beatles” has caused enough skepticism to scare people away, but this is one time when you should sidestep the hype and listen.

Get yer Sloan on.

I’m still buzzing over the thirty-track Never Hear The End Of It (these boys do have a sense of humor!), and albums like Twice Removed and One Chord To Another should be staples of anyone’s collection. So count me among the geeked. According to the press release, “the band will be celebrating all year long with special shows, an exclusive one-of-a-kind album artwork series and much more“, so stay tuned for some hopefully special events.

Go to their website and start with a free download of “Follow The Leader“.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Bands/Artists I Miss

Well, reunited without all that cheesy drama, anyway

Seems like everyone is getting back together these days, whether for money or a shot at career closure; some are actually reinvigorated and creating viable new music. So if you are pining the loss or lethargy of a favorite band or artist, there’s hope.

(Of course, nothing would be better than the three guys in the forefront of this picture sharing a stage again. Maybe if I leave that tooth under my pillow…)

Doesn’t have to be someone on a Van Halen level. For example, Fastball thought they had taken a long enough hiatus and decided to regroup – the result was a great new record. So why not our favorites?

So here’s ten acts right off the top of my head that are dormant; I wish they were making records right now. At least I have the fruits of their labor to date to savor over and over again. If any of these are new to you, please check them out. Maybe it will make you revive a few of your own favorites.

Because that’s the beauty of legacy. It’s right there.

Redd Kross:  Congrats on the new baby and all, but come on – make an album!

Cotton Mather:  Living on in other bands, but Kon Tiki is godhead.

The Pursuit of Happiness:  Too good to be satisfied with reunions.

The Tories:  So promising. So good. What happened?

Liquor Giants:  How about Something Special for the Adults?

World Party:  This generation’s Klaatu, the homage must go on.

Jen Trynin:  Disillusioned the first time, suck it up and get back out there.

Love NutAndy Bopp, put Myracle Brah aside and rock me again.

Tonio K:  I know you’re sitting on pure gold. Share it, brother.

The Montgomery CliffsJoey Salvia is solo but a reunion would be magic.

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Blast From The Past: TPOH

And not necessarily in that order

And not necessarily in that order

Wow…it’s been almost ten years since this greatest hits collection, which gives you an idea how long it’s been since The Pursuit Of Happiness was first climbing the ladder to success. Almost out of the box their classic “I’m An Adult Now” became a smash on college radio (and a cult hit here in the States), and although they never attained that level of commercial appeal again, their body of work is deep and impressive.

Why is it so hard for Canadian bands to impact US radio? (Don’t answer – that’s a rhetorical question). Along with The Odds, TPOH was an intregal part of my musical pleasure in the 90s and their albums are still favorites today. Yet sections of their catalogue remain unreleased here, and as for their name recognition…well, I could have easily made this column an Under The Radar entry.

Video for I’m An Adult Now.

Just below is the review of Sex and Food that I wrote almost a decade ago. Please at least start there, but if you trust this good Doctor, you’ll start picking each original release up one by one. Because I know you don’t want any more crappy teen-oriented music from Fergie or the latest fabricated American Idol…you’re an adult now.

 TPOH band

Not with a bang, but with a whimper…how sad that one of the best bands of the past ten years, and one of the best songwriters of the rock era, period, are hanging it up. There’s no room on Boy Band Radio for intelligently crafted pop songs that deal with unrequited love, blind lust, temporary bliss and just plain bad timing. How ironic, then, that their epitaph may boil down to their one certifiable mark on American airwaves, “I’m An Adult Now”.

That’s not their fault. “She’s So Young”, “Two Girls In One”, “Pressing Lips”, “Young And In Love” and “What You Did To My Girl” should have given them a killer single from each record, to be followed up by another two or three. But the last two records (Where’s The Bone and The Wonderful World Of) didn’t even get released in America. The first three are hard-to-find cut outs. Radio ignored them. Ah, shit…a classic case of woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Moe Berg’s self-depreciating but subtly brilliant lyrics, sung in his inimitable style, were always framed on the chorus by the trademark two-part female harmony vocals that the band picked up during sessions with Todd Rundgren. Kris Abbott’s guitar playing was every bit as good as her stunning looks, and Dave Gilby and Johnny Sinclair supplied a bottom end strong enough to float a battleship upon. They rocked like a metal band but could spin pop chestnuts with anyone. In short, they were too damned good to survive.

This collection leans heavily on the first three records and also includes some treats like a live version of “Food” , a demo (“Wake Up And Smell Kathy”), a B-side (“Let My People Go”), an outtake from Love Junk (“Take You With Me”) and a live version of the concert favorite, “Edmonton Block Heater”. Which means when you eventually get all five records – and you will – there are enough rarities to warrant having this one also.

Lots of bands break up and get back together for the money, but I don’t even think there was money on the table for these guys the first time around. In his funny liner notes, Moe bids a fond farewell to the band, but I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of him. With Moe Berg the artist feeling disrespected, unwanted and the sting of failure, Moe Berg the songwriter is in his natural element.

Incompletely Conspicuous – the amazing TPOH site.

IC’s breakdown on the track list of Sex And Food.

Amazon link to this CD as well as a live DVD

Video for the subtly disturbing Young And In Love.

Even AllMusic barely recognizes them.

TPOH wiki

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