Liner Notes- 19.Jan.2023
Records from around the world right to your inbox.
Welcome to the 2nd issue of Liner Notes for 2023. And it's a good one! This week I’m looking at albums from Portland to Paris to Philly.
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On to the music…
2nd Grade- Easy Listening
(Click any record to listen on your platform of choice)
Power pop is at its best when the rhythm speaks for itself. Any record worth its salt will be packed with hooks that draw you in and riff that sound best when turned up to 11.
There’s no shortage of these on Easy Listening, 2nd Grade’s third album. The 5-piece band from Philly is back and sounding as stylish as ever.
They waste no time setting the table, either, with the first chords of the opener, “Cover Of Rolling Stone,” letting you know you are in for an adventure.
“Kramer in LA” is an odds-on favorite to be the most lyrically specific song we talk about this year. It doesn’t just reference Seinfeld the show, but rather a small subplot in the series.
Hello Jerry, it's me Kramer
I write you from three thousand miles away
You may recall in the previous episode
That I packed up and moved to LA
Life here's crazy, I'm doing the Hollywood hustle
Working hard and trying to catch a break
But between the Smog Strangler and being made fun of on The Tonight Show
With its bum bum bum bum-bum-bum bum bum line, “Beat of the Drum” drifts a little too close to Blink 182 territory for my liking, but it’s nothing the guitar can’t overcome.
Likewise, the lyrics on “Strung Out On You” hobble a song that’s an otherwise perfect earworm. Love as a drug has been done before, and words like “Give me something / Be my pick-me-up / I’m strung out on you” seem cheap in 2023.
With a record like this, there’s always a risk of everything blurring into one, but 2nd Grade knows when to dial it back & change things up. “Poet In Residence” is a downshift at just the right time, with a bit of scuzzy guitar and riff that evokes the Rolling Stones’ “Waiting On A Friend.”
Bottom Line: There are a few missteps here, but they don’t take much away from what is otherwise a lovely homage to power pop kings like Fountains of Wayne. Kramer got out because the murderer struck again. With Easy Listening, 2nd Grade strikes again too.
For your playlist: Cover of Rolling Stone, Poet In Residence, Keith and Telecaster
Below the jump:
Dream pop from Paris.
Some Americana from…the Rose City?
A cutout bin full of music news/links priced to move.
The absurdity that is #Music Twitter.
All that and more. Check it out!
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