marble stature The Offense we trust! Rural bullshit from the heart of Fox Point, Providence, RI 02906

Tuesday, August 29, 2006



So I finally figured out the problem that I have with the whole “power-pop” thing: the power. Where is it? Most of the power-pop crap I’ve heard is polite and overtly anal; I guess that’s the crowd that we’re dealing with anyways, so I guess the dogs reflect the owners after all. I think that those first three Cheap Trick albums just decimated all of the power out of power-pop, leaving the rest of the popsters to cruise on the fumes. Nearly two years ago, however, Chicago-based reissue elitists the Numero Group unleashed the double disc Yellow Pills: Prefill compilation and became a minor phenomenon. The compilation was, for many, the introduction into the Numero Group reissues (which have gone on to be quite popular and respected) because the material was so drastically different from the NPR-friendly releases. Although it was clear that Yellow Pills main-man Jordan Oakes has got to have quite an impressive collection of power-pop records, a lot of the material was kind of a snooze; real wimpy-like. That being said, all it took was one fucking righteous song to make the whole double disc worthwhile, and Prefill has “The Sun” by Toms, which is possibly one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard… which alone is worth the $20 for the compilation, without it… I’m not so sure. That being said, if one of the leading authorities in power-pop criticism can only find one diamond in the rough in his big moment to shine, I would say that the whole power-pop thing doesn’t have a whole lot to offer me. A few weeks ago, I picked up the Hyped to Death #101 compilation and came across this song called “Person to Avoid” from this group from Lawrence, Kansas called the Regular Guys and just couldn’t get it out of my head. It sounded like it came from a practice tape from the first New York Dolls practice; everybody gets together and tries to play along with a riff (or in this case a chorus) that the guy who started the band came up with even though he doesn’t know how to play any instruments. “Person to Avoid” is just one of those great songs that inspires people that rock ‘n roll is in the flesh and not in the know-how.

Regular Guys Jayhawk Pop (Hyped to Death/Teenline, 2004)

I didn’t really like this one at first; in fact, it kind of pissed me off, seeing as I was so excited for it to show up in the mailbox. All of the trappings that irritated me about power-pop to begin with, were in full effect from the get-go, and I didn’t even see “Person to Avoid” on the track list. I just tossed it to the back seat of the car and put the Hyped to Death #101 comp back in. I noticed last night that “Person to Avoid” was in fact on Jayhawk Pop, and I decided to fall asleep to the album last night after watching the, always exciting, Emmy Awards show. I really started to like it, and have been listening to it all day at work today. The Regular Guys only had one release in their two-years (1979-1981), that being a little four-song ep that Trouser Press named “one of the best… of the…” or something. Those four songs are the first four tracks on Jayhawk Pop, but are kind of the worst four songs on the whole collection. Now that I’ve listened to this thing a bunch of times, I’ve gotten past the pussy production-style of the ep, and have determined that the songs aren’t that bad, but they are still nowhere near as good as the eleven studio demos, and the ten great live songs that round out the release. I guess a band breaking up after one release isn’t that bad, because they were spared from a producer coming in and molesting all of these great songs (we are dealing with power-pop guys though, I’m sure they’re still quite pleezed with the quality of their sole ep… perfectionists, hmph). From what I read, the bassist’s sister joined the band and although there is only one song on here that has her singing on it and it has quite a nice little melody, and like the varying fidelity, really helps break up the album from sound too similar, it’s almost a shame that more of her material isn’t on here (but hey, maybe she only wrote only great song, and in that case, one great is better than a bunch of duds).

Although I initially thought this might have been a waste of $9, I have really grown to like this little release a lot, and it’s only taken a few listens to do the trick. If you are familiar with those first two Wilco albums, Log, Bill Fox's Shelter From The Smoke and maybe Grateful Dead's Terrapin Station you might like dig on the Regular Guys, because some of the stuff on here is reminiscent to these ears. Songs such as “Let’s Dance,” “Love and Wrong,” “Leave,” “I Don't Wanna See You Tonight,” “Person to Avoid,” and the live version of “I Forgot the Flowers,” are going to inevitably make appearances on some future mix tapes, and those are only the songs that motivated me by “the hook” to go over and have a look at the track list. I don’t see myself frantically buying all of the stuff from Hyped to Death’s Teenline series (like I did with their other three series: Messthetics, Homework, and Hyped to Death), but this one has really hit the spot for the time being, and makes me wonder if power-pop does have something to offer me after all? Maybe…

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