Sunday, April 08, 2007


It's a guilty pleasure, a badly kept secret that I'm just a sucker for these guys.

Yeah, yeah, I love the Jazz, the Blues and the Music formerly Known as World Music (but is now (thankfully) simply called music). And, yes, it's embarassing that their songs appear on the OC. And, o.k., some of the YouTube renditions are a bit lame or, you know, cute, in that "My Secret Life in the Basement" kind of way. Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger, the song-writing duo come from Jersey, specifically around Piscataway, close to my old stomping grounds, so, youth's memory being what it is, a soft spot for anyone who'd grown up in Pavement Heaven kicked in.

Plus, these guys have a sense of Humour. From the band's name to their catchy songs, Fountains of Wayne are always kind enough to provide the lyrics on their cd releases, which, from the beginning (and here), were always clever in that They Might Be Giants or Eddie of Ohio way. For those trying to read in Canadian content rules, Moxy Fruvous would certainly be a great band for a double bill. All of these bands provide clever wordplay and catchy musical catches that have you humming for a while.

So, all this to begin a short review of their latest release, Traffic and Weather. Fourteen songs covering the gamut of topics from Tight Cash Situations ("Strapped for Cash), to Driving for Love ("I-95"), to Life Changes ("New Routine"), and Falling in Love at the DMV ("Yolanda Hayes"). As usual, it would be difficult to pin Fountains of Wayne (FOW) with a chronic case of aphasia. Instead, multple dictionaries and thesaurusi need to be consulted so as not to repeat the word "clever". Most of the songs invite you to concoct your own video of the lyrcis' passage. Like a hot potato, the characters in "New Routine" carry out small actions all attributing to life-changing actions to another character who then say/do minor things that.... You get the picture, a bit like Richard Linklater's Slackers, a loosely intereconnectd story line, but all within the confines of 30 lines of lyrics.
"Planet of Weed" needs to be listened to via headphones. No, no secret messages, just some interesting back noise that has you wondering how much looser a recording session can get.
As usual, displays of love in odd places (well, remember these boys are from Jersey) are represented here. You fall in love with "Yolanda Hayes" since that's the only act to prevent you from croaking while waiting at the DMV. Waiting for your luggage while at the airport these days? "Michael & Heather at the Baggage Claim" relate that "It's been a long, long day.
Can't we just be on our way?
Michael says, "Heather, have you had enough?"
Heather says, "Michael, you know that it's you I love.
Music fades away leaving you wondering about the back story on tha "It's you I love."
"Starpped for Cash", guaranteed to be the ear worm this time around from FOW, combines musical references to The Cars, Air, Billy Joel, and Philly's Wall of Sound.

When I listen to FOW, I tend to play the cd's over and over again until I'm thoroughly sick of hearing the quick-witted songs. I know they're lodged somewhere in the old cranium, waiting to come out at the most appropriate or inappropriate times. What's to complain about. These guys are serious about their laughs and observations. And in these most serious of times, studious laughs are what are called for.

If you feel an emptiness in the frontal lobe, I would recommend Traffic and Weather as the light-hearted and humorous filler. Sumnmer's coming and I'm with "Revolving Dora", who's
"..searching around the dial for a song that'll make her smile.
And she's turning out to be immune to gravity
And I don't know the degree
Of her grip on relaity
But she sure has got a hold on me.
Oh Yeah

Winter in New England andHiver au Quebec get a helping hand with their "Valley Winter Song".

And for gushy modern romance soundtracks, it would be heard to beat Hey Julie, playing in the background of the unexpectant heart-throb from The Office (American version), Pam.


Guess I need to get my hands on the lyrics (this is what happens when you download music, all the cover art and lyrical acoutrements are not part of the package). I describe their music as "slightly demented Partridge Family." ;-)
Oh, Gwynne. This is not good. Any comparative reference to the Partridge Family, whether positive or negative has the same effect. It taints what you're comparing the P'tridge Fam to.
I think I may have to take a long hot shower to get their feathers off of me.
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