In 2004, Bowling For Soup had their biggest hit in the US with “1985”, a song about an out of control longing for a time before Ozzy became an actor and when Motley Crue was not considered classic rock. The band has carved out its career fueled by this unending ability to churn out snarky power pop tunes that generally revolve around alcohol-laden nostalgia and it’s what their fans have come to love and expect.
Those fans will not be disappointed when they put an ear to Bowling For Soup’s latest album, Fishing For Woos. There is nothing ground breaking here, no musical barriers being knocked down or envelopes pushed, and that’s fine. Fishing For Woos is simply everything the band has been doing for the last 17 years, making fun music.
The album opens with Let’s Pretend We’re Not In Love and I was going to describe this song as “hook happy” but its not only this song, the entire album is “hook happy”. So let’s just assume that description applies to Fishing For Woos in its entirety. And while we’re at it, let’s further assume big guitars, crowd sing-a-long moments, great harmonies and possibly a compulsion by the listener to find a warm sunny place to drink a beer.
There are two categories of songs here. The first and most prevalent category is the up tempo, party anthem, such as Girls In America, S-S-S-Saturday, Here’s Your Freakn’ Song, and I’ve Never Done Anything Like This. They are driving, fraught with humor and seem generally designed to “get the party started” as the kids used to say.
The second being the well placed power ballad like What About Us and Turbulence. Each has the prerequisite wave you cell phones in the air moments and production-wise, they hearken back to the days of Poison and Bon Jovi circa 1985, which is utterly appropriate for BFS.
There are two tracks on the record that stick out for different reasons. Guard My Heart was originally a demo from 1997 and until now only devoted fans have been aware of it. Stylistically it’s a big departure from the rest of the album and has a very distinct Gin Blossoms feel. I’m not quite sure that’s a good thing.
The closing track on Fishing For Woos is a gem called Graduation Trip. Poignant, clever and fun, it’s the Bowling For Soup formula at its best. Fearlessly employing “Bah Bah” vocals and trading in the monster drums for congas, the song is a masterful way to wrap up the party.
Again, with most of this album there is nothing new. Again, that is not a bad thing. Perhaps track 10 sums up Fishing For Woos the best. It’s a song called Friends Chicks Guitars.
Transistor-on Takes “The Way Back Down” on EP
Transistor-on calls their goods “fuzzed out reverb music,” and in the spirit of post-rock, EP The Way Back Down is full of that melodious texture and sensation. Recorded at The Cottage with Damon Moon, The Way Back Down is a mere four tracks. But those songs make a satisfying sampling of a band with a big future ahead.
Atlanta duo Joey Piersante and Chris Armistead offer up a hazy fugue state that is the blueprint for this coming summer, showing that they can run with the best of the lo-fi crowd with their unique rhythms and finger-picking. The minimalist use of instruments that whip up the dream poppy wall of sound succeeds in taking the listener in a layered, chill journey.
Tracks like “Calling Out” and “Solar Flare” are so catchy (the former with its title refrain; the latter with its main guitar melody), that they etch onto your brain and trick you into thinking these are songs that have been around for maybe 20 years or so already.
Reviewers are throwing out comparisons—and they’ll continue to—of Transistor-on to Explosions in the Sky. The similarities are there for sure; both bands share a genre, after all. But saying only “they remind me of Explosions in the Sky” overlooks the fact that Transistor-on are stepping out in earnest on this EP, sounding comfortable in their skin without being jaded. Plus, having smoky vocals on the tracks adds to the spacey miasma and mystery that serves as the overarching feel of the record. The singing on “Empty Planet,” for example, highlights the track’s slow burn into its rocking guitar-driven crescendo.
Though the last piece on The Way Back Down is called “Exit,” by no means is that a harbinger of the band’s future. Transistor-on closes with a sure-footed tapestry of distortion and crisp rhythm, wrapping up a consistent and skillful release that definitely marks their arrival.
The Way Back Down is available to stream on SoundCloud or for purchase on iTunes. The gorgeous photo cover by Richard Casteel.
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Emily Hearn Saves Time in a Bottle on “Hourglass”
Emily Hearn’s sonic journey on Hourglass shows that she is a woman coming into her own, figuring out the knots of past heartache, the bliss of newlywed life, and the passage of time.
Time acts as the overarching narrative on the record; Hourglass spans the two years following the Athens, GA native’s debut Red Balloon and 2013 EP Promises. “We fall in or out of love as time moves us,” she explains. “We learn life-changing lessons as time goes on. We figure out how to handle important relationships as time shapes us. We decide who we want to be and what we believe as time reveals our priorities. And ultimately, we grow older as time goes by.”
Hearn sings wistfully “Oh, to be young, and to have time” on the third track “Oak Tree,” longing for the naïve feeling that time would never move forward, or at least not so fast. She frets over seeing her parents age so quickly. The existential worries of a twenty-something come delivered in a package of a catchy, infectious chorus and clap-along-able melody.
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