“Everyone Chooses Sides” – the Wrens
Hard-edged, dramatic power pop, with all the delicious extras–anthemic minor key, crunchy guitars in the foreground, pounding piano chords in the background, and vocals straight out of 1979. (Please someone put me out of my misery and tell me who these vocals are reminding me of!) From the group’s highly-regarded new CD, The Meadowlands, this is one glorious song, marred only by a technological glitch: the MP3 appears to cut out about 8 seconds before the end. No worries for me, however–there’s more than enough song here for me to know I’m going to buy this CD.
“For You To Do That” – Mary Ann Farley
Smart, sharp, and short, “For You To Do That” hits the ears like a piece of aural ’60s memorabilia, complete with some Spector-ishly spacious drum beats and a Beatlesque turn of melody. Vocally, Farley seems to be channeling equal parts Jill Sobule and Aimee Mann but with plenty of her own verve and charm in the mix. This song comes from the Hoboken-based Farley’s second and most recent CD, My Life of Crime, which came out last year. Her debut, Daddy’s Little Girl, was released in 1997.
“Chain” – The Fire Theft
Big, majestic song from three-fourths of the ’90s band Sunny Day Real Estate, reformed with a new name and a daringly accessible sound. “Chain” blends loping progressive-rock beats and orchestral depth with itchier electronic colors and an indie-fueled rejection of formula. That said, this approach is not going to please everyone. Indie-rock zealots will decry the band’s use of classic-rock motifs, while classic rock aficionados will hear the Fire Theft as derivative and soulless. Ah well. Such folks we must leave to stew in their own preconceived notions (a sour bath indeed). Me, I’m sort of thrilled to hear this–not because it’s the best song ever recorded, but because it sounds vibrant, because it aims high, and because if rock’n’roll has a future after all, it’s going to unfold in the work of bands such as the Fire Theft, who move forward with an inclusive grip on the past.