Thursday, March 02, 2006

My Top 20 of 2005, #6: The 88-Over and Over

If anyone in the independent power pop world is going to make the breakthrough into the mainstream a la Fountains of Wayne, it has to be LA's The 88. And the vehicle for that potential breakthrough is their outstanding 2005 release Over and Over, and its leadoff single, "Hide Another Mistake", one of, if not, the top tracks of the year.

It's quite possible you've heard these guys already - they've been featured on The OC four times, and have quite an impressive resume of TV and movie appearances, as you can see for yourself here. And while this gaudy list of credits may owe in part to their location and perhaps a who-you-know type of deal, they're worthy on the merits as well. It's almost as if they were created as the result of a lab experiment that set out to build the perfect (or at least quintessential) power pop band. 60's influences? Beach Boy harmonies, Kinks riffs, Beatlesque melodies? Check. 70's influences? Glam rock a la T. Rex, some Queen as well? Check. Modern power pop/rock influences? Jellyfish, The Darkness, even some Fountains of Wayne? Check.

Another thing The 88 does well is to incorporate piano into their tracks without being simply a "piano pop" band. The guitars rawk as well, and the perfect marriage of the two comes on the brilliant "Hide Another Mistake". The chrous itself is a microcosm of the band, begininng with "I've got the west coast sunshine/but it don't mean a thing" sung over a rock piano with a Beach Boys sound, before moving without a blink into a Fountains of Wayne-ish middle part with synths, and then finally ending in Queen/Darkness territory with a falsetto vocal, all in the space of about 10 seconds. This is the type of song that immediately goes into heavy rotation in my head upon the mere act of reading about it, rather than hearing it, a measure of how irresitible it is. (And I suppose it can be considered something of a "hit" as well, given that it has over 83,000 plays at their myspace page.)

But it's not all about one song. "Nobody Cares" is a Kinks-ish stomp complete with handclaps and all; "All Cause of You" mines the same territory with some great rollicking piano; and there's even a power ballad titled "Head Cut Off".

The best place to sample it is at the myspace page linked above, and the rest of the tracks can be heard in 2-minute increments at cdbaby. eMusic subscribers can download the whole thing here.

And make sure you don't miss the very, very cool video (complete with aerobics-dressed babes) for "Hide Another Mistake", which can be found here.

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