Oct 212008

What are your thoughts on the tune, maaaaan. You likey? You no likey? Why?!

Harness your rock nerd powers and impress us with your bold critique. You might just stumble on the artist.

If you know who it is, shut your yammer.

Mystery Date


  26 Responses to “Mystery Date”

  1. Mr. Moderator

    This is a cool power pop song. The stomping, linking riff that drives the verses keeps my interest when I fear the pretty parts will take over. Too bad the little solo at the end wasn’t played with more punch. Good stuff!

    It’s probably not them, but this sounds a lot like the mid-80s Paisley Pop band Nice Try Cheater.

  2. hrrundivbakshi

    Bravo, Sammy! I know who this is, so I won’t spill the beans. Just wanted to say you picked the absolute best song on that album. It’s anthemic in all the right ways.

    I’d also like to point out that this is Kentonism at its guilt-free best. Sure, the arrangement is impeccable, voices are balanced, the song structure is complex and interesting — but it has a strong, lyrical flow from one end to the other. At no time do I hear an artist who’s fallen in love with the smell of his own farts.

  3. Typical power pop. The writer crams in as many tricks as possible. Sounds like the song suffers from ADD.

  4. sammymaudlin

    Mr. Moderator once again is the first to drop trou and slap his opinion loudly on the glass table top.

    Anyone else care to try and measure up?

    Mod: I don’t know any band “Nice Try Cheater” but I do know a song Nice Try Cheater by the band Wouldn’t You Like To Know. And only big fat, Morrison-belly cheaters listen to it.

  5. sammymaudlin

    dr j whips it out! Good job.

    Question to you sir, for 100 points:

    Can you give our audience some examples of other “typical” power pop songs that you would put into this category?

  6. Mr. Moderator

    And while you’re at it, Dr. John, can we conclude that you are morally and aesthetically opposed to Power Pop? Are there Power Pop songs you like? Don’t think I’m calling you on the carpet for possibly believing this to be the case. I always admire a Townsperson who’s willing to state a deep-seated belief over an entire genre, as you seem to have done. As you know, I’ve got issues with a lot of Power Pop – and I like a lot about what’s guiding that genre.

  7. BigSteve

    I like the song and the arrangement, but I can’t stand the singing. The guy’s voice is not good to start with, and it doesn’t help matters when he sings falsetto for no reason.

  8. sammymaudlin

    BigSteve nearly cracks the glass. That’s why they call him Big.

    Your comment is more on target than you know…

  9. It’s an OK song with decent arrangements. The mix is really antiseptic. I’m sure studio professionals would say it is mixed *perfectly* but to me that sounds boring.

    It definitely has the chords and changes that makes hrrundi go all crazy

  10. mockcarr

    Yeah, I know who this is too. He does have a wimpy voice, but I find I can put up with more earnest wimp in my power-pop than I used to. I would imagine it’s hard for him to use restraint given his overall talents. This is probably the most rockin’ song on the album.

  11. sammymaudlin

    andyr thunders with his down-under.

    Like BigSteve, his comment is more to the point than he knows.

  12. Off the top of my head, Mod, I can go for:

    Big Star, September Gurls
    ELO, Do Ya
    XTC, Senses Working Overtime
    20/20, Yellow Pills
    Bangles, Hero Takes a Fall

    Sammy, I’ve returned albums by Cherry Twisters and Liquor Giants.

  13. alexmagic

    Also in the knowing who this is already camp.

    Something I think I’ve learned about myself, thanks to the Hall, is that I may only actually like power pop from the 80s and on when there’s some kind of distortion or fuzz guitar or something going on to mess it up a little bit.

  14. hrrundivbakshi

    Velv says:

    It definitely has the chords and changes that makes hrrundi go all crazy

    I confess:

    Guilty as charged! (How can I like this *and* AC/DC?)

  15. hrrundivbakshi

    Oh, and mockcarr’s comment that this guy is probably incapable of restraint, given his God-given intellectual skill set, is probably right on.

  16. sammymaudlin

    The Liquor Giants were beyond bad.

    when there’s some kind of distortion or fuzz guitar or something going on to mess it up a little bit.

    I agree. Even when it is way in the back and highly orchestrated, just the presence or allusion of grit makes a huge difference to me.

  17. trolleyvox

    Singer is squarely in the Chris Stamey camp, though a bit more smoothed over and tucked in with hospital corners.

    The Liquor Giants were beyond bad.

    Really? I’ll give you that their last record was a stinker and the one prior only had a few memorable cuts on it, but the first three Liquor Giants records are a lot of fun. That first record is like a alternate reality Replacements slab, and I love all the Move quotes on the 3rd record. What’s with the bashing?

  18. sammymaudlin

    I can’t even access the album I got to cite specifics as I disliked it so much that I deleted it out of my iTunes library. I didn’t want to risk it showing up during random play.

    All I can remember about them was that they not memorable.

    To be fair, as shitty as it was, I have no idea which album I sampled.

  19. BigSteve

    I thought power pop, at least in its 70s formulation, meant that you had to have some crunch. That’s where the ‘power’ part of the definition comes in. If it’s too jangly and the vocals too wan (I love the db’s but Stamey was a bad influence on a generation of vocalists), then you end up with the kind of wimpy pop music that I thought power pop was rebelling against.

  20. The song competently does what it’s expected to do with no real stand out elements: C

  21. Mr. Moderator

    I’ve got two Liquor Giants albums. One, Every Other Day of the Week (or something like that), I like a lot. The other one sucks. The cover of the really bad one should have been a giveaway.

  22. mockcarr

    Chris Stamey sounds a lot like Alex Chilton to me.

  23. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, mwall: what exactly is this song “expected to do”?

  24. alexmagic

    Crunch is probably the exact term I was flailing for. It seems like, somewhere along the line, it was largely ironed out of a lot of power pop.

    In retrospect, I think that’s probably the lost element on all the later Matthew Sweet albums that have been misses for me, that I guess the Quine guitar parts used to bring.

    Even a band as innately wimpy as Apples In Stereo pulls it together when they get the right level of crunch in there.

  25. saturnismine

    this is a poorly educated (inner city public school) guess, but is this a Jon Brion song?

    i’m guessing him for two reasons. 1, because the writer doesn’t sound particular committed to “power pop,” … just a dabbler. and brion’s not he’s not committed to any particular genre who, more often than not — *i think* — has to come up with this stuff for soundtracks. and 2. see the “I heart huckabees” song, “Knock Yourself Out” by him. This song sounds like his voice on that song.

    again, this is a grossly under informed guess…probably wrong.

  26. Bakshi, the song seems pretty standard in having all its power pop moves in the normal power pop places. Do you really want me to remind you of the formula of power pop, or can you remember it on your own?

Mar 052008

The major — yet extremely irrelevant — hit

The minor — yet extremely excellent — hit

The extremely irrelevant cover of the minor yet extremely excellent hit

UPDATE: Just wanted to confirm what a number of you were already thinking: that the subject of this edition of “Mystery Date” was none other than England’s The Marmalade! You’ll find interesting videos of the band in action above. The two tracks posted in my original post came from a patchily excellent comp of the band’s largely psych mid-60s ouvre, which is worth paying a couple of bucks for.

Remember — when discussing this band, it’s helpful to pronounce their name correctly: “The Mar-mah-lahhhd.”

Thank you for your attention.


Continue reading »


  14 Responses to “MYSTERY DATE REVEALED: The Marmalade!”

  1. Mr. Moderator

    I’m mystified by who this could be, but both songs are pretty cool. Both songs remind me of musical values E. Pluribus Gergely would go ga-ga over. In fact, these tracks should form the core of the band I’ve long planned for you, HVB, EPG, and Raggers. I don’t know whether you know Raggers, HVB, but trust me, the three of you in one band would be a killer combination!

  2. alexmagic

    I believe I do know who this is, but don’t know much about them aside from the cover song you mention. I kinda like the first mystery song. It builds up a pretty pleasant head of steam by the end, and while it doesn’t quite hit that “inner soaring” spot for me, that’s a common link among a lot of my favorite songs, so that description helped me appreciate of your take on it. The second one is also pleasantly agreeable, I think I’d be into it more if it had some fuzz or – I don’t quite know what I want to say, grit? – to it, but from what I’m hearing, I’m not sure that was in the playbook for these guys.

  3. hrrundivbakshi

    Alex, based on your comments, I’m betting you *do* know who these guys are. Save your guess for a little while longer. I promise I’ll give you the opportunity to blurt before I go public with our Mystery Date’s identity.

  4. 2000 Man

    Grit was the first thing I was thinking. I wish this was grittier. I don’t mind it, but I don’t think I’ll seek it out. I wonder what I think of the mysterious cover song.

  5. dbuskirk

    I don’t know what it is (kinda Hollies-ish) but I like it. Wonder what AM monster hit they unleashed…

  6. I think I had the same kind of over-the -top-full-of-love-for-all-humanity reaction the first time I heard ‘Telstar’ – of course sleeping in the upper bunk, when I tried to do the ‘up up and away’ bit I only wonked my head on the steam pipes real good…

  7. I’m disqualified by knowing who this is (this band is much beloved by a certain subset of folks on Audities), but HVB is quite right: this stuff is excellent.

  8. I like backing tracks but not so much the vocals (especally the harmonies). A little to Rug/CSN for my tastes. Cool feel to the songs though.

  9. Mr. Moderator

    Damn, I knew Matthew Sweet had been bulking up, but that Conan performance has convinced me to bypass the cheesesteak for lunch that’s been on my mind since I woke up this morning.

    I had no idea The Marmalade covered “Oh-Bla-Di…” It’s almost better than the original, maybe just because I’m not as bummed out that my favorite group is doing such a lame song.

  10. mockcarr

    Whoa Mr Sweet, please do not become Meatloaf or John Popper. Susannah’s still hot though, and that black Rick is still a fine accessory.

  11. trolleyvox

    I believe that’s long-time Matthew Sweet collaborator Ric Menck from the Velvet Crush on that Conan clip. Also, been a while since I’ve seen a 4 electric guitar line-up. Can’t have enough guitarists playing the same rhythm part, I always say.

  12. MMMMMM…beetles covered in marmalahd…

    I dig the Dan-O Longhorn tho…

  13. Of course it is The Marmalade – I knew I had heard those harmonies before. I have always liked “Reflections of My Life” (some awesome bass fills)

    Man – Matthew is FAT!

  14. dbuskirk

    Wow, they really plumb the meaningful depths of “Oh-Bla-Di” in a way that Carl Perkins tribute band were never able to.

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