Saturday, July 02, 2005

Out-of-State Plates

When most of us clean out our closets we mostly find junk...odds and ends, stuff that should have thrown away and forgotten years ago...but when some bands clean out their closets they find cool music that slipped through the cracks (or didn't get the exposure it should have.)

Fountains of of the best "power pop" bands going...has cleaned out their closet (yeah, we're done with that metaphor now :-) and put together a remarkably tight, enormously entertaining 2-disc collection of b-sides (mostly from internationally released singles), live tracks, covers, demos, and other previously released tunes.

Fountains of Wayne are probably best known for "Stacy's Mom", that irresistible ode to boyhood infatuation, but they are not a one-hit wonder. They make the kind of delightful music...melodic guitar-powered rockin' pop with sometimes quirky, sometimes-sweet and heartfelt, always well crafted songs...that (almost) makes up for a whole lot of the crap that comes out under the umbrella of pop.

Out-of-State Plates manages to deftly sidestep two pitfalls of collections like this: a lot of bands' unreleased material deserved to be left unreleased and most artists can't sustain creative momentum over two CDs. A lot of the original tunes here...written by Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger...are of such quality that it is remarkable they didn't make the cut on other Fountains discs...and the overall quality of the 28 selections (some are inevitably better than others but there's not a real clunker in the bunch) makes the discs breeze by.

The covers here are up to the task of standing by the original songs. From a crunchy live version of ELO's "Can't Get it Out of My Head" to a rockabilly-tinged "Today's Teardrops" (a Gene Pitney song made famous by Rick Nelson) to lovely readings of Jackson Browne's "These Days" and Burt Bacharach & Hal David's "Trains and Boats and Planes" (immortalized by their muse, Dionne Warwick.)

There's also a subdued version of "...Baby One More Time", the Britney Spears hit that others have covered (with varying degrees of irony) of late. It works fine.

It's a wonderful collection if you're a diehard fan or even if all you know about Fountains of Wayne is the cheeky chorus of "Stacy's Mom".

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