Never mind that this California ensemble’s main songwriter calls himself Mike TV or that this outfit has had music featured on both Weeds and Grey’s Anatomy. What we have here is a set of seriously smart pop tunes that belie any silliness that might surround Get Set Go. Mike TV has apparently studied at the feet of the masters, although which masters is a bit of a mystery. Unlike numerous new artists that come down the pike each afternoon, TV doesn’t wear his influences so proudly on his sleeve that he forgets to forge his own identity. All of that? A fancy way of saying that this is not a sound-alike band.
Oh, sure, the strings that pop up on tunes such as “Racecar” and “Looking East” –– epic by pop standards at five-and-a-half minutes –– will call to mind British bands from days of yore, and the clever (that’s not a slam) lyrics are reminiscent of Fountains of Wayne, say, or Barenaked Ladies. But really, they’re mostly hallmarks of this band. There’s plenty of evidence to the outfit’s real talents and true strengths: the rich arrangements of those aforementioned numbers, the sexual immediacy of the title song, the swirling sense of excitement evident in that piece or the lyrical resignation of “Stone Of Suffering”, the optimistic energy of “We Will Be Stars”, and the sheer beauty of the album’s second epic –– it’s nearly six minutes long –– “Little Lost Bird”.
To the credit of TV and Co., the humor here never overrides the music but instead enhances it, the winks and nudges never coming at the expense of serious musical impressiveness. Within all the apparent perfection and exactitude swirling around this affair, there are moments where everything feels a little too just so for rock ‘n’ roll. But there are far worse fates for a rock band to suffer in these trying times. Since when is perfection by any measure an indignity? If Get Set Go is not exactly a household name –– despite, apparently, over a million people having downloaded the outfit’s material –– it may very well become one of those cult touchstone bands, another NRBQ or Young Fresh Fellows for a decade that could sorely use bands of that caliber.
Fury Of Your Lonely Heart may not be the kind of album that immediately sucks in new converts, and this outfit’s legacy will undoubtedly be the time-honored tale of slow-and-steady winning it the respect of its peers, if not the adulation and extra dollars of college freshman from coast to coast. No matter, an album this smart and well executed cannot forever go unnoticed, and neither can the band that created it. Let’s just hope that GSG never becomes one of those bands we know only from its, er, TV credentials. A refreshing, thoughtful, and memorable release from an outfit that deserves every shred of attention it gets –– this enthusiastic review, of course, included.
// Notes from the Road
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