You’ve got to love the stupidity of major labels.
At a time when it’s impossible for any band to sell a lot of records without being either boy-band cute or Limp Bizkit-styled sportsmetal, Sony’s gone on a signing spree and grabbed piles of bands that are neither cute nor heavy. Take Modest Mouse, for example. Ain’t NO way that band’s stuff is getting on Total Request Live anytime soon.
Ultimate Fakebook is another example. The band plays power-pop that would’ve sold in 1994, not Y2K. But now U.F.‘s on a major, which means that even though Sony probably won’t sell more than 50,000 copies of the band’s next album, Ultimate Fakebook will get to tour the country on Sony’s tab, which means I won’t have to fly all the way to the band’s hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, to catch it live.
Ultimate Fakebook’s major-label debut hits stores this summer, so in the meantime Noisome Records has started flooding the market with Fakebook’s debut album, Electric Kissing Parties. Released in late ‘97, the album’s only started to garner serious attention in the last year or so, as Fakebook’s become something of a buzz band in indie circles. And one listen to Kissing Parties makes the reason for the recent buzz obvious—Ultimate Fakebook is one of the best true rock bands on the planet.
If Weezer never records an album, it won’t make a difference, because Fakebook fills its void perfectly. While there are a zillion Weezer wannabes out there today, Ultimate Fakebook simply references and doesn’t rip off, swiping Rivers Coumo’s jaded take on girls but mixing it with punchier songs and meatier hooks that turn Electric Kissing Parties into an anthem-filled gem. Fakebook leader Bill McShane writes textbook pop, but his lyrics occasionally turn into razor-sharp attacks on loves lost that give Kissing Parties a bitter feel despite the sugar-coated pop songs over which they’re sung. McShane snaps like a dog backed into a corner on “Liferaft Halo,” while the pessimism he shows singing “Unless you want to, don’t answer” on “Roll (Electric Kissing Parties pt. 1)” would’ve fit perfectly on Weezer’s Pinkerton. Pinkerton is called to mind a lot, as the guitars on Kissing Parties have the same roar as the ones on “Getchoo” from that album. But again, Ultimate Fakebook doesn’t sound derivative, merely referencing a great rock band as it crafts a great rock album of its own.
With Ultimate Fakebook’s Sony debut on the way sometime this summer, it’d be easy to pass on Electric Kissing Parties and wait for the next album. But Kissing Parties is such a great rock record that it’d be pointless to hold off—after hearing the Sony album you’re bound to want to go back and get Kissing Parties anyway. And in the meantime, go catch Ultimate Fakebook live on its Sony-funded tour, since you likely won’t be catching it on Total Request Live anytime soon—because major label contract or not, great rock bands just don’t have a prayer of getting the airplay they deserve if they’re not cute or obnoxiously loud.
// Notes from the Road
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