Cristy’s pick for the mix and what she wrote about it:
Material Issue, “Renee Remains The Same”
I always think of power pop as a rock junkie’s amazing discovery. The bands seem to shine in eras in which they’re most unfashionable. The prog-drenched ’70s: Oh my gosh, there’s this band, Big Star, who sound like the Beatles! The synthy ’80s: Whoa, there’s this band, the dB’s, who sound like Big Star! The autotune-crazy ’00s: Sweet, there’s this band, Generationals, who sound like the dB’s!
In the early ’90s, it was Material Issue, who sounded like Cheap Trick. Most late Friday nights in junior high, I watched MTV, slogging through videos by Queensryche, Poison, and Cinderella. Cut to a black-and-white video featuring lanky clean-cut boys with a singer in a striped t-shirt who played a jangly guitar and sung with a (fake) English accent. I got the cassette as fast as I could, memorizing every two-minute song, every shout-along chorus about girls. Then a few years later, as it happens with these bands, Material Issue were gone. “But melodies, harmonies, and skinny ties never die. They’ll be back up when the pretty blue lights come on.
William’s pick for the mix and what he wrote about it:
“And Your Bird Can Sing,” The Jam
“Powerpop?” I asked, “what’s that?” He didn’t answer right away. Smoothing his moustache as he put the top down, tapped the cassette into the dash, and dropped the convertible into gear. Easing out of the parking lot, slowing to admire the waitresses on roller skates, he checked his sunglasses in the rearview mirror, and said, “It all starts with the Beatles.” I sense we are in for a long ride.
One facet of the Beatles is a preverb of powerpop, except the Beatles escaped the curse of obscurity, that bad paradox by which songs crafted to be so commercially perfect, pleasing, single-sized, compressed, and seemingly radio-friendly are resigned to the box of shrugs, not played in the sports car but left in the garage to be rediscovered at the yard sale by people like us. So I choose this cover, one degree removed from the Fab Four. No disrespect intended. To me the song has the characteristics of my favorite gems of the genre: an overly melodic guitar line (more net than hook—I’m thinking “Shake Some Action,” “Baby Blue,” “Starry Eyes”), a certain bratty exuberance to the lyrics, and, of course, those loud lollipop vocals: if it’s worth singing, it’s worth harmonizing.