Devout music lovers are romantics at heart. Romantics who spend years scouring dusty record bins for old flames, scour music rags like personals and frequent shows like singles’ bars, looking for new sparks that remind them of old ones but add a new twist. And, like all romantics, always keeping their hearts open to the elusive aural equivalent of love at first sight, love at first listen.
I was in Record City in San Diego early this year when I was struck by the thunderbolt. The second the girl behind the counter dropped the needle and cued up the opening chords of “Modern Kicks,” it was like seeing a girl you’ve only met in dreams walking down the street. The opening lyrics were like getting close enough to smell her perfume, and by the time the chorus kicked in I was head over heels.
In my wildest dreams I didn’t imagine the album was spanking new. I thought it must be an old Boys, Wasps or some other obscure and long-sought after late ’70s power-pop/ punk record. The music and, even more strikingly, the analog production values, screamed 1977. The girl gave me the pertinent info and I rushed home to e-mail the band. My press copy was delayed a few weeks, as the band had sold out of the first CD pressing almost immediately after they were printed.
Listening to the album in my living room after the wait was like landing that first date with the girl that made your stomach hurt the last few weeks, and I grew more and more infatuated with every song. “You’re Black and Blue” and “Rumours In Town” quickly became two of the most anticipated moments of the album upon listening to it in its entirety on repeat, again and again, but my favorite is the `50s-esque “Jailbird” – just imagine Eddie Cochran fronting The Jam. The album permanently lodged itself in my CD player, where it remains now, months later.
Since this review was written a few months ago, tragedy has struck. Three of the four members of The Exploding Hearts – Matt Fitzgerald, 20, Jeremy Gage, 21, and Adam Cox, 23 – were killed when their van rolled in Eugene, Ore. They were en route from San Francisco, where they played Bottom of The Hill and negotiated with Lookout! Records, to their home base in Portland, Ore. Since the accident, headhunters on E-bay have been asking up to $250 for copies of “Guitar Romantic” and other releases. In an effort to stem this, www.explodinghearts.com is offering them directly for reasonable prices. The band was on the fast track to success, selling records quicker than they could press them, and this album was named record of the year by more than a few critics, this one included. Pick it up and imagine what was and what could have been.
The Jam – All Mod Cons
The Undertones – The Undertones
The Clash – Give `em Enough Rope