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Archive for the ‘American Hi-Fi’ Category

[ATTENDED: November 14, 2018] Letters to Cleo

When Letters to Cleo first put out Aurora Gory Alice back in 1993  I was really excited about them.  They were punky and fast but they were poppy and intriguing.  The chorus of “Here & Now” is somehow really catchy and impossible to sing.  I lived in Boston, they were based in Boston.  They were getting much buzz in the Boston Phoenix and on WFNX (“Here & Now” was inescapable–it was even used on Melrose Place).  And their name was weird and mentioned my childhood dog (Cleo).  I also thought their album title was funny so I bought a copy on Cherry Disc records (one of dozens of CDs I bought on an indie label only to later find out the major label pressing aided like five more songs and a gold chain or something).

Their second album had an even weirder name Wholesale Meats and Fish but was equally as strong, if not stronger.  Their third album was the amazing Go!–it added so much depth to their songwriting and was really just fantastic.

Then they appeared in 1999’s movie 10 Things I Hate About You.  They had songs on the soundtrack and were filmed playing “I Want You To Want Me” over the closing credits.

Wikipedia says that “the band then recorded 13 new original songs for the Kids’ WB cartoon, Generation O!, which aired from 2000 to 2001″ and which I’ve never heard of.

Then they broke up. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 14, 2018] American Hi-Fi

Back in 2001, I thought that American Hi_Fi’s single “Flavor of the Weak” was great.  And I still do. It’s a funny and self deprecating look at young love.  And it’s catchy as all heck as well.

American Hi-Fi got lost for me amid the power pop surge of the early 2000s.  There’s only so many catchy rocking songs you can absorb, after all.  And I basically forgot about them.  They put out a couple of discs and then wound up taking four or five years between the others.  They haven’t released anything new since 2014, so I was a little surprised that they were opening for Letters to Cleo.

Then I read that Stacy Jones, the lead singer and guitarist for American Hi-Fi was the original drummer for Letters to Cleo and he’d be playing with them on LtC’s short 2018 tour (5 shows).  Well it made perfect sense that his other band would open for them.

They played six songs from the debut (which all sounded slightly familiar), three songs from the follow up, a “rarity” and a song from their last album from 2014.

The band sounded great.  Stacy is a terrific front man.  And even though they used to play stadia (and Jones now works with Miley Cyrus apparently), he really seemed to enjoy playing in this tiny club with a rabid fan base.  Because even if I didn’t remember their songs, nearly everyone around me sure did, and they went bananas.

The guy who was next to me was about 6 foot 3 and a large dude.  He was completely hammered.  We around him were lucky that he had a buddy with him to hold him up–and he literally was holding this guy up, moving his arm when it almost hit someone else).  But this guy was so into the show, it was almost cute (almost).  His friend said he liked LtC even more, although he was so drunk he couldn’t make it through the set break and started to spit up a bit (not throw up, thankfully) and his buddy had to drag him off to the side.  At least I didn’t get thrown up on during Letters to Cleo.

Their set made me wonder what happens to bands that they get left by the wayside like that.  They sounded great, they were still tight and the fans loved them. Their songs were poppy and would fit in with modern rock radio now.  The music business is pretty inexplicable.

Scar,” “Surround” and “Hi-Fi Killer” from the first album rocked really hard, but it was “The Breakup Song” from the second album that made the audience go nuts (this was a single that I might not know, but it was so simple and catchy that by the end I was sure I had heard it a million times).  It had that whole bratty pop punk vibe that was huge circa 2003.

Safer on the Outside” was very familiar to me.  I’m not sure if it was ever a single, but it’s a pseudo-ballad that I could see being a hit.

The he said the next song was from “one of the American Pie movies, I think we had a song on each soundtrack.”  But the best intro was when he said that they ripped off the introductory drum riff from Iron Maiden (true); however, when the drummer played it the first time, he messed it up and they had to do it again.

“Portland” had a different sound than the other songs–not radically different, but a different style of song writing, which makes sense since it was written 13 years.  It had a few more delicate moments and an actual guitar solo.  “Another Perfect Day” is all acoustic and cello on the record.  But there was none of that here, just a slow intro before the mid-tempo song segued into the fun drum intro and bratty woah-ohing of “The Art of Losing” (hey ho, let’s go, I’m gonna start a riot, you don’t wanna fight it // one, two, fuck you, don;t tell me what to do I don’t wanna be like you) which ends with a shout out to “we’re the kids in America.”

As the set was ending I was thinking that I knew they had a hit single that I liked.  I just couldn’t remember what it was called.  When Stacy started singing “Stars” I thought, oh right, this song.  But my memory banks knew this wasn’t them (“Stars” is by Hum from 1995).  So after that intro verse when he switched into “Flavor of the Weak” it all came flooding back.  It sounded great and reminded me why I liked these guys so much back then.

They ended the set with “Happy,” a noisy romp with a great heavy bass line and rough guitars.  Midway through the song, Stacy grabbed a drumstick and shoved it under his guitar strings and began making all kinds of cool sounds for a mid-song diversion.

There set was great and a lot of fun and I’ve been listening to their older stuff again, and enjoying it quite a bit.

SETLIST

  1. Scar *
  2. The Breakup Song ∀
  3. Surround *
  4. Safer on the Outside *
  5. Vertigo ⊗
  6. Hi-Fi Killer *
  7. Portland ß
  8. Another Perfect Day *
  9. The Art of Losing ∀
  10. Stars (song by Hum…snippet played as segue into next song)
  11. Flavor of the Weak *
  12. Happy ∀

* American Hi-Fi (2001)
⊗ American Pie 2 soundtrack (2001)
∀ The Art of Losing (2003)
ß Blood and Lemonade (2014)

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