Fountains of Wayne
is Brian Young
and Jody Porter.
Fountains of Wayne just do that thing they do. Apparently, it isn't very much.
Published: May 1st, 2007
Author: Aidin Vaziri
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
"The last time we played this room was for some weird corporate party," Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger said at the band's sold-out show at the Great American Music Hall on Monday, surveying the audience - most of whose members, incidentally, wouldn't have looked entirely out of place at a company function. "I think there were more sushi trays than people." The uneasy smile on his face suggested that he wasn't joking.
While the maguro and unagi platters may have cleared out, a sense of disenchantment clung to the air. Despite a near breakthrough with the 2003 hit "Stacy's Mom" (now best remembered as a Dr Pepper jingle), 12 years after forming the New Jersey power-pop quartet, Schlesinger and singer Chris Collingwood have once again made an album full of songs about lonely commutes and hopeless cubicle romances set to a roaring FM radio soundtrack.
That "Traffic and Weather," the group's most recent release, finds Collingwood singing about the tedium of other peoples' 9-to-5 lives -- from the crush-worthy DMV clerk in "Yolanda Hayes" to the television news anchors who fall for each other on the title track -- isn't as much of a surprise as watching him deliver the material with the detachment of someone who can't wait to punch out his own time card. Not many singers greet a second encore with the sort of enthusiasm normally reserved for being asked to work overtime.
Given shaggy-haired guitarist Jody Porter's effortless rock star poses and drummer Brian Young's relentless pounding, you would expect the music to lift things up. But Schlesinger's strained banter between songs only heightened the sense of watching a stable of men hard at work.
"This is a new song about a guy that owes somebody some money, it's called 'Strapped for Cash,' "the man who wrote the soundtrack to the recent Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore romantic comedy "Music and Lyrics" said at one point. At another: "This is called 'It Must Be Summer.' It's about being in the summer."
The songs -- uniformly beautiful melodies strapped onto rocket-fueled hooks -- were similarly let down by inane lyrics, the kind you hear once, kind of smirk and never want to hear again: "Beth Mackenzie got the job of her dreams/ Retouching photos for a magazine aimed at teens/ It's Thursday night, she should be out on the scene/ But she's sitting at home watching 'The King of Queens.' " Even on his worst day, Weird Al isn't that lazy.
At one point, Schlesinger hauled up three kids from the audience to dance along to another new song, "Hotel Majestic." But what really brought the 80-minute set to life was the one-two punch of "Radiation Vibe" and "Stacy's Mom" (basically a mashup of the Cars' "Just What I Needed" and "My Best Friend's Girl"), songs with so much urgency that you had wonder how the two self-conscious men onstage in blue jeans ever managed to knock them out in the first place.