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Friday, April 8, 2011

Kara's Flowers - The Fourth World

Name: Kara's Flowers
Album: The Fourth World
Year: 1997
Style: Radio Pop
Similar Bands: Maroon 5, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne
"One-Word" Review: Many-Holds-Barred-Pop
Based Out Of: Los Angeles, CA
Label: Reprise, Time Warner, WEA International
The Fourth World - Cover, Liner Photos, CD, CD Inlay
The Fourth World - Back, Liner Photos & Notes

The Fourth World (1997)
  1. Soap Disco 2:40
  2. Future Kid 4:44
  3. Myself 3:05
  4. Oliver 2:38
  5. The Never Saga 3:58
  6. Loving the Small Time 3:32
  7. To Her, With Love 2:52
  8. Sleepy Windbreaker 3:05
  9. Panty Queen 3:46
  10. My Ocean Blue 3:11
  11. Captain Splendid 5:59
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
Rob Cavallo - Producer (Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, Michelle Branch)
Jerry Finn - Mixing, Engineering Mickey Madden - Bass (Maroon 5)
Jesse Carmichael - Guitar, Vox (Maroon 5)
Ryan Dusick - Drums, Percussion (Maroon 5)
Adam Levine - Vox, Guitar (Maroon 5)
Ken Allardyce - Engineering
Steve Howard - Engineering
Mark Agostino - Second Engineer
Billy Bowers - Second Engineer
Tony Flores - Second Engineer
Barry Goldberg - Second Engineer
Brandon Harris - Second Engineer
Bill Kinsley - Second Engineer
Josh Srebalus - Second Engineer
Mike "Sack" Fasano - Drum Tech
Mike "Micro" Shaw - Guitar Tech
Adam Day - Guitar Tech
Bob Ludwig - Mastering
David Campbell- String & Horn Arrangement
Roger Manning Jr - Keys
Cheryl Jenets - A&R Coordination
Katherine Delaney - Layout
Noah Gershman - Photography

Unknown-ness: I don’t really remember if I had heard of these guys before I bought the album. I got it from a clearance bin at a local record shop back in 1998 which let you listen to the CDs. I got this via my usual chain of events of looking through the bins for CDs that looked interesting, listened to them, and then I bought the best ones (3 for $8). Of course I could have heard one of their songs and then saw the name in the bin too. All I know is that I don’t know why I bought it, and I could not tell you one bit about this album’s sound. The packaging and artwork makes me think of Fountains of Wayne: primary color head shots of the band in suits, and on the back, the band in shadow atop of what appears to be a stadium. Looks good enough, but I’m really basing this on the fact that I must have listened to it and liked it enough to buy it. We’ll see if my listening prowess from over 13 years ago still holds true.

Album Review: Little did I know that this band would become the easy-to-hate Maroon 5. But I must have liked it for some reason…perhaps it is because Roger Manning Jr. plays keys on this, the same Roger Manning from Jellyfish (who apparently frequently works with this album’s mixing & engineering guy Jerry Finn) who I have loved since 1991.
“Soap Disco” was their “single.” And right off the bat, it sounds like Weezer with the catchy harmonic melodies of Fountains of Wayne. The vocals are harmonies and layered in the chorus, and the rest of the song has fuzz, but it is at a very anticipated and controlled level.
“Future Kid” begins at a quieter pace, a slow and reserved ballad that explodes with a pop version of shoe gazing fuzz and drone. But they do not sacrifice the harmonies and melody. The song has a light fakeness to it, where the mood and tone set feels superficial or hollow.
“Myself” has an unusual start-stop melody for the verse, and the chorus builds with harmonized vocals supporting the lead with la-la’s Again, like Fountains of Wayne combined with some green album Weezer.
“Oliver” drives and builds from the get go. It is a very fun pop song. Like an oldie in style sped up a bit and filtered through pop-punk mentality. Then the music backs away for a short, harmonizing show-tuneish section repeating “Oliver.”
“The Never Saga” is built as a complex, layered pop song. On one hand you have crunching guitars and grungy production. But the harmonies and light vocals give the image of a wimpy boy band. And added in the background is an orchestra of strings. The song then transitions into mostly clean and smooth production. And the orchestra takes a bigger, bolder part in the song.
“Loving the Small Time” is a trendy pop song, complete with non threatening vocals and continuous driving beat that give it a false perception that they might be a pop-punk band. It sounds generic, and if I knew what band it sounds like, I could not pick it out from a crowd of radio pop bands.

“To Her, With Love” is a lonely acoustic ballad, sounding a little like a slowed down “More Than Words.” Strings are added in the background to enhance the romance, but the song stays true to its style all the way through.
“Sleepy Windbreaker” becomes a pop song after 30 seconds of quiet, near empty space. Then it is a straightforward driving pop song without any hint of pop/punk elements and lots of harmonies, which even seem to be in overkill usage here.
“Panty Queen” has a slow beginning, but there is a chance that the song could take off. And when it does, it is a cocky, over aggressive melody. And then as if the song knows this, it backs off a bit. The melody reminds me of the verse in the cranberries’ song “linger.” By now, the vocals have become annoying in their pathetic-ness.
“My Ocean Blue” breaks tradition and is more like a sublime song, at least in the beginning, in the verse. The vocals sound like they are slightly echoing, and the guitar has the care free Sublime bounce to it. There is no fake edginess here though; this band leaves its nonthreatening poppiness clear for all to see.
“Captain Splendid” picks up without a break using the buoyant sailboat theme music as its basis. It is quiet and drifting. It gradually transitions to the feeling of being on a carousel in slow motion. There is a little likeness to Blur in the verse melody. Around 4:10, heavy carnival theme guitars pick up the slack, not deterring from the melody, just increasing its power and potency. The energy burns itself out, and the acoustic guitar ends things with a slowed up melody that winds down.

Standout Track: Soap Disco


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