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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

(the) Rosenbergs - Mission: You

Name: (the) Rosenbergs
Album: Mission: You
Year: 2001
Style: Indie Power Pop
Similar Bands: Fountains of Wayne, Semisonic, Ben Folds Five, Posies, Rentals
One Word Review: generic pseudo rock
Based Out Of: Long Island, NY
Label: Discipline Global Mobile

Mission: You - Cover, Inner Notes, CD

Mission: You (2001)
  1. Sucking on a Plum 3:14
  2. Paper and Plastic 2:19
  3. Little Lie 3:01
  4. In Pursuit 3:58
  5. Secret 4:19
  6. Houseboat 4:28
  7. Drug of Choice 3:26
  8. Fast Asleep 3:27
  9. After All 3:48
  10. Soaked in Polyester 4:57
  11. Overboard 7:06
Album Rating (1-10): 6.5

Members & Other Bands:
David Fagin - Vox, Guitars
Evan Silverman Bass, Vox
Joe Mahoney - Guitar, Vox, Engineering
Joe Darone - Drums, Percussion, Vox (Fiendz, Family Jewels, Suit of Lights)
Dino Covelli - Keys
David Weintraub - Guitar
Pete Lally  Guitar
Thomas C. Aldi Jr - String Conducting
Tina Weymouth - Backing Vox (Tom Tom Club, Talking Heads)
Natascia Diaz - Backing Vox
Stephanie Fagin - Backing Vox
Dan Iannuzzelli - Producer, Mixing, Recording
Ted Jensen - Mastering
Zeckle Graphics - Art & Layout

Unknownness: I had never heard of this band, but i bought it from a cheap used bin because it shares a last name with a friend, who was just trying to start a career in music. It also carries with it a very dated message, (but a current, popular theme) referring to Napster, and the sharing of music and supporting the band by seeing them live. This CD was part of a novel approach to getting their name heard, where when someone bought their album, they received 2 CD copies to share one with a friend: analogue file sharing to coincide with Napster's digital file sharing. As far as what is included, I imagine some smooth production indie pop. But perhaps they are a little deeper than a casual, throw-a-way act of the early 2000's, since they were able to have Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club's Tina Weymouth guest vocal for them.

Album Review: The band’s risk of saddling up with Napster and landing a deal with Robert Fripp’s (King Crimson) music label did wonders for the 15 minutes of fame that The Rosenbergs gained in 2001, including a spot in the last episode of the cartoon Undergrads. One quote notes them as the first band to go “viral.” Their first stint in gaining respect from fans and critics came when they turned down an option to appear on Farmland.com because it tied them down to one record label, Universal, a clause buried in the contract. They had a follow-up record, Department Store girl, (which even had songs featured on the Playboy Video game “The Mansion”) but they quickly faded after their anti-music industry stance grew stale, and interest did not continue to grow.

“Sucking on a Plum” starts off the album with a child singing one line from “Ring Around the Rosie.” Power pop guitars follow up to lay down the basic melody. The vocals are clean and non-threatening, and once the chorus hits with a hushed, smooth, polished harmony and na-na-na’s, you’ve heard the entire song. The lyrics are quite embarrassing and stupid: “If You & Me had sex … I hear your dog’s named Rex.” But the guitar hook that started and ends the song faintly reminds me of a Wasp Star XTC song.
“Paper and Plastic’s” guitars try to make it a more rocking song than it is. But the natural songwriting cannot break of a top 40 power pop song. Squeaky synths and a mocking melody make the song sound like it could have been written by the Fountains of Wayne song. But I have a feeling this is the track that will stick in my head after I’m done.
“Little Lie” begins with a soaring power pop guitar section, and a simple Mike Viola-ish melody over a shuffling drum beat. The chorus revisits the hushed-harmony gimmick with loud guitars that just don’t have teeth. The two part melodies loop nicely, but the whole song, as complex as they make it, feels pretty simple when you take a step back.
“In Pursuit” starts with controlled fuzz, and general power pop chord strumming. The chorus features echo chamber distorted vocals, and is a generally forgettable melody. Might be better as an acoustic-solo set break song, which we get a taste of for the instrumental breakdown, before it launches back into the crooning & fuzzy chorus.
“Secret” begins with single chords strummed somewhere off in the distance single. The music kicks in and the strummed chords become a stomp. The song lightens up, and it feels like a breezy, atmospheric roller rink skating song that Ben Folds Five would have written, especially with the call out and harmonic response in the chorus. This is actually a pretty interesting song in general, just not one I’d come back to.

“Houseboat” tries to bridge the grunge and clean pop gap by bringing sludgeless power guitars, and teaming them up with more squeaky keyboards. Once the chorus comes along, it feels like a simplified, Fountains of Wayne reduction sauce. The song kinda feels medicated in an emotionless monotone daze. Even the mocking melody at the end of the song feels thoughtless and force-fed.
“Drug of Choice” is a toe tapping pop song, including what sounds like a melodica. The melody rollicks along, over a very general chord progression.
“Fast Asleep” starts off with more energy, and pauses briefly to let the vocals take shape. When they reconnect, the result is a polite, driving song, with chugging guitars restrained, ready to take off in the chorus. This kinda reminds me of the Posies or Dillon Fence (who are two bands I remember MTV videos of, and associate with generic alt-pop).
“After All” has a video, which makes me assume it was a single. The vocals are a little whinier, and the basic pop melody is a little more cleaned up and radio friendly. The instrumental break is headlined by the video game-tuned keyboard, reminding me a little of the Rentals. They really come into their own in a flurry as the song winds down.
“Soaked in Polyester” basically explains how they wanted to portray themselves in this song: flashy, but heavy. The guitars come in heavy, but give way to a sludgy, struggling tempo. The chorus has a nice looping hook that does not wear itself out on repetition. The chugging guitars underlay a watery, echoing guitar creating a depth, complimenting the vocals that sound as if they are treading water.
“Overboard” begins as the acoustic, album afterthought, winding down the album in a swaying, sleepy, and thoughtful manner. Many bands of their style and caliber have that one song to show their softer, slow jam side. I’m thinking of the jangley aspects of the Goo Goo Dolls or Connells for this song. It is also a rather lengthy song, just over the 7 minute mark, so it does tend to grasp onto a specific slow motion vibe and drags it out.

Stand Out Track:  Paper or Plastic

Fagin Article
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