Album(s): Present Tense~, Tongue Twister
Year(s): 1979~, 1981*
Style: Power Pop
Similar Bands:Cheap Trick, The Knack, Records, Big Star, Marshall Crenshaw, Squeeze, Kaverat, Jesus Jones
One Word Review: Gentle Hooks
Based Out Of: Zion, Illinois
Label: Elektra, Asylum
Present Tense - Cover, Sleeve, Record
Present Tense - Back, Lyrics, Record
Tongue Twister - Cover, Sleeve, Record
Tongue Twister - Back, Lyrics, Record
Present Tense (1979)
- Tomorrow Night 2:55
- Too Late 2:42
- Hangin' Around With You 3:20
- Your Very Eyes 3:04
- In My Arms Again 4:00
- Somebody Has What I Had 3:14 /
- Now & Then 3:10
- Every Girl 2:40
- I Don't Miss You 4:02
- Cruel You 4:07
- Three Times See Me 1:14, Say It 1:02, Listen 1:35 (3:51)
- I Don't Wanna Hear It 2:46
- Your Imagination 2:28
- Burned Out Love 2:42
- The Things You Do 3:07
- Only In My Sleep 2:38
- Karen 2:26
- She Satisfies 2:58 /
- Girls of Today 3:06
- Hopin' She's The One 2:26
- When It Hits 2:46
- Yes or No 3:01
- Found a Girl 2:53
- Hate to Run 2:26
Members & Other Bands:
Jeff Murphy - Vox, Guitar, Percussion~* (Allrise, Bradburys, Dan Kibler, Insanity Wave, Tommy Keene, Fishy Motion, Dean Goldstein, Fun With Atoms, Guster, Harry Chalmiers, Day One)
John Murphy - Vox, Bass, Guitars ~* (Wayne Boyer, John Earl Walker Band, The Divine Comedy, Herb Eimerman, The Associates)
Gary Klebe - Vox, Guitar, Percussion~* (Bradburys, Fun With Atoms, Day One, Herb Eimerman)
Skip Meyer - Drums, Vox ~*
Dan Bourgoise / Bug Artists - Manager~*
John Brand - Mixdown Engineer~
Ron Coro - Art Direction~*
Marlis Duncklau - Tape Op~
Mary Francis - Art Direction~
Elliot Gilbert - Photography~
Yoshiro Kuzumaki - Mastering Engineer~*
Johnny Lee - Art Direction~
George Marino - Mastering~
Mike Stone - Engineer, Production~
Yumie Takei - Artwork~
Richard Dashut - Producer*
David Dominquez Ahlert - Engineer*
Terry Dunavan - Mastering*
Daniel Lazerus - Second Engineer*
Hernan Rojas - Engineer*
Randee St. Nicholas - Photography*
Larry Vigon - Cover Art*
Unknown-ness: I've never heard of Shoes. But I imagine it is a standard 80's pastel power-pop band. Catchy songs, nothing heavy or alarming to parents. Just some good old Americana power pop about love and life. I'll be pretty surprised if it is any different.
Album Review: Friends and a brother formed the band in high school and have been making music since, even releasing a new record back in 2011. After their record label that released these two albums plus one more, they made their own recording studio, and even produced records from Material Issue until 2004. They even had a song in Mannequin 2 (1990), and were one of the first big MTV bands with four videos off of Present Tense.
~“Tomorrow Night” was a single with a video played on MTV. It kicks off with a drum beat and jangely guitar. The vocals are light, as if recorded in a different room. Bass is a little dark, but blends nicely. The chorus is catchy, and the whole song is a nice piece of power pop.
“Too Late” was also a single played on MTV. It again brings for the jangley guitars and power pop chords. This is even more upbeat and non-threatening. It builds nicely to a smooth and harmonized chorus. The only fault with it is that it does not have much of a punch at all. It falters to create a strong memory, and meanders in basic Americana pop.
“Hangin' Around With You” starts with a bit more swagger and personality in the chugging tempo and electric guitar. The vocals are very light again, a little like a bland Glenn Tilbrook. The bridge has some catchy guitar chords.
“Your Very Eyes” quietly fades up, and the vocals are not much more than a whisper. But as the song begins to form, the basic melody is very AM Radio / singer songwritery, but it is a very catchy light rock song. The verse & bridge consist of better hooks than the chorus, however. It reminds me very slightly of the melodies in Kaverat. An electric guitar carries the instrumental section, but the Big Star influence is not lost on this song.
“In My Arms Again” was not a single, but they aired it with a video on MTV. It starts with bass and a kick drum. And it transforms into a driving power pop song, but not too forceful. The chorus of the song is a breakdown and divergence from the driving tempo. More squeeze comparisons can be drawn from the vocal style for the final section of the song.
“Somebody Has What I Had” has a weird tempo that is hard to jump on board with. It changes as the song progresses, and for all the emotion it tries to build, it still feels like the feelings just melt away. The bass line shifts to a darker tone like in the opening song. There are many sections that make up this song, but they are not necessarily tied together smoothly.
“Now & Then” starts side two with a rocking tempo. The vocals strip all of the anxious nature that the music projects, and the harmonized vocals make it an even wimpier impact. But it still carries on with some descent power pop chord changes.
“Every Girl” plays in with a jangley guitar and heat-like drum beat. This is the type of musical support that blends better with the effortless vocals.
“I Don't Miss You” was a single. It kicks in with a steady echoing drum beat, and a pulsing bass. Fuzzy guitar chords are layered over, and then a second set of chords that remind me of a Dressy Bessy song (Roundabout) fill the gap before the vocals begin with a start stop chord structure.
“Cruel You” was not a single, but had an MTV video. It chugs right from the get go with up/down chord strumming. The vocals are a little more rushed/urgent, and the melody rolls forward and it begins to really sound like a Squeeze song, especially with some of the minor harmonizing. This one actually works well on all accounts, and has enough changes and differences to keep it interesting.
“Three Times: See Me, Say It, Listen” comes in three parts. The first section begins as an acoustic ballad. It kicks into part two with acoustic chord strums and a folksy tempo. The final section of the song feels like a nostalgic throwback. It is relaxed and sentimental, but it lost the momentum from the middle section.
“I Don't Wanna Hear It” has a jittery drum beat and bass beat once it kicks in. The guitar is rushed and sloppy in a refreshing, driving way. The vocals are still reserved, but follow along, with a little gristle, particularly in the power pop driven chorus.
*“Your Imagination” was a single. It kicks off with a strong guitar, power pop hook, and the vocals are already more inspired than on the first album. The chorus has a bit of a call and response with a “yeah!” in support of the lyrics. The vocals remind me a little of the vocals from the 90’s band Jesus Jones.
“Burned Out Love” has a nice tempo to it…not rushed or driving, but steady. The guitar hook layered underneath just acts to punctuate the chorus. There is more emotion in the vocals of one line in the verse than any of the previous album, reminding me again of Jesus Jones. The guitar is turned up and played through a massive effects pedal for a very bold sound in the instrumental.
“The Things You Do” was the b-side to their Your Imagination single. Sounds like a new wave track with synth effects, although the liner notes proudly proclaim “No Keyboards.” The rhythm guitar sounds like a general college radio track. The vocals channel a Tilbrook melody, with a couple of harmonized words / phrases. The song is not all that lively, it maintains a steady middle ground.
“Only In My Sleep” is a jangley power pop song, channeling the minor urgency in Big Star songs, with harmonic accents and a gentle ride of hooks. It is a catchy song when you are listening to it, but it fails to leave a lasting impression.
“Karen” was also a single. It continues the Squeeze-like jangle-pop format, but it has a much more memorable rolling melody than the couple of song before it. It is a little more stripped down and sedated, with the acoustic guitar and drums balanced in the background, letting the vocal melody drive the song.
“She Satisfies” was a b-side to their Karen single. It wakes the listener up with a blast of guitar riffs. The vocals are a little raspier, when it hits the bridge; the fuzzy electric guitar is abandoned for a jangley guitar, and a nice smooth building vocal. This leads into the chorus where the guitar comes back in at full force, and the vocals pick up energy, sounding like Jesus Jones. All three sections of this song are very catchy, and are rearranged at the end to avoid the bridge.
“Girls of Today” again sounds like it has a synth keyboard in the background, but I guess it is a guitar played through an effects pedal. The chorus is very catchy, and a good release of built up momentum. It is weirdly sexually controlling with a lyric like “I’ll find a way to keep you inside me.” The vocals sound a lot like Tilbrook in this song, especially when he gets more emotional.
“Hopin' She's The One” begins with a darker bass line, and power pop guitar melodies. The chorus is a call and response between the lead, and a chorus of backing vocals singing “the one…hoping that she’s the one.” I am not going to be much use for the rest of this review, and I can’t stop hearing the vocal comparisons of Jesus Jones and Glenn Tilbrook.
“When It Hits” has a looped electric power-pop guitar hook. Most of the song is a reiteration of the chorus, singing the title, and following it with “It’s gonna hit so hard” After two verses, the tone is shifted up for a verse, but it returns to the same repetitive chorus.
“Yes or No” a jangley guitar loop and a steady bass line start the song off as if it is already in the middle of the song. The lead guitar has a rising riff that reminds me of the start of Cracker’s “Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now).” It also sounds like a sedated version of “She Satisfies.”
“Found a Girl” begins with what sounds like a church organ effect on the guitar. It has a sad, sentimental tone at the outset, and maintains that throughout, making it their slow ballad
“Hate to Run” starts off with some harmonized “ah-ah-ah’s” and is a pleasant, poppy way to end the record. It carries the sentiment of not enjoying the end of something by showing just how much energy they still had with this rolling momentum song. The chorus is not very stand out different or catchy, and ultimately ends the album with a feedback fade out.
Stand Out Tracks: ~Cruel You
* She Satisfies
'12 NPR Article