Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Post-grunge power pop from The Verve Pipe

Every now and then I dip back into my collection and pull out an old favorite, rather than write up something I’ve recently discovered. I started doing that today because I haven’t had a lot of time this week to listen to my new stuff. I was surprised to discover I have never written up a favorite from the late 1990s, “Villains” by Verve Pipe. You may remember ‘The Freshmen’ from this album. It was a wildly successful single and it’s pretty and evocative. I actually haven’t had this song on my iPod though I do have 5 others from “Villains.” I think radio kind of killed this song for me, but after hearing it again today, I think I’m going to put it back in rotation. Anyway, “Villains” hit #24 and went platinum after its release in 1996. I think it’s one of my favorite sophomore albums, certainly among bands that aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

What the hell is that on the cover? Seriously, what the hell is it?

The Verve Pipe came out of East Lansing Michigan. As I researched them, I kind of expected there to be a link to The Jellyfish or some of their alumni because Verve Pipe reminds me a little of the Jason Falkner/Roger Joseph Manning Jr./Jon Brion group of bands that produced ear-friendly power pop throughout the 1990s. There was no such link in terms of shared members or co-touring that I could find. Still, the sound is there. Pop music was still reeling from the body blows grunge threw at it and songs that might have been sunnier pop a few years earlier or later were tinged with slightly darker themes and heavy guitar.

“Villains” struck my ear just right. along with a lot of other people, obviously. If you never heard it, you should give these a listen. It was a strong album full of deep and catchy songs. If you remember it only vaguely, dig it out again. I still like hearing these come up in rotation.

  • Drive You Mild – Some of these songs, like this one, are heavy post-grunge tracks. Donny Brown is positively bruising his drum kit on this track.
  • Myself – The pace is halting and the percussion plods through it but the guitar work is cool and the vocals are edgy.
  • Photograph – The keyboards, bass, and drums lay down a head bobbing groove and I’m not sure which I like more, the odd lyrics or their smooth delivery.
  • Ominous Man – OK, so the title and subject are a little ham-fisted. The catchy guitar hook and the pretty vocal melody win me over.
  • Penny Is Poison – This is one of the mellower tracks on the disc. It’s a beautiful, dark love song and I really like it.

I found today that The Verve Pipe got back together and released an album in 2009 called “A Family Album.” I was psyched. Then I discovered it’s… wait for it… a children’s album. I listened to the samples on Amazon. I’ll give them the nod. They’re certainly children’s songs and it ain’t Raffi. Some of them kind of rock. Then there’s stuff like this: “Why do you call it bacon? You ain’t bakin’ it. That French toast isn’t French and you ain’t toastin’ it. Why do you call it a milkshake? You ain’t shakin’ it.” I have to say I did not see that one coming.

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December 28, 2010 - Posted by | Popular, Rock

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