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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 22, 1999)
Fountains of Wayne
Maybe it’s the parking-lot land
scape or the aching brink-of-the-big
city sensitivity, but if you come from
Jersey you are bom armed to the tee\h,
tongue and swagger with a cement-h^rd
tool of survival: cynicism.
The shadow of New York casts an
eternal gloom on your own meager sur
roundings, and the patchworks of
license plates resting at the Burger
Kings and strip malls or streaking along
the interstates are die labels of continen
tal dreamers, each plotting a path
through or around your hometown
straight to America’s island Mecca.
This is the legacy of songwriters
Chris Collingwood and Adam
Schlesinger, the duo foundation for
smart-ass pop foursome Fountains of
The New York-based band is releas
ing its sophomore album and features a
fleshier sound owing to two new mem
bers (drummer Brian Young and gui
tarist Jody Porter).,But Fountains of
Wayne is still a coming-of-age effort
engaged in modem-age musical thera
The problem? Suburban angst, of
course. Schlesinger actually hails from
the New Jersey jungle, while his partner
commiserated the outskirts experience
growing up in a small town outside
Meeting in Boston and playing
together for die past few years, the two
have explored die cultural urban back
water and pop-culture iconography in
pure suburban fashion: unabashed and
shamelessly hooky pop songs.
A meritorious self-titled album in
1997, “Fountains of Wayne” rendered a
spot on several critics’ Top Ten lists for
its cute wit and catchy melodies. The
single “Radiation Vibe” smacked just
enough of self-referential fun to be
smart, and they plugged it into a short
electric hook for radio success.
With such a glowing introduction
into the modem-rock world, Fountains
of Wayne seems to have taken the suc
cess formula just a step further in its
Uh, that step s a doozy.
In “Utopia Parkway” Fountains of
Wayne desperately tries to recreate the
mood of its first album but fails to cap
ture the lightness and fun that enamored
pop-rock fans two years ago.
Instead, we hear a painfully cynical
and meaningless rhyme-scape of bub
ble-gum jargon including references to
.38 Special, KorN, Puff Daddy, laser
shows and miles and miles of girls who
just don’t get the pain of existence.
With an obvious affection for Brit
pop, each song is structured in a way to
reflect the victim subject matter.Most
songs rely on Weezer-esque synth
sounds and tempo changes, but each
tries to reflect a certain idea.
“Go, Hippie” is a half-baked mix
while a twinkling arid ;
ballad, “Prom Theme” actuattydimax
es with a flutter of drumsticks on die..
It could be clever, but the problem is
it becomes impossible to take any of
these songs seriously. In feet, it^ impos
sible to take Fountains of Wayne seri
ously. Through every tongue-in-cheek
motif and snide reference, the band dis
tances itself further and further from
Fountains of Wayne makes clear
that these subjects don’t really matter,
and the carefully constructed mockeries
render every song utterly irrelevant.
“Prom Theme,” when you stare at
the words on the printed page, strikes
you initially as earnest frozen-moment
nostalgia but is turned into a farce when
you hear the lackadaisical and humor
ously synthesized final product.
Sincerity does seem to exist bright
ly on parts of the album, but it is
drowned in gratuitous smirks and cyni
cal asides. Their most tried-and-true
theme is one of chicks, not women, but
chicks. Chicks are always lost; chicks
extract meaning from Puff Daddy;
chicks just obviously don’t get these
But Fountains of Wayne loves them
Thank goodness they found some
thing to love, because they don’t seem
fond of much. Minivans, soccer moms,
laser shows, hippies (okay, give them
that) are all cut down. Does love exist?
It’s hard to tell, as the concept suffers
under stupid metaphors of thrown-away
cans. In this world of cynicism the only
shelter seems to be the ignorance of
Chicks are cute, and for the
Fountains of Wayne being cute is what
it’s all about
Hip-hop scene expands, diversifies
SCENE from page 12
vices he provides in the hands of his
niece and nephew, who live ir
With the New York influence still
strong, Coleman is planning on moving
his label by the end of the summer to a
city larger than Lincoln.
And though he already has about
six artists from around the country lined
up to put on his label - varying from
inspirational hip-hop to alternative
country - Coleman has his eye or
Lincoln acts that he would like to work
with in the future.
“I think there’s so much talent here,”
Coleman said. “It’s just amazing.”
Some of that talent is materializing
in the form of CDs. Beyond has an
album that is about ready for release,
and the Blackshirts have a release tenta
tively slated for this summer.
Beyond’s local success and expo
sure has been greatly helped by opening
for alternative bands as well as hip-hop
groups, Griffin said.
“The alternative scene supports
local music a lot better than the hip-hop
scene does,” Griffin said.
Beyond opened for the recent
Digital Underground shows as well as
Vanilla Ice, Everiast and Ice T.
Watson, one of the four members of
the Blackshirts, said his group played at
Temptations about every other week,
and they worked closely with Johnson.
But with the CD release planned for
this summer, Watson hopes his group
will be able to inject some more life into
the local scene.
A lot is going on right now to
expand the scene, Johnson said, even
though it might not seem very evident to
a large portion of Lincoln.
“We’re doing a little of everything,”
Johnson said. It’s like we’re hidden, but
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