Traffic and Weather
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Traffic and Weather
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A new, indelible cast of characters is inducted into the FOW pantheon of stars on Traffic And Weather: Yolanda Hayes, a sullen object of affection behind the glass at the Department Of Motor Vehicles; Seth Shapiro and Beth Mackenzie, two lonely, hardworking New Yorkers who cross paths - sort of - in "Someone To Love" (which features Hole/Smashing Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur singing backing vocals); the exhausted couple in "Michael and Heather At The Baggage Claim", dragging themselves onto an airport shuttle bus after a long trip; newscasters in heat in the album's title track, and many others. Hapless protagonists like the suspicious boyfriend of "This Better Be Good" and the hit-man target in "Strapped For Cash" are also classic Fountains Of Wayne narrators. Travel and transportation continue to figure heavily in the on-the-go world of FOW. The guy who buys himself a "'92 Subaru" is convinced that the right pimped-out ride is all he needs to get the girl; in the Beatlesque "i-95" a driver explores a rest area gift shop late at night, on the way to visit his loved one; we hear of "an eerie kind of sadness on the highway today" in the Gram Parsons-tinged "Fire In The Canyon" (featuring backing vocals by the Candy Butchers' Mike Viola, who was the voice of "That Thing You Do"). The misery of sitting in coach on a delayed flight is examined in the wistful waltz "Seatbacks And Traytables" (which contains a guest appearance on guitar by James Iha). And in the semi-epic "New Routine", we follow a series of characters who each randomly pick a new place to live, only to discover someone else there who can't wait to move away.
Punctuated by 2005's sprawling compilation of B-sides and outtakes (Out-of-State Plates), a nearly four-year interval between fresh recordings has done nothing to tarnish Fountain of Wayne's pop-drenched songwriting tandem of Chris Collingswood and Adam Schlesinger. This 14-song bash is a late-'60s/early-'70s time warp that exploits every facet of the pop action plan (chiming guitars, infectious choruses, sinful harmonies) and begs for radio play. As usual, the band never takes itself too seriously, crafting melodies around a lively, vigorous cast of characters that practically come to life. There's a DMV attendant who can't shake our attention (the bouncy, piano-boosted "Yolanda Hayes"), an airport-stranded couple waiting impatiently for lost luggage (the folksy "Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim"), and ex-lovers who blame it on the highway ("Fire in the Canyon," which explores the radio country-rock of the Eagles and America). They sing of an old-model Japanese car to get the girl ("'92 Subaru") and Renee seeing you "at the Gap in a baseball cap" ("This Better Be Good"), and any way they shake it, even after a too-long interruption, Collingswood and Schlesinger rarely miss the mark. --Scott HolterSee all Editorial Reviews
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1. Someone to Love (8/10)
The lyrics are quite random. They tell a story of "Seth" and "Beth" (I'll assume the rhyming is concidental) both working mediocre jobs and having struggling personal lives. Some of the lyrics are actually quite amusing, such as "It's thursday night she should be out on the scene, But she's sitting at home watching king of queens". A catchy song, with okay lyrics. I'll be a bit generous and give it a 8.
2. '92 Subaru (6/10)
Did a Bruce Springsteen impressionist sneak his way onto this album? That was my first impression upon hearing this song. It's basically a love song to his Subaru, which makes for quite a boring song for lyrics-oriented persons such as myself. He seems to spend way too much time saying "I'm coming through...in my '92 Subaru" It gets quite annoying after a while. However, if you like just a slice of country in your music, this would be a good song for your tastes. It's got a catchy beat and some decent instrumentation. Fountains of Wayne sometimes drifts into country-styled music in their albums, but it's never really worked for them. Done.
3. Yolanda Hayes (10/10)
Yeah! Finally the Fountains of Wayne sound I bought this album for. It is catchier than most of the songs on this album, and I just fell in love with the guitar beat at the beginning. It's a pretty good lyrics song too, telling the story of a man that falls in love with a DMV employee. I even heard a little trumpet in here? Anyway, good song. If you don't like alternative, then you won't like this song. Well, if you don't like alternative, why'd you buy this album?
4. Traffic and Weather (4/10)
Why'd they name the album after this song? Very repetitive edgy alternative. The heavy guitar is nice, but the lyrics suck. I mean, I liked the first "ooOOoo...We belong together (Like Traffic and Weather)" But it just plain gets annoying. Easily one of the weakest songs on the album. Unless you like this kind of thing?
5. Fire in the Canyon (8/10)
Just a bit of country in this song too, but it's bearable. The lyrics are good, and its mostly just soft percussion and guitar the entire song, with some strong singing. It doesn't quite seem to sit well in the album, and it'd have a hard time believing that the same artist made "Stacy's Mom". Not bad, and it'll make in on my iPod.
6. This Better Be Good (9/10)
I liked this song for a couple of reasons. The lyrics are once again quite good, this time telling the tale of an angry boyfriend questioning a possibly cheating girlfriend, telling her that her excuses "are so full of holes, you might want to stop by the donut shop. They won't buy it, and I sure won't." It's not an angry song by any means, it's actually quite pleasant to listen to, but the lyrics make this song what it is. Catchy, Good Music, Pleasant to Listen to...this song IS good.
7. Revolving Dora (6/10)
What an odd song...the lyrics start from "She's...grinning at her imaginary friends" and go to "man, she's sure got a hold on me!" I mean, what? You diss her and then you're in love? Random. Beyond the inane lyrics, it's pleasant to listen to but really nothing special or catchy. Just more soft guitar and some good but not great vocals. Ho-hum.
8. Micheal and Heather at the Baggage Claim (8/10)
This song is about nothing much, but it's kind of cute in a odd way. The instrumentation is very well done, and it softly makes its presence known. The singing hits an album high here. The lyrics are nothing special until the end, whence Heather says to Micheal "You know it's you I love" After a long struggle trying to find their luggage. Aw[...]
9. Strapped for Cash (10/10)
Do I hear...Techno? And do I like it? Hell, yeah! Fountains of Wayne put their own take on techno into "Strapped for Cash" and the result is quite fun. The lyrics are just amazingly funny and clever. It follows the story of a guy that has trouble paying people back but always has another solution for his money deficiency. Best lyrics "I was sitting in the kitchen, checking out the women on Spanish television...So I headed out West to invest in the races...all the goddamn horses kept falling on their faces." The song ends with him inevitably getting confronted by "6 bodybuilders", but the journey in between is amazing. Love it.
10. I-95 (10/10)
Back to back great songs. Tells the tale of a trucker that supports his family by driving on "I-95". The lyrics are sometimes funny, sometimes heartfelt, but always worth listening to. The soft, slow music is extremely catchy (a rarity for such types of songs) and you can't help but singing along. A great singing performance as well.
11. The Hotel Majestic (7/10)
One of those songs that's catchy enough but leaves you wondering "Yes, that's nice, when's the chorus going to get going?" It's nice sounding enough, but just one of those song's that you'd forget quickly. Tells the tale of a man who for some reason has lived in a hotel for "7 days and 6 nights" and spends his days, as far as I can tell, "walking down the hallway with my shoes untied". Uhm...Congratulations? That's fantastic...
12. Planet of Weed (8/10)
Just a weird song. Catchy, though. Nothing more to say than that, really.
13. New Routine (9/10)
I can't really decide what I like about this song...but I do. Just some really good vocals and nice instrumentation. This is how Fountains of Wayne gets to its best, by catchy lyrics and instrumentation...This song has got all of that. Another "classic" FOW song.
14. Seatback and Traytables (5/10)
So much for ending on a high point....easily one of the worst in the album. It's repetitive and slightly boring. Could have been catchy but the singer seems to trying to see just how many times he can sing the title of the song before his editor cuts the song altogether. Could have been worse, but sooo much better as well. Would have been better if maybe this song could have been cut altogether, really.
So in summary...Some strong songs, some weak songs. However, I can almost promise that at least 5 of these songs will be on your "most played" list for a little while at least. So I would recommend that if you're a fan of Fountains of Wayne, buy this CD. If not...well, I would certainly consider other options. This CD has no real "smash hits" persay (the strongest title is "I-95"). If you're expecting a poppy sunflower of a CD, you're apt for a harsh awakening. Fountains of Wayne has a unique taste that is almost bitter-sweet. You get used to it, but if you're expecting an improved pop album along the lines of the immortal "Stacy's Mom", I'll warn you NOT TO BUY THIS ALBUM. You will waste you money. Use it to buy a Plain White T's Album. Otherwise, I have nothing more to say. I hope this helps.
I haven't found too many bands since The Beatles to catch their sort of musical spirit. Many have tried, but not many succeed in ever getting close. However, in the song "Revolving Dora" this feeling has returned.
The second thing I think while listening to this song is that it is a really feel good album as a whole.
The last thing I think is that while it has some Beatles feel to it, there are other bands out there that their sound instrumentally and vocally pay tribute to. It is like they are calling out to the past for inspiration and getting it.
Good lyrics with the good sense of humor from songs "92 Subaru", "Yolanda Hayes" ,"Revolving Dora", "Hotel Majestic" and "Planet Of Weed"
Catchy melodies in "Traffic and Weather", "Someone to Love", "Strapped For Cash" and "New Routing" with good harmonies in songs "Fire In The Canyon", "This Better Be Good", "I-95" and "Seatbacks And Traytables"
All together make this an excellent CD which I would highly recommend.