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Traffic and Weather

4.2 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 3, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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 Holter

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Someone To Love
  2. '92 Subaru
  3. Yolanda Hayes
  4. Traffic And Weather
  5. Fire In The Canyon
  6. This Better Be Good
  7. Revolving Dora
  8. Michael And Heather At The Baggage Claim
  9. Strapped For Cash
  10. I-95
  11. Hotel Majestic
  12. Planet Of Weed
  13. New Routine
  14. Seatbacks And Traytables

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 3, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: April 3, 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Virgin Records
  • ASIN: B000N4SKFK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,645 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alan Dorfman VINE VOICE on April 3, 2007
Format: Audio CD
A few years ago Fountains Of Wayne looked ready to explode with their MILF fantasy, complete with Rachel Hunter video, with the hit record Stacy's Mom. I can only speculate why the dynamite fizzled out.

Maybe because the band has such a quirky sense of humor that infuses all their songs that critics find it hard to take them seriously when, clearly, they don't take themselves seriously.

Or perhaps because hip hop/rap, the purported music of the inner city, is actually selling to suburban kids looking for some way to rebel against the dull sameness of their upper middle class lives spent in manufactured communities with their green lawns and cul de sacs. Consequently, Fountains Of Wayne are the "Kings Of The 'Burbs'" whose music is full of references to shopping malls, airport terminals, Costco, diners and the DMV, can't break through because these are exactly the things the teenagers this music is supposedly geared towards are trying to rebel against (even though their intelligence lyrics are clearly Baby Boomer directed).

And more's the shame because Fountains Of Wayne have developed into the quintessential American Pop band with one brilliant song after the other, all with great lyrics and perfect arrangements and relatively free of angst thanks to their sense of humor. This time around they even show evidence of being influenced by a pair of bands that once wore that crown, the Eagles (on "'92 Subaru" and "Fire In The Canyon") and America (on "Michael And Heather At The Baggage Claim" and "I-95") and have delivered a CD that can more than hold its own with those groups' classics.
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Format: Audio CD
TRAFFIC AND WEATHER is brimming with power pop galore. Fountains of Wayne sprinkle this musical effort with overwrought top 40 radio influences of the likes of eighties bands and solo artists of yesteryear. The fourteen tracks on the album have a time on the road theme that describes the people and places one may meet along the way, hotel stays, and airline routines, which are fittingly portrayed through their playful and creative words and music.

For those who remember the synthesizer tinge 1980s, most of the tracks echo that particular music era and a little 1960s thrown in for good measure. The title track, "Traffic and Weather" has a "dirty laundry" feel, "Yolanda Hayes" is fashioned with a little psychedelic Beatles sound about the woman at the DMV counter. Two songs on the record, "Fire in the Canyon" and "Michael and Heather at the Baggage Claim," have a poetic and storytelling quality. "I-95" is one of the other slow-paced songs, but do not be fooled with the strumming acoustic guitar-middle of the road feel because behind the music it is all tongue-in-cheek, especially for those who have traveled along that route. And the album ends with the waltz-like and country-western-campfire sounding "Seatbacks and "Traytables."

After listening to TRAFFIC AND WEATHER, one may categorize most of the songs as looking out the window while traveling songs. Overall, Fountains of Wayne will keep the wheels rolling along the road, which may have one humming along to all of the songs.
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Format: Audio CD
I've been a big fan of FoW since I first heard "Radiation Vibe" on the radio when they released their first CD. I loved their first album, but found that their follow up album, "Utopia Parkway" lacked the energy and consistency of their previous work. When they finally released "Welcome Interstate Managers," I gave them another shot and it has become one of my all-time favorite CD's. I've always admired their clever and witty story-telling abilities, but the music on this CD is fantastic. Since that time, I'd made it a point to periodically scour the internet to get updates on their plans to get back in the studio.

I was ecstatic to hear that "Traffic and Weather" was coming out after 4 long years, and I made sure to pick it up on my lunch break on 4/3. Given that the two original songs they wrote for "Out of State Plates" were great, I thought they were definitely going to put out a whole album of that caliber. But to be honest, the sound is just not very good. As I listened to it for the first time, I slowly became disappointed as I hoped each new track would be one of those catchy tunes I came to love from their first and third albums. Before I knew it, I was at track 14 wondering what I had waited 4 years for. The whole "Power Pop" phrase that has been tagged to their music seems irrelevant with this effort; there's not a whole lot of powerful music on this disc.
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Format: Audio CD
Fountains of Wayne specializes in clever pop storytelling. To enjoy them, you need to appreciate the way a small detail tells you everything you need to know about the characters -- whether they are being described or singing -- in their songs. Almost every lyric here has its moments: some of the lines here are genuinely funny while others are poignant.

"Someone to Love," which kicks off the cd, sets us up beautifully: the whole time we are listening to the song, we think that these two people are made for each other. Even their names (Seth and Beth) rhyme. We hear how Seth "calls his mom / Says he's doing fine / She's got somebody on the other line." That's brilliant -- Seth is a corporate lawyer whose mother has more of a life than he does. Beth's "job of her dreams" is banal: "Re-touching photos for a magazine / Aimed at teens." She wears contacts (presumably to make herself more attractive) but has nothing more to look forward to than a bad sitcom and "an hour in the shower." But rather than put these two together, the song ends with Beth cutting in front of Seth and leaving him "for dead" just to get a taxi. That kind of ironic sucker-punch makes the point that these people will remain alone unless they completely change the way they go through their days.

Most of the other songs are strong as well. "Strapped for Cash," "I-95," "New Routine" (with its great line about old men who "talk about real estate, prostates, Costco"), and "Hotel Majestic" are particularly good. "Planet of Weed" is hilarious once you realizes it is making fun of the whole stoner mentality, especially when the speaker can't focus long enough to come up with rhyme for "Oliver Stone".
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