Today I’m going to be talking about a CD that I fell in love with long before it ever came out: The Pop Project’s Stars of Stage and Screen. With The Pop Project, the name says it all. It’s pop all the way, and done expertly. Catchy hooks, singable background vocals and happy guitars create a sunny 40ish minutes.
The Pop Project have been around a long time and have two previous CD releases, but Stars of Stage and Screen is their best to date. It’s filled with fun and well-crafted songs that beg for multiple listens. Their brand of pop is slightly sarcastic, but ever hopeful. You’ll find a blend of sounds here, at times feeling like you’ve been transported back to the late seventies, and then whooshed back to the mid-nineties where, the band clearly has found a sonic home.
A personal favorite of mine is “Totally Awesome” (if my phone ever goes off at work, this is what’s blaring out). Dave Lawson’s tale of redemption and acceptance has the best hook ever, “I was a worm/now I’m awesome!” There’s nothing complex about the song or its message, and that’s what’s great about it. It doesn’t even feel tongue-in-cheek to me, but that could be from hearing it more times than I can count. The beautiful vocal harmonies remind you that you’re not just listening to a fun pop song, but one created by talented musicians.
“Hearts and Flowers” is probably my favorite on this album. The first time I saw the band at the Lager House they played this song, and I was singing it on the way home. It’s been with me ever since. Even if you’ve never been in love with someone way out of your league, you’ll still get the message Zach Curd sends with these lines: “Well I felt like my body was breaking/that my teeth were falling out one by one/ and I felt muscles tearing and bones detaching/because of you.” It all feels lighter than this when the chorus hits with “I felt older than my father/when I was staring at your body/but your age didn’t really matter/as much as your beauty”. I guess I just feel like this is a fantastic metaphor for a common feeling.
Ok. One more song. I promise this is it. Although, the whole album is filled with solid songs that you will love, this column is really thin, and it will look ridiculous if I write eight pages. The track is “House of Books”. There was a time when I had two copies of this song in my mp3 player. While it was initially a mistake, I left it that way because at the end of the first copy, I always wanted to hear it again immediately. It saved dangerous mp3 player navigation while driving 70 miles an hour. The song leads in with a vaguely maniacal keyboard riff and rolls along with dare-you-to-try-to-sing-this-fast lyrics and an impressive bassline (Will Yates). Unfortunately, the best part about this song is not on the CD. It’s in the live performance of it. At one of the breaks, the band will stop, and give some instruction to the audience, which they are to perform after the word “Fire” is sung. It ranges widely, from having everyone leave the room (that was the first show I saw) to having a couple from the audience dance under a disco ball. You never can tell what it will be.
So in short, if you like unabashed pop music; something the band doesn’t seem embarrassed to play, you should listen to this album.
Sadly, it’s kind of hard these days to catch a Pop Project show. Here are their upcoming shows:
April 5, 2009 -- Motor City Rock Revue @ The Majestic Complex (Detroit)
April 10, 2009 -- International Pop Overthrow - Detroit @ Paycheck’s Lounge(Hamtramck)
May 9, 2009 -- Northern Lights Lounge (Detroit)
Visit the Pop Project at their website -- http://www.popproject.com/
Stars of Stage and Screen is CD-1325 at the Ferndale Public Library.
Friday 2/27/09 -- Magic Stick (Detroit) – Anathallo -- Zoos of Berlin -- Ribbons Of Sound
Friday 2/27/09 -- Pike Room (Pontiac) -- Love Meets Lust -- The Nice Device -- Eat Sugar
Friday 2/27/09 --The Belmont -- Fields of Industry -- New Grenada --The Interiors --Stroller Coaster
Saturday 2/28/09 Magic Stick (Detroit) -- Outrageous Cherry (CD release) -- The Crooks -- The Pizazz
Saturday 2/28/09 -- Small’s (Hamtramck) -- Prussia -- Lightning Love -- The Juliets -- Ian Saylor
Saturday 2/28/09 -- Northern Lights Lounge (Detroit) -- Hell City Records Showcase
Saturday 2/28/09 -- PJ’s Lager House (Detroit) -- Gardens -- Silverghost -- The Sisters Lucas -- Dooley Wilson -- John Roundcity