Monday, January 23, 2006

splicing Push King dna

"the 0.1" is something my friend andy and i will refer to every once in awhile when the topic of my favorite pop band in college comes up. it is the ranking attributed to the final Push Kings record on a certain pitchfork website in one of the most unoriginal and lackluster reviews ever to grace that website, which like many pieces in the fork's infancy said very little about a record while singularly focusing on an often cliche idea regarding what is cool. in this case the idea was that commercial sounding pop music being released to the indie scene was apalling. naturally a pop record executed in this clean, crisp, catchy manner is presumed to deserve comparisons to third eye blind and britney spears followed by an uninspired attempt to somehow make sense of the album by potificating about dawsons creek and abercrombie and fitch. the review, suffice to say, was not the highest caliber of music criticism, probably passed off to someone eager to write a memorable record review in lieu of other writers disinterest. still there is an ounce of truth to be drawn from "the 0.1" and that is the Push Kings were a band who ultimately failed to catch on because they were playing pop music far to polished to be fully embraced by the indiepop scene that they were essentially being marketed to. i would often compare them to Squeeze because aside from what they shared in sound, both seemed to be lost on that fine line of commercial pop and the carefreeness that afforded them a more alternative-minded fanbase. it kept the more famous of the two bands from being recognized as one of the best pop bands ever and it kept the Push Kings from making another record after Feel No Fade. there may have been a point in history where the four lads from southern new england, who moved out west in search of a major label might have succeeded in their goal, but the time they sought to do this unfortunately was onc that saw radios blaring nu-metal and cookie cutter boy bands. maybe it was fluff, but hey, i own bubble gum compilations and i definately was way into the Push Kings.

the Push Kings "Macy Macy"
(aka best pop song ever. my friend even named his cat Macy after this song)
the Push Kings "Sunday on the West Side" from their second album Far Places

two projects have surfaced since the disbanding of the group. carrick moore gerrity started up the trio Everybody Else, appropriately taking their name from a Kinks b-side. his brother, finn moore gerrity, now Finian McKean, moved back east, settling into brooklyn to begin a solo career. the reason i entitled todays entry "splicing PK dna" is because listening to material from both it becomes obvious who brought which components to their previous project. Finian's solo debut album, Shades Are Drawn, is soulful and introverted whereas Everybody Else is has turned the guitars up a bit, but still contains a familiar pop bounce and boyish strut.

released late last year, i was especially excited to hear Finian's record because i tended to prefer the PK songs he sang on. several bloggers have tackled the release and it made my morning when i received an e-mail from the man himself asking if i'd be interested in listening to it. a nano-second later i had reply with a run-on sentence containing the instances i drove and flew many miles to see the Push Kings, which roughly translates into "definately." i drove around this weekend listening to it quite a bit, curious what became of one of the pop stars of my waning college years. it was quite a surprise. it's hard to place a genre-specific title to the work. at times it suits the growing, warped folk sound and other times it alludes to his self-admited interest in the country and presumably the sound it suggests, but underneath the noticiably darker lyrics is at times a pop-rock sound that draws me towards the more enjoyable musical comparisons taken from the seventies. anyone familiar with the Push Kings and their raucous behaviour would likely be curious what life experience lead to these eremitic tunes. the voice is so familiar, but musically Finian is doing something certainly classifiable as a departure. it is good and no one will be referring to it as fluff any time soon. here is my favorite track from the album along with an a track from the aforementioned Everybody Else.

Finean McKean "Oh My Heart is Heavy"
Everybody Else "Faker"


At 11:05 AM, Blogger Eric Grubbs said...

Music is music, but it amazes me how we get so distracted from things that owe nothing to the experience of listening to music by yourself. Pitchfork often represents what's a distraction in enjoying music (ie, talking about the social meaning of music). At the end of the day, it's just you and the songs you like, whether others scoff at them or not.

At 12:59 PM, Blogger josh Mueller said...

I really like Finian's "Black Hole". Also, I'd argue "Love in My Heart" as the ultimate PKs song.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Yeah, I really dig the new Finian McKean album. I wrote about it a few weeks back.

At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was great to read. I'm enjoying the Finian album as well.

At 1:50 AM, Blogger Jason said...

thanks for chiming in guys. and a special thanks to you eric, IL because it was through your site that Finian found mine. (ps. i swear i will update the links soon and get you on there). i was excited to write this as the Push Kings were such a favorite of mine. i saw them in boston, athens, denver and san francisco. i have a ton of japanese imports and even the glove puppet zine 7" that i believe was their first release.

At 3:31 AM, Blogger Click Clack said...

i so loved the push kings, but i have to admit that the last record never quite sat with me. i should clearly listen to it again as you've never steered me wrong.

(also, i started posting on my little website again, you should take a look at it. i've been funny before.)

i always wanted to date a girl on the west side of iowa city so i could come home on sunday singing sunday on the west side. I finally did but she was WAY crazy.


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