Why the Late 1970s Were Cool

Meet The Frantics (Organic Records)

The Frantics

By Jim Conway

The late Seventies were the heyday of power pop, with groups like The Knack and Cheap Trick giving rock welcome relief from the booty-numbing drivel of disco. If anything, these groups, along with lesser artists like The Shoes and Brahm Tchaikovsky, served notice that if your music didn't have good chord progressions and catchy, melodic hooks, then all you were left with was a lot of overly homogenized, multi-tracked window dressing.

Having said that, then how do the four members of The Frantics, who probably don't remember much of the late Seventies, and list such influences as Stryper, Led Zeppelin, and the mid-Eighties hair/metal bands as major influences, manage to produce such sweet-as-candy melodic power pop? Maybe it's in the water three of our four Frantics drank while cutting their musical teeth in Madisonville, KY. Or maybe like fellow Gen-X'ers Weezer, these guys realize that cool music has little to do with the presence of a parental caution sticker on your CD. Songs like "What's Up With Your Homey?" and "Everybody," both of which expose mean-spirited backstabbing and the liberating epiphany of faith through non-conformity, respectively manage to convey more honesty than any profanity-laced tirade Insane Clown Posse or any other Caucasian rapper could muster.

Probably the most universal theme contained here is in "Kids of Summer," which humorously tells of a bored employee who'd rather be anywhere but at work. Well, they may be humorous. It's rather hard to be totally sure, with the venom contained in lyrics like, "Gotta wear that stupid painted grin / When I just want to jump out of my skin." The band also pays homage to the vocal stylings of Cheap Trick's Robin Zander with Chris Shandrow's delivery on "A Little Bit Good," which exhibits more tension-filled bombast than the law should allow.

While we're discussing late-Seventies retro influences, audiophiles should take note: The sound of this disc is impeccable, with Jade Hanson's Nashville-based production providing a florid range of highs and lows one usually doesn't get with the CD format. Rock recordings usually don't give you this kind of listening experience, so enjoy The Frantics and their brand of pop candy.