Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Only in the Summertime

Song: Only in the Summertime
Artist: Possum Dixon
Album: New Sheets

Back in college I became aware of Possum Dixon, a Los Angeles born band who was capitalizing on the Alternative Rock boom of the early 90’s. I had heard “Watch That Girl Destroy Me” from their self titled debut on MTV’s Alternative Nation, but had grouped them in with the various one-hit wonders of the day. Thanks to a mail order record distributor sale, I got their debut on a whim for $1.98. That deal seemed even more of a bargain as it turned out that the record was quite good, and the odd instance where the single was not as strong as the other tracks on the record. I was suddenly a Possum Dixon fan.

In 1995 they released “Star Maps” their sophomore follow up. They held on to their quirkiness but expanded on their pop sound. I thought it was even better than the debut and while it seemed they were on the verge of a serious hit song (not just an alt rock hit) there still wasn’t a track there to take them home. The band, and possibly their label Interscope, were hearing the same thing because for their third album, 1998’s “New Sheets” they hired The Cars singer-songwriter and budding producer Rick Ocasek (Weezer, Nada Surf) to helm the record. The result was what I can only describe as Possum Dixon doing The Cars… which is a good thing. I loved the record, and thought that it was truly the solid delivery of what the band had promised on… putting a pop sheen on their brand of art punk.

Unfortunately, despite the catchy songs and solid album, it did not speak to the masses. The band soon broke up and it would be their final record. Upon doing some research I found out two interesting things… first, during the period of the first two albums the band engaged in recreational then destructive heroin use and members came and went due to this, though they cleaned up before “New Sheets.” Second… fans of the band didn’t really like “New Sheets.” It seems what I liked about the record many thought was its debit… the pop sheen dulling their “sound.”

Honestly this reminds me of what is currently happening to Rilo Kiley. Fans of that band are claiming that they have “sold out” and their songwriting has taken a dive in quality because they seemingly are aiming for the mainstream. This school of thought really drives me crazy as I see it as a progression to writing actual melodies and solid tunes. I love the new Rilo Kiley record, and I loved “New Sheets…” am I just a pop loving fool or do hipsters just need something to be disappointed about? I don’t know.

“Only in the Summertime” was one of my favorite tracks from Possum Dixon’s last record and I highly recommend it, as well as all three of their albums.


A video from each record…

Watch That Girl Destroy Me

Radio Comets

Holding (Lenny’s Song) [clip]

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