THE MOCKINGBIRDS - s/t (missing booklet)

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1996 release - out of print since...uh, 1998. It had a pressing of only 500 copies. It's $60 now.


Modern-day power-pop can often err on the side of being too reverent, choosing to ape the holy trinity of Big Star/Raspberries/Badfinger instead of breaking new ground. That's not necessarily a problem, however, since both guitar-pop bands and their fans place a greater emphasis on craft than any other underground music, but it does make the music a little insular. That's part of the problem with the Mockingbirds' otherwise fine eponymous debut -- no matter how good it is, it's sort of stuck in its own little world. The Mockingbirds don't sound too much like their '70s forefathers, instead, they're reminiscent of '90s contemporaries, from the Velvet Crush and the Posies to the Lemonheads and Matthew Sweet, who happened to co-produce a handful of tracks here. They have a pleasing, jangly sound -- even when distortion pops up, it's never too loud. They're also solid craftsmen. Every one of these 11 songs (14 on Not Lame's 1998 reissue, which adds the new cuts "Dream City Sunshine," "Freeride" and "Frank Mills") has a sturdy hook that gradually works its way into your brain. There's nothing bad on Mockingbirds but there's nothing particularly noteworthy, either. After all, these guys want to be part of a tradition, they don't want to break new ground. On those terms, their debut works splendidly and should win over legions of power-pop fans.