1. Capital Cities – In a Tidal Wave of Mystery
Barry Manilow did it, so why not Ryan Merchant and Sebu Simonian. Here is a debut album by two jingle writers who also happen to be producers. Capital Cities has given us something many of the current slew of hit makers have forgotten to do: have fun. In a Tidal Wave of Mystery is almost a slap to the many artists who have won some singing contest and take themselves far too seriously. How? They started with releasing covers that were serious enough to not be parody, but goofy enough to create smiles. Bee Gees, Madonna (great cover of “Holiday”) and even Pink Floyd get the treatment. In fact, their cover of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” with a Tupac rap sample is mentioned in “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo”.
The covers were enough to get them a record contract. What they then created was an album full of radio-ready singles that became an amusement park in the middle of a funeral home. Part of the secret here is not only their love of making music, but the production. Songs like “Kangaroo Court,” “Chartreuse,” and “Center Stage” bounce and swerve so well it’s hard to believe this is album number one. Their first (and so far only) hit “Safe and Sound” ends up being a lovely vow of commitment with a killer video. Even “Chasing You” — a wonderful song about unrequited love and being flaky — mixes a bit of real emotion, but is still humorous. The biggest surprise here is the oddball checklist that is “Farrah Fawcett Hair” which blends NPR, André 300 and soul divas into a bizarrely fascinating song which name drops things the band deems good. In fact, the song is so good it should add itself to the list, but perhaps that is a bit too self-serving for a debut which need only be described as “Farrah Fawcett Hair” describes all the things it loves: it’s good shit.
Favorite songs: “Safe and Sound” | “Kangaroo Court” | “I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo” | “Farrah Fawcett Hair” | “Origami” | “Chasing You”