Music News

The 88: The 88

Artist: The 88

Title: The 88 
Release date: September 28 
Label: Rocket Science

What do you do if you're a band like The 88? You're top-flight songwriters and musicians, you get your songs placed in all kinds of big-name TV shows and high-profile TV commercials, you tour the country opening for famous bands and popular bands, and you get hired to perform as Ray Davies' backing band on his latest U.S. tour. 

You're caught between two exclusive realms: mainstream recognition (which is, for the most part, unachievable without unlimited resources and help from the mainstream media) and popularity the indie rock universe, a sheep-like populace guided by one or two taste-making voices. 

So, do you jump on the latest mainstream production and songwriting trends and jump through the necessary industry hoops in a bid to, perhaps, "make it" or do you adopt the necessary affectations to deemed worthy by fickle hipsters?

If you're the Los Angeles quartet The 88 (once named best local band by our sister paper, LA Weekly), you're probably doing neither at this point. You've been on Island Records already, so you've probably already been chewed up and spit by "the industry." And there's a nary a mention of your name on Pitchfork, so good luck being seen by the sometimes myopic folks who deem that site their Bible. So, at this point, in your career, you go back to basics.

Perhaps that's why your sixth release is self-titled -- it may as well be your debut. Of course, not many debuts are as strong and fine-tuned as this one. At this point, you're hoping to catch the ears of fans of classicist, piano-driven pop-rock -- timeless-sounding songs in the vein of The Beatles and The Kinks, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello, and 1970s West Coast power pop like The Beat and The Plimsouls.

If you like those artists, do yourself -- and The 88 -- a favor, and check out their new record.

Having trouble with Soundcloud today, so click here to hear lead track "Center of the Sun."

Best song: "Dead on the Water": "She had a face like Snow White / She must've been chasing it all night."

Rotation: Medium-Heavy
Deja vu: Telecasters run through a Vox AC30.
I'd rather listen to: I still wanna hear a copy of the new record by Paul Collins Beat. Can someone send me a copy?
Grade: B

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

The "Nothing Not New" Archives

September 28 -- No Age: Everything in Between (A-)