Maybe its the band's
name (a reference to the Heaven's Gate suicide pact from what seems like ages ago) or the
lousy cover art, who knows? There just has to be a reason why no one has discovered
this amazing band.
With three principal, but equal, songwriters, it's tough to pin down their specific
sound. But unlike all those CDs you've purchased over the years where one guy writes all
the good songs and is good-hearted enough to tolerate the other guys' crummy efforts
(Sebadoh comes to mind), everything here is of equal quality, thanks to respectable
influences -- The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Cars, Chicago, even America. and Bread --
big FM bands from a bygone time, when music was written to be listened to, not worn like
the latest fashion.
Album opener, "Spaceman," with its circus-organ opener, crunch guitars,
alien-in-my-own-town lyrics, is sheer radio-ready perfection. "Dark & Rainy
Town" is a sunshine-filled sing-a-long with a cool break mid-song that gets powered
by a kick drum interlude followed by strings. "Lazy Jane" is the rock-powered
love song that Paul McCartney could only dream of writing. "Mountain Lake Park,"
with its loopy trombone and British-sounding vocals, sounds like an out-take from the last
Gomez CD. The lovely "Incredible Gravity," starts with simple keyboards and Adam
Zabarsky's wry vocals before pushing everything over the top. The CD's prize gem, however,
is "Angeline," a classic love song from the first spin, merging chugging drums, Chicago-style
(the band, not the city) harmonies, beautiful countermelodies and simple lyrics.
This CD has nothing to do with being "indie" or "alternative." It's
simply a showcase of good songwriting that hearkens back to a time, before Nirvana and the
hair bands, when all rock songs were well-produced epics.