Out today is the new album from your favorite San Francisco band "Imperial Teen." They may not all live in San Francisco anymore, but they will always be a San Francisco Band. They became a band in San Francisco in the mid 90s and released their first album "Seasick" in 1996. This was also the year I moved to San Francisco. So this band is sort of special for me. I think this band is super special for anybody who discovered them in the 90s. I was listening to a lot of super depressing and dreary bands in the 90s. I still love all those bands but I think I really needed some Imperial Teen in my life. I was always a bit afraid of pop music. I thought it would make me too happy. Around this time I started listening to bands like Heavenly, Henry's Dress, the Aisler's Set, and the Softies. But Imperial Teen combined great fun pop music with that sort of San Francisco indie rock that is hard to explain. I don't know if it just sounds like that cause I heard all these bands play live in San Francisco so much. Or if it really is a certain type of sound. I just can't separate the bands from the city.
Seasick was a great album and everybody who heard it loved it. But it was really in 1999 that Imperial Teen started getting more popular. They released the amazing second album, "What is Not To Love." They also had their hit song "Yoo Hoo" on the Jawbreaker soundtrack. It was sort of hard to to get away from that song that year. But I really loved that record. Just like Imperial Teen will always be tied to my memories of San Francisco, "What is Not To Love" will always be tied up with the year 1999. It is part of my own little soundtrack to that year and the end of the 90s. In 2002 I had moved to Hollywood. A couple members of the band also ended up down there and they released the album "On." They left their major label for the indie Merge. Both those first albums are now out of print. So it is up to Merge to do some little reissues for some essential ablums that nobody should really be without.
I am now thankfully back in San Francisco and Imperial Teen finally have a new album to give to us. "The Hair the TV the Baby and the Band" comes out today. It is nearing the end of the summer and the beginning of the new school year. Good albums are starting to pop up again and compete for the end of the year best of lists. This is sort of the perfect little pop album to finish up your summer with.
Imperial Teen is made up of Lynn Perko Truell on drums, Will Schwartz on guitar and vocals, Roddy Bottum on guitar and vocals, and Jone Stebbins on bass. But of course, they all sing on the album. Which is really one of the great things that makes them such a good band. The album title refers to what they have all been up to the last 5 years. There has been babies, hair salons, tv scores and that other little band called Hey Willpower. It really does not seem like it has been that long. But I guess a lot has changed in music in the last 5 years. But it is nice to know Imperial Teen still sound as good and tight as ever. They are still the Imperial Teen we all grew to love. I don't think I would really want them to change very much.
The album opens up with "Everything." Every time I listen to it, it keeps making me think of some Phil Spector produced girl group. But in that Imperial Teen sort of way. Some of these songs could have easily ended up on "What is Not To Love." "Shim Sham" is obviously the "Yoo Hoo" song on the new album. Very catchy and hard to get out of your head, once you have heard it a couple of times. "Sweet Potato" and "21st Century" would be my other favorite songs on the album. Imperial Teen albums are always like a little party put onto an album. You can really tell that these guys still all like each other and have a lot of fun recording albums together. Or maybe they just do a really good job making us think they are having fun. Whatever it is, it works. The vocals rotate back and forth between all the members on Imperial Teen albums. It really helps to create what they have created as that Imperial Teen sound. I am really glad that Imperial Teen is back. It is also nice that I can once again see them live at the places I have seen them so many times before. They are playing at Bottom of the Hill on 9/29 and at the Folsom Street Fair on 9/30.
also out today...
"Paris-Berlin" by Stereo Total
"Andorra" by Caribou
"Down Below It's Chaos" by Kinski
"Kala" by M.I.A.
"Planet of Ice" by Minus the Bear
"Eardrum" by Talib Kweli
"Challengers" by The New Pornographers
"Under the Black Light" by Rilo Kiley
"Places Like This" by Architecture in Helsinki