By WILL STANDISH
This week, rock connoisseur Will Standish ‘14 brings you his pick for the perfect album to start off a summer even more bodacious than the last.
It’s the end of another semester, you’ve survived your final exams, packed your bags, and as you kick back and prepare for what promises to be a super-fly, radical summer (people totally still say that. I’m not out of touch, you’re out of touch), you’re probably looking for the right music to kick off the season with style and panache. And if you’re jonesing for some excellent summer music, you need not look any further than Stuck on Nothing, the debut album from Philadelphia-based power-pop outfit Free Energy.
Released in May 2010 and produced by LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, Stuck on Nothing is 45 minutes of sunny, feel-good, old school rock. From the first line of the album’s opening track “Free Energy,” the band states their intention and philosophy–“we’re breaking out this time/ making out with the wind/ and I’m so disconnected, I’m never gonna check back in–over strains of electric guitar and cowbell (yes, cowbell); Free Energy are here to have a good time. The song is the perfect soundtrack to cruising around with the windows down on a summer day.
The album only gets catchier from here. The second track, “Dream City”, is dangerously singable and utilizes a horn section like a champion. The album’s third track, and the first single from the album, “Bang Pop” will be aggressively stuck in your head for weeks. And you will be glad that it is.
As a band, Free Energy wears their influences on their sleeves. Elements of some of the best and most diverse hard rock bands from the 70s can be heard in their songs. Bands as diverse as Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, The Cars, and especially glam rock legends T.Rex can be heard in some form on this album–and on a side note, if you’ve never listened to T.Rex, you need to drop whatever you’re doing and find yourself a copy of their 1974 album Electric Warrior right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait here.
Tracks such as “Bad Stuff” and “Light Love” demonstrate the band’s devotion to the rock of yesteryear (the band has previously issued their album on both cassette and eight-track tape via their website), without ever coming off as cloying or gimmicky like so many other “retro-rock” acts. Free Energy is a modern band with modern sensibilities playing the music that makes sense to them.
From the opening song, to the bitter-sweet electric piano driven closer “Wild Winds,” Stuck on Nothing is a catchy, fun, light-hearted rock album perfect for long, cool summer days. And with a new album set to drop later this year, Free Energy can be expected to, as their obvious influence and the Cars lead singer Ric Ocasek once sang, “Let the good times roll.”