Title: The Tape
Artist: Sondre Lerche
Album: Phantom Punch
There's this cadre of talented power pop artists that have received a modest amount of critical acclaim, little to no media attention and almost no commercial success. At the epicenter is Jason Faulkner, the former Jellyfish member who seems to exist almost in complete obscurity despite having legions of fans. His friend and collaborator Brendan Benson would likely be leading a similar existence if he hadn't formed The Raconteurs with Jack
Black (oops) White in 2005. Michael Penn is somewhere in that mix but he's married to Aimee Mann and his brother is Sean Penn so it's hard to stay undercover in that company. Prior to 2003, Fountains of Wayne were one of the best examples but "Stacy's Mom" put them on a map they never really wanted to be on and they've been working like mad to dodge that spotlight ever since. Then there's a guy like Mike Viola, who opens for these obscure artists—the ultimate in obscurity!
I'm not sure exactly where Sondre Lerche lies on that spectrum exactly. I've been to Lerche's hometown of Bergen, Norway and, while I found it to be spectacularly beautiful, it's really not the kind of place you get discovered. But when you're this talented (and a little lucky, I suppose), the world will find you eventually. Now living off and on in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, I'm sure his dance card is full. Plus he's now on a Norwegian postage stamp!
(As an aside, I first heard of Sondre Lerche when one of my friends—who exactly I cannot recall—said my music reminded him/her of Sondre Lerche. Of course, I had to immediately scope out the competition and in true Frank fashion, I fell in love with music so similar to my own! : )
I had a hard time picking a song from this album—there are so many I like—but "The Tape" has some qualities I really dig. First of all, I love the saturated guitar that opens the piece. Once past the intro, we're met with the syncopated groove of the verse with that driving snare placement:
This type of groove is a lot of fun, especially at 176 beats per minute, but I think it's all just a device to set up the pre-chorus at 0:31, which suddenly opens up the song by putting the snare on the backbeat where we normally expect it. This section of the song is strong enough to serve as the chorus but Lerche takes the song to greater heights by pushing it into overdrive at 0:39 and delivering a proper chorus featuring that fantastic rising melody at 0:44 which sets up the break at 0:49. If you're not hooked at that point, there's really no hope for you. (j/k) (but not really)