The Subversive Sounds of Love
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2000, Volume 7, #10
Written by John Metzger
One of the best (and worst) aspects of this position, is finding fresh, young bands about which to either rave or rant. The latter, of course, comes true quite often, considering that a great majority of the music that falls into this category and subsequently ends up crossing my desk is best left unheard and unmentioned. Let's face it — there's a reason no one has heard of most these independent outfits, and one can only hope that their members have not quit their day jobs. Of course, there also are those that strike a personal chord within me, and these are the ones I choose to share with the world. Of these, scant few will ever really make it in the big, competitive, and often unfair music industry, but you can't blame me for trying to make a difference, right?
Now that I have your attention, I'd like to direct you towards the debut from Chicago's Frisbie. The Subversive Sounds of Love is certainly one of the strongest independent releases I've heard, and as it turns out, I'm not alone in making that statement. It's been just a few short months since the album was released, and already it's made a quite a splash among the purveyors of underground rock. Journalists and radio stations across the country have jumped on board to praise the group — and for once the hype is justified.
Frisbie draws largely from the tremendous legacy of Big Star. As such, the group's songs combine the melodic pop of The Beatles with the heavy-handed thunder of The Who and the tight-knit harmonic luster of The Byrds. Yet, while this is the core of Frisbie's sound, this doesn't even begin to describe the terrain that the band covers on The Subversive Sounds of Love.
Much like Wilco did with Summerteeth, Frisbie moves pop music forward by brightly reflecting its past, and each song on The Subversive Sounds of Love radiates the albums that each of the group's members have heard over the years. Where a song starts is often not where it will conclude, and each accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of being better than its predecessor.
Imagine taking The Beatles' Revolver, Rubber Soul, and Yellow Submarine (masterpieces, all) and rolling them into one, and then layering all your other favorite artists on top of that. Momentito revs up The Byrds' rendition of Mr. Tambourine Man; Neil Young and Yes are merged with Byrds-ian harmonies on Wrecking Ball; and on Shine, Frisbie mutates a folksy Bob Dylan-ish groove into a soaring Radiohead-style ballad before concluding in a flourish of spaced-out, Animals-era Pink Floyd.
Heed these words: Frisbie is a band that is going places — and quickly. The only question that remains is how big it will get. Standing in its way, of course, are the many commercial radio stations that insist on filling the airwaves with generic music that panders to the mentality of mass consumption over artistic quality. Nevertheless, Radiohead managed to overcome these obstacles, and to some degree so have The Jayhawks, Wilco, and Fastball, proving that there is a market out there for intelligent power pop — if only talented bands could reach it consistently. Therefore, with a little luck, Frisbie will find the audience that it so befittingly deserves.
The Subversive Sounds of Love is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box