1997 Capitol Records
I know, I know…this was a platinum album in 1998 and the song Sex & Candy was all over the radio for what seemed like forever.
If you own this album or ever owned this album, I have a question for you: Can you name any other song from this album other than Sex & Candy?
If you can, you’re one of the very few. A sad fact because what this is, quite frankly, is one of the very best guitar pop albums ever recorded. John Wozniak’s songwriting covers so much ground on this disc from hard-edged guitar rock to subdued folky stylings, all held together with tasty hooks and infectious vocal melodies.
Leadoff track Poppies is one of my faves, kicking things off with some perfectly distorted guitar bouncing and hiccuping along under Wozniak’s melodic and chill vocals. The aforementioned Sex & Candy is a great song, and I’ll never forget seeing these guys perform it on the David Letterman Show. It was an absolute surprise hit, and at the end of the performance Wozniak seemed to have this knowing grin on his face…that this could very well be their 15 minutes and they might as well enjoy it.
Beyond this there is a treasure trove of good times. Saint Joe On The School Bus was the follow-up hit that never was, Sex & Candy‘s popularity making it virtually impossible to follow-up (i.e. Backwater by Meat Puppets). A Cloak of Elvenkind is another of my favorites with its lush mix and almost lullabye melody. Then there’s Sherry Fraser, yet another chill number that shows these guys’ hooks are just as strong on slower, folkier numbers as they are on the rockers.
Winding up the disc are one of each, The Shadow of Seattle and The Vampires of New York, and really I could list every song on the disc as a favorite because truth is I’ve listened to this disc beginning to end so many times I can’t begin to count. One of those rare discs you can just listen through to, and an example of what great guitar pop sounds like. Call them alternative if you want, but it just doesn’t matter.
Like my friend Peter Gutierrez told me in high school…there’s only two kinds of music in this world – good and bad.
Rating: 5 out of 5