Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Tommy Keene's been making records for a really long time. Some have been better than others, but none have been bad. Two, 1986's "Songs From The Film" and 1989's "Based On Happy Times" are legendary in the power pop world, the latter featuring "When Our Vows Break," a duet with Jules Shear that over 20 years later, still remains in heavy rotation here at Casa de Quack.

Keene's releases over the last decade though have suffered from being a bit same-y. I hear the same problem on "Isolation Party," "Crashing The Ether," and "In The Late Bright," three records released from 1999-2009, that I hear with Matthew Sweet's last few. The records sound like they should, but it seems like they were built around the sound and not the songs. Sweet's newest, "Modern Art" continues that frustrating trend, but Keene's most recent "Behind The Parade," released in August, breaks it.

This is Keene's best record since the aforementioned "Based On Happy Times."

It's all here! The big guitars, the hooks, the harmonies...and, best of all...the songs.

This is by far one of the best power pop records I've heard in a very long time. The first single, "Deep Six Saturday" which opens the records is a monster. That will reel you right in. But "Behind The Parade" doesn't let up. It may throw you a bit when you get to track 5, "La Castana," an instrumental that sounds more like Brian Eno meets Brian Wilson than what Keene had just handed us in tracks 1-4. But when it was over, I wanted to play it over again. It's a perfect curve ball that sets up the second half of this fantastic record.

"Deep Six Saturday" is below. Give it a listen.


Kevin M said...

I bought this when it came out a few weeks ago. Like you, I've been a fan since Song From the Film (love his Kill Your Sons cover). I agree, this one is his best in a long time.

Anonymous said...

GREAT REVIEW! i've done the artwork for this cd, and Tommy's last few for Second Motion, and since i kind of know him i feel kinda biased, but i think this is a great record.....thanks! jim

Troy said...

What a great song! Thanks for sharing that. Will definitely check that out.


Thanks Sal.

If I want to hear more Tommy Keene is this the album to start with or is one of the older better?

Sal Nunziato said...

Nothing wrong with starting here. Jayessemm.

allen vella said...

Excellent..right in my ballpark. reminded me a bit of Smithereens, and thats a good thing. Where'd this guy come from?....sorry to say, my first time hearing him..thanks for the turn on..hope all is well over there


Got it -- Say what we will about iTunes it sure makes buying music easy.

Thanks sal!

Jeff Matthews said...

Hmmm.... "Back Again (Try)" blew me away when it came out in what 82 or 83 but for some reason I was really disappointed by Songs from the Film (I can't remember why now). Haven't listened to him since - my bad - will check it out and catch up on last 20 years of his career!

Anything Should Happen said...

"Some have been better than others, but none have been bad."

Couldn't have put it better as always Sal!

Great return to form.

It is his best album since Based On Happy Times and as Sal mentions, the masterpiece is Songs From The Film.

Lots of people throw around Power Pop Classic around, Songs From The Film is that.

No 7 in the Shake Some Action Top 200 list, I'd have it Top 5.

A walk in the woods said...

Sal, here's where you really add value in the blog world. You have a good sense of when to share some MP3s with us (usually as a special mix or a live show you can't buy) and then when to just encourage all us music fans to GO BUY THE THING to keep guys as cool as Tommy in business.

Frankly, that is worth a lot more than me than some sites out there that just link to the whole album with nary a comment. Yeah, you get it free, if you want to go that route, but your way is better. Your review got me interested (I've become a fan just since 'Crashing The Ether,' actually) and you can bet I'll be buying it from my local record shop.

Keep up the great work.

p.s. cool video. You really get a sense of why a guy like Keene keeps doing it. I mean, he's on the fringes of the fringe sales-wise I'm sure. He could probably make more being an accountant. But I'll bet he does it b/c he HOPES cool-lookin' people like in the video will just simply crank it and have a party with this in the mix. That is pretty cool to me.