posted Friday Sep 15th, 2006

Portland, Oregon's Nice Boys have been plugging away at capturing the perfect slice of pre-punk 70's power pop for the past couple years, and as their debut album on Birdman shows, all the trouble was worth it. Obviously obsessed with feather-haired power pop of the early variety (think Raspberries, Badfinger, and the Scruffs), Terry Six, Gabe, Colin and Alan have crafted a formidable record loaded with all the valid ingredients, and songs that stand up by themselves and lock into your brain immediately. Full production like this is usually the kiss of death in this modern world of overused studio alchemy, but this album has the songs and hooks to use it to it's full advantage. There's more than a handful of classics here that rise to the top, and for a record to sound this complete with only ten songs really says something, too. After some tepid reactions to their debut single on Discourage, the Nice Boys have come full circle and put forth a truly epic piece of pop music that should convert the skeptics without much trouble. Even channeling the melodic mid-tempo styling of the Beatles at times, this record steadily straddles the line between imminent underground sensation status and even possible bona-fide teenage advocacy. Although not leaning into the Quick's territory as much as the Cuts have been lately, you can still see the kinship between the two bands' sounds and get a grasp on the direction Birdman Records is going with both of these breadwinners in their stable. The album's lead-off track "Teenage Nights," cleverly pulls the impudent stuttering choruses of the Records' hit "Teenarama," intertwined with nervy guitar riffs and backup vocals that sound so familiar, you'll know how well-versed the Nice Boys are at their game. The balance they manage between the quiet and loud parts of each song really shows a deep understanding of the essentials of "pop" and should thoroughly exasperate those heavily inclined toward it, and surely nauseate the rest. Those looking for the next version of the Exploding Hearts (Terry is sadly the only surviving member) may find themselves either turned off or confused, but the matured songwriting process is working itself out just fine to these ears, and with nary a pair of pink denim jeans in sight. The album closes with a song called "Cheryl Anne (Carry On)" that mercifully rocks you back to reality in a haze of satisfaction. This carries on, only to break into one last blast of Wally Bryson-style guitar before running out into the night for more adventures with the wrong kind of girls in the fleeting days of Summer 2006. Check out some songs and a free download of their first single HERE, pick up the album HERE, and catch them live this Saturday in LA at Spaceland.