Bands like Dot Dash and Title Tracks have ushered in a new power pop golden age in this harDCore-linked city. Like the Dischord heritage that guides a few of the fellows in Dot Dash, John Davis has moved in a new direction from his time in Q and Not U as leader of Title Tracks in recent years. The band makes music closer in spirit to that of The Smithereens, Chisel, or Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and yet the punch is decidedly punk-y, nowhere more so than on the harder numbers on superb new album Long Dream, out Friday on Ernest Jenning.
If the one-two jab of opener "Low Cool" and "I Don't Need To Know" signal that things are edging closer to the power-chord nirvana of bands like Shoes, The Rubinoos, or early Cheap Trick, the Elliot Smith-on-a-Beatles-tip-vibe of "Empty Heavens" adds a whole lot of other colors to the Title Tracks paint-box. Elsewhere, the absolutely superb "Protect Yourself" marries a Byrds-y hook with a near-shoegaze sense of dynamics. Fans of solo Bob Mould releases should grove on this one even as Davis and crew -- Michael Cotterman (bass) and Elmer Sharp (drums) -- push things in unexpected directions, the familiar brand of Title Tracks-stamped power pop becoming so lyrical here. Stuff like "Circle You" rocks in welcomed ways, but the chiming "When You Come Back" charms as a sort of updating of what R.E.M. did early on, the cryptic lyrics and marked obscurity replaced with ringing confidence and harmonies that soar in subtle ways. Long Dream closes on the all-too-brief "False Awakening", a near-rootsy riff-rocker that manages to simultaneously evoke memories of Husker Du at their most accessible and The Plimsouls at their perpetually-catchy best.
Long Dream isn't a radical rewrite of the Title Tracks formula. Still, it's remarkably consistent and inspired throughout and it's the sort of thing that will send chills up the spine of any listener who's a fan of this sort of chord-happy indie-pop. John Davis has served up some of his sharpest material here and bandmates Sharp and Cotterman hold things down with finesse behind him. Now is the time to catch up with Title Tracks as this stormin' new one is set to expand their fanbase a whole lot more.
Title Tracks is playing a record release show at Comet Ping Pong Friday, November 18. You won't see me there bopping my head along to this infectious power pop 'cause I'm out of town on business but I can't wait to see the band on another D.C. date soon.
[Photo: Christopher Grady via the band's Facebook page]