Mar 032008

Possibly the most overlooked band of the ‘90s has made its triumphant return. The Elevator Drops are back with the release of OK Commuter, a flexing, grooving, power pop gem. True to form, TED create a swirling haze of sonic joy that is both classic and innovative and, as with previous releases, completely beneath the radar.



To re-cap: Boston’s The Elevator Drops birthed their Devo meets Zeppelin meets Bowie future glam pop in 1996 with the release of Pop Bus and followed up in ’97 with People Mover. Both are stellar, grandiose albums that feel as if they could be released next year. I compare them to powerhouse acts like Tool, Smashing Pumpkins, and Radiohead (no, I’m not joking) in that, at the core they are a great band with solid songs, but possess a gift for using production to flush out a number, elevating it with their unique sonic signature. TED was on Time Bomb records, probably a major reason for their obscurity.  Now they re-emerged on San Francisco indie label Plastigas. The Drops were able to parlay a small cult audience with the energy and overwhelming volume of their live shows.  In the 10-year hiatus they kept working with several side/solo projects including The Rentals and the excellent, but mostly discarded, The Texas Governor.

OK Commuter sees the return of Goolkasian (bass, vocals) a.k.a. Tone Source 1, Garvy J (guitar) a.k.a. Tone Source 2, and FITTS (drums) a.k.a. Tone Source 3 in top form. They continue the tradition of incredible drumming, powerful guitar, cool bass lines, and hooky synth loops piled on top of each other in an elaborate web, which in the end produces undeniable power rockers.

Despite their notorious bombast they open OK Commuter with the slow, almost yearning “Hello,” but this serves as a build-up to full form. The next song, “Shake It” continues the upward momentum with more of the pop nuance they are renowned for. Replete with comping piano lines, hazy guitar, do-do-do-do’s and electro back beat that builds until a real drum kit takes over, “Shake It” glimpses the modern Drops. “Jules” begins the heavy grandeur and the album completely takes off, never looking back by the clever changing “Catastrophe.” The hook-laden “Christmas Song” transitions from an acoustic intro to catchy synth pop Рa la The Cars Рand slides gracefully into heavy guitar and back displaying all their talents at once.

Bottom line: Do your ears a favor and find a way to own this album. Do your hipster friends a service by being the first one on the block to blow your windows out with this album and sing the well deserved praises of The Elevator Drops.

Article originally appeared in REAX #22, March 2008

“Be a Lemonhead / Beautiful Junkie” from 94′s Pop Bus

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