Quick Spins

Fountains Of Wayne / Sky Full Of Holes

This week, I’m taking another look at reviews I wrote of various Adam Schlesinger projects, when my Quick Spins column ran in The Kenosha News. Adam’s recent passing due to the pandemic has really impacted me, so I’d really like to be a part of people discovering what made him such a special guy.


Fountains Of Wayne

Sky Full Of Holes (Yep Roc)

The guys from Fountains Of Wayne sure do take their own sweet time releasing new music. Although Adam Schlesinger often keeps busy scoring T.V. shows and movies, it’s been nearly four years since the band produced Traffic and Weather. While that release left critics underwhelmed, their latest should allay any fears that they are in a downward spiral.

If you only know Fountains Of Wayne by their breakthrough single “Stacy’s Mom,” then you’ve only seen a small potion of what this band can do. Their speciality is writing clever character vignettes that somehow manage to describe an entire lifetime in a quirky, four-minute pop song.

Best among this batch is “Richie and Ruben,” a tale of two friends who go into business together, without two ounces of business acumen between them. Another is “Action Hero,” the account of a decent regular guy who gets some unfortunate news about medical test results. Lightening up the mood is “A Road Song,” in which singer Chris Collingwood admits his song is just as cliche as Journey’s “Faithfully,” but he’s going to sing it anyway.

What I really like about this band is that with each track, you almost feel as if you’re listening to a close friend describe his most important relationships. It’s as intimate and personal as music can get. Too bad this doesn’t happen more than once every four years.

Quick Spins

Big Stir Singles: The Fifth Wave

Various Artists

Big Stir Singles: The Fifth Wave (Big Stir)

Way back in the prehistoric 1990’s, cool record labels used to distribute sampler CD’s of their artists to record stores. They were usually in a stack at the front of the store, with other freebies like stickers and band flyers. Cool indie labels like Sub Pop, Mammoth and Enigma, used this as a marketing tool, to expose the music-buying public to their roster. In a move that puts a smile on my face, Big Stir Records is reviving the tradition.

Volume five in this series boasts a whopping twenty-three tracks, almost guaranteeing something for everyone. The including bands are old school, in that these tunes were inspired by classic guitar bands ranging from The Beatles to ELO to Teenage Fanclub and back again.

The GoAllTherWays open in glorious jangle with “Silly Girl,” before Mod Hippie lets loose with “Saturday Show,” rooting in equal parts Matthew Sweet and The Monkees. How can you not be energized by that? The Tor Guides bring the California sunshine with the buoyant “Just A Smile,” and The Forty Nineteens set their hyper-pop sights atop a reworked Bo Diddley beat, that’ll make you wanna get up and dance.

The stunner of the collection is the beautiful “Summer Blue” by Lannie Flowers. With enough clever chord changes and soothing harmonies to make Collingwood & Schlesinger blush, it just may be the best song I’ve heard in a couple of years. Wait, scratch that “may be.” It is.