[ rock/pop ]
During an interview back in 1967, Pete Townshend invented the term “power pop” while trying to describe the rush of sweet, catchy, melodious rock ’n’ roll he heard coming from his British contemporaries. It was a sound to which The Who was adding a tough punk edge and cleverly complex lyricism.
From there we got “hard power pop” — a gruffer, scruffier subgenre and though the Brits did it best through the new wave ’70s, the sound became a U.S. band brand with the roughly charming Raspberries. The Colonies solidified their position when The Replacements sang about waitresses in the sky with weird harmonies and crunchy guitars. Later came Guided by Voices, and so on.
Now, with Let’s Get You Somewhere Else, you can count South Philly’s Luther as worthy heirs to the lineage. Just out on Chunksaah Records, the band’s debut album abounds with ebullience and wise-ass lyrics to go with a host of memorable melodies. And it’s got a great pedigree. Produced by Bouncing Souls guitarist Pete Steinkopf and mastered by Nick Zampiello and Rob Gonnella (they mix for Against Me!), Let’s Get You Somewhere Else has no choice but to be a new power-pop classic.
“Jimmy Eat World is a really heavy van-listening band,” says Nick Harris, the singer/guitarist who, along with guitarist/singer Phil Warner, writes the skeleton framework to each Luther tune. “I’m a huge Guided by Voices fan, too. Their records are a huge deal to me, especially Isolation Drills and Universal Truths and Cycles. Plus, I think we all grew up listening to music that can be loosely classified as ‘punk’ for the most part. I don’t exclusively listen to the Ramones or the Misfits anymore, but it would be erroneous to say that those bands had zero impact on the way the music we write sounds.”
Luther started 20 months ago, its members having previous experience in acoustic projects and thrash-punk acts. “Luther sorta picked up where all of our past bands collectively left off,” says Harris.
Bassist Greg Karlowitsch traces the band’s creation back a decade. “Nick, Andy [Clarke, drummer] and I met in school,” he says of the trio’s days at Steinert High in Hamilton, N.J. “Nick and Andy played in pop-punk bands while I played in metal and hardcore punk acts. There were never really any rivalries because of the difference in genres. We would occasionally play shows together and it would be quite awesome.” By the time each future Luther-an moved to Philadelphia, the guys kept bumping into each other at shows and through mutual punk friends. This led to friendship, which led to the band, which led to their debut EP, Siblings & Sevens, released last year.
“We’re family at this point,” says Harris of his constantly touring band. “You spend enough time locked in a box with someone, you know. … We got into a van wreck about a year ago in Chicago that really set us back. The van was totaled, people were in the hospital and we had to cancel the rest of a tour — a bad scene, really.
“You know what, though? When all was said and done we ended up way closer than we all were before the van busted up,” he figures. Harris documented the crash and its aftereffects in “The Concrete Sound,” a standout track on Let’s Get You Somewhere Else.
The rest of the album features stories of wronged romance, like “Backyard Fence Appeal” (“Ah, that’s the all-too-familiar story of boy meets girl then boy falls for girl but misses and smashes his face off the concrete leaving his whole projected world shattered, along with his teeth,” says Harris) and lost friendships, like “An American Gothic” (“No matter how close, you have to accept that connections with certain people have expiration dates,” according, again, to Harris).
Let’s Get You Somewhere Else’s most anthemic songs speak to both the pangs of being young at heart and the sense of calm humility that only maturity can bring. While “A Quiet Stretch of Weather” is Harris’ catchiest, fastest, “kiss-my-ass-and-go-fuck-yourself” song, “The Farmer and Her Wife” is a cool plea for patience.
“Patience with people, and yourself,” says Harris. “I think that in today’s world of instant gratification, which I’m definitely guilty of being used to, the art of being able to work and wait for something, or in this case someone, has been completely lost. I miss it.”
With the release of Let’s Get You Somewhere Else and a busy tour schedule with The Bouncing Souls, Luther may not have to wait for any sort of gratification.
Fri., Oct. 19, 8 p.m., $8, with Static Radio NJ, The Arteries, Scarier Area and Idiot Kid, The Fire, 412 W. Girard Ave., 267-671-9298, iourecords.com/thefire.