Fountains of Wayne brought life to my record collection – and death to my car stereo. This semi-tragic tale begins a few years ago when I finally decided to purchase a Fountains of Wayne disc after reading numerous reviews proclaiming the band’s indie-pop greatness. Instantly, I was smitten. These guys produce some of the loopiest, wittiest, and catchiest rock gems I’ve ever heard. They move effortlessly among musical styles and genres, and the songwriting duo of Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood ranks with the best rhymesters in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Some criticize FofW for being emotionally distant from their music, and I can’t disagree (they often employ a mock-serious tone reminiscent of David Byrne). But this doesn’t detract from their excellence. And it’s not like they can’t write beautiful, heartfelt songs (“Troubled Times” and “Valley Winter Song” are two that come to mind).
No, I’m fine with their emotional distance. My criticism pertains to their 2005 Out of State Plates double-disc set and a six-disc CD changer that had given me years of dutiful service in my Ford Focus. Having by this time become a rabid FofW fan, I pre-ordered Out of State Plates online for delivery on its release date. As soon as it arrived, I dashed to the aforementioned Focus and popped disc one into the player, eager to hear the first of 30 new FofW nuggets. Instead, my ears encountered a sickly drone redolent of a whale mating call I had once heard on a PBS special. The drone lasted a mere 9 or 10 seconds, then nothing. I pushed play. Nothing. I pushed eject. Nothing. I pushed next track. Nothing. I pushed eject again. Nothing. Thinking the disc had loaded improperly, I started pounding on the dash. Finally, it ejected.
Undeterred, I popped it in again – and, to borrow a musical term, experienced a refrain of the mating call, et al. More pounding and another ejection. Stupidly, I proceeded to insert disc two. One throbbing fist later, I managed to coerce the second disc out.
Must be a bad pressing, I surmised. And not wanting to wait for the roundtrip journey of returning Out of State Plates through the mail, I hurried off to buy a second copy at the local record store.
The same infuriating series of events happened again – only this time my pounding was met with indifference by the CD. I finally had to resort to prying the disc out with a sharp implement from my glove box (a nail file, I think).
I gouged the disc, lodged it more deeply in there, and – with a sharp SNAP! – broke off a part integral to the operation of the CD player. Now, I couldn’t play ANY music let alone Out of State Plates.
But I’ll tell ya what could be heard from inside my car: Fountains of Cursing.
Any way, I hold no grudges against the Wayners, despite being out two CDs and a car stereo (though I’d gladly accept reimbursement from their management).
Here’s a favorite tune from each of their four releases (and fortunately, you don’t have to play them on your car stereo):
[MP3] Fountains of Wayne – Leave the Biker (from Fountains of Wayne)[MP3] Fountains of Wayne – Red Dragon Tattoo (from Utopia Parkway)[MP3] Fountains of Wayne – Little Red Light (from Welcome Interstate Managers)[MP3] Fountains of Wayne – The Girl I Can’t Forget (from Out of State Plates)Buy Fountains of WayneVisit Fountains of Wayne official website