What has the power-pop/garage-rock band What The...? been up to lately? You Have No Idea!
Really, you have no idea. It's the name of the second full-length CD release from the Atlanta-based trio, due out April 7th. And, much like trying to describe the band itself, it's hard to put together words that really give you insight into the non-homogenized, roots-oriented (yet fearlessly original) rock that What The...? has made their signature sound for the past five years. In case you're wondering, now would be a good time to stop reading and start listening to You Have No Idea!, and draw your own conclusions. Or, at least take a listen to track 8 ("Everything Is Fine") and bask in the afterglow of the rockin' tuba solo.
Still here? Okay, then you get the benefit of learning more about the new CD from the fun, quirky band that Ellen Chait Olhsson calls, "The offspring of The Beatles and Green Day." What The...? may have grown up a little since their eponymously titled debut disc in 2003, but everything on You Have No Idea remains consistent to the vibe that the trio established early on: raucous guitars, thundering drums, and passionate voices singing in close harmony. What The...? offers a sound that's familiar to any fan of British invasion rock and power pop, yet maintains a sense of fun and irreverence, never getting trapped in the mire of taking themselves too seriously. You won't find any self-pitying whining here, even in the songs that tackle topics like love (and love lost).
You Have No Idea spans the realm of influences absorbed by drummer Spyder Davis, bassist/vocalist Lyle Bufkin, and guitarist Lee Flier. The first track, "Theme From What The...?", sets a frantic pace that Flier describes as "All the rock you need, in under a minute!" Bufkin penned the next track, "Listen To Me", as a rallying cry for anyone who's sick of pretentious would-be hipsters. Track 3, "Ball Is In Your Court", features a soaring Hammond organ by guest keyboardist Joey Huffman (Soul Asylum, Georgia Satellites, Drivin N Cryin) that integrates perfectly over the Petty-esque vibe of the tune.
Track five takes What The...? in a different direction, adding a horn section to round out this Motown-inspired ditty. If you're a fan of harmony vocals, "I'm So Glad" takes the angst of a loved one's indifference and drowns it in so many voices, the band's recorder crashed while making this tune (true story). And, as referenced above, "Everything Is Fine", really may be the first rock tune that highlights that most rocking of instruments, the tuba.
On "Better Him Than Me", you get a glimpse of Spyder Davis' god-like drum skills along with his talents as a lead vocalist, with fun vocal interplay between Davis and Bufkin. Flier discards all the prejudices of what a "girl guitarist" is supposed to sound like, opting instead for a huge arena-rock vibe that channels the essence of Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, and George Harrison. The album ends with a Flier composition, "Nothing Left to Dream", a possibly-sad tale of maybe-requited love, with a lush Mellotron from Huffman that will knock you out, or at least rock you out.
So, that's it. If you haven't started listening to You Have No Idea yet, we'll assume you like our writing, and we're flattered. But the proof is in the pudding... or, more appropriately, in the little 1's and 0's that make up the CD. Put it on! Until you listen... you have no idea!
- Jeff Klopmeyer
Lyle Bufkin - Bass, Vocals
Lee Flier - Guitar, Vocals
Jim "Spyder" Davis - Drums, Vocals
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS:
Joey Huffman - Piano, Organ, Mellotron
L.A. Tuten - Tuba
Bob Lewis - Trumpet, Trombone
Laurent Oget - Saxophone
Recorded and Mixed by Lee Flier at Radio Flier Studios, Atlanta, Georgia
Mastering: Bob Olhsson, Nashville, Tennessee