Hop on Pop is proud to release its sophomore effort, “Chicken on a Bicycle,” available February 16th via veteran Chicago indie-rock institution Spade Kitty Records.
Building on the critical acclaim of 2004’s debut album “As Drawn by Ethan, Age 2,” songwriter Todd Leiter-Weintraub and his motley crew of sonic dilettantes return with a new set of ten songs, which emphasize a brand new focal point for the project. Whereas the success of “Ethan” was largely due to sprinkling bits and pieces of Todd’s myriad influences into the pre-conceived context of band and arrangement, the second album takes an entirely different approach.
“Chicken on a Bicycle” wipes the palette clean, and plunges whole-heartedly into multiple genres over the course of 30 minutes, without regard for consistent structure, arrangement or lineup. The band veers from drum machine to steel guitar, from acoustic strum to electric feedback, from a solo spotlight to a four person band, from melody and harmony to dissonance and distortion. The album opens with “Here,” a terse foray of catchy electronica reminiscent of new wave, specifically Devo. “Sheila of the Worms” highlights the acoustic singer-songwriter in Todd, while throwing a nod or two to Gram Parsons and the latter-day Byrds in the arrangement. “Tortured Artist” mimics the debut’s band-centric indie-rockisms, whereas murder ballad “C’mon Angel” pays homage to the likes of Johnny Cash. The album then navigates from dynamic rocker to lilting love song, from midtempo sing-a-long to soldier’s soliloquy, from a rockabilly instrumental to another burst of ambitious electronica.
In the hands of a less-accomplished and focused songwriter, the results might be discombobulating, and ultimately too ambitious, but Todd emerges as truly a pioneer; an artist who absolutely refuses to be genre-fied. He retains a consistent tone and mood throughout the album, one of a determined artist with a passion for all types of music, and his songs are rife with truly personal lyrics that speak to the depth of his experiences.
“Chicken on a Bicycle” is the culmination of Hop on Pop’s singular vision. As Todd only hinted at in the debut, his uncanny ability to act as a pop chameleon has become even more accentuated and unique. In an era when music is too often streamlined and compartmentalized, Todd is refreshingly expansive, radically inclusive and jarringly unpredictable, drawing from all methods of the musical madness that has influenced him over the course of a 20-year career as a songwriter. “Chicken on a Bicycle” is the perfect tribute to eclecticism, and one that a music lover of every genre can enjoy.