There are a few red flags that make me avoid records or, if you will, to judge a book by its cover. First, solo records in a punk or garage world. While the last few years have wiped this misconception away in many respects, I’m still hesitant when I don’t know the name coming in. Second, a record with a title like Cola Kids Hanging Out in the Bubble Dome. It’s too long, not memorable, and…well…a bit dumb. Maybe it’s an inside joke I don’t get. Anyway, I put these generalizations to rest and picked up this 7” release from Mr. Adam Widener (formerly of Plexi 3, Bare Wires, The Zygoteens, and The Jet Set. My first impression was surprise: for a solo thing, this is neither a one-man band nor minimalist project.
Widener plays all the instruments on the four songs here, singing and playing bass (as he did with previous bands), but he also strums up some mean guitar and pounds at the skins. The EP is straight-up, traditional rock with influence from garage, surf, power pop, and a bit of New Wave. It blends the styles into friendly and pleasing pop, built around melodies and catchy guitar hooks. Side A has a peppy, somewhat offbeat attitude to it, befitting of the record title. The titular track actually starts out Side B.
Widener’s songs feature prominent guitar lines at their core, influenced by surf without fitting neatly into that category (though the final cut, “CCMMYYKK,” has a definite surf line running throughout). Standouts are “Crime in the City” and “Cola Kids Hanging Out in the Bubble Dome,” and the style is weird-kid pop—the kind of tone that New Wave music thrived on, without bring in any of those silly synthesizers. It’s bouncy, fun, and not particularly deep lyric-wise and should appeal to the offbeat among us.
6.5 / 10
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