Monday, October 18, 2010

I'd Love to Turn You On #20: The Tickets – The Tickets

I came to discover the little gem of a record that is The Tickets by way of their Brewery label founder, Walter Clevenger. Clevenger and his band the Dairy Kings made some fine Bakersfield inspired pop records in the late 1990s, so by association, I figured his taste as a label head would be in a similar style. I figured right, and have been enjoying the Tickets ever since.
Mainly active in the mid to late 1980s in Southern California, this quartet released but a single, followed by a cassette entitled The Tickets Make a Record in 1990. It is these archive recordings, with a bit of keyboard embellishment from Clevenger, that make up their lone CD release. Lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Bryan Shaddix offers up a treasure trove of charming guitar pop. Like most all power pop, the classic Beatle-y and '60s guitar combo influences are quite easy to spot in the Tickets, but the group's energy and fresh approach scuttle any formulaic negatives. All the tracks boast any number of hooks: fuzzy guitars, roaming bass, nimble drum fills, and choruses buoyed by the band's vocal harmonies. Not all is sunshine and light; the song "Dream About Me" displays a haunting, Searchers like melancholy, while "I Don't Belong" is pretty lyrically downbeat, portraying the singer as a ragged outsider.
Several of Shaddix's songs are in the vein of character sketches, no doubt owing not a little to the likes of Nick Lowe or Squeeze. Indeed, like Lowe in his days with Rockpile, the Tickets favor a touch of rockabilly in their tunes. "Way Down Here" is a definite twangy stand out, the kind of thing the Beat Farmers also reveled in during their time. Reference points aside, the Tickets' originality does shine through. Particularly, Shaddix's nicely weathered voice adds a new dimension to the usual boy-girl lyrical concerns. "Heartland" is another showcase song on the album. Sporting a great jangly riff, Shaddix pulls off the rare achievement of penning an earnest, metaphor based love song without succumbing to dreaded sentimentality.
Power pop like The Tickets, and the kind of bands that craft them are important to the landscape of rock n roll. As with other kinds of genre music - trad folk, prog rock, singer songwriter - new bands making a fresh, personal take on familiar styles renews long-established legacies. The future is brightened. Certainly do not pick up The Tickets looking for a tortured confessional, nor any avant-garde fireworks. But certainly do indulge if you like well crafted rockin' poppin' songs that convey a basic, enthusiastic joy. And while you’re at it, check out the 2010 releases by the Posies, Hoodoo Gurus, Teenage Fanclub, Tommy Keene... and the Apple label reissues from the late, great Badfinger.


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