By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
Teenage Folklore was a good starting point, but Too Much Television, despite the sluggish and confusing title, reveals a band in full creative flower. Marek's songwriting has grown by leaps and bounds as he's gained a greater mastery of melodic development. Harris also contributes two originals, which offer a rawer but hookish contrast to Marek's material. The band trots out a full range of dynamics to put together their deft arrangements, flinging power-pop styles up against thick keyboard chordings and the odd metallic crunch in the guitars while Moore's drums drive all over the place with a gusto and invention rarely heard any more on the instrument.
"To me," says Marek, "there's just no imagination to go into a studio, roll the tape and say, 'Make us sound like our live set.' Big whoop. I'd rather use our imaginations and pull out all the little pieces."
Rocket Park pulls out all the stops on "Bagels to Bangor," the kind of song that really could be a monster smash-hit single if the world was at all configured to allow such blasts of melodic delight to catch its collective ear anymore. Marek's song can be neatly divided into little sections, with sprightly tunes pushing their way to the unbelievably catchy chorus: "Doo doo doo doo doo doo/Doo doo doo/I want to eat bagels in Bangor with you." The band is practically skipping and running to keep up with the pure joy of the song, with Moore's demonic fills pushing things on harder and harder. Eventually something gives, and Thompson arrives with an extended guitar solo that's as engaging as the vocal melody.
"That was a song where the title came to me first," explains Marek. "I got married last year, and for our honeymoon we went to Maine. It's a beautiful state. We fell in love with it. It was one of the best getaways ever.
"One day, we decided -- because my wife is a big Stephen King fan -- to go visit Bangor, because we know Stephen King lives there. It's the second-biggest city in Maine. We hit a bookstore. We found where Stephen King's house was because we bought a book on sites in Bangor that inspired events in his novels.
"But one thing that really stuck out was this totally old-school East Coast deli that had Hebrew lettering on the sign above the place. There was a sign on the wall indicating which local rabbi had inspected their process to make sure it was really kosher. They were the best bagels we had ever eaten in our lives. It just kind of wrapped it all up -- happy to be in Maine, happy to be with somebody whom I really dearly love, enjoying things together, including something as trivial as really excellent bagels. And I liked the fun wordplay of 'Bagels in Bangor.' I had some music that I'd tried to write some lyrics to before the trip. When I came back, that's what it became."
A song titled "Bagels in Bangor" at first glance seems likely to be a completely ironic, humorous affair. But that's the beauty of Rocket Park. When you think they're going to be pulling the rug out from under you, they absolutely nail a stunning piece of musical perfection based on a pure state of bliss. Smart-asses, yup, but the members of Rocket Park know that rock & roll music beats to the time of the heart as well.