In the 1990s Fountains of Wayne had a huge impact on me. A Beatles, Elvis Costello, Marshall Crenshaw, and Squeeze kind of impact. I loved the quirky, alienated melodic should-be hits of the debut, couldn’t stop bopping to the hooks on Utopia Parkway, and marveled at the Sgt. Pepper-esque stature of Welcome Interstate Managers. Sure, Traffic and Weather seemed a bit of a holding pattern but then Sky Full of Holes had them back in fine form. I just assumed there’d be many more great albums to come. The recent passing of one half of the band’s creative force, Adam Schlesinger, has put the coda on that amazing body of work. Well, we’ll always have the songs. Indeed, now we’ll have to make do with how others take up the catalogue.
And here I am delighted to report that a fantastic new chapter of FOW life begins now with a great new collection of covers from Radiant Radish Records. If you love the band, there’s no doubt in my mind you’re gonna want to check out Can’t Shake That Tune: A Tribute to Fountains of Wayne. RR’s Mike Patton has put together a splendid stable of indie artist covering FOW material, with selections from each of the band’s albums. And for a collection put together in about a month – from conception to recording to release – the quality is impressive. Some artists hue pretty close to the originals (American Wood “Denise”; The Easy Button “The Summer Place”) while others attempt to jar our sense of the familiar with new tempos and styles (Jonathan Pushkar “Stacy’s Mom”). There’s punked-up energy (Vista Blue “The Senator’s Daughter”), folkie stripped-down restraint (Christian Migilorese “Troubled Times”), and plenty of ukulele too (The Soft Spots “Sink to the Bottom”).
You can feel the love all over this collection. And there really are no filler tracks here – everyone’s gonna have their faves. For me, it’s hard not to get choked up listening to “Hey Julie,” a song that encapsulates the genius of FOW, both songwriting and performance-wise. The Wellingtons capture the joy of the song, delivering something unique while honouring the feel of the original.
Can you believe it? This collection is being offered up entirely free! Get to Radiant Radish Records on bandcamp and dowload your copy. And while you’re there, click on the links for all the contributing artists to see what they’re doing and support independent music.