I Got My Name From Rock and Roll

Brad Lindert

After the disappointing events of the past week, we need to escape into music: so escape with me into a pop gem that seemed to come out of nowhere. Take two guys from Brooklyn and you’ve got They Might Be Giants, but if you add a female background singer you have Bishop Allen. Now Bishop Allen sounds nothing like TMBG, but they both come from Brooklyn and they have both created their own beautiful sound.
Bishop Allen (named after Bishop Allen Drive, in Cambridge’s Central Square) is love in aural form. Their melodies are sweet, their lyrics are smart, and their beats are toe-tapping. Take early, folky Flaming Lips and add Modest Mouse pop-that’s their old pop, not their new brand of sell-out pop -and finally mix in the guy-girl vocal interaction and simple instrumentation of Imperial Teen and you have got Bishop Allen.
B.A. was founded by Justin Rice and Christian Rudder in the spring of 2003 and they recorded their album “Charm School” a few months later. They got vocal help from the dreamy-sounding Bonnie Karin and some others floated in on a few songs to help. But really Bishop Allen is Justin and Christian’s baby. Upon the second listen the album seemed amazingly familiar, I felt at home in the New England pop rock.
Every song has its reasons for being the stand out track. I’ll just go through them all.
The title track has the clangy rhythm guitar. The next song, “Little Black Ache,” has the great line “Sleeping on the subway in my interview tie.” Then “Busted Heart” comes, Modest Mouse without the slurred speech of Isaac Brock. “Bishop Allen Drive” has Karin singing “We were throwing furniture off the roof … singing: La la la la la la la la la la.” “Eve of Destruction” finds the first verse spewed at a great white-boy rap pace. “Things Are What You Make of Them” is one of the catchiest songs (both versions!) to hit my headphones in a while.
And then there’s “Coupla Easy Things” which has such great harmonies between male and female vocals-it’s such a sweet song. “Quarter to Three” has the lovely line “She sounded like a symphony / When she simply said my name.” And the last track, called “Another Wasted Night,” has the rally cry “5,6,7,8, / Let’s stay up late!”
Now, I have never done a song-by-song review of an album. I hope you guys understand how great this album is. I feel that this album will be playing on repeat for a long time to come. It’s just too bad that “Charm School” was released in 2003, because I can’t include it on my best of 2004 list. But, Christian did tell me they will have a new disc out by February or March of next year. Right now that seems like a long time to wait.