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Happy Meals | Vol 3 | Songs to Run Away From | review | compilation | Lollipop

Happy Meals

Vol. 3: Songs to Run Away From (My)
by Scott Hefflon

Lagwagon's Joey Cape's My Records resurfaces with the third installment of the Happy Meals series. Leaning significantly more toward delicate indie rock and alt-country (but that seems to be the way these days), there's less of the sugar(lip)smacking punkpop Santa Barbara became famous for with Nerf Herder, The Ataris (not present, unfortunately, cuz I'd really like to see how they've grown), Sugarcult, and, of course, Lagwagon themselves. But the majority of bands in the, uh, lighter, acoustic, often noodling rock arena are top-notch in their field, I simply don't care for limp noodles. Not when a few bars into a Nerf Herder song makes me say "Yeah, alright!" or a touching lyric by Joey (in either Lagwagon or his indie rock alter ego, Bad Astronaut) makes me put hand to chest and sigh "Mmm, beautiful."

Opener Bright Life is a highlight. Simple and strummy, but layered and full-sounding, catchy without being vapid, they have a hard-strumming style reminiscent of the better college rock of the mid-'90s, before emo posing replaced rockin' your ass off. Georgia's Left Front Tire also made an appearance on the American Pie 2 soundtrack and showed they too can sound absolutely identical to Green Day, Blink-182, and American Hi-Fi (good bands, poor tracking). Happy Meals 3, by the way, has the good sense to alternate styles, almost to the point of flip-flopping. Someone'll rock out, and then someone else'll follow and give you a breather. "Debbie was a lesbian yesterday... whoa-uh-oh-oh" begins Sugarcult three seconds into "Debbie." Call me an instant gratification kinda guy, but I like to get a premise outta the way early, ya know?

There are addresses and urls in the booklet so if you like any band here, you can find out more. Other treats inside: Adventures of Jet, Goleta, Smile, Armchair Martian, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes, Chad Rex & the Victorstands, Saltine, Scott Garth, Buellton, The Body English, Blazing Haley, Drag the River, Ashtray Babyhead, Rocketair, Sweet Action.
(PO Box 41730 Santa Barbara, CA 93140)

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