. . .
While there are loads and loads of bands with a pair of brothers in them — The Kinks, Oasis, Rank and File, Screaming Trees, Sedan Delivery — it’s much rarer to have a band with three or more brothers where they’re not the entire band.
Off the top of my head, I can think of two, both based in Southern California. The Beach Boys, of course, and the far less famous Pop Art. (UPDATE: I found another one! Turns out that the first two Bachman-Turner Overdrive album featured three Bachmans: Randy, Rob and Tim.) Consisting of singer David Steinhart, his brothers Jeff and Rich on guitars and a couple of other guys as the rhythm section, Pop Art some pretty great records of majestic jangle-pop, and even started their own label to release those records.
The opening track from their self-titled debut EP encapsulates their strengths in a nutshell. It opens with a cleanly strummed acoustic guitar by Jeff or Rich, followed by a straightforward beat by bassist Tony Ortega and drummer Steve LePanter, over which either Jeff or Rich plays a bell-like guitar hook, after which David would sing lyrics that were often much smarter than they needed to be.
Foreign the house to small to be a home
Plans we lost and things that follow
Used to bes, “follow me”
Trying hard to make it on your own
Looking forward to less today
Than you would have thought from yesterday
This would inevitably followed by a lovely chorus with a long arcing melody line.
If I were you I’d go away
You could leave right now
We’d follow in a couple days
At their best, Pop Art songs like “Cover Me” were wistful and melancholy and would leave you with a sense of nostalgia for the song you just finished listening to, like it had already suddenly disappeared from the universe, never to be heard again, even though the record was still sitting there on your turntable.
As you can imagine, I went nuts for this stuff, but like so many indie EPs at the time, figured that it was a one-off and I’d never heard from them again. But I was wrong, as Pop Art ended up releasing a few albums before calling it quits at the end of the decade, my favorite being 1985’s A Perfect Mental Picture, about which we’ll discuss more tomorrow.
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