CD Review: Jamie & Steve’s “Imaginary Cafe” – North Carolina powerpop at it’s finest
One half of The Spongetones have recorded one half of a fine LP. More precisely, they’ve released Imaginary Cafe, another EP of fine XTC / British Invasion influenced pop. As with The Next Big Thing before it, this EP has the requisite Jamie Hoover jangle to it and the harmonies throughout suck you right in and get you hooked.
Imaginary Cafe opens up with the title track, a song about the perfect gig with the perfect crowd where everything comes off, well, perfectly. From the liner notes on the back cover of the disc:
“Imagine a place, where our guitars are always in tune, our voices in great shape, the audience smiling after every song…the perfect gig. What would we call it?” “How about the ‘Imaginary Café?” – Jamie Hoover
“Gold Mine” is classic Spongetones while “Tokyo Sleeping” is a slower number that could pass for something off of the Fuzzy Warbles collection. “Your Name Here” and “We Turn” finish things off on the perfect note, as each is as catchy a pop song as you’ll hear all year. I caught myself unconsciously singing the former while at a stop light this morning. Kind of embarrassing really, but it could always have been worse. The window could have been open for all to hear my fuzzy warbling.
The only negative I can come up with is the typeface that was used for the track listing on the back of the cover. Was there a sale on typefaces at the “crappy typeface” store or something? Holy crap.
I’ve often wondered what the dynamic is between Hoover and Steve Stoeckel, the second member of the team. For my money, they’re so much more interesting than the Spongetones ever were. Is Stoekel the Dave Gregory to Hoover’s Andy Partidge? I have no idea – just wondering out loud.
Whether you’re an old fan of the Spongetones or a new fan of a younger version thereof, I strongly suggest you pick this up. There are plenty of bands out there trying their hand at the genre (see Green Day’s Uno, which is a pretty decent record in it’s own right) but these two do it better than just about anyone around today. You can buy a digital version at CD Baby or if you need to have the physical product, you can order one right here.