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Fifty Reasons To Explode
Mammoth Records

Having seen Schatzi’s name in various pop fests around town here in Austin, I had a decent idea of what to expect when I put this album on. I wasn’t too off. Pure pop punk with sugarcoated riffs, pounding drums and start-stop melodies dominate Fifty Reasons To Explode.

Originally from Oklahoma, Monte Williams (vocals and guitar) and Chris Kyle (bass) moved to Austin a couple of years ago. They were joined on drums by Mark Ford soon after. Named after a band member’s grandmother’s late daschund, Schatzi released their debut album in 1998, named Joanie Loves Schatzi. They have released an EP since, and in 2002, released their second full length, Fifty Reasons To Explode.

The album starts with “Indivisible”, a fairly simple pop song that isn’t close to being the best song on the album. However, it is a preview of things to come. “Death Of The Alphabet” brings to fore Schatzi’s power pop sensibility. The Anniversary's Adrianne Verhoeven adds vocals on a chorus that is easy on the ears and pounding drums provide a great backdrop. Hard core fans of Schazti, if they exist yet, would know this one from their previous EP of the same name. In fact, on further research, I found that there are 4 songs from that EP on this record. The next couple of songs disappoint as they fail to stir much emotion with commonplace pop rock, but the band’s capabilities are obvious.

Next up, “Gladys’” simple chorus of: Gladys, you’re all that I miss is fairly effective and very catchy. The best songs on the CD are thrown here in the middle of the album. “Trapped Inside A Sunray” starts with pounding drums, a grooving bassline and a heavy guitar riff, and continues to build into a more rocking sound heard again on the radio friendly “Sucked Into Something”. The vocals have made their impression by now, and Williams’ style definitely has (positive) traces of Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) and Jon Davis (Superdrag). By the time “The Spider Smells Disaster” kicks in, the guitar pop soundscapes and introspective lyrics are at their best, as Schatzi show their prowess in the ‘indie-pop’ genre. “Flush” returns to simple lyrics, and the chorus of Flush the evidence down is hardly inspiring, but there’s a Rentals-esque feel to the song that makes it tolerable. Resounding start-stop guitar work on “Delta” doesn’t save it from mediocrity while “Song for Stephanie” would qualify as the ballad on the album. The last song kicks off with still more power pop but slows down to end with the lyric, I’ve got fifty reasons to explode. There is also a bonus remix of “Death Of The Alphabet” after a couple of minutes of emptiness that fits in well as a hidden track.

As a whole, Schatzi provide what they aim to: power pop with crunching guitars and catchy tunes. Most fans of this genre will find substance in this album. Critics might argue that Fifty Reasons To Explode is recycled and mediocre but the truth is that Schatzi do pull off what they intend to and reasonably well for most of the album. Sure there is some material on the album that’s not particularly inspirational; however, there are enough original pop gems to appease and excite those in the know.

Adi Anand

Track Listing:

  1. Indivisible
  2. Death Of The Alphabet
  3. Undergrowth
  4. Bionic Waves
  5. Gladys
  6. Trapped Inside A Sunray
  7. We Might Collide
  8. Sucked Into Something
  9. The Spider Smells Disaster
  10. Flush
  11. Delta
  12. Song For Stephanie
  13. Guitars Vs. Humans

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