Indulge me, folks, as I muse a little. A great comic book writer named Mike (Nexus, Punisher, Flash) Baron introduced me to the world of the powerpop underground in the late 90s. One of his strongest recommendations was an album by a band with the oddest name – Hindu Rodeo. This power trio (consisting of drummer Jimi Englund, guitarist Dirk Freymuth and singer-songwriter-bassist Joel Sayles) released a fabulous debut eponymous album in 1995, which is a buried treasure and a wonder to discover.
Imagine a band distilling all the best melodic edgy power pop influences (e.g. The Beatles, Todd Rungren, XTC, Jellyfish) to produce dynamic, fresh and knowing music that is mind expanding all at once! Well, indeed, with songs like the raga-referencing Hindu Rodeo, the gorgeous Everything’s Perfect, the rather clever Bells and Whistles, the reverent Fab Four tribute Chasing the Beatles and the groovy Retro Girl. An awesome obscure treasure!
Hindu Rodeo issued a long-overdue sophomore album in 2003 (without much fanfare, sadly) called Nalladaloobr. What struck me about Nalladaloobr was the indelibly sharp lyrical content that was consistent throughout. Sure, the music was edgy, melodic, smart and always passionate but as good as it is, I was truly blown away by the power of Joel’s words.
Acerbic to a fault, Joel zeroes in on the culture that unfolds in his everyday life and fires away, seldom missing and hitting home almost every time. In the raucous Strip Bar, Joel doesn’t hold back with describing the inherent sadness. The vibrant Dumb It Down expresses Joel’s own frustration with modern pop culture which concerns are echoed in McLifeTM where Joel decries the homogenization of modern living. And there’s more, from the sarcastic Radio Ready to the melancholy Band With My Dad, there’s no denying Joel’s insight and way with a phrase and with a dynamic soundtrack that evokes the likes of XTC, the Beatles, Jellyfish, Brian Wilson and Cheap Trick, the picture is virtually pop perfection!
Unfortunately, I understand that Hindu Rodeo is no more. So obscure that googling “Hindu Rodeo” will not get you very far. However, it appears that Nalladaloobr is available at CDBaby and the eponymous album from Amazon. Go for it!
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