The American Flag
If flattery can’t get you everywhere, the right kind can at least get you signed to your musical hero’s record label. In the case of the American Flag, that means getting its debut record released by Guided by Voices founder Bob Pollard. At first glance, the Flag’s self-titled release digs through the debris left over from the British Invasion and ’70s glam rock with moderate success. By following Pollard’s formula that the simplest chords make the best pop hooks, the Flag pumps enthusiastic energy into bright three-minute ditties. This catchier-than-a-fishhook style succeeds on the Kinks-y “We’ve Finally Found Me,” and “Candy,” which should sweeten Marc Bolan’s estate’s royalties. Sure, everyone likes a nice pop song, and vocalist Evan Weisblott carries loads of charisma and presence through each track, but his faux-Brit-boy accent and on-loan-from-GBV phrasing eventually irritate the mind more than the ear. Influences lurk around every corner of the rock landscape these days, but to derive songs and style from the already fairly derivative Guided by Voices fails as a formula. The Flag succeeds because a decent pop song is certainly nothing to sneer at. But the band seems to aim for the short-lived adrenaline rush of rocking a live crowd with pandering glam postures, instead of using its considerable talent to write songs with enough substance to outlive any initial surge of attention. —P. Mitchell Prothero
The American Flag opens for Sloan and Guided by Voices Friday, Jan. 14 at the 9:30 Club.