I feel I have to go on record here and say that La Rocca's album, Sing Song Sung, has not left my car CD player since I got it. And I mean that literally. It is stuck. And now I've fiddled around with my player enough that it doesn't even play CDs anymore. The CD player doesn't even recognize that it is a CD player at all-choosing to focus all of its energy instead on becoming the best car radio it can be. In fact, by the time you read this, it may be out of the car altogether, subject to many hours of my not-so-subtle persuasion (this generally involves about four minutes of rational thought devolving rapidly into panicked animal grunts and a hammer.) Despite this, I will be a professional and I will rise above it. Here is my unbiased opinion. Car stereo, be damned!
While listening to Sing Song Sung, I had a nagging feeling of déjà vu. There I was, reliving that wonderful time in a boy's life where his arms and legs have grown to such a size that they feel like they actually belong to someone else, where his skin bubbles and bursts in all sorts of painful and embarrassing ways, and where his voice cracks with a frequency that belies belief. I'm talking about the 80's which just so happens to coincide with a time in my life that I, like most people, try to forget-my early teens.
It is from this awkward place that this album speaks. Or…to this place. Either way, it is uncomfortable. I'm not saying that it is bad. Just odd. To carry the middle school metaphor a little further, it is like "changing in the locker room in front of other people for the first time" weird. Harmless in that everyone else is feeling the same thing but yucky in that you have to go walk through the halls with these people after seeing that guy in his underwear. These are songs that could easily be attributed to any number of bands from the 80's. I get a strong sense of John Cougar Mellencamp a.k.a. John Mellencamp a.k.a. The Cougar or Bruce Springsteen. Both would be equally up to the task of singing these songs. I don't particularly think that these songs sound like either of these two great singers but with very little in the way of retooling they could be songs that they would sing. And, while I think that this era of music represents one of the worst times for me, it must be one that speaks to the band.
The title track/ album title gives the listener a glimpse into the attraction or fascination that the band has with this past time. I don't think that it is just a nonsensical alliteration and I don't think there is any mistake in leaving out the future tense in the "Sing Song Sung". This song, the strongest song on the album, explicitly tells the listener what the band is doing-singing songs that have been sung. This song details the singer's, Bjorn Baille's, experience with an old flame. It could be summed up with the phrase "been there, done that." A sentiment that encapsulates the whole album.
Another song, "Home", draws attention even more overtly to this throwback. Baille sings about having trouble sleeping and singing an E Street Band song to relax himself. Clearly, this affinity with that time period is a strong one. But the idea that revisiting this time event through new material becomes a fruitless exercise. Unless you are Springsteen or The Cougar or U2 or even Flock of Seagulls, the novelty of such an endeavor can't be sustained. Looking at band's like Brian Setzer or Squirrel Nut Zippers, you have bands that use an older sound to create a niche but then they are pigeonholed there when the fad ends. The difference between these bands and La Rocca is that La Rocca is playing music I can still find on the radio. And now because of their CD, I have to.