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Power-pop wonder Fountains of Wayne to hit Iron Horse

This Thursday night, Sept. 26, legendary New York power-pop band Fountains of Wayne will kick off their three week, 18-show tour that spans from the East Coast to the Midwest at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton. As one of only two gigs on their tour that do not include Soul Asylum and Evan Dando, their touring openers, this show serves as a warm-up for the band before they hit the road with a stacked bill.

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Fountains of Wayne take a unique approach to guitar-pop, as many of their songs deal with topics such as travel, transportation and suburban life. Their lyrics are often somewhat tongue-in-cheek and are served with a dose of irony or humor, allowing them to stand out within their genre. With that being said, the band has proven itself to be equally great at making serious, beautiful ballads. The band is on the road again to promote “Sky Full of Holes,” their fifth album, released in July 2011.

The band’s two singer-songwriters, Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger, first played together in various bands during their four years at Williams College. After going their separate ways for a few years, the two regrouped in New York City in 1996.

Naming themselves Fountains of Wayne after a local lawn ornament store, the duo recruited guitarist Jody Porter and drummer Brian Young and quickly signed with Atlantic Records, until late 1999.

Their self-titled debut, a treasure trove of fantastic, high-energy, hook-filled songs, brought the band some brief commercial success. The group gained some more critical acclaim with Schlesinger’s Academy Award nomination for writing the hit title track for the film “That Thing You Do!” in 1996 and eventually for their 2003 record “Welcome Interstate Managers.”

The album’s first single was “Stacy’s Mom,” a hit song the band wrote as a tribute to classic power-pop band the Cars. With its retro sound, gigantic hooks and unforgettable chorus, “Stacy’s Mom” was a massive success. Critically lauded yet again, the album was a major commercial break for the band, thanks to the runaway success of its massively popular single.

Although they have not come close to landing another hit as big as “Stacy’s Mom,” the band’s two subsequent albums, 2007’s “Traffic and Weather” and “Sky Full of Holes,” have both given the band career-high chart positions. This steady build in sales is indicative of a growing appreciation for the band’s perfectionist approach. Fountains of Wayne are brilliantly adept at trimming all the fat they can off of songs, leaving behind only the basics of pop rock

“Sky Full of Holes” is the band’s darkest album to date, portraying a raw and serious attitude, much different than their earlier and more playful records. Their latest album has alienated some critics and fans who prefer their spunky power-pop to their more somber ballads. That being said, it also shows another talented side of the performers who are often thought of as one-hit wonders.

Fountains of Wayne will bring 15 years and five album’s worth of catchy pop-rock to the Iron Horse this Thursday. They will be joined by opening act School for the Dead. Tickets are available for $25 in advance, or $28 at the door.

 

Jackson Maxwell can be reached at jlmaxwell@umass.edu.

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