Last November

Over the Top or Under the Weather

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Over the years, power pop has been a valuable part of everything from British Invasion rock (the Beatles) to pop-metal (Sweet, Cheap Trick), to new wave (Blondie the Go-Go's, Nick Gilder), and punk (Generation X, the Dickies). And thankfully, power pop has continued in the alternative rock era with Oasis, Eve's Plum, No Doubt, Hope 7, Veruca Salt, and quite a few other hooky bands. Alternative power pop bands of the '90s and early 2000s have often had female singers, but some of the best alternative power pop outfits have had all-male lineups -- Oasis and Jimmy Eat World, for example -- and an all-male lineup works well for Last November on their second album, Over the Top or Under the Weather. Some people might take a look at the Atlanta-based quartet's boyish publicity photos and assume that this 44-minute CD is emo, but Last November is far from an emo band. Emo is endlessly introspective, and Over the Top or Under the Weather isn't a terribly introspective album. Nor is it an album that wallows in anxiety, which is a prime ingredient of emo. This Steven Haigler-produced disc has its melancholy moments, but much of the time, Last November project a healthy sense of fun, and they have no problem delivering the hooks on infectious tracks like "Hot and Cold," "Uppers, Downers, and All-Arounders," "Butter Me Up," and "The Bumper Sticker Song." Last November also has a sense of humor; one of the songs is titled "Jesus Had Breakfast in Bed." Over the Top or Under the Weather isn't groundbreaking, but it's a solid and memorable reminder of how appealing a combination alternative pop/rock and power pop can be.

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