Various Artists

What a Concept!: Tribute to Teenage Fanclub

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Listening to Not Lame's What a Concept!: Tribute to Teenage Fanclub leaves the listener with two thoughts: man, Teenage Fanclub wrote a lot of great songs and, gosh, all these bands want to sound exactly like them. It's true that TFC wrote many a classic power-jangle-indie-guitar pop tune. "Everything Flows," "Metal Baby," "Don't Look Back," "About You," "The Concept," "Ain't That Enough" -- these are songs that lift the heart and fill the soul with rock & roll joy. It is nice that all these bands, from the known (Redd Kross, Gigolo Aunts, the Shazam) to the unknown (Jet Lag, the General Store, Receiver) to the should-be known (Captain Soul, the Shazam), pay such loving tribute. They all get the plangent guitars, lush vocal harmonies, and general peaceful, easy feeling down pat, but to what end one has to ask. The versions are so identical that it makes far more sense just to listen to the band itself. The only tracks that mess with the formula are buried at the end of the disc. The General Store turn "120 Minutes" into a full-on Beach Boys circa Pet Sounds track that will have you grinning from ear to ear, while Marykate O'Neil turns "Traffic Jam" into a coffeehouse clanger that will have you reaching for the skip button. Not that doing radically different versions of songs on tribute albums necessarily makes for a good listen, but it does help break up the sense of creeping monotony. There is a reason that Teenage Fanclub records top out at around 12 songs, after all. So mark the disc down as an indulgence for TFC fanatics. For the rest, just stick to the original recordings. They are enough.

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