Pathetic History 1990​-​2000

by Chris Richards

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Power pop is about hooks. And power. Not to mention a little bit of soul. For all of his ten-year musical career captured on this record, Chris Richards has been laying down powerful hook after hook with as much soul as a suburban kid from MI could be expected to have. Richards is a power pop classicist: Beatlesque melodies, Raspberries-style guitar crunch, heartfelt lyrics about love lost and found, and beautiful vocal harmony. You can file him right alongside other modern pop classicists like Matthew Sweet or Velvet Crush or Mayflies USA and feel good about it. Pathetic History covers songs by three different bands Richards formed and throws in a few solo tracks as well. Hippodrome, from the early '90s, is represented by two tracks. They are pretty straightforward rockers with lots of guitar. The three solo tracks from the mid-'90s are in much the same vein with a poppier feeling and a fuller sound. Nice, but what really makes this CD the gem it is are the tracks by Richards' bands from the late '90s, The Phenomenal Cats (cool Kinks reference) and the Pantookas. Richards began to expand his sound, using piano to great effect and throwing in horns, strings, and more heavenly backing-vocal harmonies. Tracks like "Greatest Lullaby," with its rollicking piano and "Maybe I Need You," with its bongo and piano chorus, call to mind a modern day Left Banke. The Phenomenal Cats even cover the Left Banke's classic "I've Got Something on My Mind" and do quite a credible job. The two standout tracks are the Pantookas' "I Need a Heart," an electric piano-driven song built around what else but incredible vocal harmonies. By the time the second chorus rolls around, you'll be singing along. It's that catchy. "Holiday" is a solo demo from 2000 that Richards says is inspired by his love of Jason Falkner's music. The tight chord progressions and yearning vocals do bring Falkner to mind; it is a great little rock song. Chris Richards is an undiscovered talent. If you like classic pop music, power or otherwise, you should discover him. Simple as that.

4 1/2 stars All Music Guide

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released June 20, 2001

Songs by various members of Hippodrome, the Pantookas, The Phenomenal Cats and Chris Richards

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Chris Richards and the Subtractions Detroit, Michigan

Detroit power pop trio Chris Richards and the Subtractions have released their latest full-length record Get Yer La La's Out on Gangplank Records. Produced by Gangplank-founder David Feeny at his own Tempermill Studios just outside of Detroit, the album contains 10 songs of hook-laden, melody-intensive pop confection. Consider this the soundtrack to your summer. ... more

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