Valley Lodge: Instant Gratification

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Gary Glitter isn't generally regarded as a medium for visionary insight. But the clear metabolic truth of his stadium classic "Rock and Roll Part 2" is difficult to deny: Any song set to such a robust glam beat is, for all intents and purposes, utterly narcotic. Whatever the weird alchemy of this pulsating, martial, hypnotic percussion, it renders listeners helpless in a sea of concussive glee. Call it "The Glitter Principle." Fifteen seconds of a big-beat intro like that, and it hardly makes any difference what happens for the rest of the song. "Rock and Roll Part 2," for example, substitutes five minutes of guttural utterances for actual lyrics, and no complaints are filed.

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "The Door"
  • Artist: Valley Lodge
  • CD: Semester at Sea
  • Genre: Power-Pop
Valley Lodge i

A demonically catchy power-pop song, Valley Lodge's "The Door" channels Gary Glitter and many others. Kurt Hernon hide caption

toggle caption Kurt Hernon
Valley Lodge

A demonically catchy power-pop song, Valley Lodge's "The Door" channels Gary Glitter and many others.

Kurt Hernon

Valley Lodge understands all this, perhaps too well. "The Door" opens with roughly the exact beat that made "Rock and Roll Part 2" (and "Message of Love" by The Pretenders and Muse's "Uprising" and any other song that uses it) a radio-ready hit. Guitars arrive following eight measures of snare, tom and bass-drum rolls, and by the time the vocal is layered on, listeners are basically in the song's thrall. The words — "Love me, love me baby / like a love machine" — might be terrible, or maybe brilliant, but what does it matter, really? By this point, the song has so deeply infected your consciousness that it'll be six months of mandatory quarantine before you're allowed to travel abroad.

Power-pop, in addition to being harder than it looks, is less a defined musical genre than an aspirational guidepost shared throughout otherwise disconnected communities the world over. The greatness of Memphis' soul-inflected Big Star relates only tangentially to the London-based sophistication of Rockpile or the hick-with-a-hook stylings of Dwight Twilley. All owe something to T. Rex and something to immediacy, escapism and instant gratification.

Valley Lodge's brand of power-pop exists at the surprisingly fertile crossroads where early-period New Pornographers meets mid-period Kiss and gets into a fight with the Bret Michaels Band. The band's lineup consists of an all-star constellation of New York indie luminaries (singer Dave Hill is in Walter Schreifels' band, guitarist John Kimbrough was in Walt Mink and bassist Eddie Eyeball is in 2 Skinnee J's), and yet the band has functioned in relative obscurity — everywhere except, of course, Japan. If history has taught us anything, it's that the Japanese can really call their shots with this kind of thing, which means that Valley Lodge may well invade your living room quicker than you can say the words "At Budokan."

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