BEST POP GROUP (2001)
One barely adequate explanation of the difference between "rock" and "pop" is that the former describes a song's life in the moment (e.g., "That song rocks!") and the latter describes its half-life in your memory (e.g., "How did that song go again?"). By these definitions, 12Rods are...a very good band. But since cheeky singer-guitarist Ryan Olcott has long complained that he's "pop, not rock," lets indulge him the preferred classification and add that the best local group ever to record in Todd Rundgren's house passes that simplest of pop litmus tests: You can imagine other bands covering their songs, and smile. Last year's Radio K hit "What Has Happened?" from 12Rods' album Separation Anxieties (V2), could do just fine without the warehouse of chops and vat of production polish. With only Olcott on acoustic guitar and his brother/keyboardist Ev on toy piano, the core Rods gave "Marionette" a clunky, poignant rendition in the stripped-down context of a "Noiseless" night at the Bryant-Lake Bowl last year. Then they turned "Astrogimp" into a French-language synth-lounge epic on the forthcoming Twin Town Music Yearbook Vol. 4 compilation, with its catchy quotient holding up just fine. So let these ex-punks become professionals, perfectionists, and production mavens themselves. Only one P-word will count with the hotly anticipated third record, and it ain't pretty.