MUSIC FOR ABANDONED
ALBUM: MUSIC FOR ABANDONED
BAND: the amplifier heads
reviewed by NADJA DEE
Artwork by Jim Zaccaria
THE AMPLIFIER HEADS
MUSIC FOR ABANDONED AMUSEMENT PARKS
Musicians: Salvatore Baglio (All instruments and Vocals)
Kevin "King" Rapillo (Drums, Percussion)
All words and music by Salvatore Baglio
Sweet Bread Songs ASCAP
Mastered by Alex McCollough
True East Mastering (Nashville TN)
Bill Mason Mixmaster General
Second Story Studio (Boston MA)
Kenny Lewis Sonic Madman
Mixed Emotions Music (Boston MA)
If one looked at the year 2020 and forced themselves to see a silver lining, albeit a tarnished silver, part of that lining would have to be the time that singer-songwriter musicians have had to create music. Such is the case with the main amplifier head, Sal Baglio. There's plenty of prolific musicians out there, but few would be able to hold a candle to Mr. Baglio.
Last year, he put out the outstanding album, Loudah, and this year he's released the 14 track album Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks (Try saying that ten times fast) plus two EP's. That's right, one 14 track album isn't enough for Mr. Baglio, he's also gotta present 7 more tracks over 2 EP's. Who does this guy think he is, Rivers Cuomo? The Stephen King of Power Pop? Well, it's a good thing folks because the music continues to be GOOD! If this is the soundtrack to abandoned amusement parks, then I want to move to an abandoned (spooky) amusement park.
Track #1 Funhouse Mirrors
KEY to this album
(Hint: The closer to center white, the more Power Pop)
Mix of Soundtrack (Instrumental), Mood music, Acoustic guitar, Country/Folk with Power Pop, Power Pop w/Rock
Funhouse Mirrors sets the stage:
"Arise, arise today's the day the carnival arrives"
We're immediately taken to the Amusement Park, we jump the gate and gain entrance to the carnival, the rides and the funhouse mirrors, and everything the amusement park has to offer. The traveling amusement park is still in full swing, we've set our sights on our object of desire, in the funhouse mirrors.
But here's the thing about a funhouse mirror, it distorts reality. It'll make you thinner or fatter than you really are, it stretches your head, it bends your neck.
Marilyn Monroe in a Funhouse Mirror
Soon, after you leave the funhouse, the illusion is over and we move to Track #2 The Lonesome Carousel. It's like an instrumental folk tune from an old western.
Track #2 The Lonesome Carousel (Instrumental Track)
(Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
(Photo by Photo by Gabrielle Picfair license purchased)
Track #2 is an instrumental track. as if setting the mood for another scene. Then Tracks 3, 4 and 5 come in with song and lyrics, until Track #6 Addio tells us it's time for another break.
It's as if Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks is not a band's album, but a movie soundtrack. The format of most film soundtracks are exactly that, hit pop songs intersperced with orchestral movie score instrumentals. You can't have a movie that's wall to wall radio songs, you gotta have backing music for the drama and love scenes. That's what Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks is, a soundtrack to a movie, except there's no movie...yet.
The next instrumental movie tracks are Track #6 Addio, which means Farewell or Goodbye.
These are the instrumental "film score" tracks, ranging from a Sergio Leone type score to a carnival nightmare in Midway.
Track #6 Addio (Instrumental Track)
Track #9 Midway (Instrumental Track)
Track #11 Ghost Of The Promenade (Instrumental Track)
In addition to the instrumental tracks listed above, all the songs labelled "Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks, Numbers 1 to 3, are also instrumental mood pieces, sometimes feeling like a score to a David Lynch film.
Track #7 Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks No. 1
Track #14 Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks No. 2
(Mostly instrumental with some la la singing)
Track #16 Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks No. 3
So, Track #1 Funhouse Mirrors set the scene that we're at a carnival, and amusement park. Then we got into a movie mode with Track #2 The Lonesome Carousel.
Then, Salvatore hits with with THREE great songs, songs with lyrics, heavy hitters. Track #3, #4 and #5 come at you like Rocky Balboa with a deadly 1-2-3 combination.
Track #3 September Song
As a September baby, a total Virgo, it's a no brainer that I would love a song called September Song. But I didn't know if I would like a corduroy jacket? Blue jeans of course, who doesn't like a pair of blue jeans...but a corduroy jacket? So, I looked it up and sure enough, not only can you buy one on eBay and other places, but it looks pretty nice. I may have to invest in a corduroy jacket, so retro! Even Winona Ryder's character, Joyce, wore one in Stranger Things. Chic Retro!
If Lisa Mychols & Super 8 is "The Album Of The Summer" then
The Amplifier Heads' Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks
is "The Album of Autumn."
The 2nd punch is Candy Apple Girl, a song that puts you right in middle of the fair, with the young promise of falling in love with a Candy Apple Girl. You can almost taste the candy apple in the song and the sweetness of the Candy Apple Girl (Probably with red hair).
Track #4 Candy Apple Girl
And the 3rd punch, the "knock-out" punch is Ghost Song. This is such a great song, it's got a folky vibe but it's also very Power Pop, though let's admit that the amp isn't turned up to an 11. (Yes, that old joke again. I won't apologize for Spinal Tap!) Just listen to the song.
Track #5 Ghost Song
The Amplifier Heads (-aka- Sal Baglio) has written so many songs that I've added at least 5 of his songs to the playlist where I work. You see, I work in a family friendly toy store, a weird toy store. It's the kind of store where one of our catchphrases is "Freaking Out The Squares since 1983." It's ecclectic and weird, yet it's still safe for kids. (It's not "family friendly" in the right wing family values way. It's kid friendly, there's a difference).
You see, the stipulation for making my work's playlist, is that it can't be Top 40, it can't be offensive, it can't be something you'd hear played at a major department store music system. Which is what makes The Amplifier Heads music so perfect.
Sal has a way of writing songs that are quirky, happy, fun, and kid friendly. (Except for Track #15 Freak) The songs are usually perfect for the type of songs we play at work. Obscure yet accessible. Quirky yet friendly.
Then you get a few more songs that are atmospheric tracks, movie soundtrack numbers. Circling between spooky movies and dramatic show pieces, before giving you Track #8 Song For An Abandoned Amusement Park, but this time with LYRICS!
Track #8 Song For An Abandoned Amusement Park (Lyric Video)
It almost reminded me of Paul McCartney, on his album McCartney, when he played Junk (with lyrics) but also gave us Sing-a-long Junk, without lyrics. Of course, Song For An Abandoned Amusement Park and Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks No.1, No.2 and No.3 are not the same song at all. But, it's sort of has the same idea of what McCartney did on his self-titled solo release.
Track #10 Freaks & Track #15 Freak, have the same title except one is plural. These two songs are the most different in feel from the rest of the album.
Track #10 Freaks, uses this megaphone vocal sound effect. It's almost a throwback to one of those heavy rock, heavy vocal songs that were popular in the 80's, almost in retribution to the synthesizer tunes of the era. It was as if the heavy metal hair bands of the day was giving the New Wave bands the middle finger.
This is also one of the only songs that's NSFW or for young kids as it places the F-word in a very prominent position on the song.
Track #10 Freaks
(Warning: Mute the song at 1:07 if you're little ones are listening!)
Track #15 Freak, is a slow, acoustic song where the lyrics are spoken instead of sun. This song also uses the F-word, which is fitting since the subject matter is also very adult themed. It's a sad song, full of atmosphere and forlorn sense of memory about a girl named Peg and a guy named Harold.
Track #15 Freak
It reminded me of the climax scene in the movie Paris, Texas, directed by Wim Wenders. In the movie, the protagonist, a vagabond played beautifully by Harry Dean Stanton finally tracks down his missing wife Jane, played by Nastassja Kinski.
When Travis finally faces Jane he tells a story about his life and regrets through an intercom. Freaks, feels like it's taken from the same, dark spot in Travis' heart.
Trailer: Paris, Texas
(Warning: Mute the song at 2:11 if you're little ones are listening!)
Track #12 Welcome To Deathworld is a thomping little number, that's a little bit a preach about Earth Day, with the flavor of a Squeeze song. I love it.
Track #12 Welcome To Deathworld
And then Track #13 Black Mascara moves along like a song being fuelled not by black mascara, but by black coal as the guitar thumps along, serving as both guitar and percussion.
Track #13 Black Mascara
If there's one thing I wish Sal Baglio did with Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks, is that he added some of the tracks from the two EP's, The Man With A Sun For A Head & Oh Golly Gee, to the album. If he did that, he would have to drop a few of the instrumental tracks on MFAAP.
But, that's just the Power Pop in the girl speaking out loud. As it stands, Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks is full of style, full of moods, an absolute ecclectic mix of melodies and ideas. An album full of nothing but Power Pop or Power Pop adjacent songs would be Music For An Amusement Park, not a park filled with ghosts and broken hearts. So, maybe it's perfect just the way it is...trust the artist.
However, if you love Power Pop songs as much as me, you'll also have to check out these songs on the other Amplifier Heads' EP's.
Track #1 The Man With A Sun For A Head
(Off The Man With A Sun For A Head EP)
The Man With A Sun For A Head has that Klaatu meets Power Pop retro essence. Again, it's a song that takes Sal Baglio back to familiar themes, whether it's a boy with an amplifier head, a girl with two heads, now it's a man with a sun or if you go by the album cover, a sunflower for a head.
There's a happy number called SodiPop. Which prooves that Sal Baglio is from an area that doesn't call it a "coke" or just "pop."
Track #2 SodiPop
(Off The Man With A Sun For A Head EP)
And on the Oh Golly Gee (EP) you'll find a couple more Power Pop gems in:
Track #2 Short Pop Song About A Girl
(Off Oh Golly Gee EP)
Track #4 Man On The Ledge Contemplating A Jump
(Off Oh Golly Gee EP)
Both Short Pop Song About A Girl & Man On The Edge Of A Ledge Contemplating A Jump are two of the most Power Pop songs that I've heard from The Amplifier Heads.
In fact, Short Pop Song About A Girl is a great song to use if anyone asks you to explain "So what is Power Pop?"
If you notice, according to the NEW POWER POP WHEEL guide (The Color Wheel) you'll see that both have white dots indicating that they both fall directly in the center of the Power Pop wheel. The closer to a white dot, means that song is pretty damn a completely Power Pop Song!
If you don't believe me, then notice that Short Pop Song About A Girl doesn't even run a full 2 minutes long! Both songs have that jangly Beatle guitar too, did Ringo play drums on these two songs? With a backbeat like that, I'd believe it! Listen to Man On The Edge Of A Ledge Contemplating A Jump and you can almost picture Ringo Starr's distinctive side head bop!
Forget the Paul Is Dead rumor, let's start the rumor that THE RINGO STARR played drums on The Amplifier Heads' Man On The Edge Of A Ledge Contemplating A Jump! Now there's a worthy rumor to start spreading around!
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DISCLAIMER: HOP ON POWER POP doesn't give stars, a grade or any sort of quantifiable rating. What HOP ON POWER POP does is let you know what H.O.P.P. thought of the music by the band at this particular time. If an album isn't to our liking or fitting into the Power Pop genre enough, we simply won't review it.
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