Thursday, June 09, 2011
Hi, We're The Popes
The Popes are another one of those largely forgotten late 80s "alternative" rock bands. In fact, they're so forgotten they don't even show up on the All Music website (the only Popes you'll find there is Shane McGowan's band). Their self-released 1988 EP, Hi, We're The Popes, may represent the band's entire released output, although they might have put out a single or a couple compilation tracks as well. I've heard rumors that they recorded a full-length album for major label subsidiary First Warning, but it was never released. (Those who have heard the tapes say they're great.)
The Popes hailed from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and it was that Chapel Hill connection that brought them to my attention. Back when I worked at my college radio station I helped put together a multiple act show with my friend David Brower. David, a Chapel Hill native, booked The Popes and another NC band, Vanilla Trainwreck. I booked a couple local Pennsylvania bands, The Stump Wizards and Thee Cellar Dwellars, as well another PA garage rock act who shall remain nameless. There might have been another act on the bill as well, I can't remember for sure.
From what I remember, it was the music of The Popes that went over the best with the audience that night, and listening to Hi, We're The Popes today it is easy to hear why. I'm amazed at just how well this humble (hummable) little indie-pop EP stands up. Some might say it's a little under-produced, but I find that part of its considerable charm. Despite the fact that I hadn't listened to this record in 20 years or so songs like "Charmless" and "Marilyn" were still firmly lodged in my musical subconscious; musical fashions may change over the years, but catchy is forever.
Hi, We're The Popes neatly encapsulates everything that was fun, nice and good about late 80s collegiate rock, and if I wanted to explain what the whole thing was about to some alien ethnographer, I could do worse than simply hand them a copy of this EP.