Creeper Lagoon dives into guitar pop

Tim Paluch and Joel Federer

“Take Back the Universe (and Give me Yesterday)”

Creeper Lagoon

Compare to: Travis, Coldplay, Archers of Loaf


Somewhere in the realm of today’s musical world, between the low-key moody rock groups like Coldplay and Travis and the hard-hitting American power pop of Weezer, lies Creeper Lagoon.

Spin magazine’s 1998 indie band of the year, Creeper Lagoon’s first major-label debut, “Take Back the Universe,” has the sound of a band which is quite comfortable making that treacherous transition from indie rock to guitar pop.

The album is chuck full of tracks catchy enough to stick in the back of your head, but gritty and smart enough for you to not be ashamed of yourself for listening.

The opening track is aptly titled “Chance of a Lifetime” for a band trying to break into the mainstream guitar rock scene. It’s an introspective look into their own future: “Chance of a lifetime/ lemonade and sunshine/ easy living/ it’s just beginning.”

The mood of the album never stays on a consistent plane, putting the listener in the shoes of a deeply introspective band with an array of moods.

From the feeling of self-destruction from hurting a loved one of “Wrecking Ball” (“Hey, I’m coming down/ like a wrecking ball/ breaking her heart”) to the complexity of feelings when you’ve been abandoned by a loved one of “Under the Tracks” (“Three times done/ and you’re gone/ you’re free/ and it’s a long way home”), Creeper Lagoon puts forth a reflective and melodramatically lyrical album spread over a landscape of moods, combining touching acoustic melodies with some heavy riffs and choruses.

There are a few tracks on the album with definite radio play possibilities – mainly “Dead Man Saloon” and “Hey Sister,” which put forth catchy choruses mixed with well-defined guitar riffs. Other tracks throw in some strong keyboard and piano runs.

The album closes with “Here We Are,” a song about the realization of mortality of themselves as a rock band.

Using the imagery of a sinking ship, Creeper Lagoon tells us to “pull up your head and instead/ let’s waltz into the night;” kind of a “might as well enjoy your time left before you sink and drown” message.

In a guitar rock/pop scene full of bland and boring commercial creations pumping out junkets of predictable clich‚ songs about nothing in particular for money-hungry record execs, Creeper Lagoon is a welcome face with both originality and an innovative sound that can find its way into the mainstream.

– Tim Paluch


34 Satellite

Compare to: Ben Harper, Son Volt, The Tragically Hip


Although originating from the grunge scene of the early ’90s, the members of 34 Satellite have refined their sound to more of a laid-back, light rock feel with a pinch of dark undertones.

This refinement is what led to the debut release of “Radar” in late 2000.

34 Satellite composes much of its music spontaneously, unwilling to be defined in just one category.

Delving into many different genres and combining them with the group’s sweet, melodic soundscapes, the group has done an excellent job of demonstrating its musical prowess.

While some songs, such as “Fly Now,” are amazingly bittersweet, and others, such as “Vertigo,” have a more pop feel, what’s interesting about “Radar” is that nearly every song on the album seems able to conform to the mood of the listener, whether the mood is festive or melancholy.

One example is “Molasses,” which contains the lyrics, “You read your star charts/ the morning after/ you avoided disaster/ but missed out on your dreams. So now you’re brokenhearted/ with a bottle of whisky/ these cold gray Sundays/ never seem to end.”

The song, played at mid-tempo with heavily distorted guitars, combined with frontman Marc Benning’s vocals take on a solemn, Bruce Springsteen-ish tone.

And while set to a mid-tempo beat, the guitar chords are bent and dragged out so long, that it only helps to drive home the true emotion of the song.

Every now and then, it’s good to take a break from mainstream of booty-shaking hip-hop and aggressive hard rock, and instead listen to something not quite so assaulting to the ears. 34 Satellite is an excellent choice to achieve this goal.

– Joel Federer