The Wonder Years – Hey Julie (Fountains Of Wayne Cover)

II.

Unfathomable events have a way of catalysing us, and the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan has spurred flurry of relief efforts, both individual and collective, of all varieties. There are lots of great ways to help, but if I might recommend one, do yourself a favor and pick up Vs. The Earthquake.  The compilation album features contributions from a ton of bands I’ve been really into lately – Transit (who I wrote about here not long ago), Man Overboard, Mixtapes, Balance And Composure, La Dispute, Such Gold, and many more.  It’s only $5 (though you’re free to donate more), with all the proceeds going to AmeriCares for use in their Japan relief efforts.

While it’s not a document of most of these bands’ best work – the tracks here are b-sides, covers, rarities, and whatever else the included bands had on hand and ready to go, and that’s sometimes reflected in the quality of the contributions – it might be the most comprehensive collection of artists from this scene, one that seems to have coalesced only recently, a convergence of subscenes like Easycore and The Wave with the rosters of like-minded labels like No Sleep and Run For Cover and Mightier Than Sword/Academy Fight Song.  I don’t know if people even think in album terms anymore, I don’t know if comps have a place when the internet lets us pick and choose and sample songs from wherever we’d like, and I don’t know if it will ever get the sort of attention it needs to rise to iconic status, but this comp could be to this scene what the C86 cassette was to twee and indie pop, what the soundtrack to the movie “Singles” and the “No Alternative” comp were to grunge and alternative rock, what “The Emo Diaries” was to 90s emo.

The album itself was pulled together by Dan “Soupy” Campbell, lead vocalist of that scene’s current “Most Likely To Succeed” titleholders, The Wonder Years.  (I have a sneaking suspicion that their new album will be the one that kicks the doors down for everyone else to come inside, or at least blasts wide open the cracks Four Year Strong and Set Your Goals have already climbed through.)  Their contribution – a raggedy acoustic cover of Fountains Of Wayne’s “Hey Julie” – leads off the collection, and while its neither the band’s strongest work nor the highlight of the comp, its heart is in just the right place. Like many of Fountains Of Wayne’s songs, its focus on the minutae of relationships between individuals refracts the larger truths about relationships between us and the greater world, and does so with a genuine sweetness and deft touch.  This world beats us all down sometimes; likewise, it’s on all of us to pick each other up.  And the little gestures are always more meaningful than we think.