|The Trouble with Sweeney
“Fishtown Briefcase” (btv060)
1. Evelyn Rochman
2. The City Let Me
3. The Amazing Malcolm Smith
4. (A Girl Called) Young Song
6. I Hope Your Sleep Is Dreamless
Video : The City Let Me
|Let’s clear it up right now, because we know you’re gonna ask what the hell a Fishtown Briefcase is. For a certain segment of the Philadelphia population – no doubt TTWS themselves – it is heavy slang for any 30-pack of beer that can be held with a briefcase-style handle or, better still, held up to the ear in the style of a ghetto blaster, as if one could listen to the sounds of beer and sweet, summery desperation itself.
But it’s more than just that. For The Trouble With Sweeney, Fishtown Briefcase is a follow-up to their critically acclaimed I Know You Destroy – which garnered Best of 2003 recognition from RollingStone.com and Amplifier Magazine among others, as well as a growing list of devoted fans across the country. It’s also the point at which, after threatening to do so for a while, the group throws themselves headlong into the realm of California-top-down music, where barefoot girls dance in pizza parlors in the hills.
At least that’s what Sweeney thinks. “The ‘Case is all about us, like, expanding our minds through the making of happy, rocking music,” he says, with a characteristic wisp of his long blonde wig falling into this face. “Stuff that you might be able to actually dance to, if you traveled back in time to the pizza parlor discos of Southern California in the late 1970s. Very Robbie Benson.” Can you dig it?
Like Destroy, a fair chunk of the songs here are detailed character studies, except this time Sweeney’s characters are personal to him. “Yep,” Sweeney says, “Songs about people: Evelyn Rochman, my dad’s wife’s friend who played the Modern Lovers for me in high school and who I was secretly in love with. Malcolm Smith, motocross legend and object of Steve McQueen’s repressed sexual fantasies. And Young Song, who dated my buddy Joseph for a while, was/is a fashion designer and the first person I ever met who had gold plated Technics 1200s.”
The most autobiographical and what could have been the title track “The City Let Me” (a video is enclosed) is an homage to growing up and being influenced by a city like Philadelphia.
Overall, you’re seeing a more honest TTWS on this record. Maybe a little too honest, by including a cover of the Wings classic “Listen To What The Man Said” (LTWTMS). A non-guilty pleasure that is not ironic in the least, it’s meant as a shout-out across time from an indie rock band coming to terms with the feelings that only a Wings cover can provide. Heavy feelings. Hairy feelings. Mental feelings.