from: The Los Angeles Times
May 18


During a set Tuesday at the Roxy by veteran band the Last — one of seven acts on a bill showcasing a putative resurgence of local power pop — two guys tried to get a good mosh going. They picked the wrong crowd, as almost everyone did their best to ignore them.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Nice Wave.

The point of this movement — which some have termed the Pop Underground — seems to be to make music for people who might like the energy, but not the anger and snottiness, of Green Day and other neo-punks. In theory that's fine, but Tuesday there was way too much looking back to give the sense of forward momentum that bands such as Elastica have lent to England's New Wave of New Wave.

Surface pleasures abounded, though, especially in the set by the Wondermints, whose lush, '60s-ish baroque pop recalls everything from the Beach Boys to recent revivalists Jellyfish. But as expertly and even imaginatively as the quartet conjured its sounds, we'd heard it all long before. Same for the Sugarplastic (recently signed by Geffen), a trio whose clever but cold songs recalled XTC and early Talking Heads.

If this movement doesn't start moving forward, it'll be overrun by the next nostalgia-fueled trend, which by our calculations will be . . . Depeche Mode electro-pop.

—Steve Hochman