When pop music is good, it’s timeless. Cole Porter sounds just as good now as he did in the 30s. You still wanna dance in the street when you hear Martha and the Vandellas. Good pop music glances at the past, but keeps its feet planted squarely in the now. The appropriately-named New Orleans duo Generationals are well-schooled in pop’s storied history, but they’re also undeniably modern.
The beginning of Generationals’ story is at another band’s end. Back in the early 00s, Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer were high school buds from Baton Rouge when they decided to get a band together. They enlisted the help of a few classmates, and The Eames Era was born. It wasn’t to last. They called it quits in 2007. But Joyner and Widmer still wanted to carry on. So they did, but this time as a duo. They struck upon Generationals’ name during the coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign, when media outlets talked about a “generational shift” among the electorate. The pair came out of the gate the following year with their debut Con Law. Generationals made their 2010 follow-up EP Trust here in Austin, and enlisted the help of our own Bill Baird to produce the album. The band took a more new wave approach to their sophomore, full-length Actor Castor followed in 2011.
Today, Generationals release their third LP Heza. It builds upon the synthy, new-wave sounds so prominent on Actor Castor, and the 60s pop influence isn’t as pronounced as their debut (although there’s a slight Ray Davies twinge to the vocals on “Say When”). It’s a sweet–but not saccharine–record, and catchy as fly-paper. One of the stickiest tunes on the record is “Put a Light On.” It’s got a head-bobbing, mid-tempo beat punctuated by some well-placed hand-claps. A repeated, R&B-inflected guitar line pops and bubbles underneath. It’s a sunny, mellow tune from a pair of fellas that know how to write a good ol’ pop song.
If you want to catch Generationals live, they’ll be swinging back through Austin on June 2 at The Parish.