The Rudds Get the Femuline Hang On

[Self-Released; 2005]

Styles: power pop, rock and soul, 70s radio rock
Others: Todd Rundgren, Cheap Trick, Ween

If love and knowledge of popular music gave one instant monetary success, John Powhida would be swimming through vats of gold coin like a skinny human version of Scrooge McDuck. As the lead singer/songwriter/multii-instrumentalist/driving force behind The Rudds, his addiction to pop seems so overwhelming that musical references just spill out all over the place -- both in the form of stylistic mimicry and direct lyrical reference. It might be a bit too much if it weren't for the fact that Powhida has the talent to back up his preoccupations.

Get the Femuline Hang On is The Rudds' second outing, a fact trumpeted by its own second track -- "Oh No! (They're Gonna Make Another One)," which jokingly explores the potential disaster of a band making a follow up album. The track glistens with an almost glam rock sheen, but anchors it with an impressively Spector-like attention to production detail. The details aren't missed on any of the other tracks either, ultimately giving the songs a fullness that can best be described as power pop. However, the range of influence is beyond one mere category. "Stand the Chance" is a truly seductive gem of rock and soul loveliness that would fit perfectly on a Hall & Oates set list. "F#/C," in addition to being another dead giveaway of Powhida's musical nerdiness, is a weighty ballad that seems more akin to Harry Nilsson's work, albeit with a slightly bluer lyrical vocabulary. But those who were excited by the glam/power pop comparison shouldn't fret; there's plenty of that, too.

The only elements that might sour some to The Rudds' material are the egregious helpings of silliness lurking in the lyrics. In my opinion, any music this vastly referential can stand some humor to help make the total package palatable, but by certain standards, it may be perceived as a detriment. The album's title track, "The Femuline Hang On" is best described as absurdist in its message, with the term 'femuline' being used to connote the ambiguous gender identity of many rock singers -- Powhida firmly entrenched in this mixed gender classification himself. This style of
irreverence and self-mockery pervades the album. For those listeners whose love of pop and rock veers toward the '70s, and its cheekier side at that, The Rudds will be a cool libation in a desert of stifling sincerity. For those power poppers who take themselves too seriously, I guess you're stuck with the same ol' Big Star records that you've been playing for years.

1. Tony Savarino
2. Oh No! (They're Gonna Make Another One)
3. Something Great
4. Stand a Chance
5. Roslindale
6. The Femuline Hang On
7. Always Cool
8. Astrological Sign Choker
9. F#/C
10. Older Girls
11. Hot Child
12. Keep My Love
13. Rock and Roll Napoleon