Monday, May 11, 2009

Hop On Pop’s "Chicken on a Bicycle" Confounding Expectations

Chicago pop chameleon Pop Todd talks of the loss of a band, the birth of a new album, and what we can expect from his next release, due out this summer.

Western Springs, IL, USA - 12 May 2008 - More than 5 years after the release of their Spade Kitty debut album ,the hyper-eclectic As Drawn By Ethan, Age 2 , Chicago pop chameleon Hop On Pop is finally getting ready to issue a follow-up, the curiously named Chicken on a Bicycle.

Why so long? The short version: bandleader Todd Leiter-Weintraub lost his band — except for drummer/keyboard player David Kling. Together, the two of them have cobbled together a collection of new and old songs that is even more stylistically diverse than their first collection.“Honestly, this is the album that I’ve wanted to make since I first started making music,” says Leiter-Weintraub. “The fact that it’s just me and Dave means that the production, and the sound of the songs is a lot closer to what was originally intended. It’s entirely up to us , not production by committee. I learned a lot about recording the last time around, and I’m putting a lot of that knowledge to good use ”. David Kling aggrees, " We can get exactly the sound that we want. Todd has surrounded himself with an entire caberet of gifted musicians. And this is exactly what this album is. Music as a gift."

Todd’s command of the studio-as-instrument is evident on songs such as the album opener (and first single) “Here”, an electro-punk-pop song which combines fuzz bass, multitracked vocals, and lo bit analogue synth sounds. “Tortured Artist” is a through-composed pop song that has a dobro guitar hook emerging from thickly distorted electric guitars, and leading into a slow building 5 part vocal harmony. Finally, and most-impressively “Hey”, an acoustic-based drone, with Kling’s live drums, structured to create a 3-part round of curious, hypnotic polyrhythms. Sandwiched among it all is an acoustic country murder ballad (“C’mon Angel”), a piano ballad with viola and pedal steel (“Come On, Let’s Go”), a live recording about a girl that buries her head and lives with earthworms (“Sheila of the Worms”) and a punk/klezmer/country instrumental (“Leo Goldberg’s 2-Step”).

Even Todd’s wife and kids get in on the fun, lending vocals to the pure pop confection, “Happy Days”. Leiter-Weintraub and Kling recruited a number of partners in rhyme to lend their talents to the album, including Steve Siculan (Rolling Clones), Nils St. Cyr. (Urge Overkill, Kevin Flynn & the Avondale Ramblers), Jonathon Newby (Brazil), Brad Sarno (The Auset Music Project), John Swamy (Happy Ashtray), Noah Samuels, Todd Gutner, and many more. All in all, "Chicken on a Bicycle" is a strong new set of originals — a mix tape of sorts — that is sure to both meet expectations, and confound them with its gleeful genre-hopping. "Chicken on a Bicycle" is due for release this coming Northern summer.

In the meantime, fans of Hop on Pop will have to be content with the debut album As Drawn By Ethan, Age 2 and a free mp3 download of the bright and breezy single from the album, "Carey's Here".

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