All of us who have had written reviews have had had the same answer shot back at us by a fan of a band we slammed. “Oh, yeah?” it starts. “You’re just jealous because you couldn’t do better.” Here at Popdose four years ago, we dedicated a Friday Mixtape in our own attempts at deflecting such criticism. I have no doubt that Steve Simels received countless variations of that during his years as Stereo Review’s resident rock critic, knowing full well that, at the time, he was moonlighting as a bass player in the Floor Models.
For much of that decade, his band gigged around Greenwich Village, including a weekend residency for a few years at the Other End Cafe, where they mixed their favorite covers with their own tunes for tourists and drunken NYU students for three hour-long sets a night. Every once in a while, the quartet made their way into a studio and laid down some tracks.
So why did this only come out now? Simels now blogs at Power Pop, where he earned my affections for repeatedly referring to Adam Schlesinger as a “goddamn genius” and Mike Love as a “humungous dick” (as well as posting the Most Awesome Picture In Rock History). Every once in a while, he would dig up one of their songs and post it. The response was so positive that they issued a run at CD Baby and called it Floor Your Love. Now, Australia’s Zero Hour Records has given it a proper release.
With its Rickenbacker 12-string and three-part harmonies, the jangleriffic Floor Your Love makes a great case for the simple joys of wheel reinvention. There’s little in here that any power pop devotees haven’t already heard, but it’s all done exceptionally well — far better than you would expect for a band playing for beer money — and it’s devoid of the bubble-gummy quality that too often mars that genre.
Nor does it suffer from the other side of the equation, where the band throws in so many hooks that you can’t keep track of them all. These are tight and clever pop songs that don’t overstay their welcome, but still stick in your brain long after you’ve stopped listening.
The influences are what you would expect from the time, lots of Beatles and Byrds, with the enthusiasm of the power pop side of New Wave. “Fade Into Grey” is “Eight Miles High” minus the acid and Coltrane, “Spin Cycle” sounds like classic Nick Lowe, and if “Let Her Go” isn’t the best song Marshall Crenshaw never wrote, I don’t know what is.
Of the 19 songs — virtually everything they recorded — writing credit is split evenly between guitarists Gerry Devine and Andy Pasternack (eight songs each), with one Devine/Pasternack collaboration and two covers, ABBA’s “S.O.S.” and the Records’ “Hearts in Her Eyes.” Sadly, Pasternack passed away this past September, before the Zero Hour release.
Given that these tracks — some of which are demos and live cuts — were recorded over an eight-year stretch by seven producers, there’s not a lot of sonic cohesion to Floor Your Love outside of the personnel involved. But that’s of little concern to power pop lovers. What matters most is the tunes, and they’re here in spades. Buy it at Zero Hour.