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Wheatus

Posted in MusicWorld on June 7, 2001 by

It's time to separate the Wheatus from the chaff. As their self-titled debut album attests, Wheatus exists in a musical universe all its own. The New York quintet upholds the tenets of classic rock & roll while offering a fresh lyrical take on post-pubescent anxiety.

Case in point is Wheatus's debut single, "Teenage Dirtbag." Contrary to its grungy title, the infectious tune is one of the most touching and relevant love songs of the digital age. Culled from their acclaimed CD, "Teenage Dirtbag" relates the tale of a high school misfit who discovers romance in the most unlikely way. The tune, which was featured in the 2000 feature film Loser, prompted a chorus of critical praise. Billboard magazine has hailed the song's "keen melody, inventive production and cool lyric" while Newsday was even more succinct: "Suburban angst, thy name is Wheatus."

Hailing from Long Island, Wheatus has already won the sort of creative control many artists struggle with their entire careers. The band - singer/songwriter Brendan B. Brown, bassist Mike McCabe, drummer Peter Brown and keyboardist/percussionist Phil A. Jimenez - produced their Columbia Records debut album themselves. The resulting CD is a miraculous hash of prankish power pop, Beatlesque balladry and self-deprecating lyricism.

According to Brendan B. Brown, the album's engagingly caustic lyrics can be attributed to experience. Rather than become soured by the demise of a previous ensemble, Brown took the knowledge and cash he had earned and applied it to the recording of the Wheatus album. Says Brown: "The experience was monumental in terms of how to make a record. We were in the studio all the time, and the money I made from it was spent on gear. I started writing songs for me. I consider this my first heartfelt creative effort."