Valley Lodge burst onto the power pop scene in 2005 with a smashing self-titled debut. This long-awaited follow-up, “Semester At Sea”, continues to blaze the same trail, but runs down the path with a great deal more noise and speed. In the band’s own words, “It’s power pop meets pop rock meets your best friend’s parents going out of town when you are sixteen and think that they won’t notice if you threw a pool party. Oh, and it’s 1978 and you are hooked on glue.”
There’s an abundance of swagger and cockiness here, but the band’s confidence in their work is well-justified. The vocals are a cross between Marc Bolan (T. Rex) and Tom Petty, and the guitars a cross between Cheap Trick and AC/DC. But what really rocks the boat on “Semester At Sea” is some incredible drumming. The band launches from the dock and makes serious waves with four consecutive tracks that exude awesomeness, bowling the listener over with rousing guitars, jubilant harmonies, and thundering drums. While the drums and guitar riffs on “The Door” sound a lot like Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People”, the track is clearly more of an arena rocker paying homage to 80s rock. The ride stays strong with the driving “When The Rain Comes” and catchy “Baby It’s A Shame”. The boys revisit the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts stadium drumbeat and hand claps in the crowd pleasers, “Comin’ Around” and “My Baby”. The record slacks off a bit towards the end as the band comes to port, with the last decent track being a sloppy and strangely entertaining cover of Bob Welch’s “Sentimental Lady”.
Valley Lodge is the Hummer of the pop rock world – big and brash with a ‘get out of my way or I’ll run your ass over’ attitude. “Semester At Sea” is straight up rock and roll with a nod to glam, for fans of Cheap Trick, OK Go, Dumb Dog Run, and Sloan.
iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9