Year 2, Day 5: Loud and Local, Buzz Zeemer’s Delusions of Grandeur

Year 2, Day 5: Buzz Zeemer – Delusions of Grandeur

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Tracklisting

  1. This Town
  2. Useless Information
  3. Mystery
  4. Epitome
  5. Red Balloon
  6. I Don’t Want To Fail
  7. Different Roads
  8. There Should Be A Book
  9. Irrational
  10. I Get This Feeling
  11. Giving It All
  12. How

About the Album

Buzz Zeemer‘s 1998 release Delusions of Grandeur is a 36 minute, 12 track power pop effort. Buzz Zeemer, from the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia PA, is led by former Flight of Mavis frontman, Frank Brown. On guitar is the one and only, rock guitar virtuoso, Tommy Conwell.

Thoughts on the Album

Power pop. If you don’t know exactly what that is, allow me to briefly explain. Power pop, the genre, is an offshoot of rock and pop that combines the two genres to the point where, it’s not quite fully rock and roll, but not quite radio friendly pop. Majority of so-called experts in modern day pop music or rock music would classify Buzz Zeemer‘s 1998 release Delusions of Grandeur, as just that. Power pop.

That said, this album is a prime example of what I’m going to call “Philadelphian Sound”. And what do I mean by “Philadelphian Sound”? Any band or artist from Philadelphia produces unique sounding music that is different from the west coast, the south, and the rest of the northeastern United States. The sound and tone leans heavily on Philadelphia’s blue collar ethic. Regardless of how well professionally produced the music is, it still retains its raw, focused, yet powerful sound.

Beneath the jangly and melodic guitar of Conwell’s riffs on this album lies an album that gets stronger every listen. The melodic guitar-based riffs on Delusions of Grandeur more sophisticated than you think. The guitar hooks and riffs seemingly rise above most power pop and jangle guitar pop contemporaries.

Believe it or not, when I was listening to this album it made me think of some of the stuff that Elvis Costello or even Joe Jackson did back in the glory days of guitar pop. Definitely a highlight of the album is the cover of Alan Toussaint’s “There Should Be A Book”. It’s a rousing and incredible cover. And of course, I’d be remiss if I forgot about “Mystery” an impossibly catchy and hook-ridden track that is augmented by some brass, mainly trumpet. It’s almost like Burt Bacharach was trying to write a hit for big time band with the sound and tone that “Mystery” shows off.

“Red Balloon” is jam packed and stuffed to the gills with a soaring chorus and chiming/jangling guitars. “Giving It All” is probably the one of the best songs on the album. It perfectly highlights Conwell’s guitar skills in one, three and a half minute guitar-driven track, where Conwell’s hooks and riffs wind up, whirl, and soar. Combine that with Frank Brown’s impassioned vocals, and it makes for one hell of song.

Conclusion

Between Conwell’s riffs on guitar and Brown’s vocals, Delusions of Grandeur, is one of those rare fines. Rare, in that, not only is it rare to find in physical copy without paying an arm and leg for. But rare, in that, with today’s throw away and seemingly similar sounding pop music, Delusions of Grandeur grows stronger every time you listen to it.  While the lyrics aren’t exactly the the strongest ever written, the combination of Brown’s vocals and Conwell’s guitar surely make up for it.

Power pop is cheesy and lousy term to describe this album (and band). In fact, I think it’s a disgrace to call it power pop. It’s more alternative pop-rock. But even then, it’s still a disservice. How about we just call it, rock, and split the difference? Good? Good.

If colleges and universities were to offer a course on the history of Rock music, and it were titled “Rock 101” (or something like that), Delusions of Grandeur would need to be required listening.

(check out Audio Rumble. It does a hell of a better job of reviewing and discussing Delusions of Grandeur than I ever could. I featured Audio Rumble last year on the posts about Tommy Conwell and his band’s album Rumble)

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