A lot of people, understandably, are making a big stink about Dan Hunter, a.k.a. PlayRadioPlay, the shiny, happy 17-year-old local singer-songwriter whose MySpace page probably gets more hits than U2’s.
(Does U2 even have a page? Anyway … ) Not too long ago, Hunter’s big numbers earned him the attention of Island Records. In a few months, one of the mega-major-mondo label’s imprints, Stolen Transmission, will release Hunter’s forthcoming album, The Frequency. In the meantime, to whet your appetite for construction, sample The Frequency EP — it’s out now and includes a couple-a songs from the full-length. As word of Hunter’s peculiar path to stardom spreads — and continues being picked up and deconstructed by daily newspapers, blogs, and other media outlets across God’s green Earth — step back and see a cute, calculatedly disheveled embodiment of whence he came. As handsome Dan graduates from HisSpace to the glossy covers of teenybopper mags and the soundstages of breezy amphitheaters and alcohol-free nightclubs — basically, suburbia — another young, local, positivist singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist will hold down the Fort. Until he moves on.
As The Rocket Summer, Bryce Avery has a MySpace presence whose number of visitors ain’t too shabby — almost 2 million as of this writing, putting him light-years ahead of your favorite local band but still about a cool 260,000 behind Hunter. But Avery’s current tour through the South, out to the Left Coast, and up to Minnesota should generate a couple thousand more hits for him at MySpace.com/TheRocketSummer. (Hunter also is on tour and no doubt will be bolstering his own numbers.) Like Hunter, Avery also has signed to Island Records. His third album, Do You Feel, is scheduled for release on July 17. Last week, he uploaded four new songs to iTunes. Three of them will appear on the forthcoming 13-track full-length, including “Break It Out,” “So, in this hour …,” and the first single, “So Much Love,” plus a cover of a song identified only as “I just don’t think I’ll ever get over you.” We could look at Hunter and Avery as two sides of the same coin in the fountain of youth. Hunter is the brooding, secluded genius, seemingly more at home in his bedroom surrounded by tons of gear and ProTools than in a nightclub chatting up fans. (However, his live performances snap, crackle, and pop.)
Befitting his personality, his music doesn’t seem like the kind to which you party hard and/or conduct make-out sessions. You’re more likely to listen to it late at night on your iPod as you lie in bed with the lights off and get lost in reverie over the wonderful girl or guy you just met a couple of hours ago and what the future may portend for y’all: what your first kiss will be like!, what kind of wedding you’ll have!, what your kids will look like! Sigh! Yeah, Hunter’s brand of “straightedge soft-core” (his term) has an incredibly starry-eyed — and almost damningly innocent — flavor to it. In concert with colorful tableaux of gently flickering bleep’s and bloop’s, and the shuffling hiss of Casio beats, Hunter’s hushed, suggestively Anglophilic voice (he sounds like that dude from the Pet Shop Boys) always assumes the shape of rose-colored glasses. Avery also beams with optimism, but musically he’s less restrained, more like a male version of Avril Lavigne, togging insta-hipster duds, sporting a small convenience store’s worth of hair product, and rocking guitars, bass, and drums. His is the kind of music you jam to on your way to an Avril Lavigne concert. A choice selection for your car ride is “Brat Pack,” from Avery’s second c.d., Hello, Good Friend (2005). Choice lyric: “… I will drive to the place where I can kick it with friends through the night / … We’re a brat pack / We’re always kickin’ back.” (Maybe The Rocket Summer’s friends could use a Rocket Summer job.) Inspirational, motivational, and semi-danceable, The Rocket Summer’s tuneage is primarily for tweens and barely legals whose idea of rebellion is loading up on caffeine, toilet-papering friends’ houses, and staying out past midnight. Or staying out ’til quarter-after but only to go home, turn off all of the lights, and listen to PlayRadioPlay.
The Rocket Summer Tue, May 29, at 6pm w/Hellogoodbye at House of Blues, 2200 N Lamar St, Dallas. 214-373-8000