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The Strange and the Familiar

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Album Review

There's undoubtedly a bad band joke circulating in indie pop circles that Fonda are, well, fond of so many other bands' soft pop sounds. And, without a doubt, that list is a lengthy one, top-heavy with twee poppers like Heavenly and Go Sailor, as well as the surf 'n' turf sounds found on old Beach Boys albums. Pointing out these overly obvious influences, however, isn't intended to dismiss or detract from the swirling pop perfection of the Los Angeles-based band's The Strange and the Familiar. On the contrary, their second full-length shimmers and shines like so many timeless summer sounds of yesteryear, a perfect summer soundtrack or a midwinter pick-me-up. Fronted by Emily Cook, whose velvety voice recalls that of Amelia Fletcher (Heavenly, Marine Research), Fonda is at its best on bittersweet laments such as "Cape May," where Cook manages to sound forlorn and lovelorn without dipping into gloom and doom doldrums. Not that depression threatens to overwhelm The Strange and the Familiar, anyway: There's never an up-tempo, optimistic hook more than a track or two away. California dreamin' rarely sounds this great.


Formed: 1994

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Los Angeles indie pop quintet Fonda was formed in 1994 by singer/keyboardist Emily Cook and singer/guitarist David Klotz; with the addition of drummer Aaron Ryder, the group played its first live dates at area clubs like Spaceland and Cafe Bleu, and in 1998 issued their debut EP Music for Beginners on the Top Quality label, with the cut "Crazy Love" becoming a staple on L.A. radio station KROQ. Ex-Mighty Lemon Drops guitarist Dave Newton and bassist Lora Paelicke signed...
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The Strange and the Familiar, Fonda
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