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Papas Fritas

Papas Fritas. Singer/guitarist Tony Goddess heard the phrase (which translates to "fried potatoes" -- or French fries) in Spanish class at Tufts University one day and decided it would make a good band name. Coincidentally, Papas Fritas sounds an awful lot like "pop has freed us," which might describe the band's mission statement, or the euphoric feeling of liberation audiences sometimes experience while hearing them play. And that's just the kind of whimsical serendipity that exemplifies the mood of Papas Fritas' gooey-sweet pop concoctions.

Let's see, where were we? Oh yes, Tufts. College, where so many great indie bands have gotten started. Tufts is in Boston, by the way, where so many great indie bands have gotten started. Goddess, drummer/singer Shivika Asthana, and bassist Keith Gendel were all students there once. The band was just a hobby at first, until 1994, when they released their first single. Next thing they knew they were recording albums, touring with the The Flaming Lips, and getting written up in Rolling Stone. Not bad.

The trio started out making music that could be described as goofy, nerdy, energetic, relentlessly catchy, nostalgic, and in general a damn good time. And they still make music that could be described that way, but as they've gotten older they've secured better studios and become more adventurous. So with each album, and there are three, by the way -- Papas Fritas ('95), Helioself ('97), and Buildings and Grounds (2000) -- the group's production values have increased and their range of styles and influences has broadened. A clear fondness for '60s and '70s pop artists like the Beach Boys, Beatles, and Fleetwood Mac colors much of their fare, making comparisons to members of the E6 collective inevitable, but Papas Fritas avoids the self-important experimentalism of many of those groups, opting instead to make clever, colorful, palatable pop guaranteed to bring a smile to the scowliest of faces.

The riotous "Let's Go Down to the Town Oasis" can be found only on Tape Op Magazine's Creative Music Recordings compilation. It's available from Tiny Telephone.