Tommy Keene: Songs From The Film (1986)

Terrific jangly power pop from the heyday of the college radio 80s, the DC-based Keene had a knack for catchy tunes that shone brightly on this, his second full-length album.  Arguably creating the blueprint for Matthew Sweet and others to follow, Songs was loaded with mid-tempo chiming treble-charged pop with catchy choruses, balanced out by the occasional harder rocker and quiet ballad.

The album is highlighted by the opening track, the outrageously infectious "Places That Are Gone," one of the most memorable indie pop tracks of the era, with a chorus that sticks in your brain for... well, in my case, about 33 years and counting.  The rest can't help but fall a little short, but there are a number of solid tunes, like the buoyant "In Our Lives" and "My Mother Looked Like Marilyn Monroe," which similarly demonstrate Keene's deftness with a killer hook, as well as closing ballad "The Story Ends" and a dynamite cover of Lou Reed's "Kill Your Sons" (which I prefer to Reed's original).  But the whole package is nice enough, even if it drags a bit here and there.

Even better, the CD release appended a number of bonus tracks, including the contemporaneously-released Run Now EP, which features two fantastic tunes in the title track and "Back Again."

Keene went on to a long-running career with consistently solid releases, though none that managed to lift him above cult hero status; he sadly passed a couple years back.  While Songs is a great starting point, there's also a pretty inclusive career overview (You Hear Me), as well as a fun covers album demonstrating Keene's skills as an interpreter of others' pop tunes, taking on everyone from the Who to Guided by Voices (Keene actually paired up with GbV's Robert Pollard as The Keene Brothers, recording a fine album that meshed their diverging pop styles).

Here's the video for "Places That Are Gone":
...and an audio rip of "In Our Lives":


  1. They're in Their Own World is a track that is added on the CD and it is one of my all-time favorites. The melody, the lyrics, good golly I get emotional every time that I hear that song. The LP itself is a winner, the add ons make it a no brainer to add to your collection

  2. I know it wasn't on this album, but "Back to Zero, Now" was one of the greatest songs of the 80s. Sadly, it gets very little airplay today, while other songs from that era ("I Melt With You" for example) get played to death.


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