2nd Grade: Hit To Hit (2020)

Hit To Hit is the second outing from Philadelphia-based indie rockers 2nd Grade, and on first listen it's a solid contender for one of my favorite albums of 2020. Think Guided by Voices, but less lo-fi and more deliberately poppy. 24 songs in about 42 minutes, most about 90 seconds long -- verse, chorus, and move on to the next one. It's a delightfully sprawling mess (in the best way), some kids set loose in the recording studio and going a little crazy, like an indie version of Lindsey Buckingham recording Tusk (hey, there's even a song called "Over and Over" to support the analogy).

Stylistically it's all over the place, from Pavement-like skewed indie rock to Elephant 6-tinged retro-pop to the humorous absurdity of They Might Be Giants, with shades of casual indie rockers like Ultimate Painting and Unlikely Friends. (The strongest comparison may be another band I've been meaning to bring up here, Connections, who similarly pack their releases with pithy, rapid-fire skewed post-punk pop-rock tracks.) Opener "W-2" is a frenzied little lo-fi rocker, a shot across the bow; "Trigger Finger" is spunky and silly post-punk; "Velodrome" is jangly power pop--and that's just the first 4 minutes. Other fun stand-outs include the absurdist "Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider" (which is about... well, I guess Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider); the delightful baroque pop tune "Shooting From The Hip"; the fizzy alt.pop "Sunkist"; punk-pop blast "Sucking My Thumb"; new wave-infused "Boys In Heat"; the Brian-Wilson-crossed-with-GbV "Summer Interlude"; and the brilliantly titled and truly wonderful "When You Were My Sharona," a lyrically playful bit of nostalgia that calls to mind a more guitar-oriented Magnetic Fields.

The more fleshed-out songs are interspersed with a few solo acoustic ballads, providing a little breather along the way.

Here's the video for "Velodrome" and "My Bike":
...and an audio rip of "When You Were My Sharona":
Go pick it up at Bandcamp.


  1. Ion: Really enjoying this album. Short, concise (and diverse) pop songs that don't overstay their welcome -- the song samples are just a few seconds shorter than the actual song :) Thanks for schooling me on these second graders.


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