Prepare for takeoff

Lost on Liftoff launch Mixtape Blackouts
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  June 27, 2007
SPINNING A NEW DISC: Lost on Liftoff.

Mixtape Blackouts | Released by Lost on Liftoff | in stores July 2 | at the Big Easy, in Portland | July 14 | at the Asylum, in Portland, with Rustic Overtones, July 28
By the end of Mixtape Blackouts, the much-awaited full-length debut from Lost on Liftoff, I’m hoarse, exhausted, and not a little emotionally drained. This is a huge album, where every song delivers a powerhouse chorus, soaring guitars, crashing cymbals, and booming bass. Assuming you have the standard amount of self-consciousness most people possess, you may not want to listen to this in mixed company, for fear of finding yourself singing along so strenuously the veins are popping from the sides of your neck and that cute couple your gal wants you to make friends with suddenly thinks you’re a total psycho.

It’s rock and roll for the children of the me generation. Where our parents’ rock was full of bravado and chick-bagging, today we get giant walls of sound buffeting us with admissions like “I’m the one that failed you.” “Maybe You’re Right” is a terrific tune of self-awareness, opening with a warm glow of understanding guitars and finishing with a chorus that’s emotionally wide open: “It makes me feel that there’s something wrong/There’s no need to fight.”

Back in the 1980s, this kind of thing was done with synthesizers, rhinestones, and really bad haircuts (okay, everyone’s hair was bad in the ’80s), as proven by the wonderfully apropos “Don’t Change” cover that comes at song 12 here. The INXS track was originally released in 1982, with Michael Hutchence and company’s horribly named Shabooh Shoobah (really, what drugs were they on?), and was the kind of track that iTunes will say is similar to “In a Big Country” or World Party. But Lost on Liftoff completely own it, and with lyrics like “Don’t change for you/Don’t change a thing for me,” you’d never know they didn’t write it along with the other 12 songs of loves lost, found, and somewhere in between.

And how many of their fans were even alive in 1982?

Speaking of fans, those of Lost on Liftoff’s self-titled debut EP of early 2006 will get a little deja vu from the inclusion of “40 Miles” and “Naked and Wasted” here, but it should be a pleasant experience. Both are among the best singles I’ve heard on the local scene in the past five years (LoL frontman Walt Craven e-mailed me “40 Miles” in 2005 and it got about 500 plays in the Phoenix offices before the band had even played a show).

The new single, “Learning How to Say Goodbye,” lives up to those high standards. Shane Kinney opens the track with martial drums above ambient guitars and behind Craven’s vocals: “You know I can’t take this anymore/Things we know but we could not change/I shouldn’t promise you anything, and everything.” The chorus, “For the rest of our lives, we’ll remember this moment,” makes me wonder when rock has ever been this nostalgic, this vulnerable.

Even Steven Tyler’s “Sweet Emotion” was a “backstage lover, set your pants on fire.”

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