Mice For Almost Ever Scooter

It seems criminal that this outstanding mid-’80s Cleveland trio imploded before they found any acclaim. Led by Bill Fox, who later released two spectacular solo albums on spinART in the late ’90s, the Mice made raucous, earnest pop rock frustrated with the state of the union. This CD collects both Mice releases: 1986’s EP For Almost Ever, and their 1987 LP Scooter. The Mice’s take on the Reagan-era is much more melodic than say Black Flag or the Minutemen, but no less pissed off, as is evidenced by the incendiary lyricism of "Not Proud of the USA,” Fox’s own "God Save the Queen.” The young band — Bill’s brother Tommy was only 15 when he pounded out the Keith Moon-ish traps on For Almost Ever — stand up as one of the decade’s best power pop bands, even with only 16 songs to their name. It’s no surprise that the band has been cited by bands like Superchunk and Guided by Voices as a major influence. For Almost Ever’s "Downtown” and "Not Proud of the USA” show early songwriting prowess from Fox, but only hint at the brilliance that was to come. Scooter is a remarkable coup. As jangly chords and a bouncy bass line open "Little Rage,” you know you’re listening to something special, vaguely reminiscent of the harmonious pop of ’70s Beatle fan Emitt Rhodes. The ante is upped with the hurried "Bye Bye Kitty Cat,” whose driving rhythm is laden with arena rock riffs. The Mice’s blend of controlled chaos (most notably in little Tommy’s penchant for cymbal crashing and frantic fills), cutting witty lyrics and singable melodies make them standouts and an absolute must-hear, particularly if you like the pop in your rock. (Scat)