The Breakup Society
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The Breakup Society

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Power-pop maven Ed Masley, ex-Frampton Brothers, revisits every hurt and every real or imagined slight he suffered during high school (or thereabouts) at the hands of girls. Introspective cynicism has always suited Masley: the final Framptons album, 1999's "File Under F (For Failure," detailed how his band blew it. But by translating his misery into boy/girl terms -- what could be more universal than the song titles "Never Wanted to Be Your Disappointment" (an early-Who-styled raveup) and "I Could Put You Behind Me" (Big Star meets Let's Active) -- Masley arrives at a thematically serendipitous spot halfway between Elvis Costello's "This Year's Model" and the dB's "Stands for Decibels." Sweet jangles mingle with power-chord crunch on "James at 35," a thoroughly exhilarating ride and a modern-day breakup/kiss-off classic in every sense of the term.
Fred Mills, Harp Magazine - Harp


Pittsburgh power pop pundits The Breakup Society clearly understand that rock 'n' roll works best when you wear a broken heart on your sleeve. Helmed by the mighty Ed Masley, late of the Frampton Brothers, 'James at 35' is intended to be a concept album about why girls act the way they do and about playing rock music into one's middle ages. It's all that and much more. Masley's reedy, romantically challenged vocals cut through a mind-blowing maze of ringing, crunching guitars. Drummer/keyboard player Bob Hoag's brilliant 'wall of backing vocals' fortify the numerous paeans to all the girls they did or didn't love before and vinyl heroes of yesteryear in three minute bursts of glory. 'Robin Zander' and 'The New Ronnie Spector' are worthy of their subjects in melody and execution as the band lifts familiar motifs to new heights. Sean Lally's searing lead guitar on 'She's Using Words Like Hurt Again' could indeed illuminate an arena, and Masley's echoed, car radio vocal on 'I Don't Give a Damn About the Sun' is downright Lennon-esque. The Breakup Society's arural influences are easy to spot: Cheap Trick, Beatles, Beach Boys, Big Star, et al. Perhaps rock 'n' roll isn't a young man's game after all.

Tom Semioli - Amplifier


As their name suggests, these younger, fresher fellows apply power pop to sad-sack songs about jealousy, lost love and the crush-worthiness of Robin Zander. So real you can smell the rec room paneling.

Doug Brod - Spin Magazine


Power-pop bands often toil in obscurity and become popular only after breaking up (ask your parents about Big Star -- or maybe not). Nevertheless, former Frampton Brothers vocalist Ed Masley is trying to buck that trend with the Breakup Society, a employing harmonies as complex as a Rubik's Cube, ragged British Invasion thrash, shiny, happy jangle and a heaping helping of self-deprecation via the lead singer of Cheap Trick ("Every girl I ever had a crush on had a bigger crush on you/Robin Zander"). - Alternative Press


On paper, it's a recipe for disaster: a concept album encompassing South Dakota, Cheap Trick, and Ronnie Spector. But, fortunately, nobody bothered to tell Ed Masley, the driving force behind Pittsburgh's the Breakup Society (and formerly of the Frampton Brothers, for those of you keeping score at home), that his idea for James at 35 read like a bad improv group suggestion. The trick to a coherent and enduring concept album/rock opera is to have a batch of songs that can stand alone as songs, not just have tunes that exist in service of the plot. And Masley, with his unabashed and seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of '60s garage and '70s power pop, understands that such tunesmithery is the key to avoiding the pretentious morass that can be the concept album. With that hurdle leapt, James at 35 is nothing less than a joy to listen to.... Like any good power pop album, it's full of lusting over and regretting time spent lusting over pretty girls. Masley knows that an audience weaned on Big Star, the Raspberries, Cheap Trick, and early Replacements is expecting and he delivers the goods. Every damn song is a three-minute gem, all hooky guitars, ooh aahs, and handclaps.... Thirtysomethings have a new voice for their generation in Ed Masley. - Pop Matters


With no appreciable improvement in his half-empty worldview, Masley applied his superlative power pop instincts to a fine new loserpop band, the Breakup Society. Loud, sweet and pungently memorable (reminiscent, as few recent bands have been, of Let's Active), James at 35 begins with an iconic blast of cultural genius, "Robin Zander," a roaring catchy rush in which Masley wonders — in the form of an open letter — why every girl he ever had a crush on had an even bigger thing for the handsome Cheap Trick singer. The rest of the album, which has former Frambro Lally on lead guitar, is equally winsome and personal, whether namechecking another world-famous star ("The New Ronnie Spector") or a local attraction ("Corn Palace"), recalling academic frustrations ("Introduction to Girls") or dissecting a more intimate exchange ("She's Using Words Like Hurt Again" and "Favorite Shorts"). "She Doesn't Know She's Not Supposed to Like Me Yet" (which alludes melodically to both Blondie and the Beatles) is indicative of the lengths to which our hero is willing to go to avoid (over)confidence; fortunately, the full-throated guitar pop buoys and boosts the lyrics, so what could easily seem dispirited and self-pitying comes off wry and resilient. In one of the cutest liner notes seen in some time, a plug for E-mailing the band mentions "romantic advice (for us, not you)." - trouser press


Discography

"James at 35"
The focus track is "Robin Zander"
You can hear three songs at www.myspace.com/thebreakupsociety.
"Nobody Likes A Winner" due to hit the streets in October, 2007, on Get Hip.

Photos

Bio

Recorded in the desert heat of Mesa, Arizona, "James at 35" is a hook-intensive blast of old-school rock 'n' roll with roots in vintage power-pop, pre-"Tommy" Who, the Troggs and old Phil Spector records, served up with a wall of vocal harmonies that effectively sweeten the deal without taking the edge off the raucous abandon of the band’s performance. A concept album about one loser's struggle to define himself through a series of failed relationships, "James at 35" was written by ex-Frampton Brother Ed Masley, hailed as "the last great unheralded man in American rock" at the All Music Guide. Harp Magazine called "James at 35" a "modern-day breakup/kiss-off classic in every sense of the term," while Pop Matters wrote that "Masley knows what an audience weaned on Big Star, the Raspberries, Cheap Trick, and early Replacements is expecting and he delivers the goods. Every damn song is a three-minute gem, all hooky guitars, ooh aahs, and handclaps," ending their review with "Thirtysomethings have a new voice for
their generation in Ed Masley."
In 2004, The Breakup Society played the CMJ Music Marathon and International Pop Overthrow in LA, Philadelphia and New York City. In 2005, the band was named one of 100 Bands You Need to Know in Alternative Press, while Spin magazine praised the album as "so real you can smell the rec room paneling."
The Breakup Society played SXSW in March of 2007. Two months later, Masley and producer/drummer Bob Hoag put the finishing touches on "Nobody Likes a Winner," which features guest appearances by Scott McCaughey of Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5 and R.E.M. fame, and Ward Dotson of Gun Club/Liquor Giants fame.