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Jan 13

Enon: “Window Display”

Enon -- High Society

High on Enon, that is (in case you can’t read the print on the capsule) . . .

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Around the turn of the millennium, the indie band Enon seemed like it just might be in line for a Big Breakthrough. They had a great sound: experimental enough to be fascinating and unpredictable (like Radiohead — not that they sound like them), yet catchy and cool enough to be appealing to a larger audience. Lead singer John Schmersal sometimes sounds like Ray Davies, and in some ways you can hear a Kinks influence, although I admit that may be mostly because of the vocal resemblance. Enon had a distinct power pop side to some of their songs, but listening to their albums as a whole, it’s very hard to pin them down to any more specific genre than “indie.” And if there’s one reason that they didn’t find a wider audience, it may have been their indie-ness — they never left the Chicago-based Touch and Go label. It’s an excellent label, yes, but not generally known for getting bands wide exposure. And if not for timing, that might not have mattered: it’s a near-certainty to me that Enon would have bigger if only they hadn’t made some of their best music just prior to the true maturation of the Internet new-music machine. We may take it for granted now that the Web is where we discover and purchase most of our music, but considering that the advent of Napster was 1999-2001, with iTunes and the iPod immediately following, it really hasn’t been that way for very long.

In any case, Enon released several great albums that it’s never too late to discover. Their second full-length album, High Society, released in 2002, would be my choice for a starting point — it’s an excellent, eclectic album full of sharp turns and detours, but always veering back to its power-pop roots in the end. And power pop doesn’t get much better than “Window Display.” There’s an overall edginess to the song, which is by turns pretty and gritty, if somewhat unfathomable lyrically — if you were to map out a route to my musical heart, in order to create a song specifically with the goal of having me love it on first listen, you would end up with something that sounds very much like “Window Display.” Which is exactly what happened the first time I heard it — instant Enon fan.

By the way, only now, as I was about to hit the “publish” button for this post, did I realize the entirely coincidental name similarity between Enon and Monday’s posted band, On An On. They could join forces and not really have to change their respective names: “On An On Enon.” And if you were really addicted to that band but had to kick the habit, you could join On An On Enon Anon.

Should I stop now?

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