On their self-titled debut full-length, Philadelphia’s The Situation bring together an amalgam of influences that you will be hard pressed to pinpoint. You will hear the swagger of Britpop icons like The La’s and the Stone Roses mixed with the literate pop musings of American artists such as Bob Dylan and The Shins. Like the White Album or Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, the music on the album is decidedly anti-genre. Like Highway 61 Revisited or Blood on the Tracks, the lyrics on the album are well thought out, emotional ramblings — the two of these together make this album a daydreamer’s paradise. The artwork reflects album’s theme, flesh vs. spirit, which is summarized by the first line from the opening track, “Amoralia.” If this album were an essay on the human condition, this track would be its opening paragraph.
The core of The Situation’s gripping sound stems from the remarkable chemistry between songwriter Christopher Tucker and lead guitarist Joe Castro, whom Tucker dubs “Joey Marr” in reference to the Smiths legend. The group’s 2003 debut, The Reece Nasty EP, drew numerous raves from esteemed publications. The Philadelphia Weekly exclaimed: “Absolute fucking pop genius—if this was NME you were reading, there’d be a little tag above this that said Single of the Week.” The Big Takeover poetically observed that The Situation’s “walls of ringing, arpeggiating Rickenbackers and proper pop songs sound geographically attuned to the Liverpool/Manchester sound—the sound of the Mersey as filtered through the Schuylkill.” Magnet compared the group to ‘60s Brit gods The Kinks and The Small Faces, noting that they conjure “the same wobbly, psychedelic visions that the Brian Jonestown Massacre excels at.” On their debut, they excel even further — this is a capricious album that requires many listens to begin to understand.
Nearly four years in the making, the album was finally completed late 2005 and mixed by Philadelphia’s hardest working producer and soundsmith, Brian McTear whose credits include the likes of Mazarin, Matt Pond PA, and the Capitol Years.
Christopher Tucker passed away in July of 2008
Three years after the release of their debut EP, The Situation has finally finished and released their first full-length album. The Philly band may have obvious Britpop influences but they showcase something more as smooth melodies drive the self-titled album. Thoughtful lyrics and memorable tunes, The Situation knows their strengths and certainly plays them up. Melodies dance throughout The Situation’s album as each of twelve tracks seem to have a mate on the album which compliments it. Bouncing riffs intertwine with delicate melodies on “Amoralia” and “Modern Dances” while retaining a lightness that is balanced out on soft and smooth tracks that float easily by, like “Pine Street” and the charming nostalgia of “Latchkey Kids.” Vocalist and guitar player Christopher Tucker inflects some additional feeling by way of harmonica on “Black Cat Dice,” with its stripped down instrumentation that still offers some aggression, and “Let It Go,” as the song offers a poignant moment. The Situation delivers memorable moments with the stomping rhythm of “Pillbox Locket” before the band step out of the box with the quick moving “Cherry” that grabs your attention.
While the heyday of the mainstream Britpop movement may be long gone with the end of the 1990s, The Situation offer warm regards and pay tribute without getting too melancholy or repetitive. With the 2000s brings a new interpretation that includes so much more than just some guitar pop. The Situation’s self-titled full-length is a well-rounded release that delivers in all respects and gives you something to hum along to while you think over the band’s lyrics. (A-)
—Corinne (October 2006)
These boys love the Brits. The Cure, The Smiths, T. Rex, the Happy Mondays – you name the band and its stamp can be found somewhere on this disc. Lead singer Christopher Tucker even sings like a Brit at times, and this is a bit strange to me considering the band is straight out of Philly. But, affected British accents notwithstanding, there’s something delightfully old school about The Situation. These boys love the Canadians as well, or one in particular: Neil Young. Several of the songs are made up of simple guitar melodies and an accommodating harmonica, and track 3, “Pine Street,” is about a broom stroke away from being an edgier reincarnation of Young’s ballad-extraordinaire, “Harvest Moon.” Though billed as a pop band, The Situation is clearly bringing something very classically anti-pop to the table. Tucker is a brilliant lyricist. His words are poems but without any characteristic pretension or heavy-handedness. I am lusting after these lines from “The Migrant (Living in Your Ear),” the last song on the disc: “Shadows roam the wall / The dying leaves announce the fall / The dust motes dance with one another / And talk about the belle of their ball.” Other well-written songs, like “Amoralia” and “Black Cat Dice,” are sure to be the harbingers of some pretty well-deserved success for this young band coming off of their first full-length. I give the members of The Situation a 9 out of 11 for not only giving me such an enjoyable listening experience, but for also being inventive enough to give human characteristics to dust motes.
—Melissa Treolo (October 2006)
Would Rocky have beaten Drago had he come from Manchester? Possibly. Though much ado has been made about the fact that Brit Pop sound-a-likes The Situation are from Philadelphia, it’s not all that surprising. Switch in Manchester United for the Eagles, Eccles cake for cheese steak, and the River Medlock for the Delaware, and the US’s fifth-largest city is basically Manchester with trees. On their eponymous debut LP, The Situation demonstrate a grey-tinged nostalgia familiar to backwards-looking industrial towns on both sides of the Atlantic. Referencing myriad sub-genres with each clean lick of co-leader Joe Castro’s guitar and winsome word-turn of singer/songwriter Christopher Tucker, the LP is a near-perfect slice of pop rock for folks who grew up listening to everything from the Stone Roses to The Kinks, and think The Shins are pretty sweet. From the blues stomp of “Modern Dances” to the manic wah-wahs of “Cherry” and the McCartney quietude of “Photographs and Cherryade,” The Situation convey a mastery of all things Union Jack.
Yet like anything topping the charts at NME, even perfection grows tiresome, and one wishes The Situation would follow in the footsteps of Coltrane or Dead Milkmen or The Roots and do something new to put Philly back on the aesthetic map. Album standout “Latchkey Kids” suggests just how to do this. Singing over a spare acoustic guitar and slight percussion, Tucker gives a litany of experiences familiar to anyone who grew up in the suburban U.S. in the early 90s, which is at complete odds with the fact that the music itself sounds like the first half of “Stairway to Heaven.” The juxtaposition of a line like “Before most girls grew tits / We were the neighborhood latchkey kids / Selling Mike and Ikes / Spraypainting dirt bikes” the music of another era highlights a key tension in the retro-rock formula which could be exploited to give The Situation a remarkable edge.
The Situation have proved they’re readily capable of following a long standing formula here. They do a great job at creating tight pop rock and will no doubt catch a few ears with this release. But they’re crafting perfect Trans-Atlantic gems for a world already drowning in them. The Manchester band from Philadelphia will go the way of a thousand other rock acts to date if they fail to use their next effort to distinguish themselves radically from their legion of contemporary sound alikes.
—Paul Salamone (June 2006)
The Big Takeover
Three years after their debut Reece Nasty EP, Philly foursome The Situation still sound more like an English band, though all-eras England, and all styles too. “Modern Dances” does Small Faces like the young Oasis; “Amoralia” dares rock-reggae, coming off like The Police’s “Roxanne” without the fake Jamaican accent; “Pine Street” is lighter Smiths; “Paper and Pen” and “Mocking Fate” are Blur aping The Kinks on Modern Life Is Rubbish; “Pillbox Locket” is the Bunnymen being The Beatles; “Photographs and Cherryade” is the 1991 Charlatans; and every song reminds me of the 1985 Garage Flower Stone Roses. If this is still enjoyable, it’s because guitarist Joe Castro is a six-string wonder (you’ll spend the CD listening to him). And vocalist Christopher Tucker, for all his similarities to Stone Rose Ian Brown – in and out of pitch , even – is interesting. That’s the situation.
—Jack Rabid (May 2006)
New York Post
Formed by guitarist Joe Castro and frontman Christopher Tucker in 2001, the Philadelphia-based rock duo The Situation is hoping to become as prominent a name as the Smashing Pumpkins and Oasis with the recent release of their debut, “The Reece Nasty EP.” In the meantime, they’re amassing a considerable following in the Philly club circuit and are hoping to do the same in New York City.
All Music Guide
Following up their debut The Reece Nasty EP from a few years previous, the Situation’s self-titled full length turn is an enjoyable little album that takes its roots from a wide variety of sources, touching on everything from fragile acid-folk to (thanks to “Cherry”) full on funk. Opening song “Amoralia” almost starts off as an equivalent to the type of instantly-appealing music the Police were known for — crisp, spare but memorable hooks in particular — before bringing in a bit more desperate sprawl in Christopher Tucker’s chorus as well as Joe Castro’s lead guitar. (And even more thankfully, Tucker’s singing doesn’t remind anybody of Sting.) The secret key of the album might be that while there’s obvious roots in older strains of rock and roll, it doesn’t feel entirely musty, for lack of a better word perhaps. For instance, the fleck of Nuggets-era snottiness on songs like “Modern Dances” is delivered warmly and loosely, not in an overly-reverent ‘music is like this and no other way’ fashion which adds nothing to what has come before. It’s comfortable without being rote, and often, as on gently atmospheric songs like “Pine Street,” with a hint of blissed-out guitar, and the loping sweetness of “Latchkey Kids,” the overall feeling is one of welcoming warmth. There’s even a bit of classic rock surge on “Paper and Pen” that suggests where late seventies Pink Floyd might have gone if Roger Waters hadn’t been such a misery-guts dullard in the end. For all the variety, though, there’s a strong core in the end focused around Tucker’s sweet-with-a-strong-twist-of-sour delivery and Castro’s jack-of-all-trades guitar work, forming a good anchor for everything else. The stripped down “Photographs and Cherryade” captures it in particular, voice, acoustic guitar and not much more needed.
—Ned Raggett (March 2006)
Losing Today Magazine
This Philly band’s debut is steeped in good British musical history. Christopher Tucker’s vocals can sound like The Small Faces’ Steve Marriott one minute, and then turn to a full on Liam Gallagher scowl the next, but not before dipping into Lee Mavers (The La’s) territory along the way. And that’s just in the first song. Sure, it’s affected – after all, guys from Philadelphia don’t naturally sing like guys from England – but the band’s songs are so dead-on catchy (thanks in no small part to the crystal clear production – done by the band themselves) that you’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. “Modern Dances”, a boozy BJM-esque stomper, is probably the band’s coolest song, but fans of Rickenbackers and Anglophile retro-pop will find small victories in each one of these 12 songs.
—David Mansdorf (May 2006)
The Big Takeover
The Reece Nasty EP
Straight up: any band that thanks The La’s leader Lee Mavers in their liner notes is A-OK in my book. This anglophile band from Philadelphia has got a groovy little thing going. They sound like a rather good combination of Oasis (without the heavy guitars) and their Philly lysergic pop peers (Lilys, Three 4 Tens, Asteroid #4) with a bit of old meleons thrown in for good measure. Walls of ringing, arpeggiating Rickenbackers and proper pop songs sound geographically attuned to the Liverpool/Manchester sound—the sound of the Mersey as filtered through the Schuylkill. A more cynical person might call this derivative but I think the world can always use a rehash of pure pop this good.
The Reece Nasty EP
Philly’s resident Madchester fetishists? Yep. There are some Stone Roses and Charlatans, but you’ll also hear echoes of the Small Faces and Kinks. There’s only one misstep: “The Greatest Thing,” an Oasis ripoff. But the quartet is at its strongest when not trying to ape a specific band; “Why I Can’t Relate” neatly revisits an era (Great Britain in the mid-’60s) and a genre (freakbeat—consult the second Nuggets boxed set), while “Don’t Wait For Me” conjures the same wobbly, psychedelic visions that the Brian Jonestown Massacre excels at.
—Fred Mills (November 2003)
The Reece Nasty EP
New Philly band led by the elusive Chris Tucker and sounds like Ben from Elephant Stone has a real winner here. The band seem to be in the same ballpark as other like-minded gazers like Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Out Crowd and I swear “The Best Prescription Pill Available” is the best song I’ve heard this year (ok, so the calendar reads 1/5/04… but still) while “The Greatest Thing” lopes along lazily stopping for all of the yellow lights. I’ll bet these guys are huge in Britain (or will be once people hear of them). And possibly here on our shores too, if people would take their heads out of their asses for once.
—Tim Hinely (April 2004)