Megadose- Heating Up

by | Jan 23, 2023 | Reviews

Megadose Heating Up


“Time moves fast, I move slow, I keep looking backward, not which way to go,” Megadose frontman Stephen Steen sings on the opening track of the group’s newest record, and indeed time has moved fast. It’s 2023, and everyone has barely (or not even) wrapped their heads and/or ears around all the music 2022 had to offer, and this year is bringing new and exciting albums already. Now, Steen may not have been citing this change in calendar numbers specifically in this lyric, but with the album Heating Up, it seems this does coincide with his music appreciation and creation. And just in case anyone is thinking otherwise, yes, this is a good thing.


Based off their swiftly created 2021 debut album, Wild & Free, their specific brand of pop rock has been described as combining elements of new wave, slacker rock, and power pop. Sure, there were some power pop riffs on the album, and the title track is one of the most Ric Ocasek sounding non-Ric Ocasek songs since “12:51,” but the debut sounded anchored in the ways of 2010s indie slacker pop rock, matching the laid back atmosphere of Real Estate’s 2011 album, Days. The album did show heavy Jonathan Richman influence, with “My Self-Punishing Odyssey of Despair” being a particular standout in this regard, however I’d be hard pressed to find any indie band that didn’t have the first Modern Lovers album somewhere in their DNA. But if Wild & Free was meant to define the band as a current indie pop rock band, Heating Up is meant to shatter that expectation.


Megadose portrait

Megadose (photo by Chona Kasinger)


On this sophomore release, Steen and company prove that they know “time moves fast” and that they “keep looking backward” by performing pop rock songs that sound like they fit in every decade from the 60s to the 00s, and curiously (almost) completely leaving their easy-breezy 2010s indie vibes to their 2021 selves. The one slight exception is “Rock Yer Head,” which has an introduction that almost feels like a 2010 LCD Soundsystem bit. And though one may want to “Rock Yer Head” to “Dance Yrself Clean,” this track goes on to sound very 00s Room on Fire influenced, which only means Ric Ocasek is a grandfathering influence this time around rather than a fathering one.


The 90’s show up on the Britpop-ish (by way of Supergrass) second single “Pigs,” a catchy bass heavy song that challenges notions of traditional masculinity, and the Mazzy Star style neo-psychedelia of “Mote of Reflection” and “Fade In” (the “Fade In”/”Fade Into You” is inconsequential). The 80s appear immediately on album opener “Silver Cup,” which would sound right at home on The Stone Roses’ 1989 self titled debut. 60s pop comes around with “Minor Groove” that feels like a Zombies’ track, and album closer/ third single “The Voyeur,” where they play with prog rock sounds a la late 60s-early 70s Moody Blues, though Steen sings “Dead-ass, no lies,” to remind everyone they are not quintessentially British.



The remaining four tracks, arguably the album’s centerpieces, are all embodiments of 70s power pop, and solidify that even with the range of influences, this is a power pop record. Badfinger, Sweet, Starz, Raspberries and Cheap Trick’s influences can all be heard in these tracks, but none more so than the defining 70s power pop band Big Star. Where Jonathan Richman was the godfather of Wild & Free (and he does still play a part here), Alex Chilton of Big Star takes on that role for Heating Up. Lead single “Hey 911” which the band says “offers a winking retrospective on the ironies born of experiencing global trauma, a stunted political uprising, and too much time by yourself,” is incredibly Chilton influenced and “Summer Fest” and its country influences harken back to the Memphis roots of Big Star (and the song “Thirteen”). “Tahuya Cruisin’” is very Big Star sounding as well, but the audience addition recalls The Rolling Stones’ 1965 EP Got Live If You Want It!, which was very influential to Big Star themselves.



The centerpiece of the centerpieces is “Jackie’s Gotta Run,” which is a rollicking power pop tune with an accelerando at the end that sounds as if some angsty kid in the 70s was playing it and his little brother came and hit the switch from 33 RPM to 45 RPM. And if these tracks somehow aren’t convincing that the 70s are this album’s focus, the cover will be. If a picture of Topher Grace was added to the album cover, it would be a scene transition of That ‘70s Show (also a show that features Big Star as its theme song).


Reading up to now may have some readers thinking, “how can an album so diverse even fit together apart from connections made by some genre obsessed music critic?” (or something like that). The trick is that Heating Up is not some compilation by Big Star, Mazzy Star, Stone Roses, and Moody Blues cover bands, this is Megadose interpreting these power pop styles throughout time in their own unique way. They make the album flow seamlessly through their musicianship and Steen’s lyrical wit, and combine these eras to form their own 2020s sound. And if looking back at their influences and making the music they want while not looking or worrying about which way they’re going make Megadose a bunch of slack rockers, then we are damn lucky they’re slacking. Dead-ass, no lies.


Heating Up was self released and is available now via Bandcamp and all major streamers.




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