Greg: In 1986, arguably, the most catchy song ever was released. In fact, if I were to say Europe’s “Final Countdown” you’d have it stuck in your head for days. You’re welcome.
Now, quite possibly the biggest opposition to the ’86 release has fallen in our lap. For most of us, Danielle Fishel was a quirky character in the TGIF lineup; but now underground rock powerhouse Decoded has me screaming “TOPANGA!” at complete strangers.
Help me out here, I already have enough restraining orders. I don’t need another.
Clay: I don’t have an earworm stuck in my head now, but I now feel compelled to watch GOB botch a bunch of magic tricks. Sorry. Illusions. I can’t really help you avoid restraining orders, but maybe I can redirect your energy: I was never a “Boy Meets World Guy.” Sorry.
But what I can say with certainty is that the song “Topanga,” as well as the rest of decoded’s EP of the same name rocks me to my core. The distorted guitar and bass coupling riffs just scream ’90s post-grunge, and in all the best ways.
Greg: Perhaps you’d prefer it if it were titled Winnie Cooper?
Derek Jordan and decoded have most definitely found a formula for ’90s dirty rock that never feels old or exhausting. On the contrary, it is instantly familiar and addicting.
There is a lot of emotion poured into Topanga and, as a whole, it conveys a tale of teenage crush, through mature lust and caps off with a deeply reflective, but inspiring track with “Not Easy Being Alone.” Through it all, I could not press stop , or hell, even pause.
Clay: Come back to me when it’s called Jenny Garrison. I’ll wait while you check IMDb. Whether you watched “Boy Meets World” or not, our whole generation did call her a sensation and a cavalcade of young men were infatuated with her on screen persona, which this song/album captures perfectly. And you are right, it is instantly addicting, but that is because every song feels like a singalong anthem. That works for an EP, but if decoded plans on putting out a full-length album, they might need to work on a little pacing.
Greg: Topanga puts the pedal down and drives hard, there is no doubt about that. And in today’s world of far reaching rock, it is refreshing to get a sound like this. Derek Jordan and Davey Rieley proved with The/Split that they worked well together, but with this release they strike a chord that is as well constructed as it is a change from their previous work.
The LA scene has always been known for its quintessential rock sound, they have flash, but when it comes to standards, they know rock. I love the fact that decoded doesn’t stray from hard work. Recording with a Harmony ’52, a Silvertone Amp and laying it down straight to reel brings a density to the release.
Clay: I have to imagine with this single that some of that hard work will pay off. Just listening to it, I can see a crowd jumping up and down in time with each power chord. But I want to go back to what you said about the EP conveying the teenage crush, I think it is more than that. It distills down the feeling of being a hormonally-charged young male with such clarity, from the afterglow of lust in “Last Night” to thumbing one’s nose at hypocrisy in the fuzzy and loungy “Judgment Day,” to the arena rock tale of the booty call in “I Can’t Control It.” Each track is a turbo-charged testosterone injection.
Greg: Instrumentally, I don’t think anything other than “turbo-charged testosterone” would quite capture the power of decoded. Lyrically, the progression from the the crush (“Topanga”) on through to the inspiring, well-worded realization that things are not the sunshine/innocence of our youth (“Not Easy Being Alone”) creates much more than some other LA Rock Album.
Decoded has proven themselves to be an ever-evolving rock based sound that continues to reach the next level while keeping a cool persona of seemingly just rolling with the punches. Whether it is based on their hard work or some predisposed fate, this is one band that is going places.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go scream “Topanga” at the top of my lungs…