Pope, “True Talent Champion” (Community Records)

Do kids still make each other mixtapes?

People love being right and being cool. Finding a band that your friends will love first is two birds, one side. We have to think that the desire to discover something for someone else still exists, even if the cassette has fallen by the wayside. And if any mixmasters want to flex on their friends with a few cuts they might not otherwise hear, Pope’s new album would be a great place to start.


The Houston-cum-NOLA alt-rockers have been away for two long years, but their commitment to unearthing and revitalizing the sounds of the original Alt Nation hasn’t wavered.

The crunchy guitar work, layers of fuzz and slack-as-hell vocals could have easily slotted into a mix back when they were still played on decks. Standouts like “Feels Like Home” set the slurred sonics of Pavement to the rapid heartbeat of Superchunk, topping the whole thing off with a nyah-nyah playground sneer of a riff.

While most of True Talent Champion could soundtrack a very special episode of The Adventures Of Pete & Pete, the band strolls out of the shadow of Robert Pollard for the truly touching and bright country tune “Slice.”

The harmonies on that cut and a few others betray the band’s status as millennials who love ’90s bands and not the genuine article. Nobody from Gen X would be caught dead putting in the work needed to sound this pretty.