Most of you will know Alexi Lalas as “that American soccer guy”. In 1998, Lalas released the album ‘Ginger’ (his third, I believe) and it’s a fantastic record, full of power pop gems.

On the album, he not only wrote and sang all the songs, but played guitar, bass and drums. Lalas is a fine vocalist, but rather more importantly here, he proves himself to be a superb songwriter. You won’t find any deep or life-changing lyrics, but then that’s not what ‘Ginger’ is about. The opening number ‘Goodnight Moon’ sets the tone with its upbeat jangle, sure to please fans of Gin Blossoms etc. However it’s the album’s second track which really makes the listener realise they could be onto something a bit special; musically, it’s got a similar vibe to the opener, but a catchy, simple guitar riff gives it edge. The lyric “hey hey hey, just another cliché, too much too fast and it slips away” would suggest Lalas more than understands the fickle nature of the music industry (and fame in general) and come what may, he’s getting maximum enjoyment from his work – and that’s something which really comes across in most of this album’s performances.

‘Drive-by Serenade’ has a more mature sound and slows thing down a little. It feels less throwaway than some of the album, but somehow that doesn’t make it better. If you want a comparison, this fits snugly into the late 90s alt rock mode again and wouldn’t sound too out of place played up against the likes of Far Too Jones. It holds its own with the best music of that style. ‘Sonic Lullaby’ tears by in full-on rock mode – and is gone in under three minutes. ‘This Should Be’ is perfect Gin Blossoms style jangle-pop. I may even dare suggest it’s better than some of the material on their second album! ‘Vacancy’ is another slower number which combines both acoustic and electric guitars and is very reminiscent of Five Easy Pieces – another great and largely unknown band from the late 90s.

The songs on offer are so strong; ‘Ginger’ is an album with no unnecessary filler and at approximately 37 minutes playing time, it leaves you feeling like you need to give it that second spin when it’s done, just to help keep up the good vibes. If you’re a fan of ‘Hang Time’ era Soul Asylum, Goo Goo Dolls or Gin Blossoms (and particularly their side project Gas Giants), then you need this record. As far as largely ignored albums go, this is one of the greatest.

March 2010