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Back Beat


First Appearance Their independently produced and distributed debut CD Boomerang, released in 1995.

Hometown Tulsa, OK

Classification Radio-friendly teen pop

Influences Jackson 5, Monkees, Bobby Sherman

The Story So Far The Hanson brothers -- Taylor (13, keyboards), Isaac (16, guitar) and Zachary (11, drums) -- began playing music around the house about six years ago. Together they wrote about 100 songs before striking out and playing live at dances and functions at local elementary schools. This led to more high-profile appearances at the NAIA Men's National Basketball Championship. In 1995 they recorded an album, Boomerang, and followed that up with a series of tapes, which were sold at their performances. One of these tapes ended up in the hands of Mercury Records VP Steve Greenberg, who quickly booked them into a Los Angeles studio to record their major-label debut, Middle of Nowhere, with hip producers such as the Dust Brothers (Beck, Beastie Boys) and Stephen Lironi (Black Grape). Their showcase performance at the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) convention in March, and the release of the single "MMMBop" to radio stations a few weeks ago have created a surge of interest in the talented tykes.

Analysis Not everything on their debut album is as potent as the wonderful updated Jackson 5 sound of "MMMBop." (Check out the shameless use of scratching on that song's chorus, courtesy of the brilliant Dust Brothers.) Still, these kids can really write and sing, and now that the Spice Girls have paved the way for a pure teen-pop revival in the U.S., we finally have some songs on the radio than can rival the glory days of '70s AM fodder from the DeFranco Family and Paper Lace.

What's Next? Middle of Nowhere will be released May 6. A tour is slated for the summer.