ON APRIL 1, 2003, Dirtnap Records released the Exploding Hearts’ debut album. An explosive platter of needle-sharp guitars, adenoidal vocals, and sugary pop hooks, Guitar Romantic remains a defining moment in Portland music. Drawing from the traditions of glam rock and power pop, the four-piece turned in one of the most purely delightful rock ’n’ roll rekkids of the 21st century, boasting gems like “Sleeping Aides and Razorblades” and the unstoppable classic “Modern Kicks.”

On July 20, 2003, the Exploding Hearts’ tour van crashed on I-5 near Eugene after the band played a show in San Francisco. Drummer Jeremy Gage, bassist Matt Fitzgerald, and singer/guitarist Adam Cox were killed. Guitarist Terry Six survived, later forming the Nice Boys with members of the Riffs and holding high the Exploding Hearts’ legacy of candy-coated glam-punk. Meanwhile, Guitar Romantic endures, sounding sadder and sweeter with each year.