by TOM HALLETT
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out.” – Lou Reed
SONG OF THE WEEK: “The World Is On Fire” – Matthew Ryan
Hey-ho, ‘Dial-heads! As we embark upon the sweltering, unforgiving month of August, it’s time once again to clean out the ol’ desk and bring the ‘Dial reviews section up to date. Soon, the leaves will begin to turn, the days will grow cool and inviting, and my mail bin will fill to overflowing with new fall releases. Ya just know I’ll be waist-deep in crapola national releases, a few decent regional albums, and the usual buttload of awesome local stuff, eh? No time like the present, then, to begin to whittle this beast down to a manageable stack, eh? Onward …
Major Changes/Minor Chords
Local sound-tweakers Popcycle return
with a tasty batch of catchy, understated pop anthems on Major Changes/Minor
Chords. Co-produced by Ben Durrant, this EP worms its way into your head (and
heart) and sticks as firmly and resolutely as a piece of old Christmas candy
buried in the cushions of your grandma’s sofa.
Kicking off with the scrumptious pop tease of “Little Jewel,” the
album lives up to the band’s name with a mighty flourish, all ringing
guitars, cracking snares and heavenly, Brian Wilson-esque harmonies. “What
You Can Lose” is a picture-perfect aural snapshot of an endangered relationship,
with devastating lines like, “Lately, everything feels like it’s
falling apart/ Maybe, it’s just me/ It’s not like I thought it would
be …” Lead singer/songwriter Scott Peterson craftily captures the
nearly overwhelming feelings of loss, regret and pain inherent in even the most
civilized break-ups: “I said some things I wish I could take back/ But
I can’t/ I found out you can lose more than your cool when you rant …”
Blazing guitars, moaning keyboard runs and choked vocal stylings cement the
song’s genuine, melancholy vibe.
Other must-hears include the snappy, smart-ass ditty “Mr. Rock And Roll”
(with such biting lyrical chomps as, “Here comes Mr. Rock & Roll/
He’s an overrated phony, man I wish I was him, though …” and
“… I’m not sure if it’s silly or sublime, but I mean
every single word I say/ Most of the time …”), which closes with
a to-die-for musical assault that would surely set even the most frosty local
stage afire; the sigh-and-a-cry ballad “Our Love”; and the bittersweet,
generational mini-drama “Go Daddy Go,” which evokes such a wide
range of varied emotions it may as well be the band’s signature tune.
All in all, a tight, well thought-out, highly enjoyable side dish (I’ll
take a full-length anytime, fellers!) from one of the area’s most talented
pop/rock outfits. A great set of tunes from a cool buncha cats—check ‘em
out at popcycle.net or catch ‘em live on Saturday, September 9, 8 p.m.
at Station 4 in St. Paul for the Wild River Festival with Kruddler, The Humbugs,
Sick of Sarah and Christ Punchers.
Made Milwaukee Famous
Trying to Never Catch Up
They’re not from Milwaukee, they’re not famous (yet), they sound
absolutely nothing like Jerry Lee Lewis, and they don’t really seem like
the brew-quaffin’ types. But hey, they are strange, rebellious, frank,
wild in their own inimitable way, and delightfully challenging. All qualities
both Mr. Lewis and a good bottle of suds share, and if they can keep from marryin’
their own cousins and displaying bizarre, unsettling inner battles between the
debbil an’ Hisself, why, they just might end up famous after all, as well.
A keyboard-driven barrage of found sounds, reticent guitar riffage, emotionally-destroyed
vocals, and comforting, rhythmic skin-pounding combine to shape WMMF’s
distinguished, unique sound. Listening to cuts like “Hellodrama,”
one might suss slight resemblances to such varied artists as Modest Mouse, The
Lift, Portishead, The Arcade Fire, Lucky Jeremy, The Odd and old-school Cars
singles. Truth be told, they’re not really that much like anyone else,
and that’s a great quality, indeed—they’re fresh and original
enough that they recently played a coveted gig on Austin City Limits with pals
Franz Ferdinand, and their appearances at SXSW left a gaggle of groove-hungry
rock crits panting at their virtual door.
tracks here include the aforementioned “Hellodrama,” the easy, gurgling
ballad “Selling Yourself Short,” the thrumming, dark echoes of “Judas,”
the nervous, tenacious grip of “Sweet Lady” and the six-plus-minute
album closer “Bldg. A Boat From The Boards In Your Eye,” which neatly
encapsulates all of the band’s various styles, approaches and grooves.
There’s not a rotten cut on this collection, but it is a challenging first
listen. Not for Joe Dirt fans, small-town fire-and-brimstone preachers or kindly
but gossipy Piggly Wiggly clerks. On the other hand, look at what diverse followers
both Jerry Lee Lewis and that lil’ ol’ brew that made Milwaukee
famous have had over the years … check ‘em out for yourselves at
WMMF is also hitting town this week, performing at the 400 Bar on Wednesday,
August 9 with Lake Street Dive and One Great Day. 8 p.m. $5. 21+. 400 Cedar
Ave. S., Mpls. 612-332-2903.
That’s about all for this time out, kiddies … I would like to give
a quick shout-out to local Twin Cities reader Gary Vogel, though. Thanks a billion
for the Creem and Circus mags, bud—what a cool, thoughtful birthday gift.
You rock!! Thanks as well to the many readers who’ve sent kind birthday
greetings and to those of you who always seem to know just the right time to
send a kind line or a well-deserved bitch or rant. You’re all appreciated!
Tune in again next week for more reviews, raves, and rock n’ rollin’
… until then, make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/events that you’d like to see listed
in this column, or you’d just like to find out how to send your own copies
of lost classic rock rags to yours truly, send replies to: Tmygunn77764@yahoo.com.