a small gem of fuzzed-out pop. The songs and odd touches (like the piano
or marimba on "Harder To Fine" and bells on "I Work Alone"
bring back memories of Flying Nun goodies like the Alpaca Brothers and
Bird Nest Roys, while the guitar and voices hue closer to Amerindie-rock
grain. For once, the murky recording quality helps the music; I'm sure
most of the idiosyncrasies would get smoothed out with big production.
Michigan State News
Local band down released this debut EP on Lansing's fledgling Bonehead
Rex label. The 7" vinyl disc contains four songs, two on a side,
and that's about all we need to hear. The EP is extremely "lo-fi,"
for one thing, resulting in a frustrating listening experience. The
drums are barely perceptible, and the vocals, recorded through a cb
vox, are completely unintelligible. To their credit, down manages to
overcome the production handicaps every now and then, most notably on
the enjoyable "harder to fine." Overall, though, the music
is derivative of every garage band since the Ramones, and all the songs
wallow in a sleepy, mid-tempo rut.
Down is really down, as in depressing and mournful. All four songs on
the record are equally dejected, making one want to end it all either
by taking the record off or by taking an overdose of barbiturates. Bridging
the gap between Sonic Youth and Joy Division, with simple dissonant
melodies. Down want to make you as sad as they are. The sleeve says
something about cb vocals and that is exactly what they sound like.
As if the vocalist was 100 miles away singing into a lonely mike to
an uncaring ear.
Sendra's previous incarnation in Snake River has been lauded in these
pages, and this new outfit doesn't disappoint. All four songs are top
notch, lofi, and very sloppy- but no hindrance to sinking your teeth
into it. Only complaint is that the songs tend to run on, but I don't
mind when they're this good.
down majordomo Scott Sendra used to be in Snake River, and down carries
on in their grand tradition, with the difference that down kinda sorta
has hooks- it sounds like a sludgy, mid tempo wade through guitar hell,
but you can also hum along with it, and what's more, you'll actually
want to. Listening to Ride The Pine is a bit like having two shots of
Cuervo for breakfast- it's not for everyone, but it'll make your whole
day a lot more interesting.
D is for down, who slow things down and brighten things up on a four
song EP, on the new Bonehead Rex label. They sound a little like a number
of my favorite bands without fitting any easy categories. The slow tempo
allows the fine melodies to sink in deeper than they otherwise would,
even if it seems the RPMs are off by 3 or 4. But all the bells, busy
drums, loud, scratchy guitars, pained and sometimes painful vocals,
all add up to a splendid stupor of a debut.
Good About Your Body
My brother Scott, ex-Snake River, is head honcho of down. My pal Chip
plays bass. He and Scooter (drums) may be in Veronica Lake someday.
They recorded this single in the laundry room of my parents pad. Of
course, being a journalist, none of this familiarity sways the measured
opinion I formulated about this record, It is crap. Crap if you do not
own it, that is. Four songs that fit no genre, exploit no cliches, are
full of anger, wit, hooks, noise and soul and can actually be quite
nice if you can handle lo-fi sound quality and I know you can because
the songs and the performance count more than the ability to hear every
instrument clearly in the mix or whatever pansy-muso objections one
may have to lo-fi (although I wouldn't mind hearing what down could
do in a real studio- someone give em some dough and fast). Wow that
was a long sentence. All four songs are filled with emotion and imagination.
Scott's lyrics are funny and mean. My fave lines are in "I Work
Alone", a slow burn of a song that scrapes the fuzz out of my ears
with a bridge that takes off like the Concorde- the song is grooving
and grinding along when the chords take a major shift, Scott sings some
opera sized notes- "I am the tiger in your tank, the Allen Funt
in your prank"- over waves of feedback and my heart was ballooning
into my brain. Powerful, man. Scooter and Chip make up for what they
lack in technique by playing with enthusiasm and power. Which would
you rather have? I'm proud to call these fellas pals and be the founding
and only member of the Michigan Pop scene with them even thought they
don't play Pop purely. It's more their attitude that goes Pop! Spare
them some change and see what I'm mumbling about.
Nice, solid blue sleeve that recalls Factory Records and music that's
"more new wave than noise" (so say the notes) w/ a pleasant
sound and sludgy vocals with bass/drum way way in the background.