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Month: November 2007

Klipspringer – Everyone Kisses Differently

Klipspringer – Everyone Kisses Differently

http://www.myspace.com/klipspringer

Sprockett Records (www.sprockettrecords.com)

Bubblegum hardcore with a natural focus on the gum

Klipspringer’s fourth album, Everyone Kisses Differently, has the band barely flying under a parent’s radar to prevent that misunderstood teenager from having the album confiscated.

The album begins innocently enough with the radio-friendly “Hottest Girl on my Block” about the hot girl in the neighborhood that intimidates guys with her looks. In the song, singer Ty Kamm does his best Joey Ramone mixed with the pop punk sound of Blink-182 or Sum 41.

In “Phone World,” the album begins to lose its wholesomeness as band members angrily express their discontent with drivers who talk on their cell phones. With his throaty, death-metal growl, Kamm screams, “drive/ put down the phone and drive/die/put down the phone and die.”

The song does rock and would be enough to instigate a good mosh pit at a live show, but the subject matter doesn’t seem to justify that level of angst, assuming the intended message is not about irresponsible drivers, but about the overreactions of others toward those who drive and talk.

The red flag comes in the form of “Hate to Have to Kill Somebody.” An upbeat lounge tune with an un-credited female singer who sounds like Gwen Stefani if she were huffing helium, the song attempts to combine a pleasant laid back sound with dark, sinister lyrics. However, it comes across as derivative and too goofy to be disturbing.

“59 Priests Walking” (Minnesota Mix) is a mellow, euphoric instrumental tune with spacey keyboards. The slow, melodic guitar and bass perfectly compliment the dreamlike state.

Band members emerge from their pleasant dreams and randomly go off on the human race with a tale of how Jesus hates us. “I gave you evil and the rain/I gave you death, I gave you pain/don’t ever put your faith in me/I’ll strike you down and watch you bleed,” belts out Kamm as he self-assuredly speaks for God.

The final track performed by Klipspringer (the last two songs are by Ottre Pop and Blood Booger Combo, featuring members of Klipspringer), “Everyone Kisses Differently” is a mellow, piano-driven tune.

With whimsical lyrics like, “everyone kisses differently/everyone has something to show you/everyone kisses frequently/everyone has a mouth which to blow you/a sandwich to goad you/a planwich to snow you,” the song could have been written by Adam Sandler.

Klipspringer is a decent pop, punk band, but it seems as though the members are rebelling against the fact they are really a less successful version of The All-American Rejects.

In light of this, the occasional edgy, somewhat controversial lyrics come across as silly and out of place, which may be a perfect stepping stone of self-discovery for that misguided teenager.

David Miller

thedavid@independentclauses.com

ALMOST FAMOUS KITTENS WITH A WHIP

ALMOST FAMOUS KITTENS WITH A WHIP

by

David Miller

It’s the early ’90s and the college rock scene in Norman, Oklahoma is creating a constant buzz in and around Campus Corner. Abused telephone poles are riddled with staples as multiple handbills warn the public that the sounds of local bands such as Blemish, The Wake, Barnyard Slut, Ancient Chinese Penis and The Nixons will be saturating the ears of University of Oklahoma students and beyond. However, the one band that would serve as the quintessential symbol of college rock for the town was alarmingly titled The Chainsaw Kittens.

“With the band now as it is, we’re just gonna keep going and trying to push any kind of boundaries we can.  And, you know, if I have to do it in a dress I will.”

This was Chainsaw Kittens singer Tyson Meade’s ambitious, yet somewhat bizarre mantra in 1992, shortly after the release of the band’s second album, Flipped Out

In Singapore.  This very proclamation hinted at The Kittens’ unfortunate and senseless demise, despite Meade’s donning of a dress, which he often did during those early years.

According to a June 2002 feature on PopMatters.com, The Kittens were manifested after Meade’s previous band, Defenestration, went “out the window” after touring for their second release, Dali Does Windows.  Meade moved back to Norman with no specific musical prospects on the horizon and took a job at indie music store Shadowplay Records, where future Kittens guitarist Trent Bell was a regular customer.

“Trent told me about these guys that had a band in high school that were about to kick out their singer and said they’d be perfect for my songs,” Meade said of the serendipity.  The Chainsaw Kittens were birthed, and within a month they’d released a demo and were in negotiations with Mammoth Records.

The band would release three full-length albums and two EPs through Mammoth Records before signing to the major label Atlantic Records in 1994.  This would be the only album The Kittens released on Atlantic Records.  When Mammoth and Atlantic merged, The Chainsaw Kittens and Juliana Hatfield were considered the top contenders for widespread publicity, but then Atlantic reps discovered Collective Soul and Fountains of Wayne, turning their focus and money toward these groups instead.

“The Kittens never really had a big push at the major level, which is what it takes,” Meade explained. “Fountains of Wayne had Madonna’s management and a million-dollar record deal and were banking on being Weezer Jr.  Collective Soul sold 125,000 copies on an indie in Florida before Atlantic picked them up, so basically

Atlantic just had to do follow-up work to make them successful.  They owed most of their success to themselves.”

After the band’s glimpse of mainstream success with Atlantic came to a halt, Meade and company, who, along the way, had befriended The Smashing Pumpkins, signed to Scratchie Records, a label started by Pumpkins bassist D’Arcy Wretzky and guitarist James Iha.  The Kittens were slated to release a 7″, an EP and four full-length albums under the Scratchie label.

Scratchie soon merged with Mercury Records and The Kittens released their self-titled album in 1996. But then the Atlantic Records experience came back to haunt the band.  According to the PopMatters.com feature, groups such as Prodigy, Hanson and The Spice Girls were dominating the music scene, and suddenly the Mercury label dropped Scratchie’s band roster.

The Kittens then began to drift apart but reconvened for one last album, 2000’s The All American, released under the Chicago-based label Four Alarm Records.  With no further aspirations of making it as a mainstream rock band, Meade went on to obtain a degree at the University of Oklahoma and now teaches English in Japan. Trent Bell runs a successful recording studio, Bell Labs, in Norman, and Matt Johnson and Eric Harmon started the band The American Boyfriends that has since gone by the wayside.

During the band’s frenetic existence of the ’90s, it opened for acts such as The Smashing Pumpkins, Iggy Pop and The Flaming Lips, but it was the show in which The

Kittens opened for Jane’s Addiction that sparked mega-fan Scott Smith’s Stepford Wife-like fascination with the band.

“Jane’s Addiction was playing at The Myriad in OKC, but they weren’t what made the show memorable. I like Jane’s Addiction but that was the night I fell in love with The Chainsaw Kittens,” Smith said.

“Guitars were wailing, drums pounding, and a bizarre shrieking was blaring from the stage. The insane hollering poured out of the mouth of a wild-eyed man covered in sweat, bleeding eyeliner, old lady jewelry, and a huge sweat and hairspray-covered mane that resembled lemon-yellow cotton candy. The energy of the over-the-top performance sent a surge of adrenaline through my body that can only be described as that feeling you get on a roller coaster just after the last click of the chain but just before the drop.”

Shortly thereafter, Smith would make the trek from Lawton to Norman to purchase Violent Religion, The Kittens’ ear-burning, cute, pop violent debut album.

With Tyson’s voice alternating between a smooth falsetto and a flesh-ripping scream faster than Sybil changed personalities, and the band’s catchy, yet disconcertingly decadent sound that would, according to a Kittens handbill, “make the blood swirl around in your ears,” Violent Religion is easily the most coveted CD in the band’s discography.

Having attending more than 20 Kittens shows, Smith said one performance replays itself in his memory. During a performance at The Hollywood Theatre in Norman (now the OU Law Library and election polling center), “Tyson performed the show in a drunken stupor. [He ended] with a climactic vomit session as the show closer.”

Despite the roughly seven years that have passed since the band’s last serenade, the band’s most devoted Zen Kitties still scratch and purr at its MySpace door.  Boasting

nearly 1,000 “friends,” The Kittens’ page is riddled with praise, requests for a reunion tour and statements of utter devotion to the band.

Flipped Out In Singapore is a goddamned piece of excellence that I still keep within arm’s reach. This masterpiece has been my drug of choice for 14 years now… definitely in my top five of all time,” posts “Waldo” on The Kittens page.

“Even after being attacked by Mark Metzger for stealing his beer off the stage, having Kevin McElhaney steal my girl and throw a punch at me, and watching Tyson vomit on-stage countless times, I still love these guys,” Kittens’ MySpace friend “Casio” unabashedly proclaims.

Though most of the band’s catalog is unfortunately out of print, new converts can find many Kittens’ albums listed inexpensively on eBay, and as well as in various indie record stores around the United States, the UK and Australia.

Jena Berlin- Quo Vadimus

Jena Berlin- Quo Vadimus

www.myspace.com/jenaberlin

Jump Start records (www.jumpstartrecords.com)

Rock with a hint of socialist optimism

Although one should not rely on Jena Berlin’s new album Quo Vadimus as a direct definition of socialism, there is definitely a hint of it in this rock album.

The band’s name comes from the two cities where Karl Marx attended college. One would expect to feel this through the music, but instead there is a feeling of a lost cause.

In “I Swear We’re Leaving” I swore I had heard this song somewhere else and remembered that it was just commercial sounding. “Who am I?” is a phrase shouted throughout. It would be a good idea for Jena Berlin to figure out who exactly they are before they are lumped into a genre that is not quite punk, not quite mainstream and not quite a band that is sellable to either side.

Although some gimmicks were employed in “Crossed Arms” it wasn’t disappointing. The band would probably be better live, as they scream “Get up!/Get up!” They have some finesse in this song and the rhythm changes quite often, keeping one’s attention. On stage one could imagine during these changes the band is going crazy, and I can only hope they do because that may be their only saving point.

Throughout the Quo Vadimus there are aspects that could make the band successful and almost make this album an astounding one. But in the end one could not distinguish Jena Berlin from all the other wannabe punk bands. Just from listening to them, one would so badly want them to come together more gracefully, less rehearsed and more genuine.

Quo Vadimus is a record one should keep in the back of the mind. Watch this band, they have a spark of potential but are just waiting for that moment of “Eureka!”

-Marilyse Diaz

mjork@independentclauses.com

It’s Not Normal Bias to Love Marc with a C

It’s Not Normal Bias to Love Marc with a C

By Megan Morgan

In fourth grade, Orlando-based musician Marc with a C, also known as Marc Sirdoreus, wrote his first song lyrics and discovered it wasn’t as easy as it looked. But since that young age, Sirdoreus has learned a lot about songwriting. Now, at 29 years old, he delivers quirky humor wrapped up in catchy, acoustic melodies and owes it all to seeing The Who’s Pete Townshend back in 1982.

“I was only about five or six, but it completely blew me out of the water,” Sirdoreus said. “By the time I was 10 years old, I probably owned every Who and Pink Floyd album.”

These early influences motivated Sirdoreus to make music. After being involved in some “spotty” music projects growing up, Sirdoreus first played on his own before a live crowd when a local band he had been working for was running late. He was asked to fill some time, and so Sirdoreus played a cover of the Laverne and Shirley theme song as well as some of his own material to a crowd that seemed to enjoy it.

In 2002, Sirdoreus released his first Marc with a C record, Human Slushy. He described the music he makes as “really sarcastic, lo-fi indie pop.” This sarcasm can clearly be heard in songs like “Life’s So Hard,” where Sirdoreus pokes a little fun at the emo scene by singing, “I’m so sad, I’ve gotta write it in my LiveJournal, and then you’ll know my pain.” Lo-fi refers to indie music that is recorded with some flaws, such as distortions, giving it a genuine feel instead of an over-produced sound.

Since the first release, Marc has made numerous records including Bubblegum Romance, This World is Scary as Fuck and the 2007 release, Normal Bias, but making records is not just a job to Marc, it’s a passion.

“I’m addicted to making records,” Marc said and added with a laugh, “I make records because there’s a void in my record collection.”

According to Sirdoreus, Normal Bias is a very personal album, and includes songs about family like “Already Dead” and “Dear Son.” But instead of feeling anxious about the release of these songs, Marc feels relieved.

“It’s personal, but having it out there is like a great weight is lifted,” he explained. “I feel like a million bucks.”

Sirdoreus’ recording process is unique and extremely do-it-yourself. It only took him three days of nonstop work to record Normal Bias. He also recorded the songs in the order that you hear them on the album, giving it a very “real” feel. From the opener “Classic Country Wasn’t Multitracked in ’61,” to the closing “Happy to be Alive,” his voice gets more and more ragged throughout the album.

“It’s my favorite record I’ve ever made, and I know artists say that. I really mean it,” he said. “If something happened to me tomorrow, and Normal Bias was the last thing I made, I’d be fine with that.”

In addition to Marc with a C, Sirdoreus is also a drummer in the experimental space-rock band called Lo-Fi Is Sci-Fi. Sirdoreus’ best friend Chris Zabriskie acts as front man of the group and occasionally plays drums for Marc with a C. Sirdoreus describes Zabriskie as a phenomenal, realistic person who is “totally [his] muse.”

“Marc calls me almost every day and talks to me for hours,” Zabriskie said. “Literally hours on end.”

Frequent phone calls between the two friends allow them to bounce ideas off one another, and Sirdoreus plays Zabriskie many of his newly written songs over the phone.

“[Sirdoreus’] a serious songwriter, but his personality is just so bubbly and infectious that most people don’t really realize it,” Zabriskie said. “They’re drawn to him before they realize the real music being made here is just out of this world. Nobody is doing what Marc’s doing, [and] I’m honored to be a part of it.”

But outside of his Marc with a C persona, Sirdoreus is a busy guy. He works at Park Ave. Records, is a writer and editor for the blog RetroLoFi, hosts a pop culture podcast and, in his spare time, listens to records and plays board games. Spending time with his family, including daughter Juliana, is also very important to Sirdoreus. So much so that he doesn’t like going out on tour.

“I can’t stand being away from my family for two weeks for silly pop songs,” Marc said. “I mean, they’re important, but not that important.”

So whether Sirdoreus is playing Apples to Apples with his fiancée, enlarging his huge record collection, or playing “sweaty, fun pop shows,” it can be said that Marc with a C is marked with a colorful personality.

Greater Than B- Songs For Therapy

Greater Than B- Songs For Therapy

http://www.greaterthanb.com, http://www.myspace.com/greaterthanbrocks

No label

Rockin’ Pop-Punk with a face-first attitude

North Carolina rockers Greater Than B show off some A quality talent with their release Songs For Therapy.

With obvious influences from the likes of The Pixies (a cover of their classic “Where Is My Mind” is on the album) to The Starting Line and The Ataris, Songs For Therapy is balls-out power-pop/pop-punk that dives into the music with attitude.

The band has the technical know-how to be great. The sound is tight and they have a good dynamic between each instrument. There is some great guitar work from Quinton Owens that makes you want to do that slow motion head bang so many of us do in the car. You know the one I’m talking about. Owens also puts out some great lead vocals, and bassist Moss pulls off some nice bass lines, especially in his little solo in “Track 13.”

This album has a lot of energy. The music is good, if somewhat derivative and unoriginal sounding. But the attitude the band tackles the album with is awesome. These guys probably put on a fun live show, because the record just makes you want to rock out ninety percent of the time.

Some stand outs in the album include “Yesterday,” the aforementioned Pixies cover, “Where Is My Mind?” “The Shanty,” and the twelfth track, which is interestingly titled “Track 13.” These show the greatest emotional range of the band, from bright and energetic to mellow and dazed to dark and brooding.

Unfortunately, under scrutiny, the band has a largely derivative sound. Nothing they did sonically really makes one think of what makes them unique but more of what makes them sound like their influences.

These guys are good and can definitely rock out with the best of them, but it seems that they need to discover their own sound.

Nate Williams

nathanmw@ou.edu

Fiction Plane – Left Side of the Brain

fiction-planeFiction Plane – Left Side of the Brain

www.fictionplane.com, http://www.myspace.com/fictionplane

Bieler Bros. Records (www.bielerbros.com)

British pop-rock with a strong political influence and some reggae radness

As I listened to Left Side of the Brain, I was struck again and again by how much singer Joe Sumner voice reminded me of Sting’s. Then, while researching the band, I discovered that Fiction Plane is actually touring with the Police this fall. I thought it was pretty funny. Now, I don’t mean to imply that Fiction Plane is a Police clone; far from it. They definitely have their own style. But the two bands are both Brit pop acts that have obviously been influenced by ethnic musical rhythms. And Sumner’s piercing vibrato totally sounds like Sting’s. I wonder how their tour collaboration came about: did Sting hear Sumner’s voice and think, “Now, that guy can sing!”?

The lyrics on Left Side of the Brain belie more than a little dissatisfaction with world politics. In songs like the bouncy, reggae-tinged “Death Machine,” this is especially evident: “Don’t look so smug when we’re at war / You’re not the boss you’re just a whore / You keep your shoes so clean / Fuck you and your death machine / I ain’t gonna fight no more.” I’m tempted to quote the song’s lyrics in their entirety, but I shall refrain and simply hope that you go out and listen to the song yourself.

Now, in case you’re worried that this is another one of those obnoxious, self-righteously political bands (I’m looking at you, System of a Down), rest assured. Fiction Plane does a commendable job of implanting smart lyrics in catchy tunes, so you never feel like you’re being preached at.

One of the catchiest tracks is “Two Sisters,” another offering with a hint of reggae flair. In this one, Sumner bemoans the bizarre love triangle in which he appears to have gotten himself ensnared. Someone is angry about things, and that person has a gun. Bad news. Good song.

The album art is strikingly beautiful, created by Alex Lake in shades of grey with blood red accents. Here, again, there seems to be an embedded political message. The cover features two ballerinas, facing each other en pointe. They have wind-up keys in their backs, guns in their hands, and blindfolds over their eyes. They remind me of a variation of the Blind Justice figure. Inside, the dancers appear again, swirled together with machine guns, tanks, baying wolves and men on horses.

Fiction Plane is composed of strong musicians who play together well. Left Side of the Brain will appeal to fans of The Police (of course), but also to general rock fans and political malcontents.

Amanda Bittle

Amanda@independentclauses.com

deSol – On My Way

Daniel G. Harmann-Anthems from the Gentle War

www.myspace.com/danielgharmann

Hello Tower Media(hellotower.com)

An honest, wear your emotions on your sleeve, ambient wave of a down to earth work of art.

Stuffing Daniel G. Harmann into the emo/indie genre would be a slap in the face to this compassionate artist. Just as heartfelt as rhythms from New Order, Daniel G. Harmann is a solo man that makes his music out of pure honesty.

Harmann’s voice quivers with the melodies of his songs. In “A Dying Dove” his gentle voice conveys the stage of his life as someone who is searching for their place in a world full of turmoil. Daniel G. Harmann brings subtle beauty through his songs, something that should be admired.

Harmann’s simple, sometimes repetitive lyrics like in “I’ve Turned To a Life of Crime” make the album flow from track to track almost as if weightlessly. Harmann whispers, speaks softly, takes deep breaths and blossoms throughout this album.

It is hard not to appreciate an album such as this on a day spent out in the sun on a blanket just for you or inside sipping coffee while it sprinkles rain. The album can apply to many stages of life, which is masterful even if Harmann meant to or not.

I’ll go to sleep tonight listening to “Go Now, Rush Ashore” and in the morning I’ll wake listening to Harmann’s gentle anthems. Luckily for us, Harmann provides the perfect soundtrack to help pull us through good and bad times in his fourth CD that I beseech anyone who is a self respecting music lover to pick up!

Marilyse Diaz

mjork@independentclauses.com

Focus Shift

Focus Shift

I don’t listen to as much music as I used to. There was a time where I was pumping out 12 CD reviews a month for three separate publications, for an average of one CD review every two and half days or so. These days I do a lot more on the back end of music – making connections, managing staff, mediating conflicts, solving problems. Y’know, editor-in-chief stuff. That job has only become more real to me as we switch our focus.

Up until recently, the only way that Independent Clauses was able to help bands was through reviewing stuff or writing a story on them. The staff here at IC, displeased with this, went to work. We wanted to figure out how we could best help bands, and we’ve come up with a solution.

Instead of being a magazine primarily about helping bands get discovered by listeners, labels and radio, we’re going to be a magazine focused on distributing info that bands need. We’re going to run articles about how to be a band – how to book shows, how to manage catastrophes on the road, new ways to release music, new ways to make money as a band, new ways to be a band in general. We want to be the magazine that you need to read to be on the cutting edge of the post-record label music industry.

We’re shifting our coverage that way this month, with articles on Swimfaster Godwhispers’ new way to distribute music and Matt Jim’s world-class booking service. But we’re not doing it all at once – we’re also featuring a great article on Marc with a C that has almost nothing to do with being a band in a post-record label age. But it’s a heck of a lot of fun to read.

We’re still going to be doing CD reviews, as this is a valuable service we provide for bands. We’re still going to be doing concert reviews, concert photography and all that jazz. We’re not forsaking our bread and butter – we’re just going on a low-carb diet, so to speak. We’ll be putting a lot of the review-type content online, while putting a lot of the articles in the physical editions, which we’ll be printing quarterly. Our first quarterly edition is planned for release in mid-January.

If you’ve got any questions, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at Stephen@independentclauses.com . I check my e-mail a lot as editor-in-chief, so I probably will respond pretty quickly. After all, I may not listen to as much music as I used to, but I love music and musicians more than ever.

Stephen Carradini

Stephen@independentclauses.com

Daniel G. Harmann-Anthems from the Gentle War

daniel-gdanielharmannDaniel G. Harmann-Anthems from the Gentle War

www.myspace.com/danielgharmann

Hello Tower Media(hellotower.com)

An honest, wear your emotions on your sleeve, ambient wave of a down to earth work of art.

Stuffing Daniel G. Harmann into the emo/indie genre would be a slap in the face to this compassionate artist. Just as heartfelt as rhythms from New Order, Daniel G. Harmann is a solo man that makes his music out of pure honesty.

Harmann’s voice quivers with the melodies of his songs. In “A Dying Dove” his gentle voice conveys the stage of his life as someone who is searching for their place in a world full of turmoil. Daniel G. Harmann brings subtle beauty through his songs, something that should be admired.

Harmann’s simple, sometimes repetitive lyrics like in “I’ve Turned To a Life of Crime” make the album flow from track to track almost as if weightlessly. Harmann whispers, speaks softly, takes deep breaths and blossoms throughout this album.

It is hard not to appreciate an album such as this on a day spent out in the sun on a blanket just for you or inside sipping coffee while it sprinkles rain. The album can apply to many stages of life, which is masterful even if Harmann meant to or not.

I’ll go to sleep tonight listening to “Go Now, Rush Ashore” and in the morning I’ll wake listening to Harmann’s gentle anthems. Luckily for us, Harmann provides the perfect soundtrack to help pull us through good and bad times in his fourth CD that I beseech anyone who is a self respecting music lover to pick up!

Marilyse Diaz

mjork@independentclauses.com

Brian Buta – False Colors

brian-buta-album-artBrian Buta – False Colors

www.myspace.com/butamusic

Self-released

A driving modern rock collection with a hit mix of vocals, musicality and character

It’s been said by music critics that the golden days of classic-rock, or what some describe as years when talent was still attributed to popular music, are over.  But with musicians like Brian Buta making music, it seems like the tradition is still alive.

Brian Buta admits that False Colors is an eclectic variation of styles, but this diversity gives the songs a character that sets it apart from the average classic-rock influenced album.  Buta proves that he can pull off styles ranging from the driving, industrial opener “Caloris Basin” to the dark, intense “Black Ring,” all with an expert sense for composing his intense album with flow and grace.

False Colors, Buta’s first full length solo album, is brimming with potential.  Buta’s mesmerizing vocals soar over lyrics that range from impactful to deep and experiment with different styles and attitudes.

In the midst of all these styles it’s not difficult to find Buta’s dedication and passion for music.  The fact that he’s not afraid to expand his talents into a broad range of rock is admirable, especially in the face of musicians who tend to stick to the popular or known path.

“Motion Action” is the best song on the album.  It’s a culmination of all the greatest elements heard in previous songs: the driving force of “Caloris Basin” and “Emergency,” the vibrant vocals and melody of “The Ocean Floor,” the full, soaring rhythms of “Control.”

Also noteworthy is “Screens,” which is song one can lose oneself in.  The vocals are ensnaring, the lyrics are deep, and the interplay between the guitar and electric piano is perfect.

However, all the songs are worthy of notice.  The only weak point of False Colors might lie in the lack of variation between the first three songs, but from there out the album only becomes more and more gripping.  By the time the listener has reached “Young and Old,” a dark melody that with an unconventional beat, and “Motion Action,” it’s evident that Brian Buta knows how to put a classic album together.

Hannah Kokjohn

hannah.e.kokjohn@gmail.com