Sometimes you have to take a little journey back in time to catch up with musical memories and those good tunes that hang out back there in your deep consciousness. I was kicking around listening to some High On Stress which for some reason reminded me of this band from the 00’s. I tracked them down on Bandcamp to find this 2006 release on the page for Jeremy Porter and the Tucos (who you might also want to check out:). The songs on this album really highlight the great music that can be delivered by three-piece alt-county bands.
Good guitar entry on this track and somehow the opening line, “I used to have some friends to ignore, ’til they went away…” recalls a piece of my own history. Solid bass and drums set a foundation for that squealing guitar that you know you miss…just a little… even if you do not want to admit it.
Sometimes I just like to have my mid-80’s Psychedelic Furs moments and today happened to be on one of those days. Hate me if you want to but seriously…
This track has that pleasant nostalgia of those days for me…it is not a rip-off of any particular song though as it is definitely an original. It just calls back to so many of those elements that I was chasing around back then, bouncing between The Clash, PIL, The Suburbs, Black Flag…and hell yes, even those Psych Furs. It was quite the collection.
Right away, the synth kicks in, announcing its twanging presence before the backfill drum beat kicks in to lead us into those airy vocals. The pacing has that pleasant dance groove to it, not the rave beat, just that slow, weaving rhythm where you lose yourself in the song’s atmosphere. You can get comfortable here and chill out for a good long time. Well done!
So, I was kicking around Bandcamp looking at Michigan artists and came across this album by Citizen. I have to admit, I had not heard of them before despite what I later discovered were several very solid prior releases. Having listened through a few times to this one, here are my thoughts …
They kick this off with “Death Dance Approximately”, which earns an immediate place on my list of fantastic song names. Right at the beginning there is a very brief organ sound…which for some reason I think is great. There are some tempo changes in this song that work really well and the drum is especially effective. Listen to the lyrics also as they are notable. One line that really caught me was, “I beat myself down until I cave in, I will pry and I will claw just to be heard.” It really evokes an internal struggle for me.
The bare bones drums that are in “I Want to Kill You” are great as is the guitar work on this tune. The beat here will certainly get you hopping along! Listen for the unique guitar right around the 2:25 mark – fascinating.
“Blue Sunday,” provides a nice down-shift from the first two songs and the Vox effect here plays very well with the tone and message in the music. There is really good atmosphere in this song and the cleaner guitar that comes in around 1:47 provides a good counter-punch to the other tones.
When “Thin Air” begins, the few few seconds of it have my brain scrambling as it immediately brings to mind some other song…which as of this writing I have still failed to come up with. That is not to cast any shadows here on Citizen, as the remainder of this song is all their own. There is a lyric line within, “I remember when you used to say that it’s time that complicates you,” which really caught me and gave me something to ponder..
The next selection, “Call Your Bluff,” has a solid, quick beat at the beginning that really builds anticipation and is combined with some poignant lyrics to make this a strong part of the album. I really liked the big sounds toward the end.
“Pedestal” is next, and all I can say is that …I really like the stark drum and the chanting lyric style…but the song kind of lost me along the way. As per usual, that usually means I missed something and I hope that you can find it when you listen.
You can definitely put on your dancing shoes (or boots…) for “Fight Beat” which has a great groove line right from the start and very interesting atmospherics. It is followed by “Black and Red,” which is the only song on this record with which I could not find any connection. On “Pedestal” I had the beat and style that I could hang onto but this selection left me behind completely. When that happens I do try to figure out why and in this case I think it is the range of styles within the song. Individually I like those pieces; however the arrangement here is just a little too chaotic for me.
Next up is “Glass World.” It has a great guitar sound at the beginning with a drum that cuts in between which really sets a solid foundation. The pacing on this song, which is on the slower end for the record in general, is very effective in delivering the tone and mood. That is followed by “Winter Buds” which, rather appropriately, has a melancholy ambiance and is lyrically very strong.
A very effective and fitting end-cap for this release is provided by “Edge of the World.” It has a driving beat that coveys an anxious energy throughout the middle part of the song.
Overall, this an album worthy of a buy and much listening. This band plays tight and brings a distinct style to this recording. This is some combination of emo- dance and punk that is very effectively stitched together. Although you can hear the various influences throughout, they blend them together well and make their own sound from those disparate pieces. They also have a knack, even on slower paced songs, for providing a lingering dance beat just below the surface almost waiting to explode. It does not always show itself, but it is there and gives you a sense of anticipation.
As I was casting about for new music this week I ended up looking toward Michigan and came upon the recent release by Detroit’s The Tellways which is titled Out To The Cosmos. I gave it a listen and came away impressed by the composition of the music and the nice way that they weave Motown and R&B influences in with island sounds. Soul and reggae music have always had a subtle equivalency to me and those parallels are evident within the music on this record.
The lead-off track is “Anxious” and it is a good listen with a slightly (and appropriately) nervous undertone, simple yet poignant message and some very nice horns 🙂
The next song is “Keepin’ Me Up” and you can definitely hear those Motown influences within the music. That call-back to soul and R&B was evident within the first minute and yet was still subtle enough to blend in well with the Caribbean rhythms.
“Believe Them The First Time” has a slow, soothing flow to it and delivers a direct and simple message. I really liked how the horns were woven in here also and the way they provided accents to the other instrumentation on this song. I have listened several times and this remains my favorite on this album.
That is followed by “I Don’t Need To Tell You” and “Cool And Luke” which flow nicely within the album although I did not think they were especially notable other than the beginning to “Cool Hand Luke.”
When I read the title of the next track, “Space Force,” I was not sure what direction it was going to take…and I am still not 100% sure of its underlying intent. Humor? Sarcasm? It remains a mystery to me but I did find the line, “we brought our own water,” to at least be quite funny.
“Tellway Stomp” is a feel good song celebrating the band’s sound and positive influence and is followed by “You’re Really Something (2020)”, another track where you can really hear the R&B vibes. The next three songs (“Closer – 2020”, “Let Me In -2020” and “Friendly -2020”) are solid inclusions, with the middle track of the three being the standout. It runs a close second-place for my favorite song on the album.
The album closes out with “Bow To Your Sensei (2020)” which is a very good (mostly) instrumental track with solid composition that includes horns, and some great guitar and bass. It feels a little heavy when listening but puts a nice finishing touch on “Out To The Cosmos” and sent me away feeling good 🙂
Overall I really like this band and what they bring instrumentally and with their direct lyrics. When you listen to this record is comes across mostly as a reggae / ska mix but you definitely find yourself with several pleasing, “Wait, what was that?,” type moments. And it will certainly get you feeling groovy and dancing!
They were taking it slowly but as the summer progressed she became more and more convinced that Leo was the man she was going to marry.This despite the fact that there were a few odd things about him.He was, of course, gone often and sometimes for extended periods of time and although he always had a briefcase Amanda had never seen what was actually inside of it.He would reply with, “trade secrets,” and “nothing you need to worry yourself about, dear,” whenever she asked him about it.When he was home he would spend hours pouring over out-of-town newspapers and also took to spending Saturday nights out of the house, claiming to be meeting up with his company’s executives.He never offered to take her along or introduce her to anyone that he worked with or to clients to whom he sold whatever it was that he sold.The time they did spend together though was tender and romantic and Leo would buy her expensive gifts and take her out to eat at fancy restaurants. He also told her that he stayed at the Radisson downtown, a very upscale place to live, although he had only taken her there on two occasions.
Hotel Radisson courtesy lakesnwoods.com
Gay 90’s Night Club
Naturally Leo was in fact up to his old tricks, just doing so much more carefully than he had in the past.By the end of June of 1944 he had pulled off an additional two bank robberies, one in Wisconsin and another right on the border of South Dakota.These had netted him a handsome profit and allowed him to continue his charade with Amanda along with courting a few other woman on the side.His Saturday “executive meetings” were in fact nights that he spent at the Gay 90’s night club on Hennepin Avenue, watching the strip shows and buying drinks for a variety of women. He also had another plan in motion, one which involved a trip to Flint, Michigan in early July of that year.
When Leo arrived Flint was well into its tenure as Vehicle City, USA.It was bustling with a population that was approaching two hundred thousand and offered all of the kinds of vice to which Leo was attracted.He was, however, not there for that kind of distraction.Away from the scrutiny of the parole department in Minnesota, he had decided that this particular risk was worth it.He had come to find a job as he knew that his current story was wearing thin with Amanda and he did not want to lose her.She represented his opportunity to “get respectable” with societal expectations and being married would also look good to his parole officer.Such a job would also allow for him to approach that PO and get permission to leave the state, or at least that was what Leo hoped to accomplish.Then he would be free from any worry if he was pulled over for some reason while traveling.It was all going to fit together nicely into his plan.Unable to completely avoid a little elegance, he took a room at the popular Durant Hotel, figuring that no one would know him so far from Minneapolis.
Durant Hotel Flint Michigan
He then set to work on finding a job, one that fit his preference for extensive travel and limited supervision.He found such an opportunity with King Manufacturing, a company that sold septic tanks and related equipment.They were looking for a salesman to cover twelve states and although Leo had no verifiable selling experience he convinced them to give him the job, mentioning his civil engineering degree more than once.He spent a few days training at the Flint location, learning about the products from a portly, bald-headed man named Larry, and then hit the road with a promise to send in his receipts and be back for the quarterly meeting in September.
Back in Minneapolis by early August, Leo did in fact receive official authorization to travel outside of the state for work relating to his employment.The record reflects that the parole officer confirmed his employment with King Company; however, as it is a fact that they knew nothing of his criminal record it would appear that Leo ran some kind of scam on them involving a false phone number and a friend who impersonated a company executive.The details of that, and how he explained the fact he had obtained an out-of-state job without leaving the state, are lost to history.
The day when this approval came through marked a turning point in Leo’s life.It was not, as you could perhaps hope, a turning point away from crime but rather one in which he realized that he could pull off his big scheme.He had managed to secure a good job, the ability to travel and case out places to rob, a healthy bundle of ready cash and a girlfriend who thought he was someone important.If he was careful, Leo was convinced that he would be able to live below the radar of the police, continue to fund his life through crime, and enjoy the good life.With that in mind, he asked Amanda to marry him on August 7th and they were hurriedly married on the 29th of that same month.A week later they purchased a house just outside of St.Paul in St. Anthony at 3100 39th Ave NE.Life was going well for Leo.