|Just-released 5-song demo/EP Compact Disc (that's
right, they splurged on the big-dollar CD technology, instead of taking the cheap tape
route) on Omaha local label, Skinsuit. Maybe this isn't intended to be a demo, but with
only five tracks, one has to make assumptions...
a fairly professional package for what's basically a local indie release. Too bad they
didn't spend a little more money on the actual recording (it's just too damn tinny,
hollow, overall flat, way too quiet where it should be loud and vice versa.. you get the
picture.) Too bad because these songs are quite good in a retro '80s sorta way.
The opener title track, Countdowntogoodbye, starts like an
"October"-era U2 track, with the rattle-pick guitar line. And while the melody
is fun trot-dance rock, a la early Psych Furs/Modern English/Go Go's, the mix is so bad
that the band never really explodes at any point (the beauty of that early stuff was the
dynamics). "Misplaced" has a nice hook, but the vocals are muddy and sound lost
under the jangly guitars (the drums sound like sticks hitting mud). Still (get it?), the
song is a ton o' fun. Track three, "dreammachine" reminds me of an obscure band
called Easy (hey, they sound just like 'em here, but what's the point of making the
comparison? No one's heard of Easy -- it was a CD I picked up as a recommendation by the
guy who worked behind the counter at Pickles on 30th and Farnum 10 years ago). Ephedrine
has the same early U2 guitar quality that jangles over the bass and moves along and along,
while someone sings over the top.
Hey, who are these guys, anyway? A brief recap from their bio on
their label's website at http://members.aol.com/sksuit/
The band is Mike O'Hare, drums; Joe Liebentritt, bass; and Chris
Hall, guitar, with Liebentritt and Hall sharing vocals. They say their primary influences
include The Replacements, The Pixies, REM, The Cure, Archers Of Loaf, and Guided By
Voices, though I hear none of those bands' influences on this CD. These guys have
apparently played down at Omaha's Sokol Underground, The Cog Factory and the Ranch Bowl.
They don't play gigs that often, as far as I can tell (or they're not promoting their
Oh yeah, almost forgot the CD's closer, a cover of the The Go-Go's
super-hit "Vacation." I've played this one for a few people just to see how long
it took for them to figure out what the song was -- some even went past the chorus and
were clueless. I like the idea of a cover, as long as it's obscure. If it was a huge hit,
like Vacation, it's more apt to get compared to the original. The problem here is that the
vocals, purposely tortured, are a little too sloppy and, again, lost in the mix. I'm sure
it's plenty of fun to hear this one live.
For more info on this band, check out the website above, or call
Liebentritt in Omaha at 402-333-4525. He'll probably send you a copy of the CD upon
request (or maybe he won't, guess it depends on who you are). I've never seen this one in
the record stores, and its not listed on the label website, so pick up a phone.
|UPDATE: The following response was
received from the label after the above was posted:
As far as the record store thing, The only Omaha record stores
that The Still are not in, is Homers. And that is due to it being really hard to get
anyone at that friggin' store to help you out. I was in there for 25 minutes the other day
and didn't have one sales person even attempt to say hello or try to sell me anything. But
you can pick the title up at Drastics, the Antiquarium, CD Warehouse, and Blockbuster
music (all in Omaha). As far as the sound qualities of the CD, it was intentionally made
with a somewhat non-existent low end. Because of their retro sounding '80 rock style, they
wanted that sound. Much of the '80s music was rather tinny and lacked 3 dimensionality. So
that was their aim.
The Still had previously recorded with Paul Moerke at
Eclipse Studio (in Omaha) and were totally disheartened by what they got. So when they
came to me for a new recording, they were very specific in the sound that they wanted.
Basically, the material on Countdown to Goodbye, they were re-doing the songs that they
had done a year before at Eclipse. Their early stuff really doesn't have the punchiness
that you said never happened. It was pretty non-explosive. their newer stuff does have
that explosive component and shows much musical growth.
As far as shows go, they (the band) really don't play
all that much at the bigger clubs in town. The do play at places like the Cog Factory and
several others. But, I think the main reason why they haven't been playing that much is
because no place in Omaha will give newer bands a chance. They all want people that
feature ex-Secret Skinners or ex-Blue Moon Ghettos. Which leaves very little room for the
new bands. That's just how the food chain works, though.