Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The M's/Future Women/7.6

The M's have found a canny chemistry out of seemingly simple parts (three-part harmonies plus a powerhouse drummer), and now, they've got swagger to spare.

I think Jason Crock has a secret. While I live many miles from Chicago and don’t know him personally, I suspect that Jason’s been a long time booster of The M’s.

Normally, we Tuningforkistas like nothing better than skewering bias on the part of Pitchforkmedia. Based on his review of Future Women and The M’s live performance of it at Schuba’s, I smell a fan. However, Crock’s fondness for The M’s makes me nostalgic for the old days of ‘zines – days when you supported local bands because you’ve seen them in the same clubs for years. Even if those bands would have been panned if they came in from out of town, you loved them because they were local. It probably didn’t hurt if your girlfriend liked them as well.

The M’s have been treading the stages of clubs for years in Chicago. Like many hardworking bands, I suspect that there is a crowd of regular scenesters who’ve seen them open for countless other bands and keep saying, “When are folks going to realize how awesome these guys are? When are they going to release a CD?” Is Future Women the CD that will break them to the rest of the world? Not quite – it’s a little burdened by its influences. However, it does offer up some great guitar rock as well as showing a lot of passion and care by the band themselves.

I like The M’s when they steer away from a poppier sound similar to their label mates and veer into big-shouldered guitar rock. Crock is correct when he points out that the CD doesn’t really grab you until Trucker Speed. Two of the first three tracks sound like a slightly milder, Americanized Augie March. However, as the band turns up the overdrive knob, they create amazingly energetic, cacophonous pop. The drumming on Trucker Speed is loose and energetic. And I agree with Jason Crock that there is with just enough cowbell. The highlight of the record, My Gun, is smack dab in the middle, combining glockenspiel with overdriven guitar and more vibrant drumming. The only song that screams out T-Rex to me is Underground, but it completely steals the energy of early 70s glam and adds enough newness to keep things interesting.

The rating is maybe a skosh generous comparatively. The record is seven solid tracks and four acceptable ones. But if you’re an old Soft Boys fan or a recent Pavement fan, The M’s have a lot to offer you. I also feel that there is something more real and more immediate in their music rather than whatever next big thing is usually flying over from England.

Based on Crock’s live review, I suspect that the real appeal of The M’s is their live shows. I’m not sure if I’ll get to see them; the closest they’re coming to me is my old college town. However, if you can, both Jason and I would recommend you go out and support them – hopefully their van is now fixed. And the next time that you are watching a local band open a show, pick up your drink from the bar and head up to the stage to give them some love.