Dark Dream Pop
Self-Released February 21, 2017
I first heard Maximón a couple months ago when I reviewed a compilation called Louisville Covers Christmas. Maximón’s contribution to that release was a way far-out industrial reworking of the hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” (featuring a sample from a Malcom X speech) – it set itself apart from everything else on the record, and was definitely one of my favorites. Although things are a little dialed back here on If Yes Do, it’s already one of my favorite records – from Kentucky or elsewhere – of 2017, thus far.
A great single for the album is “Werewolf,” which opens with thudding bass and a driving drumbeat and vocals placed confidently on top with the line “I’ve locked myself up safe inside your room, and doused my neck and wrist with your perfume.” Dissonant synths accompany the chorus, before the track gives way to a bridge that eventually bursts into an awesome, dense, warbling mess of an ending. “Splice” has a great, nicely-harmonized chorus with reverby vocals – it’s the track of theirs that’s been stuck in my head most the last couple weeks. “Take Me Away” reminds me a lot of War on Drugs, complete with arpeggiated, delayed guitar, lightly placed piano chords, and vocals not entirely unlike Adam Granduciel – it listens really pleasantly and was my favorite track upon first listen. Next is a quick track, “Feels Like I’m Falling,” with a dizzying chorus of “shut up and get me outta this place, feels like I’m falling,” whose angular vocal melody reminds me a bit of something David Byrne would’ve come up with in the early years of Talking Heads.
My favorite of the album is “A Lovely Shape,” which opens with a simultaneously lethargic and grandiose mix of echoing drums, pulsing synths, and shimmering guitars (a part which serves as punctuation throughout the song). It gives way to a perfectly-paced pop track – the bass hits exactly when and how it should in the second verse, the vocals are delivered confidently, and chromatic synthesizers during the chorus take the song to an entirely different level. Dark and moody, “Evernight” has tastes of Nick Cave, The Smiths, and Joy Division – the chorus is weighty and laid down confidently, the final iteration of the chorus is almost startlingly in-your-face, and marks the strongest vocal performance of the album. The album does not let up until the very end – “Running Scared” is a moving take on Roy Orbison’s song that captures the drama of the original and amplifies it with all the power of modern instruments, turning it into a dizzyingly beautiful track that borders on operatic glam-rock.
If Yes Do is a thoroughly refreshing album, and seems to get better and better the longer it progresses. There’s a tremendous range of vocal approaches from song to song (maybe there’s more than one person taking a stab at the lead?) and the synthesizer colors everything in a dreamy, dramatic atmosphere. Bass and drums are nothing but tasteful – standing out in front exactly when they should, and propelling the songs along with a rock-solid foundation. If Yes Do is hard to make comparisons to as an entire album, but it’s fresh and should be accessible and enjoyable by most anyone who gives it a listen. I’m really excited to see where Maximón goes from here.
Tracks I Liked: Werewolf!!, Splice!, Take Me Away!, Feels Like I’m Falling!!, A Lovely Shape!!!, Evernight!!, Running Scared!!!
Ben Southworth – February 25, 2017 – Kenwick Place
This Man Records – November 18, 2016
I’m totally a sucker for Christmas compilations – it’s fun hearing bands convert generally traditional sounding songs to fit their own sounds. Louisville Covers Christmas is a collection of eleven previously written holiday tracks recorded to the liking of eleven bands and musicians out of Louisville. Brenda does a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Christmas Tree” – a really fun take that is noisier and heavier than original. That’s followed up by a calm, cool setting of “Winter Wonderland” as performed by The Watson Twins, set to a softly grooving bassline and electronic, shuffling beat. Billy Nelson‘s “White Christmas” sounds just like it would fit on his recently released Water Sports – the melody plays on delayed synths before being joined by Billy’s spacey-sounding self-harmonies. A favorite of mine from the compilation is a beautiful, calming cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” contributed by Fire the Saddle, set with acoustic guitar, mandolin, and male // female harmonies. Later in the album is a bizarre take on the hymn, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” by Maximón – it’s complete with darkly pulsing synths, affected vocals, and samples from a Malcom X speech. Plastic Bubble closes the compilation with “All I Want for Christmas is You,” a jangly, uptempo rendition complete sleigh bells and background choirs singing ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ to add some extra texture. Compilations like this are a great way of finding out about several bands you’d never heard of in a short time – at least 6-7 of these bands were new to me (including some of my favorites of the release). Treat yourself to some locally-source holiday cheer and grab a copy of the compilation from This Man Records – proceeds from sale of the record go to benefit Star Duck Charities.
Tracks I Liked: Brenda (“Christmas Tree”)!!, The Watson Twins (“Winter Wonderland”)!, Billy Nelson (“White Christmas”), Fire the Saddle (“River”)!!!, Maximón (“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”)!, Plastic Bubble (“All I Want for Christmas is You”)
Ben Southworth – December 18, 2016 – Kenwick Place