Thursday, April 9, 2009

American Mars - No City Fun - 2001


When Detroit's American Mars released their debut album, Late, in 1997, they happened upon a music scene already too wrapped up in punk's past and techno's cynical yet futuristic soundscapes. Depending on who was singing, either Thomas Trimble or Karla Richardson, the band could sound like a vulnerable, hyperactive version of the Velvet Underground or like a less-frenetic version of Fire of Love-era Gun Club. But they were a pure rock & roll construct who reflected brightly on the city that birthed them. Four years later American Mars returned with a slew of different personnel and a new sound. Gone is the rage and the sense of urgency from their debut, and also gone (almost) is Richardson -- though she appears here singing backup vocals on a number of cuts and even playing bass on one. But the band who created No City Fun is even more compelling, with songs of loss, grief, deep self-examination, and disillusionment that are architected with the guitar as their cornerstone. Trimble plays all kinds of guitars here, the ones that whisper, the ones that scream, the ones that wail, the ones that shout, the ones that crunch, and even the ones that lilt. Veteran Detroit producer Dave Feeny accompanies him here on pedal steel -- which becomes the atmospheric thread that links these songs and their disparate emotions and scenery and vocals; he is his partner in loneliness and wonder. Bassist Garth Girard has officially joined the touring outfit, as has drummer Mike Popovich; they make several appearances on the record as well.
There isn't a weak moment on No City Fun. American Mars, during the years between recordings, has become a leaner, more confusing, and profound rock & roll band by aiming for the lyrical places where only ghosts dare to whisper and the musical spaces where past, present, and future bleed into one another as the timelessness of one endless twilight sky. -AMG



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1 comment:

Bill.Bo said...

Just one word: GREAT!!!
your blog as well as the music you present.

and thank you for the american mars,too.

may your day be sunny: Bill.Bo

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