Those who remember Kurt Bloch and Mike Musburger from the
Seattle power pop band The Fastbacks (active throughout the
1980s until they disbanded in 2001) may be curious as to what
Bloch has been up to recently. Bloch, along with Mike Musburger
have joined forces with Leslie Beattie on vocals and Jim
Sangster on the "stringed baize," (which I assume is either some
sort of clever musician joke or an obscure instrument that I am
showing off my ignorance of) and released their first full
length as THEE SGT. MAJOR III.
"The Idea Factory" is a 13 song salute to power pop, pre-punk
and garage rock...maybe even some elements of jazz, but not too
much. As much as I hate to be derivative, the review process is
somewhat derivative so I don't feel too bad remarking that all
the elements, both lyrically and musically of fun, pop-
quirkiness that were present in the Fastbacks are also present
in THEE SGT. MAJOR III. Well, half the band is present so I
shouldn't really feel bad at all about my own derivative
tendencies. What I should feel bad about is the comparison I am
about to make: THEE SGT. MAJOR III sounds very much like a power
struggle between Le Tigre and the Ramones. No, not just because
they have a female singer and not because they gave a "gabba
gabba" shout in "Battery Operated." My comparison has more to
do with the pitch and jaunts Beattie's vocal course takes and
the fun, upbeat catchy-ness of their songs. Unlike the Ramones,
TSMIII explore a range of chords and are given to musical
complexities. I should ad complexities that are intricate
without being tiresome.
"As I Do" is danceable and bratty, proclaiming: "I was there
when the king was crowned and I'll be the first to knock him
down." The entire album is danceable, drum and lyric driven.
"What Am I Gonna Do" expresses a polite contempt for
conventional work and suburban ideals, which I rather admire. I
mean, the consensus life that people are supposed to live is
shitty, but there's no reason to be nasty about it I suppose.
"New Painter Man" manages to intentionally sound a bit like "My
Boyfriend's Back" by The Angles and at the same time maintain
garage rock guitar solos...nice.
This release is as thought provoking as the title suggests it
should be and mos def worth checking out for Fastback fans, and
enthusiasts of power pop, pre-punk, garage rock, and you know,
good music in general.