The Makers have already had their ripple in the independent press. The band has had perhaps the biggest controversy that one could have at this almost-not-quite intimate level for the year. Did they sell out or expand with the release of their Sub Pop debut Rock Star God? The answer isn’t so clear and many have tried to answer it. The purists believe that the graduation from the garage to a slick studio has ruined the band, others see this as the necessary growth The Makers need to make real ripples in a hurting indie rock scene.
While most of their contemporaries were quickly trading in their Nirvana and Soundgarden for Sunny Day Real Estate and old Cure records, The Makers were busy studying the fury of dirty rock and roll. The Spokane, Washington band was from the wrong side of the state and they wouldn’t have it any other way. Legends of them arriving to shows in a hearse, blaring their garage rock and pissing off club owners and concertgoers, gained them the reputation that all rock bands strive for. However this obnoxious band had one thing going for them, a real love for pure rock and roll and tenacity that would not allow them to back down from anyone.
What separates Rock Star God from previous efforts is not power, but beauty. The Makers are a force to be reckoned with live. They rarely slow down for one of their dramatic rock ballads. The albums have always been loud, noisy train wrecks full of gritty guitar and pounding rhythm. However, all that has changed. The clean recording has made the rock more dynamic and the ballads more powerful. This isn’t a band that sings about love or misery with tired dramatics, only irony, and the precision of Rock Star God only sharpens the edge. “A Better Way Down” is an almost humorous look at suicide. Mike Maker asserts very cleverly of the life-ending act, “Just try to look good and have fun with it / It’s the last cool thing you’ll ever do.” The music is jagged and in your face, the vocals are assertive and clear. They aren’t fooling around, it may have humor, but it’s very serious.
Mike Maker has also invoked images and ideas of God all through out the album. Where the Make*Up use concepts of religion to create a sermon atmosphere, The Makers use the figureheads to make a point. But the religious undertones are not of the Christian/gospel influence but in reference to the power of iconography. It is the concept that is important. The buying and selling of human souls are what’s important here. In “I’m a Concrete Wall,” Mike Maker brings the idea of Jesus down to an earthly level saying, “If Jesus comes walking up from the water / Walking directly up to me / He’s got to walk down my street.” The Makers are going to bring down all the gods off their thrones and create chaos with the blasts and tragedy of their rock and roll.
When a band attempts to expand it’s sound and grow, people get scared. The purist hipster wonders if this is the end of their private and intimate aesthetic. It’s scary and sometimes when it happens a band self destructs into oblivion. Sometimes the depth of their accomplishments gets over looked by unwarranted jealousy from their initial fan base. Sometimes, and very rarely, a band can bring the hipsters along with them into a more expansive sound while gaining some of the recognition for their talents that they deserve. Hopefully The Makers are rocking down this path. And if not, I’m sure they’ll just burn down all the fuckers on the streets in classic rock and roll style.