OK, just give me a couple minutes to catch my breath here. I actually started to sit down and write this review about 30 minutes ago, but I’ve been playing email tag with all my friends and editors and hoo-ha, setting up interviews, confirming interviews, emailing completed interviews, and enjoying emailed MP3s by my pal Chris Butler (of Waitresses fame!) that I have now only been able to start writing this thing. So here we go, I think. Lemme check my email once more to just make sure no one needs me in the immediate present all right, no one’s knocking for the moment.
So anyway, hey! It’s The Sights with Are You Green? originally released by Spectator Records a couple years ago, only to fold into oblivion really fast and leave the masters and the band to Fall of Rome. All I can say is I haven’t heard music this sloppy since I had to review that Oval Teen album a few months back. These guys kind of sound like what Moods For Moderns would sound like if they weren’t any good. Hell, they even hail from Detroit, just like M.F.M.! But that’s where the similarities end, kids.
I felt like making this review an open letter to the band and asking them why they felt the need to get this album back out there, considering how, erm, bad it actually is. This makes the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat sound like an exercise in strict control. “Whatever happened to electricity?” sings the band in “Not One to Beg”. I simply ask, “Whatever happened to talent?” I mean, things start off decently enough on the first song “All Night Long Stay”, but from there on out, Are You Green? is a free for all of sonic disaster.
Overly distorted guitars, poorly sung vocals, haphazard time keeping, and mic leakage galore plagues every track on this album. Perhaps that’s what Eugene Strobe, Eddie Baranek (sounds like a cool cop name), and Mark Leahey, the Sights themselves, wanted, but as the old saying goes: everything in moderation. Hey, did I say that in some other review? Pardon me if I did. It just really works in this case.
In fact, Are You Green? could be the example to be held up by all the kids who scream about lo-fi and fuck production! Who needs that? Well, the Sights do. Sure, they sound like a cool old garage band from the late ‘60s, but man they’ll never make it on future versions of Nuggets no matter how many garages they may have wrecked. Although, truth be told, I do enjoy the instrumental and short fury of “F#”, complete with gonzo distorted guitars and a solo that had me laughing my ass off after it was all said and and done.
“Talk To You” eerily echoes Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” in the main verses, but then it careens off into garage rock land again, and the whole thing just doesn’t work too well. Other tunes, like “Want Is You” and “Sorry” wear out their welcome real fast, even though they’re both relatively short songs. There’s just so much amateurish goofing off one can take. Especially when it’s an obvious replacement for genuine rocking. The Sights don’t rock.
Are You Green? might be a great exercise in tolerance, if you can listen long enough beyond the first song. However, I’d advise everyone to just stick with Moods For Moderns as far as good pop bands from Detroit go. The Sights have a long way to go before they approach even that quality of rock and/or pop. Am I green? Yeah, I think so. Prolonged exposure to this album has definitely made me feel just a wee bit ill.