[11 June 2003]
The Best Thing to Come Out of Detroit Since the Model-T, or at Least The Stooges
Saturday Looks Good to Me is the brainchild of Fred Thomas. Based out of Detroit, along with a host of friends, he wrote all the songs on the group’s debut, released in 1999. Since then, SLGTM has grown in size and now features Elliot Bergman on saxophone, Kelly Caldwell on vocals and guitar, Jacob Danziger on violin, Aidan Dysart on organ, Juan Garcia on tambourine and bells, Erika Hoffman on vocals, Brian Lipson on trumpet, Steve Middlekauf on drums, Ashley Miller on viola, Anna Steinhott on cello, Grace Thorson on bass, and, of course, Fred Thomas on guitar and vocals.
Frontman Thomas and his gaggle of musicians are masters of the AM sounds of the ‘60s, with a penchant for psychedelica; indeed, Thomas often seems a direct disciple from that musical era, as if frozen by prescient scientists to offset the catastrophic downfall of pop music brought on in the new millennium. The band is the ultimate antidote to the wash of mindless droning of rap-metal, bad grunge, boring singer-songwriter types, and bratty 16-year-old girls that currently drench the airwaves. Under SLGTM’s spell, it’s as if melodies still ruled pop music, and the ability to harmonize was still considered a plus.
Their debut was released on Fred Thomas’s vanity imprint Here Forever, and is out of print. Recently, Ypsilanti records have re-issued it and you can pick it up through Polyvinyl Records. Their sophomore effort, All Your Summer Songs, has also been released by Polyvinyl.
Unlike 90% of indie bands who are coming out today, SLGTM is not influenced by Gang of Four, Wire, the Clash or the Talking Heads. Instead they look towards the Beach Boys, Phil Spector, the Everly Brothers and the Beatles for guidance. For a more modern comparison, think early Magnetic Fields without the baritone vocals, or Belle and Sebastian when they didn’t take themselves so seriously. They also rock. The band features a horn and string section and brilliant male/female harmonizing; they are wise enough to keep their songs short, knowing the strongest tunes do not ramble on for more than three minutes. Fred Thomas is still the main songwriter, but being backed by an army of capable musicians (including a guest appearance on the new album by songwriter maestro Ted Leo) allows him to flex his creative ability, effortlessly flowing from style to style. As a result, everything on All Your Summer Songs sounds wonderfully effortless. It will lift your spirit like the perfect spring Saturday, when you’ve got nothing better to do than lay in the park, stare at the clouds and be happy.