Music Go Music: Expressions

These West Coast indie rockers moonlighting as the last great disco act of the 1970s might catch you off guard at first, but soon enough they will become your new favorite guilty pleasure.

Music Go Music


Label: Secretly Canadian
US Release Date: 2009-10-06
UK Release Date: Import

When I first popped Expressions from Music Go Music into my stereo, I damn near threw the jewel case across the room out of sheer repulsion.

“What is this crap I roped myself into covering?” I angrily thought to myself upon hearing the sugar-coated sounds of this mysterious Los Angeles-based group who go by silly aliases and shamelessly flaunt their AM transistor pop influences with a detached sense of retro cool. It was literally everything I hated about hipster irony to the umpteenth degree. And worst of all, how could a label as great as Secretly Canadian, who count such purveyors of artistic integrity as Antony and the Johnsons, Jens Lekman, and Jason Molina amongst its roster, sign some kind of crap like this? This must be some kind of a sick joke, right -- SC trying to cash in on the whole humor cool thing that made Flight of the Conchords and Tenacious D wealthy men, only channeling those old K-Tel compilations from the '70s instead of funky folk and acoustic power metal?

However, a deeper exploration into the story of Music Go Music will unearth the fact that this group is actually comprised of several prominent members of the Los Angeles indie rock circuit, featuring Meredith and David Metcalf of the Tropicalia hybrid rock ensemble Bodies of Water (coincidentally signed to Secretly Canadian) backed by members of such fellow scene stars as Mezzanine Owls, Beachwood Sparks, and the Chapin Sisters moonlighting under a variety of aliases. As for the incredible guitarist featured on Expressions, “TORG”, whom Music Go Music have employed to assist in this Xanadu-meets-ELO grand illusion they have going for them is actually alt-rock journeyman Adam Siegel, best known for his stint in the early '90s Suicidal Tendencies offshoot Infectious Grooves, and most recently as the touring guitarist for the Eels. Together, they are a band who means every candy-coated note they deliver across these nine tracks.

And once you take into consideration just how serious these guys are in the creation of this whole façade they have crafted, and let the wash of late '70s synth waves splash your face like a tsunami of hot purple and pink neon tubing, any prejudgments one may have initially harbored upon any unmitigated first impressions of Expressions easily fall by the wayside.

Certainly in these times of economic woe, it is doubtful that Secretly Canadian put up even a fraction of the money it cost for Expressions to sound like it took to make. So one can do nothing but salute the producers of this record, who crafted a million-dollar-sounding work on what it must have cost for not even a full night of cocaine-fueled debauchery during the making of Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk. And though these nine tracks were all previously released as part of three concurrent 12-inches that Music Go Music released over the last two and a half years, these songs all flow into and out of each other so seamlessly you would never know they were three separate singles (for the songs “Light of Love”, “Warm in the Shadows”, and “Reach Out” respectively) and their accompanying b-sides.

Clearly, Music Go Music are unafraid to wear their sonic inspirations on their sleeves like a cluster of sequined rhinestones, either. Though all signs point to ABBA on “Light of Love”, a well-tuned ear can also hear a little Sheena Easton a la “Morning Train” going on as well. The album’s other big single, “Reach Out”, is the fruits of an unlikely hybrid of Eat to the Beat-era Debbie Harry and Queen in their Flash Gordon phase, while “Warm in the Shadows” plays up on the possibility of a secret collaboration in the Casablanca Records studios between Donna Summer and Dynasty-era Kiss. Meanwhile, on a whole other flavor, you have the album’s lush, lovely, and magnanimously gaudy closing number “Goodbye, Everybody”, a testament to the kind of grandiloquent balladry made famous by the likes of Karen Carpenter and Anne Murray that’s so deliciously cheesy you might have to check your cholesterol after it’s over.

As much as you might want to hate Expressions for all its over-the-top posturing and fantastical fetishizing of both karaoke culture and Me Decade pomposity, you will love the beautiful noise Music Go Music bring to the table if you are feeling nostalgic for the days of butterfly collars, wood paneling, and Danny Terrio. Consider me sold.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.