PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Lying in States: Most Every Night

Marc Hogan

Lying in States

Most Every Night

Label: Flameshovel
US Release Date: 2004-01-13
Amazon
iTunes

If 2003 was for indie rock the year of the DFA telling everyone to dance and the Wrens resignedly moaning "Everyone Choose Sides", Most Every Night is the sound of a band that refuses to choose sides for 2004.

On their full-length debut, Lying in States expertly toes the line between esoteric punk rock and surprisingly commercial anthems, pairing divine dissonance with hook-laden melodicism. In the clash between anarchic guitars and danceable beats, Justin Trombly's bass proves a secret weapon, allowing a modicum of booty-shaking -- albeit with enough rhythm changes to pull the hamstrings of anyone who goes all Paula Abdul for "House of Jealous Lovers". One track is even as "alt-country" as anything that genre's most-lauded practitioners have produced in the past two years.

Reading rock criticism, you'd think every punk-rooted band that actually knows how to play its instruments was dug up by DeBeers. The riffs are always "angular", the bass "jagged", and the band destined to be important "forever", or at least until you forget the review. All that's missing are cloying television ads that equate buying your girlfriend a Minor Threat CD with whether or not you love her.

Unfortunately, some rock-critic tropes are too true to ignore. Whether Lying in States is forever -- or even a girl's best friend -- is anybody's guess. Indeed, at times it's all too much, veering into prog rock excess worthy of Dream Theater with a less annoying vocalist. Nevertheless, Most Every Night is one the most interesting diamonds in Chicago's indie-rock rough, easily establishing Lying in States as one of the Second City's most promising new groups.

With words like "angular" flying around willy-nilly, you may know what to expect: noise aplenty, bleeding amplifiers, frantic vocals and, of course, guitar riffs with more edges than the finest cubic zirconium. Lying in States sounds like the Constantines with a few more closet metalheads (or not-so-closet: apparently Lying in States does some killer Guns n' Roses covers) or Pretty Girls Make Graves with a pissed-off, Midwestern Thom Yorke on vocals.

In other words, Lying in States churns out intense, complicated 21st-century rock, with a combustible dose of punk energy. Their moment of truth comes three minutes, 19 seconds into "Vie Capital Ponk", when a surprisingly accessible rock tune gives way to mellow, descending electric guitar notes reminiscent of a similar instant in Pavement's "Transported Is Arranged", from the Northern California indie-rock group's 1997 classic, Brighten the Corners. A spacey Pink Floyd vocal melody rejoins the fractured guitars, until the decibel meter rockets toward 11 once again with a guitar solo that would fit in Radiohead's "Paranoid Android". The final 30 seconds double back to the upbeat, anthemic sound of the song's beginning. Would the dizzying list of reference points get too long if I were to suggest that the cumulative effect has more than a little in common with Chicago luminaries Smashing Pumpkins?

Equally telling is track five, "We". A double-tracked vocal by Ben Clarke joins acoustic guitars, looped whistles and ambient synths for an effect that holds up well against the recent work of another fellow Chicago group, Wilco. "Don't give in", Clarke wheezes in his best Jeff Tweedy impression, "You won't find satisfaction in a cheap ordinary thrill".

Most of the lyrics aren't quite this easy to decipher. So on this first record, it's hard to tell if Lying in States are as good at crafting lyrics as they are at sculpting epic soundscapes of guitar explosions and synthesizers that run the gamut from the soft background tones of "We" to the faux-new wave of "Hot Mountain". But the hooks are there, from the tense "I feel like I'm falling" of the opener "Most Every Night" to "That's the wrong attitude about it" in "Fall or Stumble".

Closing track "In All of Christendom" offers Lying in States at their most choppily, frighteningly close to prog-metal. The feedback and passionate vocals, here falling between Yorke and Billy Corgan, ultimately carry the song through, but the mid-song tempo change is vintage Dream Theater -- just add a wanky guitar solo. Thankfully, Lying in States do their masturbating in private, and the song succeeds in its own right, but the elements are nearly all there.

The question is clear for Lying in States: Should the band continue exploring its obviously prodigious musicianship at the risk of losing the passion that sustains Most Every Night? Or should they coalesce around what elevates them from similar bands, their combination of unholy noise and devastating hooks, and focus more on songcraft than sonic flashiness?

I don't know, and frankly, who cares? Enjoy the rough-hewn, multi-faceted diamond that is sure to be one of the best debut albums of 2004.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.