Music

Operation Makeout: Hang Loose

Mark Desrosiers

Operation Makeout

Hang Loose

Label: Mint
US Release Date: 2002-09-03
Amazon
iTunes

If only their scene weren't so damn overcrowded, Operation Makeout could be the best band in Vancouver today. As it happens, they're the third best, at least as far as the considered judgment of the UBC/CITR annual Battle of the Bands is concerned. Me, I think their latest album Hang Loose is really great, an indie-punk party record of the first order, and I'm making a note of their tour schedule in case they head through the Twin Cities.

Their sound ain't unique, and that's what I love about it. A guy and grrrl shouting alternating phrases between some chiming-crunching guitars, it's the same bracing aesthetic that's nurtured great tunes from X to Pretty Girls Make Graves. Operation Makeout takes a slightly more jagged and rhythmic approach to it all, a sound similar to the pattering double-helix of voices and six-strings that makes Sleater-Kinney so great. The band's only Y-chromosome, bassist Jesse Gander, sings in a rough and gravelly style, part indie-boy, part bar band. It takes a second or two to get acclimate yourself to his halfway-to-Steppenwolf voice, but after a while you'll grow to love it. The band's other shouter (and ostensible leader) is guitarist Katie Lapi, whose amateurish style is a heartwarming and courageous cry into the wind. Sorta like a young Carrie Brownstein, she sounds bravely anonymous until you listen closely. Still, there's no forgetting her ringing guitar signature which seduces with hooky patterns of single notes rather than ripping out the power chords. And the trio would be nothing without Anna Clarke, whose drumming is less a rhythm than a continuous vibration underneath all the songs. On the whole, the sound is swift and ebullient, a coy dive into a splashing Pacific of sound.

The lyrics often seem like riddles, oddball metaphors and descriptions that challenge you to figure them out. The opening track, a crashing gimme-indie-rock rush of sound called "Life on Your Windowsill" seems to be written from the perspective of a cat . . . or maybe an anthropomorphized window pane? Anyway, the tune would fit right in on one of those old 1980s Homestead compilations. Things get even better with the memorable "Daylife", about seizing the day and crashing on its floor, and the poppy, cyclical "Current Events" which plays on the electrical meaning of the word "current". "On the Steps" has a wonderful herky-jerk opening and a good sense of indie-slacker details: riding the skateboard home, doling out clichés, bitching about nostalgia. Hell, there's even a really good instrumental, "Lost, Unwanted . . . But Still Nice", which got some heads bobbing at my apartment a couple weeks back.

My favorite tracks come in at the end. "Tune Out" has some beautiful chiming guitars, and Jesse's angst-and-fountain-pen lyrics get steamrollered by that no-nonsense sandpaper shout. I pressed repeat on that one a couple times, and if I could explain why I love it so, I would. It just sounds like magic. The closing track, "Contents", is the one I return to the most. It's about a about a culture-ulcer bookworm (itself an engaging premise), but there's something haunting and beautiful about how that statuesque Katie strums and shouts into the indie void.

Hang Loose is a great album, and you gotta wonder whether peripheral local scenesters such as Operation Makeout could get even better simply by having a wider audience. I think so: buy the album. At the very least, it'll make some good background music at your next off-campus hipster cotillion. And, let's see . . . one, two, three, four, five . . . five (5) tracks here are excellent additions to any 2003 mix tape. Could indie-punk praise get any higher?

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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
Theatre

​'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
10

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
7

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
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

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

rating-image