Local rock aficionados
Imaginary Baseball League have
finally, after much ado, released a new five-song-EP.
The disc, titled Cardiact, contains a few crowd
favorites and a couple of surprises along the way.
My playful and
attractive mother, Carol Boehms, was
privileged enough to be one of the few to receive an
advanced review copy of Cardiact. The following is an
expressed opinion of this ravishing woman's rifled
taste and love for music. My comments follow hers and,
though warranted, just aren't quite as interesting as
Carol: Here is
my review straight from my 49-year-old
ears being exposed to all genres of music and to the
best of my listening abilities.
I loved the first
song ("A Lot to Say"), and it was my
favorite of all the tracks. What immediately endeared
me to this song was the opening line because I like to
talk a lot and that's how these lyrics begin.
Also, the sweet,
lovely voice of the singer (Aaron
Robinson) reminds me of a young Paul McCartney. The
song also reminded me that my little Japanese mother
used to say that I talked too much.
Leslie: This too
is one of my absolute favorite IBL
songs. When performed live I simply cannot conduct
myself in any sort of professional manner. Therefore,
acting sane when hearing this song repeatedly in the
car could cause a collision. However, I am insured -
just be careful when driving near me.
I love that Aaron
is so passionate in this song. "A
Lot to Say" reels me in to a place where I feel so
free with the lyrics. I also love the echoing effect
and harmony added by percussionist Ryan Rayborn. This
is definitely a rock 'n' roll song worth multiple
Carol: On track
two ("Nuclear Winter") I like the
bounciness of the music, but I would really need to
read the lyrics of this song because I'm not sure what
the singer is really saying.
So, I couldn't
tell you what this particular song was
about. It sort of sounded like something about nuclear
war, but it could've been a love song. I'm anxious to
Winter" is one of the peppier songs
on the EP and another of my live show favorites. One
thing I would like to mention here is the order of
songs IBL chose. They did a great job of song
placement that allows the listener a full-circle
listening experience. This is important, especially
when producing a five-song album.
Carol: Boy, track
three ("Needs") really had a
definite country feel with that lilting, sad tone. It
was like something you might hear at one of those
country western bars on Lower Broadway, late at night,
when everybody's drunk, and thinking it was the next
big hit. Not to say it was a bad song, but it did make
me a little sleepy.
Leslie: More and
more I see my listening choices
getting heavy into my country and Nashville roots, and
this is nothing to be ashamed of. So often the
"non-country" musicians of Nashville and surrounding
areas are reluctant to even add a twinge of country to
their music. I applaud IBL for the expanded feel of
this track due its rootsy, alternative-country feel.
Carol: Track four
("The Heiress") was probably my
least favorite because my mind started wandering when
I couldn't figure out who the singer was singing
about. Who is he talking about? Since I didn't really
"get it," I remembered that I had to stop at the
grocery store and get some things, so that's why I
wasn't focused on this song.
Leslie: The melancholy
feel of this track makes me
sad, makes me reminisce about life and the triviality
of things. But this is often a prevalent emotion I
feel when experiencing Imaginary Baseball League. The
softness of this song matched with Aaron's voice and
prominent lyrics just inspire me.
Carol: The last
track ("Roll Over you Worm") started
out with a beautiful guitar intro. I loved it! But I
didn't like the echo screech - is that New Age? It
sort of brought Enya to mind, so I really think they
should leave out that icky scratchy music and just
keep the awesome guitar melodies, but maybe speed it
up just a smidgen.
Leslie: One thing
about Cardiact that appealed to me
was the overall rawness of the album. This track just
has a great granular appeal. Though my mom may
disagree, I feel like the experimentation, done on
this track especially, adds to the ambiance that is
Carol's Final Thoughts:
Overall, if they were on Star
Search and I was a judge, I'd give them four stars,
because they're cute, too.
Comments: Though I would have preferred
a full-length album from the four immensely talented
musicians that are Imaginary Baseball League, this EP
will just have to satisfy my craving until they
release a full album (which I hope you boys do sooner
than later). Cardiact is a wonderful EP that truly
shows the growth and diversification of a band that is
one of Middle Tennessee's finest.
The Sidelines - Flash
Leslie's mom reviews
the new IBL cd
By Leslie Carol Boehms
My mom, Carol Boehms,
loves Imaginary Baseball League.
She very rarely gets truly excited about new music.
But she was thrilled when the Murfreesboro quartet
asked her to review their first full-length album
This 14-track collection
has some new and some
familiar tracks. Yet, it is a cohesive; It stands as
one. Revive takes the collective musical vision of
Imaginary Baseball League and brings it to the
forefront in this incredible collection of songs.
The following is
my mom, Carol's, review and
description of Revive.
The first song
"The One Infallible" didn't disappoint
me. It begins with beautiful harmony and a bittersweet
mood. The lyrics are descriptive and the great title
says it all. Everyone can relate to that one person
who they may have felt was infallible and
The second track
"Fat Boys Are Not Athletes" had me
saying an old American Bandstand phrase of "love the
beat and you can really dance to it."
However, I wasn't
too fond of the title and in fact,
some fat boys, like sumo wrestlers, are athletes.
I found the next
song "The Scenery" reminding me of a
very melodic calliope. However, I probably need to
read the lyrics, because I wasn't quite sure what he's
saying, but I like the ending music and tones.
My absolute favorite
song that Imaginary Baseball
League sings is "A Lot to Say." I love this song, and
it sounds better every time I hear it. It's such a
happy, feel good song. I think that it needs to be on
the radio for everyone to enjoy.
It's been 30 years
since I broke up with anyone. And
when I listened to this next tune, "Don't Call At
All," it seems like a breakup or breakdown song. It
was kind of angry-sounding to me but it was making my
head nod and my foot tap, which is a good thing.
I think "Oh
The Lies We Eat" is supposed to be an
analogy of how telling a lie is like eating something
horrible that leaves a yucky taste in your mouth. As I
listened to it, that's what I kept thinking. I don't
really remember how the music part goes.
Now on track eight,
there's no title, so I thought, oh
maybe it's going to just be an instrumental, but there
were words. And they were repeated over and over, so I
thought, "mmm at least there's a bouncy melody."
Track 12 couldn't
possibly be about math or numbers,
but since the title was "Statistics," I wondered if it
Silly me, it was
really about the chances a couple
takes while in love.
Bringing to a close,
on this labor of love for
Imaginary Baseball League's Revive, is the last song,
"I Won't Stop." What can I say, it was the last song.
League will be celebrating the
release of Revive tomorrow night at the Blue Sky Court
located on 410 4th Ave. South in Nashville. The cover
charge is $1 and the music is set to begin at 9:30
WKU College Heights Herald - Diversions
Band adds to basement
By Natasha Allen
League's drummer Ryan Rayborn played
the band's Friday night show in his socks, his
shoeless right foot spending most of the set off the
A crowd of more
than 100 people packed themselves in
the basement of Westminster Church on Lehman Avenue to
catch a live performance of the semi-local band, IBL.
Several fans claimed to have followed the Nashville
quartet for years.
Those same fans
braved intense heat and a couple of
pious lines from the evening's opening acts before
achieving musical salvation from the headlining group.
Like most good music, the sound is hard to describe.
Producing a sauntering
euphoric effect, one might
imagine IBL as the result of Radiohead meeting the
edge of Chris Martin's upper register, Neil Young's
early harmonica and Dave Abbruzzese.
are simple enough to be catchy, but far
too emotionally savvy to be pop. The genre-bending
texture provided by each of the four band member's
distinctly individual musical voices is perhaps its
most redeeming quality. In a word, IBL is refreshing.
Ike Wassom, a sophomore
from New Albany, Ind., and a
DJ at Western's Revolution 91.7 FM radio station, has
played IBL tracks on his show, but had not seen the
band live until Friday night.
they will one day replace the air as
what we breathe to stay alive," Wassom, a longtime fan
said before explaining the band's sound was "like
opposite extremes colliding."
Despite the stifling
temperatures in Westminster's
basement, Robinson was dressed in jeans, Chuck Taylors
and a black long sleeve sweater over a blue button-up
toasty," he said about halfway through the
show. "I think I'm wearing too many clothes."
At least one girl
in the audience took the bait,
yelling back, "Take 'em off!"
a smiling Robinson said. "Sorry guys, we're
The venue was dimly
lit, with only three "stage"
lights and a few small lamps placed around the long, low-ceiling room. A series of tables lined the far wall showcasing a nice spread of merchandise and band memorabilia.
Near the end of
the night's performance, Robinson
crooned the opening lines of "A Lot to Say."
The audience cheered
and started singing along - the
chorus of their voices blending so perfectly with the
song, it was album-worthy.
Two local acts
played in addition to the night's
headlining band: Shelley Shepherd, a mellow, folk
lyricist whose airy vibrato voice bore slight
resemblance to Alanis Morrissette; and Stellar Kin, a self-described indie-rock band whose impact was built in rigid waves of sound - recklessly vaulting from still water to tsunami in seconds.
But the best of
the evening's music was definitely
brought up from south of the border.
Meredith Tooley said she thought the
show was great.
"We see them
every time they're in town," she said of
herself and her friend Dawn Wyant, also an Owensboro
junior. "It's always nice to get to see the same
people you pass on your way to class at a place like
this." IBL will play with the bands Aireline and
Glossary at Wallstreet at MTSU on Sept. 4 at 9:30 p.m.
The cover is $5.
Reach Natasha Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4/29 - 5/5/04
By Elizabeth Orr and Marie Yarbrough
League w/The Whole Fantastic World
April 23 at Blue Sky Court
Last week's CD
release party for Imaginary Baseball
League, at Blue Sky Court, was the kind of humid night
when it's hard to be happy without the AC on full
blast or at least a ceiling fan. Like the stagnant
air, the club was eerily calm, all silence and glaring
light, until the first band took the stage. Even after
a drink from the inadequate selection--beer, Coke or
water--it was clearly going to be a long gross sweaty
night of skin stuck to a stool. The atmosphere was
just plain annoying--just like opening acts The Whole
Fantastic World and Aireline.
Here's what didn't suck about The Whole Fantastic
World. The lead singer sporadically showed hints of
personality crucial to live performances; he spoke to
the crowd and made a few jokes; and the band members
were into their proggy songs--so much so that they
played with zombie-like fixation on their instruments.
(OK, so that sucked too.) Too cool to identify
themselves until the middle of the set, the
Murfreesboro band treated the audience like
gatecrashers at an afternoon garage rehearsal-the guys
onstage were having fun but didn't invite anyone else
to the three-man party. When it seemed it couldn't get
worse, the bassist tried to play a tambourine at the
same time. The Whole Fantastic World doesn't just lack charisma, it's missing a whole extra band member.
On the other hand,
from their first boring song
Aireline went down in flames. Occasionally
accompanying their pompous, plodding music with a
spacy noise machine (the kind you expect to hear at a relaxation clinic), Aireline lulled the crowd into what was either a trance or a coma. The lead singer took himself way too seriously: pounding his keyboards with his eyes closed, he looked about as rock-star cool as Ross from Friends. Yet for some unknown reason Aireline seemed to draw a crowd, as the room thinned out after their performance.
If a lot of people
left early on, the crowd
regenerated in time for the headliners. Despite the
lure of fresh air outside and our beds at home, we had
high hopes for IBL to turn the evening around. They
did, but it took some time. Instead of breaking the
lethargy right off the bat with an upbeat rocker--like
the second song, "Fat Boys Are Not Athletes," which
finally jarred the audience into paying
attention--they set out to completely reproduce their
new CD Revive from beginning to end. Technically, it's
an interesting concept, not unlike a Flaming Lips
show: in theory you could hook up your Discman and
listen along, as if you were tuning in a radio
play-by-play while watching a baseball game. But
starting and especially ending with slow acoustic
songs gave the show an anticlimactic feel.
The only member
of the band in a suit, dapper frontman
Aaron Robinson (who resembles a younger, hipper, and
cuter David Cross) directed the crammed Blue Sky Court
crowd to the right of the stage (his "good side").
Robinson's heartbreaking voice suits the emotional
swell of his lyrics ("If this is the new A.M. / then I
don't mind waking up"), and the haunting choruses
("watch your mouth/get you in trouble") had the crowd
chanting along. Robinson immediately commanded
attention with his slurred voice, syllable-jumbling
delivery and wails, calling to mind a Thom Yorke gone
pop. What their set lacked in rock-out catharsis it
gained in cohesion, fitting songs together like pieces
of a puzzle.
However, the new album's sonic intricacy was sometimes impossible to complete live, even with Keith Childrey nimbly switching back and forth from guitar to keyboards. To solve this, IBL played their own CD to fill in gaps while they fixed broken guitar strings or re-tuned their instruments. The trick bag didn't always work: the show's audiovisual gimmicks sometimes seemed more ambitious and complicated than the band could pull off, better suited to a venue the size of the Ryman, and the video was mostly obscured by bobbing heads anyway. But it was still a pleasure to watch a band struggle with too many ideas instead of too few.
show was the song "Another Sunken
Anchor," played with such devotion and fervor that all conversations seemed to stop mid-sentence. (Although it was by far the most memorable song, rumor has it that the CD release was the simultaneous debut and retiring of the song.) The lyrics "You are the darkness in comedy / you are the laughter in disease" so moved the crowd that one fan sporting a Flock of Seagulls haircut climbed on stage and painfully belted them out with Robinson. However clueless the spectacle might have looked, it's still a measure of how quickly and completely the band has connected with their
audience: when people at a CD release party already
know the lyrics, somebody besides ex-girlfriends and
townie cronies is paying attention. Imaginary Baseball
League already has a roster of die-hard fans. Where do
Friday April 09,
Five Questions w/Imaginary Baseball League www.nashvillezine.net
League is gearing up to release the
follow up to last year's widely praised Cardiact EP. Anticipating their CD release show, set for April 23rd at the Blue Sky Court, we talked with IBL commissioner Aaron Robinson.
What has Imaginary
Baseball League been up to in the
last few months, and what are your plans for the rest
of the year?
Back in October and November we started song selection
for our album. We made demos of all the songs and
began taking aim at how we should record each song.
And over the past month or two, our guitarist/
keyboardist/ noisemaker extraordinaire Keith Childrey
has been mixing the record. It was mastered by Jim
Demain at YES! Masters just last week. Now it's
getting pressed as we speak. All the time this has
been going on, we've been playing shows in and out of
town and getting to a point where we can play the
newer material that no one's heard yet. As for the
rest of the year, we are planning on doing a 2 week
tour in May, to be followed by several weekend outings
in the summer, and back into the fold in August. All
the while, we'll be trying to either get our record
picked up by a label, or find a label that will help
with the next record.
How did the recording process go for the new CD?
Quickly. We tracked 13 songs in a total of 9 days,
broken up into 3 weekends spanning from December into
February. Michael Langford of the Humdrum Collective
and Peter Matteson of Death Comesto Matteson
volunteered to help us through what would have been a
much more grueling process without them. They served
as co-producers of the entire affair, all the way from pre-production through the end of tracking. We recorded at Cylo Recording Studio in Nashville with a couple of great guys (Chris Common and Geoff Koval). All in all, it all went really well.
If you could open for any band (it doesn't matter if
they still exist or not), who would it be, and why?
The safe answer
is Radiohead, because what indie
pop/rock band wouldn't jump at that chance? If me
loving the band to death were the only criteria in
choosing, then we'd open for Red House Painters or Sun
What has been your best show ever, and what
has been your worst show ever?
I've said this before, but I still have the most
wonderful memories of a show back in 2002 in East
Quogue, Long Island in New York. We had a show booked
at a bagel shop that got cancelled about a week or so
before we left for tour. The guy who through the show
together salvaged the show for us by throwing a house
party in his small house in East Quogue. What seemed
like a definite bust (and an ungodly long drive
through deolate eastern Long Island) turned out to be incredible. We crammed our stuff into a basement along with about 30-35 kids, most of whom seemed like they might be hardcore kids. We played to unbelievable cheers and sold like 18 CD's to those folks. Since that show, some of those kids have come to see us every time we've gone back to New York.
As for the worst
show, I'd say it was when we played
with Songs:Ohia and the Six Parts Seven at the Blue
Sky Court here in Nashville. I think it was a Monday
or a Tuesday or something, and the crowd was a bit
thin. Everyone seemed a little sleepy so I think the
pressure was on to put on a really good show. We
tried, but ended the show by starting our last song
over and over again like 6 or 7 times. I was yelling
at Keith and Ben for being out of tune and I couldn't
figure out why in the world our song sounded so
rancid. Finally after the last time we started the
song, I just played it solo til it ended. About 3
minutes after the show ended, I realized that I was
supposed to have put a Capo on the 2nd fret of my
guitar. Man, did I feel like an idiot. It was really embarrassing.
If Imaginary Baseball League was a tribute band, who
would it be a tribute for, and what would you be
Well, we dressed up as The Cure at our show this past
Halloween and that was a lot of fun. I unnaturally
liked wearing the makeup. As for our name, I don't
know, maybe The Curators. I'm not feeling overly
clever at this moment.
Sunday June 06,
LIVE REVIEW: Be Your Own Pet, The Carter Admin,
Imaginary Baseball League @ Cafe Coco
I gotta start at
the beginning. I got into the back
room of Cafe Coco -- a place I was sure I'd been in
before, but didn't remember its labyrinthian interior
-- and there were few people there. Notably, the bar
in the back room was not open.
I'd heard a little
about Be Your Own Pet before I saw
them. They do look their age -- 16. They played one
song to check their levels before the crowd came in.
It was brashy but unpolished. Kinda New Wave, kinda
punk but it sounded amateurish. I had no idea they
were just playing around.
So with a few members
of other bands and a couple of
other guest listers making up the entire crowd at that
point, the "bartender" (though he wasn't serving) told
us we had to clear out, line up in the hallway and be re-admitted to be charged the cover. I didn't move. So then they announced that all band members and guest listed persons needed to line up to get stamped. As I and the wife of a Carter Admin member stood, she said, "What are we in kindergarten?" We complied. However the rule for patrons of Cafe Coco is "Give them an inch and they'll take a mile."
We barely got stamped
before the crowd for Be Your Own
Pet arrived. You just knew it was their crowd. They
bubbled in and stood right up front. To their immense
credit, Be Your Own Pet, took the stage immediately
and starting playing. Their singer, a tiny
bleach-blonde yelled "We are Be Your Own Pet and we
want to make out with you!" and it was on.
Bands that young
rarely have any sense of style, much
less songs, so BYOP pretty much exceeded all
expectations. Their singer was spunky and
enthusiastic; the songs were wiry new wave punk; and
they looked like a band -- smartly dressed and
composed with no one looking like he was out of place
(a far cry from every band I was in during high
school). When BYOP played the song they'd
sound-checked, it had a completely different feel.
Their energy was high and it gave every song a boost.
Again, to their
immense credit, they played a short
set and said good night.
With BYOP gone,
the crowd left and was gradually
replaced by persons of legal age. Persons, dare I say,
who would have liked the bar in the room to be open.
The Carter Administration
played their usual tight,
economical indie rock to a full room though their
audience was seated. This created a wealth of new
problems as the back room of Cafe Coco is the most architecturally infuriating room. Chairs were everywhere; two gigantic, immobile tables blocked the center of the room and no one had any place to go. Adding to that frustration was the fact that to get a beer, you had to go up front and wait in line. Waiting in line for a beer is ordinarily no problem. Except in Cafe Coco where they've staffed their counter with one person who is also taking food orders!
minutes later and you have a beer. Big
deal, you may think, every beer you sacrifice a friend
to the line for beer, right? Sorry. At Cafe Coco, it's
one beer per person. So if you're with four friends,
you're all making a trip up front. That of course
makes the line longer and guarantees you'll lose your
seat when returning to the back room.
Hey, we're not
in the restaurant business, but it
seems like an apt suggestion would be for them just to
open the damn back bar!
League started while I was in the
beer line. Upon returning I watched possibly
Nashville's most unassuming rock band command that
room. I don't find myself listening to their recorded
output much, but they are a great band to drink a beer
to, even (and probably especially) when you're annoyed
beyond belief at the venue. And they are smart enough
to know how much sound fills a room and draws you in
versus how much hurts. They were fantastic (and you'd
never know they had a replacement drummer sitting in).
The evening's music was outstanding, but Cafe Coco's hospitality left something to be desired - and that's putting it mildly. I guess you can judge a venue by its website.
The Nashville Rage
What A Waste
Revive is a rare album. This full-length debut from Murfreesboro's Imaginary Baseball League is one of the best-sounding and best-written independent rock albums to cross my desk in a while. Hints of Now It's Overhead, My Bloody Valentine and Yankee Hotel-mode Wilco blend perfectly with earthy influences like Nick Drake to create an arresting, accomplished sound.
The songs are beautifully
textured, layered with
little currents of clear, chiming guitars and massive
blocks of rhythm section sharing space perfectly with
tiny, quiet keyboards and acoustic guitars.
tunes are plainspoken but with a deep
emotional scope, with songs like Fat Boys Are Not
Athletes and Oh, the Lies We Eat becoming more
poignant with every listen. Then again, singer Aaron
Robinson's achingly unguarded vocals are so
charismatic in conjunction with the music that he
could be singing grocery receipts and make it
fascinating. His voice, particularly on songs like
Another Sunken Anchor, calls to mind Coldplay's Chris
Martin and The Walkmen's Walter Martin.
Recorded over a
series of weekends and late nights
(like all the best indie records), Revive carries an
infectious energy that can only be created by
musicians who actually love what they're doing and are
trying to cram as much as they can into a small amount
The entire band
deserves praise here for topnotch
work. Each guy plays like his life depends on it, and
that energy translates beautifully.
recommended. Hopefully this will be
popping up on the CMJ charts soon.
- Clay Steakley
Local Rockers All For One - 'Collectives such as
Humdrum Nashville seek strength in numbers'
Back in April,
a group of friends from various
Nashville rock bands huddled at the Sherlock Holmes
Pub on Elliston Place to think and to vent some
''We sat down and
said honestly, there has to be more
we can do,'' recalls Nathan Walker, lead singer for
the band the Ups and Downs of Industry. ''We go out.
We play shows. We come home. We play Nintendo. What
else can we possibly do? Things aren't rolling for
Like all good meetings,
that produced another meeting.
The call went out for anybody interested in improving
the local rock and art scene to meet at the spacious
club Blue Sky Court on a non-performance evening for a
sort of town hall. It drew more than 50 musicians,
artists, photographers, Web designers and general
supporters. And that, as best as anyone can pin down,
was the night Humdrum Nashville was born.
In a time of record
industry strife, when the motto of
aspiring musicians is often ''do it yourself,''
Humdrum is trying to make that ''doing it ourselves.''
It is, participants say, chiefly a social club open to
all, but it also is exploiting a blend of friendly
competition and strategic cooperation to shape the
destiny of a growing number of local groups.
And it's not the
only rock collective trying to find
strength in numbers. A community of bands promoting
themselves through the Web site Nashvillerock.net is
planning a show in early January with 16 bands and a compilation CD, as well. Yet another site, www.nashvillerockscene.com, launched in 2001 by musician Penny Samson, keeps an index of bands and shows.
But Humdrum has
a compilation CD, frequent collective
shows and increasing levels of organization. A group
of Humdrum band members gathered recently to talk
about how their group illustrates the city's ongoing
attempts to break out of shackles placed on it by
history, image and economics.
''It's a pooling
of resources,'' said Jeff Zuehlke,
vocalist with Humdrum band Lume. One form that takes
is multi-act nights at clubs such as Blue Sky Court,
the Exit/In, the End and The Five Spot in east
Nashville. Recent months featured a Tower Records
in-store show teaming Lume with the Ups and Downs,
Imaginary Baseball League and Death Comesto Matteson.
Exit/In paired two of those bands with fellow
Humdrummers Friz and Ide. Bands also share contacts
and know-how, such as who will give them deals on Web
The most tangible
sign of Humdrum's cooperation is its
first compilation CD titled Life as a Decoy, released
a few months ago. It includes tracks from Lume,
Imaginary Baseball League, the Ups and Downs and Death
Comesto Matteson, plus For All The Drifters and
Zuehlke says the
cost of the project, divided among
all the band members involved came to only about $25
per person, making it easy to give the album away,
here and on the road, as a kind of business card and
''We don't have
the money to pull off a record label,
but we have the resources to act like one,'' Walker
says. ''We made a list of all the different people we
knew who had a wide variety of talents and skills, and
it was pretty impressive. . . . That's really what
caused Humdrum to get going.''
Humdrum's Web site
includes a sort of anti-manifesto
that makes it clear that the collective is not a
revolutionary idea nor a ''sharp departure from the
current mindset of musicians and artists in Middle
Instead, it says,
''it is an articulation of synergies
already present among the musicians and artists who
work and play together in this part of the world.''
Tony Lucido, bass
player and singer in Friz, says the
bedrock of the collective is a belief that what's good
for one band is good for all. He recalled hearing
tirades of jealousy from a local musician after
another local band got a deal.
''I was like, 'Man,
why would you be (mad)? I think
that's great. If a band from Nashville in our genre
gets noticed on a national level, that's awesome,
because they're going to want to know where they're
Walker says a decade
ago, before Internet music
downloading and video games and DVDs, when the music
business wasn't so shy about investing in new bands
from and for the college and post-collegiate age
cohort, Humdrum probably wouldn't have been necessary.
At least some of the bands involved would be signed to
record deals or making bigger waves.
''So rather than
tread water we decided to take things
into our own hands.''
So while they're
waiting out the music industry's
storm, members of Humdrum at least feel like there is
strength in numbers and a future in regional
awareness, touring, low-cost recording and innovative marketing. And whether it becomes a viable template for a new Music City business model or not, members say its chief virtue is they're being creative and having a ball with each other.
''If nothing else
ever happens with my band,'' Zuehlke
says, ''I will always look back at the time I spent
with every one of the bands I've gotten to know fondly
Nashville is planning another
multi-band show at Blue Sky Court toward the end of
January. Keep checking our listings for information
once the lineup and date are finalized.
is planning ''Music City
Mayhem'' Jan. 9 at Exit/In, featuring brief sets by 16
bands, starting at 8 p.m. The bill includes Gear
Driven, the Josh Jackson Band, Not Worth Trusting and
more. See www.nashville rock.net for more information.
doesn't have a set band roster, but
its compilation albums are the best indicator of who's
at the center of its musical universe. Here are the
bands that appeared on this summer's first
compilation, Life as a Decoy, plus a preview of its
upcoming Volume 2, set for release early in 2004.
Humdrum's site is at www.hum drum-nashville.com. Life
as a Decoy is available at Tower Records on West End,
CD Warehouse on 21st Ave. S. and Grimey's on Bransford
Ups and Downs of Industry: ''Tense but
harmonic, dissonant but affectionate'' – Humdrum
Baseball League: ''One foot in indie
rock and the other in alt-country'' – Humdrum
''Cracked pop in the tradition of
(not derivative) Kate Bush, Roxy Music, James, and Lou
Reed echoing with the hymns of a troubled Southern
Baptist boy from the Indiana/Kentucky border (not
bitter).'' – www.thorntonis dead.com.
All the Drifters: ''Two voices deliver
candid lyrics with heart-on-the-sleeve authenticity
and a sense of urgency.'' – Humdrum Web page.
Comesto Matteson: ''A mix of Morrissey
and the Cure but not as whiny as Morrisey and not as
pop as the Cure.'' – Trey Mitchell,
''Catchy but sincere, unique but
natural, complex but organic, dark but uplifting''
– Lume's Web page.
Coming on the next
collection: Ide, Friz,
Septemberland, Lemoncholy, Westover, Aireline and The
Slow and Steady Winner.
Hit musical home run with Imaginary Baseball League
We all get stuck
in ruts. And sometimes all you need
to yank yourself out of that rut is just a little
change of perspective.
Like sleeping with
your head at the foot of the bed.
Or wearing your shirt inside out for a night . . .
hey, it worked for Bill Murray in Lost In Translation.
Or maybe you can venture about 30 miles to the south
and check out the entertainment options available in Murfreesboro.
Say you're looking
to get your weekend fill of indie
rock. (OK, don't actually say it . . . people will
stare.) We suggest you check out Wall Street in the
'Boro, where Imaginary Baseball League headlines a
bill featuring some of the area's best rockers,
including Aireline, David Schultz and Glossary. The
show starts at 10 p.m., and cover is $5 for 21-and-up,
$6 for ages 18-20.
Then again, if
you desire something more on the blues
tip, there's Kenny Brown, who spent nearly a quarter
century alongside blues great R.L. Burnside and just
recently released his solo debut on Fat Possum
records. Brown pairs up with local (and loco) 'Boro
punks The Young Lovers for a 10 p.m. show at Mark's
Campus Pub. Cover is $5.
Lucas Hendrickson, For The Tennessean
Imaginary Baseball League, Revive (What A Waste
Like a host of
emotional British rock bands –
Radiohead, Coldplay, Travis - Imaginary Baseball
League tend toward broad, athemic tunes often held
together on gossamer guitars and faint keyboards. Yet
despite their epic quality, IBL’s songs explore
the intensely personal. They create maudlin anthems of
intimate events. And when IBL flirts with the rhythms
of Americana music, they do with authority –
Imaginary Baseball League hails from Murfreesboro,
British “emo” aside, IBL
play with the textures of their instruments like few
of their contemporaries. It is this attention to the
sounds of their sounds along with their appreciation
of melody that sets them apart from their peers.
Roomy, inconstant bass and drums, floating keys and
the clean guitar notes and earnest, raspy vocals of
Aaron Robinson give IBL’s music the sense of
The closer, "I
Won’t Stop," lyrically and
musically describes freefall. Robinson’s
scratchy voice floats above even the lightweight
guitar and keys. The song closes the musical theme
opened in the first song, "The One Infallible." In it,
Robinson describes an untainted schoolboy crush while
his band’s instruments individually take flight
When the proceedings
are intentionally grounded it is
with more percussion like in "Fat Boys Are Not
Athletes" and "Don’t Call At All." The latter
may be the closest to a traditional rock song that IBL
ever comes. There’s an overdriven guitar, a verse-chorus-verse structure and a straight-ahead rhythm that recalls their homeboys Glossary.
"Fat Boys" that stands out. It includes
no nod to the slow tempos and romantic themes of their
other songs. Its aggressive tone is also unique in
this collection. Though really, its magic is in its
coupling of (one guesses) a very personal subject (a
fat kid forced to play football) with an unrelenting
beat. The song is a nugget of triumph for the geeky
loser. In the humor and menace of this song, so far
removed from their intense balladeering, Imaginary
Baseball League show themselves capable of a broader
range of emotion and music than previous releases have
I mean, who'd have
thought they could rock the fuck
Imaginary Baseball League, Cardiact (What A Waste
The greatest accomplishment
Imaginary Baseball League is the way each song on
their new EP Cardiact wholly absorbs the listener.
Even at four and five minutes, no song feels as long
as it really is. It is a testament to the band’s
clever arrangements that nothing sounds repetitive.
Even a song like
“Nuclear Winter” that
contains the recognizable elements of verse, chorus,
and guitar lead delivers each with such effortless
melody that everything sounds fresh. Such careful
arrangements assure the five songs here stand up to
The most refreshing
aspect of Imaginary Baseball
League is the fact that they do not fit into any
sub-genre of indie rock. They slink between
emo’s broken-hearts, alt-country’s
distinctive languid tempos, and pop’s melodic
The opener, “A
Lot To Say,” unfolds slowly
with clean, clear guitar arpeggios before building on
uneven drums and fuzzy guitar to a hypnotic climax and feedback-soaked end.
bobs along with an alt-country
feel but ends before sinking into conventional
verse-chorus redundancy. Like all their tunes, the
textures and instrumentation push the song out of any
If there is a debt IBL owe musically, it is to Radiohead’s brilliant analysis of detached post-modern angst, OK Computer. Beyond musical nods, though, the similarity ends. IBL are distinctly warmer and more personal than the Oxford quintet. In this respect, IBL find themselves in company with Wilco – similarly deconstructing pop music formulas while retaining an American soul.
It gets less surprising
to discover great bands in
Middle Tennessee flouting preconceived notions of what
a “Southern” band – or even
“indie band – should sound like, but it doesn’t become any less welcome. Imaginary Baseball League are easily one of the craftiest bands to come out of Murfreesboro and should soon be mentioned in context with other local pioneers like Lambchop and Venus Hum.