Weekly Wire
Memphis Flyer Turn Up That Noise!

By Stephen Grimstead

APRIL 13, 1998: 

Libido, Killing Some Dead Time (Velvel/Fire)

The British press would have you believe that the Scandinavian trio Libido are something like “Led Zep and the Beatles and the Verve,” while Billboard declares Libido “bears the unmistakable influence of bands like Sonic Youth and Afghan Whigs.” To this reviewer, Libido’s stateside debut, Killing Some Dead Time, is an unexpected and pleasant sonic surprise that sounds uncannily like the missing follow-up to the Posies’ unsung 1993 pop-psych masterpiece, Frosting On The Beater.

Libido’s prowess as a “rainy-day, dream-away” band is a bit more impressive than their lyrics, though the words can still stand up against the bulk of the “alternative” competition. Sample couplet from the queasy “Comfort”: “God puts on a smile, while he watches you cry/God fucks up your head if you dare to tell a lie.” Thankfully, most of Libido’s songs are better than their unfortunate titles (“Supersonic Daydream,” “Blow,” “Molest Me,” and “Magic Mushroom Night”).

The cover photo to Killing Some Dead Time serves as a fitting summation of the music contained within – intriguing, but kind of shadowy and brown around the edges, with a few bright spots here and there (and a dash of sex thrown in for good measure). With a little help from compressed ’70s-style production, Libido successfully navigates that slippery slide area between Nirvana and Oasis – where twisted tales of dark love, obsession, and alienation never seem to go out of fashion. – David D. Duncan

Dylan Hicks, Poughkeepsie, (No Alternative)

His Royal Badness aside, Minneapolis-St. Paul is a town of white rock guys – rampantly heterosexual, beer-drinking, club-hopping dudes who specialize in classic rock (sans roll) filtered through stiff Midwestern country. The Cities’ great Eighties’ bands, Hüsker Dü and the Replacements, were exceptions because Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould was a New York transplant and because The Replacements had so much genius and soul that they obliterated formal constraints. But current exports like Soul Asylum, the Jayhawks, Golden Smog, and the Honeydogs embody the type.

Twin Cities-based singer-songwriter Dylan Hicks conforms to this type as well, but he also knowingly tweaks it and, thankfully, displays a penchant for musical experimentation and lyrical wit that more closely resembles the small, purple one than his bar-band contemporaries.

Hicks describes his music as John Prine meets Stereolab, but it’s more of a heady brew of Weezer, Freedy Johnston, and post-Big Star Alex Chilton, though there are electronic touches that make Poughkeepsie more musically interesting than most singer-songwriter records. While there are plenty of the acoustic strummings and bar-band rave-ups one might expect, Hicks incorporates samples into the mix with surprising resonance and subtlety. The tenderly simple, home-recorded break-up song “Rocketship” is most affecting due to some understated trumpet-playing and a brief snatch of vocal group the Harmonizing Four’s version of “Motherless Child.” Similarly the cheeky “Claude Debussy” and “The Forest Through The Trees” are colored by expertly placed vocal samples (including a bit of Marion Williams). Such astute, intriguing sampling choices make sense coming from a prolific record collector who once wrote a song about session drummer extraordinaire Hal Blaine (the heartbeat behind “Be My Baby” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” among many others). Hicks does get into Stereolab territory on “I’m Not From Around Here,” whose organ/bass/sample-driven sound also conjures Yo La Tengo.

Hicks also shines as a lyricist on Poughkeepsie. At least half the songs are keepers, and nothing goes by without making an impression. Dead-on bohemian vignettes “Waterbed” and “100 Dollar Bill” are real gems. These post-collegiate slices-of-life about odd neighbors, hand-me-down furniture and “eating macaroni and selling CDs” may not speak to everyone, but they perfectly capture the milieu. Hicks also knows enough to put his boho angst in proper perspective, singing sardonically on “Crybaby Crusade,” “Well, there’s kids that are starving in a war-torn land/And there’s people dying by their own hands/But they don’t know what it’s like to be a slave to rock/To be a bad guitar player with writer’s block.” – Chris Herrington

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