Review Summary: Can this little known Chicago band deliver again?
Craig Benzine is most well known from his internet comedy persona, Wheezy Waiter on YouTube. Amidst his humorously fast banter and creative use of his video editing skills, he occasionally promotes a little Chicago indie band named Driftless Pony Club, of which he is lead singer and guitarist of.
The band has gotten a bit more traction as of the past few years, what with Craig's growing online popularity, getting gigs at conventions such as VidCon, as well as providing the soundtrack for the growing YouTube sitcom, MyMusic. The band even performed on MyMusic's live variety show. With the release of the band's most recent studio album, Manicifent, they certainly bring their A-game in order to provide a fun experience to keep fans of the band, fans of Wheezy Waiter, and fans of indie rock in general entertained.
The album opens with "Pyramid City" which has a very catchy drum riff from the very talented Nate Bartley. Craig's calm voice and simple guitar riffs come in, and as the chorus begins, it gets much louder and energetic. That's what I love about this album. It has such energy and character to it throughout and has some of the catchiest, and most fun lyrics of the year.
"Circuit Us" is one of the few tracks on the album that I don't really listen to much. It's far from a bad song. It's got some fun riffs and sounds to it. It's just not among one of the more memorable tracks on the LP. Craig's vocals are very monotone and this song doesn't have as much energy in it compared to the other songs.
"City You Know" picks things back up again. It really signifies that DPC style and sound we've come to love with their other records. Well spread out and placed repetition adds to the song in an odd way. The bridge is my favorite part. Great tempo and lyrics that are relatively fast, but still manage to roll off the tongue. One of my personal favorites on the album, and I've always caught myself singing this to myself at school.
Once "18 Years Later" comes up, I couldn't help but notice similarities to They Might Be Giants, one of my favorite bands. The oddly perky way that dark situations are presented, as well as sort of surreal lyrics that you really need to think about. The meaning of each song never jumps out at you. You need to dig deep to find meaning, and you may find out there's no meaning at all. I think that's a very artistic and creative approach to song writing, and "18 Years Later" shows that off very well.
"All Quiet" possibly shows this off even better. The song's got quite a hook, opening immediately with the lyric "Screw you, North Dakota." I've gotta say, that made me want to pay special attention to this song, and it did become one of my favorite tracks on the album. Oddly calming near the end despite it's very high tempoed first half. The lyrics often times give me a bit of a chuckle as well.
"They Built The Future" seems to be more of a politically fueled song from my perspective. Seems to be about things such as the government and the media molding the future of America without listening to feedback from the citizens. This goes with the point I made earlier about the oddly deep, yet possibly meaningless lyrics of the album, and thinking about these meanings is oddly fun.
"Men of Action" seems to have been the song that hyped people for this album, having performed it live several times before the album was released. It's clear to see why they chose this song. It defines Driftless Pony Club. It's very similar to their calmly loud sound that they've used for their best songs. This ended up being the song I kept coming back to most, so it did it's job well and it's a really fantastic track.
"Bedrolls Across America" is such a relaxing song. Piano accompaniments with low octave, soft singing. It's nothing less than pretty, and has a very unique tune to it. It seems to be a song one would use to accompany a vacation slideshow or an experimental video project. I like it.
I'm about as stumped on how to pronounce "Yr Mnhtn" as you are, but this is a hella good song. It's very unique in sound and seems to lean more towards experimental rock, because I've never really heard anything like this before. The chorus has a bit of irony and can be extremely cheesy, having lyrics like "Every song's a brand new start." This is really my favorite song on this album because it's calm like the previous track, but also has it's own sound to it that deviates away from the rest of the album.
Magnicifent closes with "Fountain City." It has some of the best drumming on the album and a very memorable beat that can end up staying in your head for a while. I personally wish that this song and "Yr Mnhtn" switched places so it could close the album because it screams closer, but "Fountain City" does a well enough job
One of my favorite things about this LP is it's length. All of the songs are at a pinpoint perfect length. All of them under five minutes, but not one that's under two. All of these songs you can listen to seprately and move on to whatever else you want to listen to while still being satisfied, or you can listen to the whole thing without begging for any of the songs to be over. I seem to do that a lot with songs and albums that drag on for too long
Magncifent could not have had a more appropriate title. The symbolism of this misspelled compliment shows that this album is not only extremely well done, but it doesn't take itself too seriously. It's surreal, odd, and sometimes humorous lyrics combined with the simplistic guitar work and fantastic drumming make this a must listen to any fan of rock, indie or otherwise.