Features

Small-Town Angst Drives Makers On Crisp New Album

It’s no secret the Makers hate the town they live in.

So why don’t they move?

Well, it’s not that simple. If they did move, we’d be robbed of some pretty monumental music. Not just because the foursome would be living in a different locale, but because the culturally vacuous and oppressing nature of Spokane provokes much of the Makers’ angst, which, in turn, fuels their music.

Though they share nothing in common with today’s contrived crop of angst bands, their feelings of anxiety, frustration and disenchantment bring a brass-knuckled toughness to songs. Makers songs are direct, pointed, combative, irreverent and brimming with roiling hunger for a better day. “Hunger,” appropriately, is the title of their new album.

Also appropriate, the first track on the raucous 16-song bloodletting is “Small Town Depression.” It’s a quintessential song, because the Makers aren’t merely trying to convey the arduous struggle of breaking free from a small town. They’re fed up. And the roaring “Small Town Depression” sets the tone for the rest of the album.

It used to be that the lo-fi aesthetic was the only thing that married songs on past albums like “Howl” and “All-Night Riot.” Without inferior sound quality being a distraction or snuffing out a song’s potency, “Hunger’s” songs are astoundingly cohesive and well-recorded. This allows the band’s fighting spirit to boil to the top.

Many of “Hunger’s” songs are the result of band members failing to connect with people. Feelings of rage and dissatisfaction are asserted in songs like “Razorblade,” as Mike Maker sings, “I can’t live tonight/in a world with no moonlight/in a world you love and not despise.” Above the tinny-riffed “World’s Apart,” Mike resolves, “In this world/we are worlds apart.”

One of the reasons why the Makers can’t connect is that they surround themselves with barriers, never expressing sadness or depression. Doing so would leave them vulnerable, which is why they maintain such a surly and defiant attitude throughout “Hunger.” For example: “I will break your heart in fact/I will gladly break your back/and that’s a matter of fact,” punctuates Mike in “Leopard Print Sissy.” In “Mr. Blood,” he reminds us, “I’m never gonna let it show.” And sometimes, the troupe gets downright insulting: “You’re such a waste/you’re just a victim of your mother’s bad taste.”

“Hunger” isn’t just the band’s outlet to fume or blow off steam. They can actually be quite playful and the tone isn’t always serious. Yet through music, they can cope with their hostile surroundings and communicate with others. Ultimately, they reach a catharsis.

The 16 songs on this album are some of the best the Makers have put to tape so far. No joke. Each Maker - singer Mike, bassist Don Maker, drummer Jay Maker and guitarist Jamie Maker - have sharpened their skills, instrumentally and lyrically.

Plus, they’ve taken ownership of their music, no longer sounding like a tribute to ‘60s bands. As a result, the Makers have transcended their modern-day garage contemporaries. “Hunger” is the first album from the new generation that really matters.

More Makers mayhem

“Hunger” isn’t the only new Makers release on the block. The band, which has racked up well over two dozen releases in four years, likes to unleash new efforts in spurts.

As the Makers’ fourth album was landing in stores several weeks ago, so were a half-dozen other releases. Among them were the EPs “Tear Your World Apart” and “April March Sings Along with the Makers,” the single “Super Low-Fly,” the compilation album “Shout On/Hip-Notic” and the soundtrack to the independent film “Sore Losers.”

“Tear Your World Apart” provides a quick Makers fix, featuring two songs (“Tear Apart” and “Worlds Apart”) from “Hunger” and four B-sides recorded during the “Hunger” sessions. The songs aren’t throwaways; they just don’t fit the mold of “Hunger.”

Additionally, “Tear Your World Apart” is brightened by the swank illustrations of Jaime Hernandez, a cartoonist known for the popular hipster comic book “Love and Rockets.”

“April March Sings Along with the Makers” is a peculiar release. The unlikely pairing of L.A. singer April March and the Makers leads to mixed results on this nine-song diversion. March, who is quite popular in Europe but an obscurity on this continent, favors eccentric ‘60s-soundtrack-style lullabies, not garage rock.

By fronting the Makers, she makes a parody not only out of herself but out of the songs and the entire band. March doesn’t speak the quartet’s language. She overacts the part and that’s why the result is often laughable.

She does score direct hits, however, with the sweeping ballad “Sad Little Bug,” taken from the band’s self-titled third album, and “Try to Cry” from their first album, “Howl.”

The compilation LP “Shout On/ Hip-Notic” combines two EPs by the same name that the band recorded for the Sympathy for the Record Industry label as well as eight previously unreleased songs onto one CD. Captured during the “Hip-Notic” sessions, the new tunes include rousing renditions of garage staples “Lil’ Red Riding Hood,” “The Crusher” and “Pushin’ Too Hard.”

Sympathy for the Record Industry has also issued the soundtrack for “Sore Losers,” a cultish flick that actually stars Mike Maker. The soundtrack draws from a wealth of acclaimed garage mainstays, such as the Oblivians and Guitar Wolf. The Makers contribute two songs, “Modern-Day Freak” and “Time of Day.”

“Super Low Fly” is a release that’s only available at Makers shows or by writing the band’s label, Estrus. Limited to just 1,000 copies, this two-song 45 features a melodious ballad called “Crazy Girl,” one of the first songs the Makers wrote as a band.

The address for the Makers’ label is Estrus, P.O. Box 2125, Bellingham, WA 98227.

MEMO: These 2 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. THE MAKERS “Hunger” album (Estrus) “Tear Your World Apart” EP “April March Sings Along with the Makers” EP “Super Low-Fly” single “Shout On/Hip-Notic” compilation “Sore Losers” soundtrack

2. THE MAKERS COMPLETE DISCOGRAPHY Studio albums “Hunger” “The Makers” “All-Night Riot” “Howl” EPs “April March Sings Along with the Makers” “Tear Your World Apart” “Shout On” “Devil’s Nine Questions” “Hip-Notic” Singles “Super Low Fly” “Music to Suffer By” “European Tour Single ‘95” “Bust Out” “This Is the Answer” “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” “I Get Scared” “Crapshoot” “I Just Might Crack” “Here Comes Trouble” Split Single The Makers/the Kings of Rock The Makers/the Magnitude 3 Compilation albums “Shout On/Hip-Notic + 8” Various artists compilations “Fireshock” “Sore Losers” motion picture soundtrack “Tales From Estrus Vol. 3” “Estrus Cocktail Companion”

These 2 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. THE MAKERS “Hunger” album (Estrus) “Tear Your World Apart” EP “April March Sings Along with the Makers” EP “Super Low-Fly” single “Shout On/Hip-Notic” compilation “Sore Losers” soundtrack

2. THE MAKERS COMPLETE DISCOGRAPHY Studio albums “Hunger” “The Makers” “All-Night Riot” “Howl” EPs “April March Sings Along with the Makers” “Tear Your World Apart” “Shout On” “Devil’s Nine Questions” “Hip-Notic” Singles “Super Low Fly” “Music to Suffer By” “European Tour Single ‘95” “Bust Out” “This Is the Answer” “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” “I Get Scared” “Crapshoot” “I Just Might Crack” “Here Comes Trouble” Split Single The Makers/the Kings of Rock The Makers/the Magnitude 3 Compilation albums “Shout On/Hip-Notic + 8” Various artists compilations “Fireshock” “Sore Losers” motion picture soundtrack “Tales From Estrus Vol. 3” “Estrus Cocktail Companion”



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