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MP3 Maxtone Four - Hey Hey Do It Anyway

Sunny-on-top pop with chugging guitars, sticky hooks, and gorgeous harmonies.

11 MP3 Songs
POP: Power Pop, POP: New Wave


The album cover of St. Louis-based Maxtone Four’s long-awaited sophomore release, Hey Hey Do It Anyway—taken from a ‘60s Spanish pharmaceutical poster—was the last piece of a musical puzzle that the band began assembling three years ago. The poster’s text, floating over the shoulder of a mod worker bee drifting off at her typewriter, translates as: “Sick? No, Tired,” an image singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist Brian McClelland felt best summed up the quartet’s mindset—within the band and their personal lives—at the time these songs came together in late 2004. The cheerfully chugging guitar pop on the surface of these 11 tracks often masks seen-it-all, bittersweet lyrics—including sun-drenched but surprisingly wary missives on the original music scene (“Just Say I Know”), soul-sucking jobs (the analog synth-assisted audience fave inspired by McClelland’s day job as a 911 dispatcher, “I Fucking Hate This Place”), and friends that get old way too fast (“Parenthetic”).

“The irony,” reveals McClelland, “is that, two years later, the band has never been more fun—and it’s never sounded better or more confident.” He adds that much of that has to do with the reformation of the current lineup (bassist/designated trou dropper Chris Clark has returned after a busy year sabbatical that saw him playing in several original local projects and an ongoing gig with the St. Louis–based blues outfit the Little David Band.) and his long-time friendships with lead guitarist Mike Hellebusch and rock steady drummer Jeremy Miller.
But McClelland explains that it wasn’t only Hellebusch’s driving guitars that helped shape the record. “Mike saved this band twice: when he joined us two years ago—we’d been increasingly burnt out at the time, and Mike’s involvement made playing in the band fun again—and when he offered to move this stalled recording project to his home studio and virtually take it over. Otherwise there’d be no new record.”

Also in their corner during pre-production was one of McClelland’s favorite St. Louis–based rock stars, Joe Thebeau (Finn’s Motel, AOK, the Finns). Thebeau’s main focus was helping tighten or refocus lyrics and—in “Just Say I Know” and “OK You Go First”—adding some fun melodic twists, including the music for the former’s (and the album’s) ascending chord intro and the latter’s sweet A minor chorus turnaround.

McClelland spent much of his downtime between Hey Hey’s recording sessions performing and recording with fellow St. Louis skinny tie popsters Tight Pants Syndrome (an experience he says “really upped my game, vocally and melodically, which is having a nice crossover effect with the Maxtone tunes”), as well as working up material for another project covering an indie-r terrain, Whoa, Thunder!, described by McClelland as “girl/boy skittery mod pop for cats.” Adding, “I’ve been stockpiling songs for the last two years, so at this point I’m just figuring out which song goes where.”

The band’s upcoming live dates—their first performances in over a year, including a May 25th date at St. Louis’ Duck Room being taped for broadcast (and DVD release) by STL’s The Set —will feature the debut of a new, yet-to-be recorded surf-rock shuffle called “Ultimately Baby.” New to the audience, anyway—McClelland first submitted the song to his bandmates two years ago. At that time they had decided not to work up any new material until they wrapped production on Hey Hey. “So now we’re finally catching up,” McClelland laughs. “That’s the good thing about taking such a long hiatus—besides feeling totally re-energized and inspired to make music together again, we have a really extensive catalog of new tunes to choose from. After playing what was basically the same set for most of 2005, that’s a welcome treat.”

“Maxtone 4 has been threatening to become the city''s best power-pop band for the past few years. With its second album, Hey Hey Do It Anyway, the quartet is finally making good on its promise.”
-The Riverfront Times

“The Maxtone Four delivers the goods when it comes to catchy, jangly guitar riffs and sharp-witted lyrical humor. Awesome music well worth adding to your top ten for 2007 list—this is a crunchy pop treat along the lines of the Cars meets the Spongetones.”
-The Powerpopaholic

“Strong songwriting skills, as well as a singer whose voice is reminiscent of alternative trailblazer Alex Chilton, place this group a notch above the rest. Highly recommended.“
-Arch City Chronicle

"At the heart of all pop, from Justin Timberlake to the Flaming Lips, are hooks, and the Maxtone Four have more hooks than your hall closet.
-The Riverfront Times (2004 Music Poll nomination for BEST POP GROUP)

"Maxtone Four writes music that is jangly fun and lyrics with a million details and the occasional streak of wicked humor."

"The album comes off as a subtle guide, with love songs that aren’t really love songs and hipster cool that is natural."
-Playback St. Louis

"A great, unapologetic pop band with style."
-The Rock ‘n’ Roll Report

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