Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Escanaba Firing Line Seek to Fill Void in Northern Michigan Music on New CD

Andy Taylor - August 19th, 2004
Being in Grand Rapids for the past two years made me fall in love with the music scene that a large city can offer. There were many nights that I wondered why I wasted my time in Northern Michigan’s almost non-existent underground rock scene instead of heading south for the GR-Kalamazoo area. Well, I have been pleasantly surprised to return to Northern Michigan this summer to find a growing indie-rock scene that is slowly gaining some ground on its southern counterparts.
Garage rock bands are important to any city’s musical atmosphere, and so the local fellows in Escanaba Firing Line are filling an important role in this area’s artistic front. The ability to strip down rock and roll’s pomposity and leave at its raw and guttural roots is almost like a cleansing act: one that is vital to the creative energy that a music scene thrives on. I believe that a band like EFL and its peers can fill that role in this area.
The sound of Northern Michigan’s Escanaba Firing Line is difficult to pin down. Many different types of underground rock are readily apparent in EFL’s latest release, entitled “Speak and Destroy.” The band is equal parts punk and garage rock, with a touch of indie rock and hardcore thrown in. The guys deserve a pat on the back for blending these styles in a pretty seamless fashion. They have created a pretty cohesive effort, which is needless to say, difficult, but even more so for a young band.
Two of the stronger tracks on the album are “Terra Incognito” and “Moderate Rock Tempo.” Both have great guitar riffs and a tempo that fits well with the music, while there are some catchy pseudo-sing-a-long parts that make you want to bark with the band.
It was a pleasant surprise to hear a live track at the end of the disc called “False Start.” Once again there is some great guitar work and there is also an attempt at a hooky section to the song. Even though there are some barky hardcore vocals, there is still some great potential for hooks in this music. This song is another of the stronger ones on the album, but unfortunately it was recorded live and a lot of it is lost in the midst of not being able to hear much of what is going on. It should have been given more focus and recorded in the studio. It also loses direction toward the end and does not demand attention anymore, which is a fault at a couple of different points in the album. Listener focus has to be maintained continually.
Production work on this album is not too bad at all. The levels are mixed right so that every instrument can be heard well, but at the same time there is still a raw, sort of stripped down nature to the music. The band goes along and it seems that there is only a thin thread holding them all together, which should be one of the trademarks of a band that can play this kind of music well. Nothing ever falls apart, but it just shakes in place.
The listener expects everything to kind of disintegrate into mass chaos but it never happens, similar to the way a band like Fugazi might present a record.
With that said though, the sound of “Speak and Destroy” is of a band that is still trying to find its sound. The realm of experimental garagerock is still fairly untapped, which might not be a bad thing, and it seems that EFL may have strayed a little too far into it.
Some of these songs are just too self-indulgent. Really long jam sessions are fine for bands like Shiner, Puller, the Grateful Dead or the String Cheese Incident, but EFL should stick to what they seem to do well, which is cool garage/punk/hardcore. At the same time though, I hear a potential to be something like Northern Michigan’s answer to the Stooges in this band, without all the pretensions that came along with that band and its quirky front man.
Does anyone remember a band called Crash Rickshaw? EFL remind me of them. Sweet.
Outside of a handful of bands like the Hives or the White Stripes, not very many garage bands tend to write hooks in their music, but I can hear some pretty good ones on a couple of the EFL tracks. The Firing Line sound nothing like the aforementioned garage rock giants, which is great, and they should develop these hooks that can be heard on some of their songs, and implement more of them. The results could be really impressive.
This is a transition disc. It really is not the most earth-shattering thing to listen to, but it definitely has some great moments on it. With some stripped down song formats and some more streamlined writing, this band could be something really special. I would watch out for them and expect some really cool things from them in the future.
 
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