“On” b/w “The Other Side” 7”
Worlds Destroyed 7” EP
The Potential Johns
“Can I Really Not Go with You” b/w “Past Due” 7”
I’ve heard that one or more of the Marked Men resent the suggestion that they sound like the Ramones. Fair enough. I get it. The landfills are choked with Ramones clones so devoid of imagination as to make a reasonable mind cast doubt on the godfathers from Queens. Still, the Marked Men have always reminded me of the Ramones (though they’re like the Godzillas of the bunch, looming large over the landscape, swatting aside challengers like gnats). To be specific the “California Sun” side of the Ramones, Johnny in check, Joey’s heart and harmonies in the spotlight. When the Marked Men are firing on all cylinders there’s a beautiful coexistence among the chiming guitars, the aching hearts, the candy-coated vocals and the furious eighth note action. Plus, the Marked Men always mix their records so that you could hear everything as a massive, nearly overwhelming whole or as distinct parts. I thought their last LP, Ghosts, sounded like they were running out gas but both sides of this single are stellar—mid-tempo up top, up tempo on the b-side. As good as any of the tunes on On the Outside. Now I have no choice but to revisit Ghosts. They’ve forced my hand!
We know what it sounded like when Phil Spector worked with the Ramones. I love End of the Century (and I’m intrigued by the “wanna see my gun?” lore). But what would have happened if notorious British producer and madman Joe Meek produced the Ramones? Musically, I mean. Imagine the Ramones roar in the hands of Meek, known for his other worldly approach to sonics. (The interpersonal angle would certainly have yielded multiple homicides.) I bring this up to put some variables in play. I don’t want to reduce the Mind Spiders to a nostalgia act. Worlds Destroyed is a remarkable piece of work with or without the fan fiction tangents. Mark Ryan borrows elements from his other bands (Marked Men, High Tension Wires) but repositions them perfectly. I listened to the title song four times before moving on to the others. It’s slower than I expected. The lyrics are clearer. Like a Marked Men song it’s built on a foundation of a wall of guitars and steady floor tom but the combined effect is surprisingly peaceful, expansive. (At various times I’ve pictured the lonely surfer, the lonely cowboy and lately, the lonely astronaut. Or maybe lone is more apt than lonely.) “Time Sucker” and “Dirty Secrets” are even better. I’m giddy over the prospect of the upcoming Mind Spiders album.
Potential Johns: “Can I Really Not Go with You” is loud, fast, and fun, a good tune that would fit well with any Marked Men album. “Past Due” is the song of note, though. Longer, simpler, more repetitive, it reminds me of Neil Young and Crazy Horse, those songs where they go verse/chorus/verse/chorus for a minute or two then lock into a loop that could drive on for 15-20 minutes. It’s not jamming because no one’s wanking; there’s no trading of solos to flash instrumental prowess, just a realization that they’ve come to a point worth lingering on—this rocks, dudes, let’s stay here awhile. The song doesn’t vary for the final two and a half minutes. It would be a shame if it did.
– Mike Faloon