Reviews for The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective (2011):
Despite the very monochromatic album plastered upon The Plurals’ satirically titled The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective, the group’s spastic sense of oddball humour makes for a very colourful experience. Coated in varying degrees of garage fuzz, pummeled by crash-tastic drumming and a whack load of we-don’t-give-a-damn vocals, The Plurals are like those slightly off-kilter cousins that make cameos exclusively at family reunions. And just like those relatives, it can take some time to warm up to their antics. But once you loosen up to their company you can’t wait for them to pull up a chair.
The band opens with a spastic display of on the edge vocals and bouncy, pseudo-melodic garage clamor. Those favouring the shelter of structure will find no forgiveness here, instead heeding the loose-hinged greeting of Miniboone-like wails and hyperactive energy framing the aptly titled “La La La.” In a moment Tommy Plural’s short attention span shifts from controlled conversation to unhinged lunatic. The Plurals keep listeners guessing a track later on “Life’s A Mess” when another band member steps up to the mic and offers an altogether gruffer sound. Somewhere between Boston hardcore and Florida style garage punk, the persona matches their dynamic experimentalism. “Crush” crashes in with yet another vocal onslaught, and “Run” throws a wrench in the machine with borderline cute female vocals circa Lemuria. That it takes Futurospective’s entire first half to explore all their vocal variations ensure The Plurals keep listeners on their toes.
The band also has some significant instrumental bite beyond their vocal focus. For instance, tracks like “Free Burd” range from preppy indie static to belted babbling showcase â€“ infusing a dose of emotionalism in their every word. “Squagel’s” happy-go-lucky bounce and sobering lyrical realism reveal a sense of maturity echoed in the delicate female lead of minimalist slow crawler “Brain.”
Futurospective can be summed up with the humour framing album closer “Happy Songs.” The song serves as a humorous rant between the band and critics, including inebriated admissions that they can’t put a song together without a pint, and that naysayers “don’t understand how hard it is to sing these songs, about my life, put them together, spend hours in the studio, singing, talking, trying to convey they human experience, trying to make you understand, being clever and witty and fun all at the same time.” Coupled with appropriately sloppy guitar chords, these words perfectly capture the essence of why you’ll stand to enjoy The Plurals quirky brand of tongue-in-cheek humour, even if you typically distance yourself from the whole garage thing. Well worth a look.
Remember how Motorhead is the only metal band a punk rocker is supposed to lock, and how Motown is the only pop music that really matters besides the Ramones?
OK, just checking. That really doesn’t have anything to do with The Plurals. No-frills pop-punk, Midwestern rock ‘n roll, screaming post-punk, and obnoxiously wonderful singalongs…these are the elements that can throw you for a loop. The Michigan power trio’s album is a great and balanced mix of songs that alternate between screaming obnoxiousness and lo-fi honesty.
The bitterness I love in my sense of humor, combined with the earnestness and slight sense of hope we all have to have, manages to turn what could be a pretty generic-sounding punk record into one of the most unique albums I’ve heard in a long time.
Michigan’s The Plurals are a fun-time punk band. Their music is upbeat with plenty of “la-la-las” and group background vocals. While I enjoy this album quite a bit, I’d still like to hear what they’d sound like with a bit of over-production just to soften up the edges. (Bermuda Mohawk)
THE PLURALS – The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: Futurospective (www.gtgrecords.net)
Roaring out of your speakers with a positively infectious burst of pure intoxicating joy and boundless go-for-it vitality, this incredibly snappy 9 song album just makes you wanna get up and bounce all over your room with a huge giddy grin on your face. The snarly vocals sneer it up with terrifically ferocious aplomb while the grinding hacksaw guitars, churning’n’burning basslines, and persistent pushin’ drums raise one hell of a gloriously raggedy-ass racket. This is the sort of straight-up no-bullshit punked-out rock’n’roll noise that eschews needless fancy schamcy pretense and instead goes right for the jugular with rip-snorting fury and abandon. Accolades don’t come much better than that.
The 90′s were a special time for me. The alternative music craze had hit and I was a sucker for the bands that were putting music out under this genre. At the same time I was also getting into punk(mainly pop-punk at the time). Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Radiohead, the Breeders, Bush, Blink 182, Allister, Fenix TX among others were always in my cd player. The music reached my teenage life and definitely made me who I am today.
It seems that the Plurals also were incredibly touched by the same music as I was. They play a mix of 90′s alternative and 90′s era pop punk. This really brought me back. Their songs are very upbeat and enjoyable. They switch between male and female vocals much like Sonic Youth does. The guys vocals sound very much like the guy from Math the Band. The female sounds a little like the Kim Deal but her voice is a bit higher.
The song “Brains” is a slow song with the girl’s melancholic voice entrancing you. This sets up the last song “Happy Songs”really well as it is an incredibly upbeat song and makes you want to dance along filling you with joy from their energy. About halfway through the song they break it down into a slow noise/ lead part with them talking over it. Very reminiscent of something Sonic Youth would do. This is the longest song here and it is by far my favorite. It embraces everything I love about this genre and greedily uses for one great finale that makes you wanting to listen again.
The grunge sound is there from the vocals down to the distorted guitars. This is a bit more upbeat and happy sounding than most grunge but had this come out in the 90′s it would have fit right in with no question.
This style is great nostalgia for me. They play it well and I really enjoyed this. As I have listened to my favorite 90′s bands thousands of times it is nice to have a band to experience. They play solid music on their own merits making this more than nostalgia. This is band I will be keeping an eye on. Good band and good tunes.
Genre: Alternative – Grunge
Label: Good Time Gang Recordings
Similar Bands: the Breeders, the Pixies, Math the Band
Razorcake/ Revue/ Lexington Music Press
Certain artists pull you in. Hearing them makes you say “I could do that. I should do that!” The Ramones. The Minutemen. (Shit, The Minutemen said it from the damned stage! Watt still ends concerts by tellin’ folks to “start their own band, paint their own picture, etc…”) The Plurals belong in this company. Seeing them live is revelatory. They’re one of the few groups today whose influences aren’t merely contemporary, yet they don’t fall into some retro trap either. (The days of them being some 90s knock-off are, like, over man.) They simply play rock music, styles and conventions and trends be damned. Futurospective is the record I’ve been waiting for them to make, and it’s been a long time coming. It’s their Zen Arcade, their Double Nickels. The record where they truly put to disc what we’ve always seen them do live. The record that, if there were any justice in the world (or if people still liked rock and roll anyways) some schmuck would be writing a book about 20 years from now. When you have a band that is this goddamned rockin’, it’s just undeniable. These guys and gal play like their life depended on it. (It does) They reach new heights of musical interplay (there’s a phrase usually reserved for Rush reviews, eh?) without sacrificing one ounce of face-blowing-off power or catchiness (and this is easily the catchiest The Plurals have ever been). I’d list song titles or whatever people expect reviewers to do, but everything on this record is so all-fired GREAT I’d have to talk about every damned one of them. (Nobody’s paying me by the word here!) I will say that “Happy Songs” is probably the best Plurals song ever written and that the moment where Nick says “Guitar!” like he’s going to introduce some rockin’ guitar solo, but Tommy just comes in with some palm muting and ends the song is a wonderful bit of probably unintentional humor. (The kind that makes me write run-on sentences, apparently.) Futurospective is the past and the future all in one place, with a voice that is undeniably their own. No hype, no bandwagon-jumping, no bullshit. Album of the year, hands down. — by Ryan Horky
The process of music-making is really, anyone’s best guess on what the best method truly is. Some believe a rigid enclosing of quarters for intense measures works wonders, while others prefer to sparsely record as they tour across the road. For noisy, punk-rock trio The Plurals, music has often been an explosive creative process that has found them creating new songs at a relentless pace. In the past they were compared to bands like Sonic Youth and now with The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective, they’ve sharpened songs into a rougher, grittier, harsher sound.
As soon as you’re thrown into the frantic sounds of “La La La,” it’s easy to note that the album is intended to be ingested loud. The lo-fi style of the production is an intentional sound so that the trio is allowed to meld and blend their voices and corresponding instruments together. The song showcases the band around a triplet of energetic fire. Later, you get to hear more of an honest effort with “Brain” and its spotlight on female vocals to the strum of an acoustic guitar. The album thrusts itself forward with a climatic reason to be forceful and on edge but the light feel of the latter is a welcome addition.
But though there is certainly a great of energy on “Alma Mater” and its crashing, spilling drums, there is no denying that it’s merely fifty seconds of noisy fun. While one esteemed writer compared it to Zen Arcade for some reason – the latter classic spans over twenty different clashes of songs in one massive heap of blistered music – an unfortunate comparison to The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective’s nine various songs is unjustly awry. Sure, The Plurals intend their music to be entirely free of pretention, to be entirely free of devotion to a rooted seriousness but there is a definite amount of overkill with the album’s overall lax method of style. Even the album’s closing moments on “Happy Songs” is the repetitive yelp of the song title against the backdrop of a steady snare and swarm of guitar feedback.
Through the cloudy makings of the songs, there is always a feeling of uneasiness throughout and it definitely shines. The drastic feel of “Run” is built around a noodling guitar duel and as the music rises to a fever pitch, everything just seems to slide down. And although the motive is to retain a vividly raw emotion of music, there shouldn’t be a lack of melodic progression for the sentiment to be felt. They surely have a richly, lively band to take hold of the challenge in order to right the ship but until then, The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective is ultimately a challenging listen that places the trio’s music on a tipping scale.
Music She Blogged
A.D.D. DANCE PARTY – RIGHT HURRR!
The Plurals are this poppy alt/punk trio with a clear 90’s rock influence and an obvious love for making noise, fusing so many sounds together that I can’t help but appreciate their ADD/ADHD friendly songs before I even start to scrutinize them. Each one tends to sound like two different radio stations coming through the same frequency only both stations are playing really wicked songs with similar styles so it works, hence the appeasing of my ADD. The only track I found worth scrutiny is #8, which is slower and lacking the flare the rest of the album possesses to keep you on your toes. Tippy toes at that. So let’s pretend #8 doesn’t exist and focus on the good stuff.
The singers’ vocals had me a little skeptical in the beginning track but luckily that feeling was fleeting and by song #2 I was skeptical no more. As soon as he started to yell/scream/sing I was picking my jaw up off the floor and trying to clean all the drool off my desk. The chick singer had the same affect on me, be it in the background or on her own, and the emphasis the band places on their vocals adds a shitload of awesome to the whole album.
I love it.
The music comes at you with a mess of energy almost like it’s trying to kick you into consciousness and force you to join in a punk-infused dance party. And you can’t say no.
And I love the bass.
It tickles my privates in all the right ways.
I’m ready for the dance party, who’s with me!?
I’m Sarah. I do what I want.
Idle and the Bear
Tommy Plural, Nich Plural, and Hattie Plural are three wonderful musicians that make up the Plurals… they’re wonderful. They play a genre I like to call funpunx. You probably call it something else and I probably don’t care. They have a really interesting sound, and I love it. They’re from Lansing, MI but they’re currently touring so you should really go see them. I have a feeling they’re really fun live. This album is gonna be released a month from today! You’ll like them if you like the Pixies, Beat Happening, or Sonic Youth.
“La La La” is the title track, and it’s awesome. It sounds like a lot of late80s, early90s garage stuff to me. It’s really short, but it’s good. The vocals are edgy, but still enjoyable, and the guitar line is very catchy. There really aren’t any major Hattie vocals in it, but that’s okay cause I still love it!
“Life’s A Mess” has some great guitar/bass lines, and “Crush” is awesome. It has this great sound, with all this variability and experimentation in it. The lyrics and vocals are awesome, and the music is awesome. It makes me really happy.
“Alma Mater” is extremely short, but it rocks my socks off. “Just enough is all you are!!” Also, the sound is so completely off the wall, I don’t even know. It’s probably the most ORIGINAL sound we’ve reviewed on here without it sucking.
“Run” is very 90s-esque and awesomelike. It’s fast, it’s wonderful.
“Free Burd” has this adorable riff. I don’t know what it is, but that guitar just kills me heart wise at the beginning. The lyrics, as usual, are awesome. And the bridge is just so strange, I love it.
“Squagel” is really, really cute. What the fuck is a squagel?
“Brain” really shows off Hattie, and it sounds great. It’s probably my favorite song.
Lastly, “Happy Songs” is longer than hell, which is strange for them, and you’ll love it.
Overall: The Plurals have this really great sound that’s influenced by punk, pop, grunge, indie, garage metal, and so much more. It’s just got this really diverse sound that changes every 30 seconds. It has talented vocals that change back and forth between soft melodies and yelling. The guitar is constantly pivoting from poppy powerchords to nice little progressions with light sounds. The bass occasionally comes out with these really abstract parts that I love. And the drums just hold everything together perfectly. The Plurals do everything well, but above anything else, they do a great job of taking a bunch of my favorite traditional sounds and blending them together into this ridiculously strange sound all of their own. Five stars. Buy it when it comes out.
Right, it may be that Rockfreaks writers don’t get paid at all, but we most especially do not get paid to sit around and do nothing. So here’s another review, and unfortunately for the band at hand, Michigan trio The Plurals, the review of their ?th album is not one I have been itching to write. The band plays a grassroots level style of Dinosaur Jr.-ish 90′s indie/punk, which has hardly seen the light of day in recent years, save for the efforts of Pavement’s reunion shows and the latest Lemuria record.
This is not something to complain about, at least not in my mind, as I would gladly see modern bands lift Pavement’s mantle, and my superficial knowledge of Dinosaur Jr. has also lead me to note them as a band I must get into, but if you ask me this record, called “The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective”, doesn’t cast The Plurals as ones to carry the low-fi indie torch forward.
For nine songs the trio strum, drum and sing their way through songs that may well have the sound and the fuzzy feeling of DIY and ‘authenticity’ to them. The problem is that they don’t have the stroke of songwriting genius that their inspirations had, and while they sing every bit as off tune, the effect only feels occasionally cool, and for the rest of the time it feels a little grating.
All three members contribute vocals as far as I can hear, and who has the lead plays a decisive part in how enjoyable the songs are, as Hattie Danby’s subtle female delivery is okay, yet nothing special and at least one the men, either Tommy McCord or Nicholas Richard, contributes punk-rock yelling that honestly sounds too try-hard’n'roll. The remaining gentleman is the best bet for a memorable performance, as he has a hint of charisma in the role of ‘the guy who sings weird, but you like to listen to him anyway’.
Songs lead by this type of vocals, such as “La La La” and “Free Burd” fare the best, and are in my opinions highlights of the record. That being said, I think the album as a whole is very much an acquired taste. If you have lusted for 90′s low-fi since the movement lost momentum, then you may be able to find something to your liking, but I think that for most people, The Plurals sound like the very unromantic, realistic and occasionally even annoying noise of three friends just muckin’ about in their garage. And while such a thing can result in something magic, I don’t hear it happening on this record, which is a shame because from all that I can hear and read, The Plurals are a band that does it out an honest love for music. It’s just that sometimes, even love and hard work are not quite enough to create something special.
Download: La La La, Free Burd, Happy Songs
For The Fans Of: Pavement, Lemuria, Dinosaur Jr.,
This collection of 9 songs is somewhat all over the place in an endearing fashion. For the most part the Plurals dip into pop punk and indie rock, and songs are by turn catchy and a real muddle, frequently in the same song. I particularly like it when one of the singers starts hollering wildly during what are really quite poppy songs. There’s a part of “Squagel” which would have been quite at home on a split 7″ with Don Martin 3, for example. Overall though, I am not entirely sure what it reminds me of, other than a teeny tiny bit like the Ergs at their most explorative, but mostly it comes across like 3 people having a bit of a blast making DIY music with no plan or formula. Which is a pleasant and often rare experience these days, with so many bands seemingly coming to fruition to be a “garage band” or “a post punk band” or some other equally narrow role they have definied themselves before they even start writing a song. That’s not to say this is an essential release, as it’s quite a mess and the songs aren’t particularly great or memorable, but this is wholeheartedly backed in it’s endeavour to be DIY and different and just doing whatever the fuck they please. A+ for effort. Or lack of?
This is an American devil’s threesome (two dudes, one chick) that listened a lot to Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement. When they started their band, they also added a dash punk rock à la Dag Nasty and topped it of with a lot of lo-fi. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
All members contribute vocals with varying degrees of success. The female vocal is okay, that of one of the guys is strange but good, but the other one really didn’t have to add his shouting to the mix. Whether a song is likeable depends on who does the most singing, but even the best songs don’t seem to stick.
Score: 6 out of 10
Nostalgia For Infinity
The Plurals – The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective
August 23rd, 2011 § 0
Apparently The Plurals have been pushing their brand of noise-pop — dubbed “post-fun” by the band — since about 2004. From the info online I’ve got no idea how many records they’ve released. A whole bunch of EPs according to last.fm. I’m not sure whether The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective is a first, second or third album, or even whether it’s all new material rather than a collection of existing stuff.
This is a convoluted way of saying that if you’re an existing fan of The Plurals this review isn’t for you. It’s for people like me, to whom A Futurospective is a first introduction to the band. Hi, people like me! You may be interested to know that “post-fun” music essentially comprises scrappy, affectedly messy garage-punk with some lush poppy melodies, scruffy harmonies, snarled and drawled vocals and delightfully imprecise lead guitar work. This is not music for those obsessed with tightness; it’s fast and loose and fun. The band’s a trio, as pictured above, and all three members contribute vocal duties alongside the expected drum / bass / guitar setup.
There’s a great sense of fun and humour in every aspect of this album; the musicianship, lyrics and songwriting. It seems pretty clear that this band exists to have a good time and share some laughs, whilst also producing some genuinely compelling and entertaining music. The party begins with ‘La La La’, which between lyrics like “drinking alone in this room feels so special” shifts quickly between pleasant, clean melodic moments and more frenetically scruffy bits. Some of the vocal lines – here expressed best as “la da-da da daa” – sound strangely familiar. I can’t place this one, but it occurs to me that a similarly catchy vocal line in third track ‘Crush’ is startlingly similar to the chorus melody of Green Day’s ‘Longview’. It’s almost certainly accidental but there’s some common ground between pre-breakthrough Green Day and the Plurals; that playfulness and slacker cool.
There are a few moments where a little more seriousness comes through, though it’s always framed in a fun way. ‘Squagel’ is a bit more sombre and sensitive than other songs on A Futurospective, with the singer stating “I’d rather shake my hips than punch the air” and asking “what it means to be a man”. What better way to challenge conformity to gender identity than dancing?
The absolute highlight of this record, though, is the final track ‘Happy Songs’. My notes on it say only “love this tune! HAPPY SONGS!” Which pretty much says it all; it’s catchy as hell with a repeated chorus refrain that’s almost impossible to not sing along to. And thanks to the band’s endearingly loose and rough approach to their noise-pop, you won’t care how flat you sound or how much your voice cracks. Just enjoy these happy songs.
City Pulse / Turn It Down (listing for the May 21, 2011 release show)
The Plurals have been bashing out ´90s-influenced rock since 2004 — and, along the way, the band has released a pile of EPs and albums.
This Saturday at Mac’s Bar the band unveils its 10th release, “The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective,” a nine-song full-length. Good Time Gang Recordings (a label operated by the band) is co-releasing the CD along with fellow Lansing label Bermuda Mohawk Productions.
The band members — which include Tommy McCord (guitar), Nicholas Richard (bass), Hattie Danby (drums), — all share vocal and songwriting duties; they also play in a number of other local bands, including The Cartridge Family, The Break-Ups and Josh David & the Dream Jeans, to name a few.
Opening the show is Honah Lee, a Trenton, N.J., band that specializes in simple yet catchy punk rock. The Hat Madder, a Lansing band led by Isaac Vander Schuur, will also take the stage. Fans of Devo and Muse should be sure to catch their set. For more information on The Plurals, visit http://www.gtgrecords.net
LansingMusicTV’s “2011 Album of the Year” article:
I first saw The Plurals play in June of 2010 at Basement 414. It was loud, chaotic, noisy and funny all at the same time. After hearing their second album “Whatevers Forever”, I instantly loved their pop hooks and distorted, crunchy guitars melding together to create a humble Midwestern noise-pop fusion indebted to Husker Du and The Replacements but augmented by the boy-girl vocal take via drummer Hattie Danby, Tommy McCord (guitar/vocals) and Nicholas Richard (bass/vocals). I knew this band was something special.
When their third album, “Futurospective: The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow”, was released in May I knew the pop hooks and noisy guitars would still be there. Upon my first few listens, I was torn as to how to think about the album. On one hand, it felt like they were all comfortable with their respective songwriting roles in the band (Hattie singing the quieter songs, Tommy taking leads on the rocking songs and Nich screaming his lungs out on the noisy, short tracks) and it felt like the same old, same old. But after Ryan Horky reviewed the album for Revue mid-Michigan, saying how the album was what The Plurals had been ready to make for years and how it was the record that perfectly translated their live show, I knew he was right.
Horky’s review was the turning point for me. “La la la” is the perfect introduction. It’s fast, Ramones-esque and all consumed by poppiness and hooks. “Crush” continues this pattern. The guitar riff is instantly catchy; you’ll be humming along for days. The noisy guitar tones serve a purpose, helping to conceptualize the lyrics about the mixed feelings of having a secret crush on someone. The best Lansing song of 2011 is “Free Burd” with its quiet and introspective intro (McCord sings “All I can think about is that your guitar is not here for me to play”) then the thoughts burst into song as, later, McCord belts out for a good 10 seconds. This definitely impressed me and it’s a great moment on the record overall. My favorite moment on the record, though, is the second verse section. I love the intensity and energy brought to it. It’s unrivaled and incredible. Richard adds his raspy, gruff response vocal of “I’ll keep you warm” as McCord warmly and assuredly sings “After the storm”.
The album’s closer “Happy Songs” is a wild and adventurous song, to say the least. At first, it might sound like a standard, rough pop-punk song. McCord and Danby’s backup vocals add to the poppiness and the guitars are rough and edgy. Once you get toward the end, though, it changes drastically. Richard goes on a stream-of-consciousness rant, saying “I’m going to go off my prepared notes for this song” and “trying to convey the human spirit, trying to make you understand. Be clever and witty and fun and all at the same time but poignant” he says honestly. As this diatribe is going on, McCord’s guitar is let loose with feedback as Danby keeps the beat. This epic section ends with Richard screaming “I want a freaking pepsi so bad I could die!”. I love that. It’s one of my favorite lyrics ever.
There you have it. The LMTV album of the year.
Lansing’s favorite bunch of hoodlums with hearts of gold, The Plurals, have released a new album entitled “The Plurals today, The Plurals tomorrow: A Futrospective”. Here’s a review.
I have a few contrasting opinions on this record. On one hand, the poppy and noisy blend the band is known for is in full force here. To some, it may be more of the same from the band and to others it may be a breath of fresh air in the midwest alternative/punk scene. I find myself struggling with what side of the fence I’m on. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
“La la la” is a great opener. As drummer/vocalist Hattie Danby starts off with a roll across the drum kit, the song kicks into full gear. The guitars slice through the song like a laser beam. Vocalist/guitarist Tommy McCord croons out the chorus of “la la la, let it out” with a sense of relief, which would fit the lyric perfectly. Vocalist/bassist Nicholas Richard pulsates the bass lines just enough to get you to notice them. Everything about the song makes you want to keep listening to the rest of the album.
“Life’s a Mess”, fronted by Richard, who grunts out “you only wanna talk about problems” as the guitars chop along with quick power chords. I really love the chorus here. Richard sings “the questions I’m asking myself when no one’s around/how much do you think is true?” as Danby and McCord supply the backing vocal. Really great contrast with the sharp instrumentation and soft vocals.
Probably one of my favorite songs from this album is “Crush”. Sung by McCord, I love the (again) contrast in heavy, noisy guitars and great vocal melodies. “You make my crush/I blush/but blame it on the sun” sings McCord. You can’t help but sing along. The drums keep the tempo and the bass is doing its job here. The “do-do-do-do” vocables by McCord add to the pop factor. This is just a great alt-pop song.
“Alma Mater” is the album’s quick, noisy cacophony. “Just enough is all you are” is the vocal here. It takes on about 5 different personas, from the early melodic take by McCord to the screaming of Richard and the crooning of Danby. I love that the band is able to morph their vocal takes via each member’s take within a given song. It adds to the spontaneity of the band’s songs and overall creativity.
Just as the vocal is the star here, the guitars are the star on “Run”. The opening features the Plurals trademark run-up-the-guitar noise and screeching. The main guitar line reminds me of Sebadoh’s “Ride the Darker Wave” from Sebadoh 3. A great lick. As Danby takes over vocals about half way through the song, she is supported by guitar feedback. Other times, power chords. Shows the cohesiveness of the band as a unit.
I think I found the answer to my conundrum at the beginning of the review. There seems to be the complete balance of noise and pop the band has been looking for. Their formula works wonders here, so I say, keep sticking to it. At the first couple listens, I was feeling jaded because I had heard this sound over and over again from the band. But I realize that this is what they do best. Politicians are good at selling their ideas to people. Baseball players are good at swinging bats and hitting balls. The Plurals are good at punk rock.
The Plurals just released a new album, “The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective.” On it, the Lansing-based band epitomizes the free-thinking, independent ethics that shaped the spirit of punk rock, with a ‘90s era alt-pop influence that’s catchy and inviting.
Lansing-based indie/punk darling The Plurals release their third full-length album since getting together in 2004 Friday at Mac’s. The album, “The Plurals Today, The Plurals Tomorrow: A Futurospective,” is a breath of fresh air, with experimental touches on classic arrangemenst. The Hat Madder and Honah Lee open.
Reviews for The Plurals/ Honah Lee – Lick It EP Split(2010)
After the first listen, I thought this to be an unlikely duo for an EP.
Initially, in my mind the biggest similarity between these two bands was the fact that they both hail from “rust belt” state capitols. While each band member of the Lansing, MI-based trio The Plurals serves as lead singer of their respective track, the Trenton, NJ-based foursome Honah Lee utilizes only one lead singer(Tim) on its three tracks. It’s because of this and the nature of the two bands’ songs that the listener initially has a much closer association with Honah Lee.
The Plurals are on the attack, and the listener does not at first know how to grapple with them. Honah Lee, on the other hand, entices the listener to get comfortable with the assurance that you know what you’re going to get.
For example, the third track of the “Lick It EP Split” EP is The Plurals’ ‘Party It Up Part III’. It’s pretty unconventional in its format, most notably defined by bassist Nich’s brash vocals and the very abrupt ending.
The next song on the EP is Honah Lee’s ‘I Hate My Job’, which begins with a line to which almost any listener could relate: “I hate my job. It really sucks.” In general, Honah Lee’s songs are rhythms and lyrics that most listeners will embrace on the spot. If I still had my meaningless job at that publishing company, I would have blasted ‘I Hate My Job’ each and every day on my way to work. The song is almost a rallying anthem in which the masses can unite, but ultimately as Tim shouts ‘You gotta do it if you wanna get paid’. Honah Lee sings about what is universal. These guys would have been writing songs about girls ten years ago. Now, they write about the monotony of work and the general ambivalence that we all feel towards life at times.
The final song of the EP, ‘Sobered, So Bored,’ which is an absolute gem in my mind, is punctuated by the line ‘I don?t wanna go home; I don’t wanna stay here. There’s just no goddamn place to go.”
While The Plurals songs may not initially be as digestible as Honah Lee’s they certainly get there. The nuances of each song are appreciated further after a few listenings. The harmonizing that ends ‘Won’t Come To You’ between drummer Hattie and guitarist Tommy sounds so natural that you feel as if you’ve heard that line before. The droning, solemn-sounding drums that fill the first minute of ‘Sheep Dive,’ which I believe is The Plurals’ strongest effort, contrasted with Tommy’s high pitched, bright ‘Honestly, honesty isn’t your thing’ provide an awesome juxtaposition of dark and light. And it was kind of cool after a few listens to understand Nich’s muttering as ‘party it up, part three’ halfway through his song. It is intricacies such as these that one may not get on the first listen but that make The Plurals effort all the more enjoyable.
Ultimately, I do think these two bands work well together. The reason: They are both obviously having a lot of fun doing this, and it shows in their music. There is no “downer” music here. While some of the topics may be slightly bleak, the music takes a lighter approach, which in some instances (see ‘I Hate My Job’) is slightly ironic. The music produced says a lot about the musicians behind it, and in this case I think it alludes to the fact that these are intelligent and talented individuals, who from the sounds of it are probably a good time to hang out with, as well.
The “Lick-It-EP-Split” EP (GTG Records) by Lansing’s The Plurals and Trenton, New Jersey’s Honah Lee is connected in it’s punk rock and DIY theory and ethos yet completely different in their executions. One one side you have Lansing’s The Plurals, who take the “pop” straight from ‘”90s pop punk” and smash it together with the guitar noise of Dinosaur Jr. and the low-fi aesthetics of Sebadoh. One of their offerings here, “Party It Up Part III”, displays this side of the band perfectly. A lone distorted, droning guitar stands sonically still until a blast of drums and swallowing guitar fuzz and feedback envelope your ears. The song kicks into high gear with bassist/vocalist Nicholas Richard screaming his words right off the page. “Shut up, shut up, shut up/ If no ones listening, then why don’t you just shut the f**k up” he declares, almost if he’s saying it to you. At under two minutes, he makes his point. Short and sweet.
This one noisy, uncompromising slab of Lansing punk is countered by two other noisy but restrained pieces in “Won’t Come to You” and “Sheep Dive”. The former song, sung by drummer/vocalist Hattie Danby, brings about a calmness amidst the noisy guitars, especially the solo section when all the fury of guitarist Tommy McCord’s guitar is let loose to run free. Her voice is double tracked on the second lines of the verses and in the chorus sections, making the swath of guitars not so prominent, yet listenable and catchy. “Sheep Dive” begins with an extended instrumental intro, which is uncharacteristically experimental in nature (at least for this band). Then Tommy McCord’s voice lays smoothly over the rocky, sharp guitars. Nich Richard’s screams and occasional backing melodies add an element of surprise to the latter verse. The song as a whole is a breath of fresh air in terms of experimenting and adding to the band’s musical vocabulary.
The Honah Lee half of this split is engrossed in the same poppy punk culture of The Plurals, but is embroiled in the world of catchy hooks that made bands like New Found Glory and Green Day famous. All three of their songs on this split, including “I Hate My Job”, “Loss for Words” and ” Sobered, So Bored!”, are great pieces of pop punk with hooks that get ingrained in your heads like the 50 states in grade school. The song “I Hate My Job” is particularly resonant as we all can relate to the title, let alone the lyrics. “I hate my job/yeah it really sucks/I hate my job/delivering lunch/I hate my job/ I hate my boss/ cause she talks too much”. Tell me: who can’t relate to that? I know I can.
Musically, the band doesn’t delve beyond their poppy, crunchy guitar-driven sound, and that’s just fine. Sometimes if you have the ability to produce great, memorable hooks via the way a band plays its instruments, then keep on doing what you’re doing. It’s obviously working. What makes this band great is their ability to relate to their audience with their lyrics, like another song of theirs, “Sobered, So Bored!”. About a night without a thing to do and no beer to enjoy the night with, the song is the script for every late high school, early college kid’s life.
Honah Lee has the rare ability to succeed in the confined space of 3 minutes and distorted guitars along with melodies that will get stuck in your head for days on end. The Plurals succeed in the realm of blistering noise married with clean, angelic melodies. Overall this EP is a great piece of music from two bands you will definitely be hearing more about in the future.
Lansing State Journal (promotional piece for 4/10/10 release show)
For a while now, the Plurals has been on an “eternal quest to mix pop and noise,” singer and guitarist Tommy McCord said. The punk-pop band got together in 2004, when members McCord, Hattie Danby (drums/vocals) and Nicholas Richard (bass/drums) were only 16 to 20 years old.
“We’re fortunate to have started playing music so young and to have grown together musically,” McCord said. “We’re all between the ages of 22 and 24, and a lot of great bands like Sonic Youth or the Smashing Pumpkins didn’t even get started until our age or later, so I feel like I’m not being unrealistic when I say the best is yet to come.”
Part of that “best” is found on the band’s new EP, “Lickit-EP-Split,” released on Saturday, April 10, at Mac’s Bar in Lansing. The Plurals recorded all of the instrumentals and vocals for the album live in two afternoons: “In the past we’ve spent long periods of time working on recordings, but we’re really into this bare bones,” McCord said.
Recorded at CrookedSound in Lansing, the disc arrives on the Lansing-based Good Time Gang record label. Eric Merckling (Calliope) of Lansing recorded and mixed the EP.
So what should fans expect from the EP? Three new songs from the Plurals, plus three songs from Trenton, N.J.-based rockers Honah Lee. “As far as The Plurals half goes, we each sing a song, and they’re all up-tempo, fuzzy tunes with a bit of a punk vibe…” McCord said.
Next up: a summer tour, followed by a full-length out as soon as the New Year.
“In a lot of ways, we feel like we’re just getting started,” McCord said. “We’re all really excited by the new songs, and by the end of this year we’ll be done with college, so the real ‘push’ for this band has yet to happen.
“That’s good news for people that like us, but if anyone’s spent the last six years hoping we’d just go away, they’ll be disappointed.”
Turn It Down/ City Pulse (promotional piece for 4/10/10 release show and GTG Records)
To truly understand the sound of The Plurals, you must enter what singer/guitarist Tommy McCord calls the “hole of noise and pop” that is the band’s sound.
In that hole you’ll find a pile of scuffed-up Pixies CDs, a stack of used Beach Boys vinyl, and the Dischord Records punk-rock playbook.
Since the Lansing-based band released its first DIY album in 2005, McCord, along with Nicholas Richard (bass/vocals) and Hattie Danby (drums/vocals), have been sharing songwriting duties and exploring the roots of alternative rock and the vocal styling of ‘60s pop-genius Brian Wilson.
All of the band’s recordings have been released by Good Time Gang Records (GTG), a label started by the band in December 2004. Since then, the independent label has released over 30 titles; with two more on the way. A new split EP featuring The Plurals and Honah Lee (a Trenton, N.J., band) will be released at Mac’s Bar on Saturday, April 10 — along with the debut EP of another GTG band, Narc Out the Reds.
The Plurals’ sound on the split EP meshes well with Honah Lee, a band that also appreciates the ‘90s sound.
“Honah Lee has an early Weezer and Foo Fighters sound, with a Replacements thing going on,” McCord said.
“Their songs are about drinking and hating their jobs. The Plurals songs are more esoteric, meaning of life and bullshit — but I really can’t speak for what Hattie and Nicholas’ songs are about.”
McCord, 22, who is also working on an anthropology degree from Michigan State University, is continuously recording a variety of local bands at his home, better known as the “GTG House” recording studio. McCord also finds time to play in an assortment of other local bands — most notably The Break-Ups and Drinking Mercury.
How does McCord find time to accomplish so much? He said it’s teamwork and maintaining a dedicated communal of GTG artists.
“The thing I think makes GTG unique, if that is even possible, is that we’re more focused on the creative and community aspects of a label,” he explained. “We don’t only release Lansing artists, but it’s all very Lansing-centric. By working together and finding like-minded people out on the battlefield of underground music wasteland you get the opportunity to realize these albums.”
A large part of the label’s community is the house shows, hosted by McCord at the GTG House.
“They are a lot of fun because in Lansing the punks and the metal guys are good friends — they relax and have fun together here,” he said. “Then the more indie and folky kids show up too and everyone gets along. We try to have diverse bills, not just one sound or group of people. We want people to get together, drink and dance. It always goes well.”
Reviews for Whatevers Forever (2008)
Whatevers Forever: CD
Well this grabbed me right off the start. Fast-paced, kinda punky indie rock with a male vocalist with an almost cartoony kind of voice and a female vocalist with the sweetest layered tones this side of vintage Kim Deal. That first song really smacks you around a bit. In a good way. I guess the part that sucks about that is that the rest of the disc is left trying to pick up the pieces. Sometimes it’s beautiful pop, sometimes off kilter pseudo hardcore. The band starts to lose the identity that is very clearly defined by that opening track. Having said that, I really like a lot of the songs on here, but, as a whole, it’s not flowing together. I’d give them another listen for sure. –Ty Stranglehold
band, album: the Plurals, Whatever’s Forever
label: Bermuda Mohawk/Good Time Gang
for fans of: Sonic Youth meets the Pixies, meets Mudhoney
cd review: Kudos to this trio for getting a disc in the mail to me.
Postage aint free and neither are discs. This is exactly the kind of
band you should be supporting when their van pulls into your town.
90′s guy/girl alternative vocal rock is an endangered species. Which
makes the Plurals a dying breed. No doubt influenced by the Pixies,
the Breeders, Sonic Youth, and probably Nirvana, the Plurals
experiment with all types of punk, grunge and rock ‘n roll on this ten
The Alternative Star
The Plurals – Whatevers Forever
Record Label: Good Time Gang Recordings/Bermuda Mohawk Productions
Release Date: August 2, 2008
The Plurals are a three piece rock band hailing from Lansing,
Michigan. Though unlike many bands out nowadays, they don’t draw
influences directly from their peers. Rather, they turn to previous
decades to hone their sound. Specifically the 90’s, bits of the
Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana are totally evident and it wouldn’t
surprise you if you found out the band sports plaid flannel either.
How is it?
Whatevers Forever is anything but overproduced but that is part of the
record’s charm. “Plurality” kicks the disc off with crashing drums,
fuzzy yet crunchy guitars and thumping bass straight out of the early
90’s grunge/alternative scene. However the Plurals are able to mix it
up and not all the tracks sound like carbon copies of the last. “FTS
(IDEKWACSI)” stands out by being overly heavy and aggressive, clocking
in under a minute with plenty of harsh yelling, reminding you of a
punk tune. However, the next track is much more serene, it also almost
exclusively features the vocals of drummer Hattie Danby instead of
Tommy McCord, the band’s usual lead vocalist and guitarist.
“Singalong” is probably the record’s gem though, a total pop song that
will get you singing along for sure. A decent effort altogether, the
lasting value is a little weak and the songs don’t have total replay
value. Still, the Plurals have crafted a diverse record that is likely
to captivate you at least for a few spins.
Final Verdict? 3.5/5
Reviewed by: Deborah Remus
Promising indie/punk that’s clearly influenced by the Pixies. The
Plurals do the girl/guy, quiet/loud, long song/short song,
tension/release thing, with some off-kilter pop sensibility under that
fuzzy 90s guitar sound.
There are a couple of exceptions, but the tunes here aren’t
particularly gripping. It’s a treat, though, whenever the impressive
female vocalist takes the lead. The male vox are lacking and seem to
resort to screaming just to give the middling tunes some oomph.
The problem with sounding too much like your influence is that
comparisons in terms of quality are inevitable. It’s hard to not think
about the Pixies and then wish you were listening to them instead. But
there is promise here and given today’s pathetic punk scene, a
throwback to 90s is almost welcome.
Bottom Line: This monkey’s (not quite) gone to heaven.
Notable Tracks: Medic, All That You’ll Be
Overall Rating: ***
We Take More Drugs Than A Touring Funk Band
Listening to The Plurals put me in a time warp and turned me back into
my 15 year old self. Their music is very reminiscent of late 80′s and
early 90′s indie rock (i.e The Pixies) before major labels splashed
money all over the place and raised the stakes. The kind of stuff I
discovered back in my early high school years, the kind of music that
opened my ears beyond grunge, punk and ska. It is hard to not be
biased by your nostalgia when hearing music like that again. I
daydreamed about my 15 year old self, before I was a jaded music snob,
before I took part in hype-related backlash, before all the bullshit
that unfortunately accompanies my listening habits these days. It is
hard to believe it was 15 years ago when I really got down to the
bands that influenced The Plurals. I’m getting a little misty eyed.
It is hard to be really objective when you feel a kinship with a band,
when you know their heart is completely in the right place. And that
is my dilemma with reviewing Whatevers Forever. I enjoyed the trip
down memory lane so much I barely noticed things that would normally
turn me off. The vocals are not always very strong, but since when
has that ever been terribly important in indie rock? I would say I’d
recommend a little less yelling/screaming, but my 15 year old self
just told me to shut the fuck up, old man. So that is what I’ll do.
But before that 15 year old in my head calls me old again, I will say
if you remember back in the day like I do, you should give this album
a spin and keep an eye out for The Plurals. This album is definitely
a good start.
This record is like Superman. Yes, Superman. In the way he embodies everything ideal about America and its greatness, “Whatever’s Forever” embodies everything ideal and great about ’80s and ’90s Alternative Rock. Superman and Alternative Rock…I never thought those two things would be able to be compared. But they did and there’s nothing you can do about! Onto the review….
“Whatevers Forever” by The Plurals is full of pastiches and indulgences into the many different styles of Alternative Rock that emerged during the ’80s and ’90s. The band name checks Alternative Rock trailblazers Nirvana, Husker Du and The Pixies (among other groups) as influences on their sound and it shows. This is not a bad thing, however, as although you and I may easily recognize these influences, the sound is given The Pluralization treatment (ha!) by mixing the talents of Nicholas Richard (bass/vocals), Tommy McCord (guitar/vocals) and Hattie Danby (drums/vocals) into something purely Plurals.
The opener, “Plurality”, is driven by Danby’s pounding drum rhythm and the undeniably catchy harmonies of Danby and McCord. The crunching, punchy guitars add an extra layer to the already in-your-face arrangement. McCord’s lead vocals are hoarse and loud and only get more raucous as the song progresses, ending with him screaming like a mad man. The song ends with McCord screaming the lines “I only wanna be true because I love you” over and over, almost sounding like he’d blow his voice out at any moment.
“Sleepy Girl”, the second stop on the journey, holds up the Pixies at the bank of Quiet-Loud and reaps the rewards of a great song (and no jail time). During the verses, Richard’s vocals are in the call-and-response style with a “yeah?” bring about an almost creepy feeling to the song’s sparse verse arrangement of drums and a clean guitar. As the chorus explodes, so does everything else. The guitars come out of their cages and the vocals are soaring high….then only to come floating back down again quietly, then get pushed back up again….you get the idea. It’s like a roller coaster of destruction and reconstruction but it’s actually a song and not a roller coaster.
The next song, “Medic” continues to fine tune the previously established quiet-loud idea heard so far. However, where other bands are continually beating this long-dead horse, it feels refreshing, mainly due to Danby’s lead vocals. The intro feels pulled from the playbook of Husker Du or Nirvana, being loud and heavy yet not necessarily in-your-face. You know that a quieter section is on the horizon. Everything about the song is solid yet it doesn’t have the catchy qualities of the earlier songs.
Things take a turn down the wrong back road with “FTS (Idekwacs)”. McCord and Richard’s anguished screams swarm at you like killer bees and the instrumentation stings you some more with all the band’s gear taking on lives of their own with corrosive intensity. The only thing about the song that saves it from being a bees nest of noise are Danby’s backing vocals and those are even hard to spot among the chaos. Not my favorite song on the record but it’s short so that gives it some points on the board.
We get back on track with “All That You’ll Be”. Danby’s vocal talents are on display as she hits many different ranges and notes that had not previously been displayed. Her vocal talents help the song become a highlight on the record. Instrument-wise, acoustic guitars lead the way, with electric guitars producing feedback and chiming in here and there. The bass has mostly the same role, but it also provides melody and structure among the low-in-the-mix swathing guitars.
“Singalong” makes you do exactly that. With an instantly hummable intro, it sucks you in and you begin to sing along. Its done its job. Then as McCord sings over the guitar-producing melody, it pulls you in even further. Once the chorus hits, you know that you’ll be singing along no matter what. The bridge brings back the vocalized intro, then comes the guitar solo. Structure-wise, it’s pretty standard but it does its job to get you listening and humming along.
We almost get lost again with the song “Grumpy Willy” but we manage to stay on track somehow. Drawing heavily on the trademark melodic noise of Sonic Youth, the yelling of Hardcore Punk and the melody of Husker Du, the band delves into new sound territory on the record. McCord brings about a sense of normalcy with his short, quiet verse parts and light backing vocals. With about a minute to go, all hell breaks loose as McCord’s quiet verse is laid over top of Richard’s disturbed screams and not to mention the noisy, anything-goes guitar. The song, with all its chaos, ends not with a bang but with a slow, whimpering fade out.
With ‘Shy”, I feel like it’s the same road traveled as “All That You’ll Be” but with McCord taking over lead vocal duties instead of Danby. However, this doesn’t make the song any less great. In fact, it’s the best on the record. Something about it just gives me chills when I listen to it and I’m not sure why. As the pulsing acoustic guitar line keeps you drawn to the song, McCord calmly and serenely sings lines like “I smile the kind of smile distant cousins share at a funeral”. The song is very somber and almost empowering in its tone of grief. Yet, it isn’t a sad grief, more like “a new beginning”-feel to it. The song ends with feedback from an electric guitar. It is a subtle way to end such an emotional song.
“Sweet Shallow Malossy Our House Is Whatever” probably my least favorite song. The song travels through many different styles, from a stripped down intro and verses, to a slightly louder middle section then to a full-blown guitar freakout towards the middle and to the end. Many styles are covered in the space of seven minutes and they are all ones that have been covered better elsewhere on the record. From the quieter sections to the hell raising loud noise, it all seems duplicated. The song as a whole has its moments but each section feels separated and distinct.
Finally we’ve come back to Pluralsville with the end of the record in “Hanging Up”. Over a lone guitar, McCord recycles another vocal melody from “Medic”. He sings with Danby backing “And when you get all settled in, don’t count on me to still be waiting when you call, when you call”. Once this ends with a loud guitar chord blast, a new section begins with Richard yelling over an almost funky beat. This ends just as quickly and the record as a whole comes to a close.
Overall this record is something that any fan of Nirvana, The Pixies or lesser known bands like Husker Du and The Minutemen can get behind. Every style of Alternative Rock is covered here and done well. Even the songs that lack in some areas, excel in others. There is something that anyone can pick out and like. My personal favorite songs are “Plurality” and “Shy”. I like the record as a whole but, like everyone else, there are songs that stand out.
City Pulse (Promotional piece for album and 8/2/08 release party)
Sunny Side Punks by Dave Raven
Before the first downbeat of The Plurals’ Aug. 2 album-release show at Scene Metrospace in East Lansing, drummer Hattie Danby thanked a friend for a borrowed bass drum pedal. Fans outside for a smoke referred to band members by first name; one admitted to occasionally sleeping on the members’ couch.
When a fan base is made up mostly of friends, it’s easy to think the group is part of a dead scene — aspiring rock stars want fans, not “supporters.” The Plurals, however, provide an exception to the typical crowd of cronies. “We were fans first and friends second,” clarified Max Bennett, 19, of Lansing after the show.
Plurals’ guitarist and vocalist Tommy McCord confirms Bennett’s sentiment isn’t rare in The Plurals’ camp. “That’s kind of honestly how I have most of my friends, now,” McCord says. “It’s people I see in other bands or at shows, and we hang out.”
On a Tuesday afternoon at the Good Time Gang house, home to Danby, McCord, Richard and three others, tight-jeaned musicians filed up and down the stairs with music gear, headed to The Plurals’ basement practice lounge. The house has become a habitat for local acts that release recordings under The Plurals’ Good Time Gang label, forming relationships by way of — you guessed it — their friendship with the band.
“In sociology class, they say that a pluralistic society is one where everyone has their own voice and there’s no real clear-cut leader, and its just a very even, egalitarian society, and it ended up being exactly what happened with our band,” McCord says.
The trio exhibits nonstop teamwork. Danby writes songs for McCord’s guitar. Richard and McCord trade instruments mid-set. Everyone dabbles. Danby says this dynamic helps the group’s latest album, “Whatevers Forever,” sound “more balanced between the three of us throughout.”
McCord cites The Smashing Pumpkins, Cheap Trick, The Replacements and The Flaming Lips as influences on the record, underscoring the band’s education in fuzzy riffs, giant hooks and reckless fun, so long as it serves the song. Highlights include “Medic,” which alternates between a heavy, singable chorus and verses marked by a gentle electric strumming. Danby’s soft lisp makes the track, as she works the word “antibiotics” into the lyric. Where clumsier artists have proven the dangers of working in words with too many syllables — 50 Cent’s “Technology” comes to mind — Danby’s execution of this mouthful is unobtrusive.
On “Sweet Shallow Molassy Our House Is Whatever,” Richard overdubbed guitar tracks to produce a mood that’s dim and ominous but not hopeless. Brief pieces of screaming guitar scattered throughout are surprisingly rhythmic, given the free-form sound from the fretboard.
One distinctive talent of The Plurals is the singers’ ability to scream at the top of their lungs and stay in tune. Proof appears on almost every track of “Whatevers Forever,” particularly the heaviest piece, “FTS.” If the acronym isn’t clear, just listen to the song.
In its fourth year as a band and on its second full-length album, The Plurals continue to add creativity to what some might call a ’90s-rock sound. “I hate genre classifications,” McCord says. The three call their style “post-fun” and “sandal-punk.” Or, as McCord puts it, “When punks go to the beach, they listen to The Plurals.”
Press for Professor Nanners (2007)
Rats in the Speakers
The Plurals: Professor Nanners by Ryan Horky
I’m starting to feel old. The whole “retro cool” thing has finally caught up to me. You see, I came of age in the early nineties. “Grunge” was big, everyone had a flannel shirt, Seattle was the coolest place in the world, and everyone hung out at coffee houses. Or, so we were led to believe. Living in a small, rural Michigan town, I had no way to tell the difference. All I knew was that Badmotorfinger had some sweet riffs, the Screaming Trees seemed to rock harder the fatter the guitarist got, and Dave Grohl was the best drummer in the entire world.
Fast forward sixteen years and we seem to be in the throes of Grunge nostalgia. VH1 has been running “I Love the Nineties” marathons. Nickelback, who are basically aping the worst elements of Pearl Jam, are the biggest rock band in the world. I even read an article in Razorcake yesterday claiming that your fate was decided the moment you chose to like Nirvana or Pearl Jam better. (If you liked PJ better you were destined for suburbia. If you preferred Nirvana, you would eventually morph into a cool pop-punker. Personally, I think that the columnist was shy of material last month and desperately needed something, ANYTHING, to write about. I did like Nirvana better though, and I’ve got a pretty big pop-punk sweet tooth, so maybe they were on to something…..) Either way, there sure are a lot of people out their homogenizing and simplifying my growing up years.
At first glance, you might think the Plurals are some of those folks. They love the Smashing Pumpkins. More often than not, they’ve got flannel shirts on. They’re hairy. They excel at the whole “Quiet verse-Loud Chorus” thing. Hell, they even like Hole. It would be simple to write them off as opportunistic nineties revisionists and be done with it.
But you’d be wrong. Sure, the Plurals love the nineties, both the music and the cultural trappings. But so what? They’ve got songs, and they’ve got chops, and they’ve got both in spades. Nick is a seriously underrated bass player, Hattie hits the drums with so much power even she looks surprised at the sounds coming out, and Tommy is all hair and high energy rock soloing. They aren’t afraid to let a song build a little either before taking it over the top, the way they do on “Morning Lecture With The Professor,” where the song starts very quietly, almost dreamily, before slamming you over the head with Nicks’s extended guitar-soloing freakout.
The Plurals have that whole Nineties dynamic thing down pat, often starting a song quietly before building it up to a rocker. They all sing too, mostly Tommy, but you occasionally get Hattie’s pretty voice or Nick’s Muppet yowl. (Which is a good thing—I love the Muppets.) That’s not to say that it’s all nineties love—There are some nice little acoustic ditties on here too, like “Flower farm” and “I Figured,” though eventually “I Figured” gets pretty loud. They gotta rock, understand? “Raspberry Alarm Clock” manages to be both Glam and AC/DC at the same time. (Side note: Seriously, at this point, keyboards should have evolved so that we can put that little AC/DC lightning bolt symbol thingy in there instead of that slash mark. Anybody at Microsoft reading this? Get to it.) The best song of the bunch has to be “Together.” It’s got a great, insistent, repeating four note riff that just hammers you, and it’s always the high point of their show.
The best part about “Professor Nanners” is the feeling that, as good as it is, the best is yet to come. It has all the feel of a “Bleach” or a “Gish,” like it’s the really great record right before the band blows up and issues their definitive statement. Get on board now.
A little help from my friends: The Plurals play nice together
Written by Cale Sauter
Tuesday, 03 April 2007
Many bands aren’t formed out of any particular personal connection between individuals outside of what instruments are needed to complete a given line-up and strike some musical chemistry.
The underlying problem with this formula is that it overlooks the fact that each member of a group brings a personality to the fold — personalities that will be required to mesh for large amounts of time. Unsurprisingly, few of these projects last long, as they give way to “Behind the Music” style bickering and personal drama.
The Plurals came together with a different philosophy: put together a band of your best friends and sort out the details later.
Growing up in Ionia, guitarist/vocalist Tommy McCord developed a close friendship with bassist/vocalist/sometime-guitarist Nicholas Richard. Meanwhile, McCord began dating Hattie Danby, who would go on to become not only his fiancé, but also play drums and sing in The Plurals.
The three all played with an assortment of acts around the small towns of Ionia and Portland before coming together as The Plurals when McCord and Richard were only 16 and Danby was 18.
Now breaking out onto the local scene with three years of experience and no signs of cancerous conflict among the three of them, the emerging Lansing rock band seem to have all the ingredients in place to be the antithesis of today’s culture of musical acts that boast shorter and shorter shelf lives every year.
“We all live together. We all want the same things and just get along really well,” explains McCord after a raucous set at a house party one of his friends threw on Saturday. “There are no issues that the music can’t solve.”
All three members still moonlight in other acts, including The Break-Ups, My Apology and Drinking Mercury. While the members refer to these projects fondly, it is obvious that their experiences outside The Plurals seem to reaffirm their collective belief in the band. “Every time the three of us play a show, we realize how lucky we are to get to do this together,” McCord says.
The Plurals played an energetic set to a full basement of friends and fans Saturday night. The boisterous crowd was treated to a mix of lulling pop-laced sing-alongs and hair-flailing guitar stomps that had most in the room screaming lyrics at the top of their lungs.
“It’s easy to get into their show, because they look like they’re having such a great time,” says partygoer Jeremiah Hackathorn.
The Plural’s latest release is an eight-song, low-fidelity, psychedelic rock exercise entitled “Professor Nanners.” The Plurals enlist a tri-vocal attack and adventurous instrumentation that brings to mind the classic “Nuggets” box set-era of psychedelic garage rock (think 13th Floor Elevators or the Electric Prunes) and the more charismatic moments of the early ’90s grunge-era (such as the more tuneful, upbeat numbers on Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins albums). The band seems to show little-to-no evidence of an influence post-1993, which would mean that McCord, Richard and Danby have somehow successfully ignored the entire canon of their generation’s music.
A more impressive accomplishment is how The Plurals have deftly avoided falling into the easy trap that many Detroit-area bands did early in the decade by painting themselves into the corner as a “revival act.”
Despite the well-aged influences and the “old-soul” personalities the members radiate, The Plurals are a modern band, relying on catchy songs and what Richard describes as “raw charisma” to win over its young audience.
“We write nonstop and really bring the best out of each other,” Danby says.
“By the time we get around to recording a set of songs, we’re already on to playing the next batch of songs live,” McCord chimes in.
While the band’s ultimate goal is along the lines of the familiar “we want to make a living off of making music on our own terms,” they obviously have a great time playing together and stand proudly as one of the few bands doing it for all the right reasons.
In the meantime, the members of The Plurals are working as hard as ever to establish themselves in the local music scene as well as on the road, having just completed a Midwest tour.
As far as their ongoing status as roommates and continuing to exude their mutual love for each other live, none of that seems in danger.
“We all know how to take turns doing the dishes,” Richard says.
Not a review per se, but some weirdo liked the album enough to get the cover tattooed on his arm (c/o Craig Horky):