When I Look In Your Eyes, I See Your Eyes: Reviews Of Recent Releases By Local Bands, Pt. 90
Human Switchboard - Who's Landing In My Hangar? - Fat Possum Records - 10 songs - LP, digital
I always seem to see Human Switchboard listed as "Cleveland punk" even though their path to Cleveland was a wayward and inconsistent one (they were in Syracuse, and then Cleveland, and then Columbus, and then Kent, and then…) and they aren't really all that punk. What they are is garage/power pop/new wave, that kind of thing. It's very '60s-based (Farfisa is all over it), but with a bit of that late '70s punk energy, ya know? A good comparison would be their contemporaries Saucers, if that helps anyone. The songs Myrna Marcarian takes the lead on are especially good, like the opening "(Say No To) Saturday's Girl" and the excellent "I Can Walk Alone," but I really like Bob Pfeifer's songs too. The thing about his songs is that he's a little bit goofy. I don't mean that in a bad way, but there's something that seems a bit self-conscious about him. He also does this thing on a few songs that's particularly noticeable on the slow, Velvets-y burner "Refrigerator Door" where he almost seems like he's doing a Jonathan Richman impression (it's really, really apparent on "In My Room," which isn't on this album, but is similar in execution to "Refrigerator Door")– the question is, is he trying to sound like Jonathan Richman or did he and Jonathan just both independently copy the same elements of Lou Reed? Does "Refrigerator Door" borrow its style from "Hospital," or are both songs just inspired by "Heroin?" Hard to say. Most of the time, it doesn't sound like the Modern Lovers, it's just something in Pfeifer's vocal style. In any case, I think it's a good record. The peppy stuff is good ("(I Used To) Believe In You," the title track) as are the other things they do, like the sinister "Don't Follow Me Home" or the strange, arty closer "Where The Light Breaks." Mostly upbeat, very catchy stuff, and consistently good if you can look past the things I find funny about it that I don't even know why I find funny. You, reader, probably won't even find it that funny, so maybe just ignore my babbling. 4/5
Are you a local-ish band? Do you have a record out? Email email@example.com or send it directly to Observer headquarters: The Lakewood Observer, c/o Buzz Kompier, 14900 Detroit Avenue, Suite 205, Lakewood, OH 44107.