Monday, November 21, 2005

Dad, I'm Not Proud of the USA

This won't be the last post on Lefty's favorite obscure genius Bill Fox, so let's get started. The Mice were a great late-80s power-pop group from Cleveland, propelled by Fox's firey earnestness and Reagan-era bitterness, and elevated to melodic nirvana by giddy pop hooks and interesting left-turn chord changes. At the heart of it is the yearning, heart-on-sleeve voice and the insular naivite that would make his later lo-fi folk approach so haunting. He made two brilliant solo albums on the SpinArt label and then dropped off the map after '98, much to my sadness.

Start with "Not Proud of the USA" to get a raw taste. Then this: The Mice were probably the only band in history to produce a rousing rock anthem about PBS. It's called "Public Television," and it's quite timely:

The White House calls it a communist threat
But they ain't seen the last of it yet
Cuz i got this goddamned cerebral contraction
And i can't get no satisfaction, I need ... PUBLIC TELEVISION!

Let it rock, people. In the above photo, Fox is the guy in the chapeau and that's his brother Tommy (the drummer) with the Love and Rockets hair cut. P.S.: Go ahead and buy Bill Fox's solo albums. You'll be doing yourself a big favor. Tragic high-lonesome gems, straight outa Ohio, yo.

Update: Here's a sample from Bill Fox's second solo outing, Transit Byzantium. "My Baby Crying" is one of my faves: A lilting folk melody sung in a voice that sounds like it was recorded on reel-to-reel in a horribly lonely motel room in the dead of February. Don't miss the exquisite harmonic filigree when Fox sings, I'm in despair, I hear it like a trumpet everywhere...

All props to Mrs. Lefty for turning Lefty on to Bill Fox.

1 comment:

dean said...

When Aaron Cometbus was roadying for a band from Oakland and came to Oberlin (I was going there) he specifically looked for and played this and only this song on my radio show. No editorializing of flip-flopping. It was awesome!