Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Superhopper Party Killers

Grade: A
I've been lucky enough to have known Kermit Carter of Superhopper for about six years. They were apart of the whole Malachi Constant/Hockey Night crowd that rocked Eclipse Records (RIP) in St. Paul weekend after weekend in the summer while I was in High School. They were infectious then, but now, they are that and just damn good. Christening their new E.P. Party Killers (Guilt Ridden Pop) with two release shows, an ID party at the Triple Rock last week and an all ages bash at the Minnesota Museum of American Art (MMAA) last night, it's clear that something good is about to happen.

With the recent addition of Pete Biasi (of Signal to Trust and Falcon Crest fame and fortune) a new energy has been inspired in the group, which reveals itself in their live show (Bill Muller recorded bass on Party Killers before leaving the band). Drummer Nick Shuminsky is better than ever. I mean, he was great before, but he turns up the ass-kicking on this recording, really showing off his aptitude for four-on-the-floor. And I can even imagine Matt Piasecki (keyboards, back-up vocals) thrashing around while recording his parts; Piasecki is known world-wide for rocking his keyboard like he's operating a massive juggernaut and dancing frantically around stage in shorts and a no-sleeve-t - and sweating, a lot.

They recorded the hot disc at the Terrarium in NorthEast with producer Jason Orris and engineer Dustin Miller - Dave Gardner mastered it of course (scroll down to read more about him). Miller gave me a sneak-peek of "Eye of the Tiger Applies to Everything" (the best track on the E.P. and maybe even the best that Carter has ever written) just after it was recorded and ever since, I've been dying to get my hands on this recording.

With my first listen-through, it is clear that this E.P. stretches beyond any of their past efforts. The recording quality is great and controlled (it's one thing to have a dirty recording, and another to have a great recording, which is later made dirty, this is such a case). Carter's vocals are appropriately crisp and British, which I can't really explain because, as far as I know, he was born and raised in St. Paul - but, Minnesotan's aren't that far away from the island. So, I guess I just talked myself into praising Carter for embrassing his unknown British roots. But let's face it, he's charming and has a great drawl.

Carter spends the majority of the record reflecting on Minneapolis, which is a hard thing to do without sounding either too bitter or too positive, but he straddles this line with expertise neither showing optimism or disenchantment, but rather showing a little glimpse of the shit he's seen and been involved in. The City Pages described it as a run-down of "the scene's never-ending string of destructive, all-night house parties and the characters who thrive on them." Which works, but I disagree with the term "thrive," because I don't really think Carter is saying that anyone is thriving, they're just stuck in it, surviving. Lines like "I don't want any of your cocaine/I just wanna know you're okay," indicate that he neither likes or condones what's going on, but he still loves his friends who are caught up in those "all-night destructive house parties."

But this doesn't account for Superhopper's great sense of humor. Carter does what few writers can and actually conveys sarcasm and wit through his lyrics. His lyrics don't contain hubris or ego, but are comprised of an attitude of "look how ridiculous everyone looks." With song titles like "Eye of the Tiger Applies to Everything" and "Kermit Hates Music," you can't help but fall in love with their attitudes.

Hands down, "Eye of the Tiger Applies to Everything" is the hit of the summer, I honestly can't wait to blast this monster with my car windows rolled down in Dinkyown, nodding my head as if saying "Hells-yeah, you know this is sweet" to the unassuming passer-by. With a riotous chorus of "This is the way victory sounds," I can't imagine anything more kick-ass, and to be honest, I'm jealous that I didn't write this song. The verse's document the rock-and-or-roll lifestyle and how Carter has maybe had his fill ("I can't do this anymore").

Go to Treehouse and buy this, right now.

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