Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
For a time, here in the Midwest, there was a movement in the 90s that consisted of a real concentration of twee and power pop masters living about and making musics that sounded the equivalent to having a handful of steam and scarves and tea while still wearing jangly accessories, sleek jeans, threadbare tee-shirts and wanting to have that music bring about a round of jittery dancing and beads of sweat. You would be given an opportunity to get the blood flowing at shows and you'd get to shout some things out, to chime in with the lyrics, and heard in another context, those same words would be nothing at all like singing along with KISS or even Billy Joel. This kind of pop doesn't always have to be bunny rabbits and lollipops, just so long as it rings clearly and gets talking about broken hearts more than 70-percent of the time. There's this guy named Conor Oberst and he's fairly twee. There were big pockets of those folks in Champaign/Urbana, Ill., and there were some just up I-74 in Bloomington. There were plenty of those gentle people in Chicago and on over in Omaha as well - Rilo Kiley, The Prom and so on joining Oberst in a scene that was helped largely by Simon Joyner and now features the great kids in Tilly and the Wall as the quirky pop pin-ups. There were bands like Wolfie in Chicago and Lawrence was packed to the gills with bands like The Anniversary and Ultimate Fakebook. We had The Promise Ring and The Get Up Kids who were making emo music into something that suddenly needed a name to give the long-winded a chance at brevity. Some of these bands occasionally made the kind of music that sounded like the tail-end of a Fourth of July fireworks show, where the smoke still hovered in the air - making the black night a gray one - and the cleansing and yet muddying days of the winter when the weather pulls fast ones and pretends as if it's changing into something a little more comfortable, like a skirt. Minneapolis' One For The Team gets that feeling right - the heat rising off the cold pavement during a spell of fluctuating temperatures, when the pavement's revolting and buckling, as well as the floating and pleasant outbursts of buttery glances. Lead singer Ian Anderson is roundly known as one of the hardest working gents in the music biz, running Afternoon Records as well as promoting a host of promising Twin Cities acts, and his tastes are fundamentally at the behest of the songs on One For The Team's Militia Group debut Build It Up. They are malted matters that show Anderson, synth player Grace Fiddler and drummer Elliot Manthey coalescing into a kite being flown on a May afternoon or a big bird gracefully bucking a headwind, but mostly just enjoying the rush of the trip. Anderson's unique vocal style, similar to Kevin Barnes on a cinnamon-y, British and Bon Iver kick, finds an impressive foil in Fiddler who is almost always singing along with or behind him in a cacophony of sugary breeze. Anderson sings, "You're breaking the hearts of honest men," and it must be autobiographical in a way, while being observational as well, and the song rolls off his tongue like a marble on an ice rink, so naturally fulfilling and almost uplifting in spite of the content. One For The Team has a way of carrying on the nostalgic feeling of the parasol days of Midwestern pop while giving us an engrossing set of songs for a night not out on the town, when infatuations and swirling confusions about the state of our own hearts is left completely up in the air to mess around with the turbulence and those birds in the headwinds.
One For The Team Official Site
The Militia Group Records