Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Even if it's not a fair conclusion, it's not a mean or disrespectful conclusion to make either, but every time I pick up a copy of AP - or as it was known in long-hand when I first started picking it up in the 90s, Alternative Press - it feels as if those are bands that aren't supposed to be speaking to me any longer. They have slick hairstyles that I never had, but ones that could never even be attempted any more with the receding hairline and a beard going on. They are bands stuffed into jeans like corks and they're bands that have dozens of tee-shirt designs on their THREE merch tables - bright, vibrant colors and big, chest-wide designs of dripping paint and clever phrases that lead to associate that particular adolescent with his own personal feelings and hopefully cement that connection to a band that he will inevitably, someday grow out of. That medium tee-shirt, however, will always remain the same size and the kid will still be able to squeeze into it for a number of years past his interest's expiration date. And yet, such a statement and such a hypothesis seems to be a bit of bullshit. The fact is, I pick and read AP every month and I tend to be surprised sometimes by the things I like. While it is hard to think about certain bands growing out of their early sound and "graduating" to their "Blonde On Blonde" album and away from their, mostly chasing after and then fucking up relationships with girls that they think are really great in hindsight, it happens and we grow with those bands that do so. It's just what happens sometimes. Other times, the moment has come and gone for certain bands before they can move into those headier spaces and those subjects that take the timeless and bottomless subject of females and the perils of love and loss into dimensions of sophistication that even scholars can appreciate as next-level artwork. Tempe, Arizona, band The Maine have been having a good year of it this year and it seems that this could be one of those bands that moves from the AP realm of bands trying to appeal to a quorum of teenage boys and girls into the realm of Daytrotter alumni like Hellogoodbye, who are most definitely spanning into something that no one expected out of them. Right now, the band is into a pop song style that's easy to swallow, but you hear something else there than just the tales of boys and girls trying to hook up after the Friday night football games. You hear that there's a rasp and a real pulse to lead singer John O'Callaghan that is going to get itself into different lines of thought and could go into those directions that the Black Crowes or Ray LaMontagne currently occupy. It would take some rejiggering, but who knows - perhaps this is nothing that anyone wants to happen. He sings about a girl that didn't necessarily get away, but was never his in the first place on "Right Girl," giving us the lines, "Whoa god, I did the wrong thing to the right girl…If I could just sober up, I could just admit I did the wrong thing to the right girl." On this session, the band strikes as more of a group that could go in the way of a Springsteen some day in the future and yet we shouldn't, nor needn't be waiting around with twiddling thumbs hoping for such a thing to happen, as "Don't Stop Now," from this year's "Black & White," gets us pushed in that direction just enough for now.