In Civilian Clothing
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In Civilian Clothing


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In Civilian Clothing @ The Belmont

Detroit, Michigan, USA

Detroit, Michigan, USA

In Civilian Clothing @ The Kraftbrau

Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


Most of us probably know of Flint, Michigan from the Michael Moore documentary Roger & Me, and this conflicted town has produced the mysterious electronic-tinged acoustic pop of In Civilian Clothing. Infusing elements of the dour Brit-pop of Tindersticks, the drum-machine-driven future pop of Morr Music, and the songwriting chops of Ben Gibbard and Conor Oberst, In Civilian Clothing soundtrack driving through secluded suburbs during rainy days, letting the headlights and radio provide much of the unique atmosphere. Its icy-synth rock that doesn't feel like new-wave and post-emo that avoids being overblown. If you want your records to stir up your emotions with precise subtlety each time you throw it on, In Civilian Clothing have your song cycle all set up and ready to indulge. All tracks clean. - Fanatic Promotion

In Civilian Clothing
We Made A Killing, We Made A Mess
(2006, Right Place Records)
Rating: 7.7

The debut work of In Civilian Clothing finds the quartet immersing themselves in synth heavy melancholy pop. Whether the band falls into the electro-pop genre, I'm still not totally sure, but they certainly draw generously from computerized beatworking and synthetic layering. "Current Therapist" shows a band full of quirky playfulness a la The Beta Band, mixing clipped glitches with straightforward popcrafts. The acoustic/organic "Out Of Body" falls into what Beck might aim for musically, yet the vocals of Clayton Ross are always so impassioned. The neo-funk of "Belly Of A Whale" grooves with the soul of Hot Stuff-era Frank Lenz, and is a slight diversion of the band's otherwise post-modern compositions. Morose horns haunt "Believe Me Sir", followed by the synth sustained "To Beat A Dead Horse". "Ends/Means" is In Civilian Clothing rocking out with nice fuzzy distorted guitar(?) weaving through clicks and glitches. The remaining two moody ballads provide enough melodrama to get you depressed twice over; but it's like the perfect medicine for a tired heart. For fans of The Gravity Show, Beck, The Beta Band, Stars, and Thom Yorke (The Eraser).

- The Black And White Mag

We made a killing, we made a mess
BAND: In Civilian Clothing
RELEASE: Sep 12 2006
LABEL: Right Place
GENRE: Indie Electronic, Indie Rock, Indie Pop,
IDEAL AUDIENCE: Too smart to rock, People Laying Down, Modest Mouse fans
SOUNDS LIKE: Odelay(Beck), The Eraser(Thom Yorke), Nightsongs (Stars)

Indie pop is full of half cocked bands. Groups that can't decide on their sound, especially in the outset and manage to trip and fall trying to figure it out. That is what makes Michigan's own In Civilian Clothing such a rare thing. It seems from the outside they know exactly what they want to accomplish. They don't struggle with polarizing genres hoping to find a fit. They are dedicated to creating soft, enchanting, relaxing pop music led by singer/guitarist Clayton Ross. So that is why on their debut 'We made a killing, we made a mess" that is exactly what you get. The title of the album makes you think you are getting a Fall Out Boy or Underoath record but that is very far from the truth.

What helps keep 'We made a killing, we made a mess" so engrossing is the musical acrobatics of the band. Each member of the band plays a variety of instruments: the normal staples of any band, guitar, bass, drums but they also branch out into foriegn terrian using glockenspiels, syths, omnichord, trumpet ebows, sleigh bells and even a clarinet, that's right and you thought that all those hours learning the clarinet because your mother wanted you to were useless. Well now you can play in an indie pop band. How cool is that? Just another way that through music the dork can become king. Also intresting is the band is not afraid to shake things up from time to time. After five tracks of dark swirling indie pop with little guitar they bulk up on songs like 'In the belly of a whale'. The synths stand out more, the guitar gets a little more behind it and Clayton Ross varies from his whisper crooning into a more standard pop mode. Further changing things they include a wonderful trumpet section in 'Believe me sir' which does wonders for the song. Not only is it well played but it perfectly fits the mood of the song. Horns always add so much to any song, it really is a shame that not that many bands don't use them.

In indie pop affairs with the bulk of the instrumentation being electronic or swirling and some what repeatative the key is vocals. If you can't hold someones attention with a clever lyric or a smooth vocal approach it would be easy to fit the vocals into the drone that can make songs feel overly long. Luckily, for us Singer Clayton Ross, has a very warm and rich voice which translates well for the genre. He doesn't use any effects or any studio tricks to get this voice. He seems like he was meant to do this kind of music. Also, Clayton can really turn a phrase. His lyrics are strong, pretty and dark which is always welcome in this genre. Many people with records like these treat the vocals not as anything distinct but as part of the overall beauty of the record, which is fine but when there is some great work going on you really should pay attention. Why don't you listen to it once for the atmosphere and then again with the cd booklet handy so you can read or even sing along. This is a fantastic record for all of us romantics that stay up late at night thinking big thoughts to no one but the ceiling above us.

At the end of the day "We made a killing, we made a mess" emerges as a standout of an overcrowded scene and genre. The ideas musically and lyrically are engaging enough that will satisfy those who are looking for good atmospheric pop music and those who enjoy good lyrics. In Civilian Clothing sounds like a band on their 3rd album. They are comfortable enough with the genre they have taken on to start putting their own distinct spin on it. They also display a confidence in their music which usually only comes with age. Hopefully In Civilian Clothing will be around for their actual 3rd record but as for now they have a stellar debut to their credit, not a bad way to start a career.


It would be easy for me to describe this past year as a disappointment. With Eyes Open, Snow Patrol took a big step in the wrong direction; the new Radiohead album that I was looking forward to never materialized; and someone thought that the world needed to hear Paris Hilton sing...someone besides Paris Hilton. However, I am a glass-half-full kind of guy, although I don't always sound like it. There were some positive musical developments this past year. What are they, you ask. Well, just keep on reading.

3. In Civilian Clothing - We Made a Killing, We Made a Mess
If there is a God (Eric has me doubting it), he should smile down on this hard-working band. They turned in one of the best debuts that I have ever heard. 'Poets of the Great Salvation' starts the album off on the right foot and the rest of the songs follow suit. 'Current Therapist' is better than anything I heard on the radio in the past year, and maybe the year before, for that matter.

Top Ten Songs of 2006:

10. The Mountain Goats - Woke Up New
9. Snow Patrol - Set the Fire to the Third Bar
8. Margot & the Nuclear So and So's - Skeleton Key
7. Band of Horses - The Funeral
6. Mew - The Zookeeper's Boy
5. Beck - New Round
4. Umbrella Tree - The Bird and the Fish
3. What Made Milwaukee Famous - Curtains!
2. In Civilian Clothing - Current Therapist
1. Josh Ritter - Thin Blue Flame

Keep an Eye On:

In Civilian Clothing
I was amazed by how good this band sounded live when I heard them in a little bar in Dayton, Ohio. The four members of the band were able to replicate almost every aspect of the complexly textured songs that make up their debut album. I was even more amazed when I found out that none of the band members are full-time musicians. These guys, and girl, deserve to be able to quit their jobs, desert their families, and pour themselves into their music. Here is an idea. Purchase We Made A Killing, We Made A Mess for all those people on your Christmas list who are hard to shop for. Open the CD, take out the booklet, and scribble something illegible with a wide-tip permanent marker. Then you can tell those loser relatives of yours that the band wrote a holiday message of hope and cheer specifically for them. They will be touched. - Carlton Farmer (firesideometer)


1. Poets Of The Great Salvation
2. Current Therapist
3. Out Of Body
4. Opening Doors
5. Art Of Conversation
6. Belly Of A Whale
7. Believe Me Sir
8. To Beat A Dead Horse
9. Ends/Means
10. On A Wire (Like Sparrows)
11. Don't Worry Like I Do
(Hidden Track/SPY THEME)

we also have tracks you can stream at

radio play on the RIFF2 (Detroit)


Feeling a bit camera shy


In Civilian Clothing is a pretty rare find. Hailing from Detroit where the music scene is heavy on hard rock and not very accepting of the artistic under dog, the band decided to branch out leaving home behind.

Releasing there first debut album on Right Place Records last year and touring extensivly in the midwest and east coast, In Civilian Clothing doesn't call any place home.

If you were listening for the first time and were telling a friend, I imagine it would sound like this. Take 1 cup of bright Eyes “digital ash in a Digital Urn”, half a bottle of The Album Leaf’s “A Safe Place”, 3 yolks from an album of Sigur Ros, a pinch of Bloc Party, and add Interpol to taste. Add a little secret ingredient to make it its own, and put it in the oven until it produces a rich, nutty aroma.

This band holds true to all things I appreciate about good music. Great, moving lyrics and delivery, good instrumentals, and leaving you contained-but-emotional without being too over the top.

Buy the album and definatly see a live show. Its worth it, and you will come out with a new favorite band.