Maxtone Four
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Maxtone Four

St. Louis, Missouri, United States

St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Band Rock Pop


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



"Maxtone 4 - Hey Hey Do It Anyway (Maximum Tone Fidelity Records)"

By Christian Schaeffer
Published: June 13, 2007

Led by singer and guitarist Brian McClelland, the Maxtone 4 has been threatening to become the city's best power-pop band for the past few years. With its second album, Hey Hey Do It Anyway, the quartet is finally making good on its promise. The band plays straight-ahead, two-guitar rock with a penchant for handclaps, whip-smart hooks and layered harmonies. The musicianship is pitch-perfect throughout the record, and it leaves room for McClelland's breathy voice, which is sometimes endearingly fey — but ballsy enough to navigate the sharp corners and quick rhymes of these songs.

For Hey Hey, the band enlisted the help of Joe Thebeau (of Finn's Motel) on production and songwriting, including on the disc's first track, "Just Say I Know." The song attacks the recycled sound of this city's rock bands, singing (sweetly) that "it's been done before and it's been done better." This is a bold statement from an act that owes no small debt to groups ranging from Cheap Trick to the Knack to Zumpano, but it hints at the vitriol that rests beneath the band's saccharine veneer. To wit: "I Fucking Hate This Place" sounds like "Take This Job and Shove It" as recorded by Squeeze. Like any good power-pop record, there are several songs about girls, like "Melody Girl" (about a lady who is "aggressive and mean" but "super-duper clean") and "Kickstand," a synth-inflected ode to an independent woman. Maxtone 4 adds a bit of dirt and grit to the bubble-gum formula, proving that sunshine-pop can address more than puppy love. - The Riverfront Times

"The Maxtone Four "Hey Hey Do It Anyway""

This is a crunchy pop treat along the lines of The Cars meets the Spongetones. The Maxtone Four delivers the goods when it comes to catchy, jangly guitar riffs and sharp-witted lyrical humor. From the opening track "Just Say I Know" you are know that this is what power pop fans live for! And it doesn't let up. The hallmark of a great pop album is that the songs seamlessly create an experience that you want to repeat over and over again. The great energy also keeps songs like "I fu**ing hate this place" from becoming a routine rant and fans of Teenage Fanclub will enjoy the excellent guitar work. "Short pants," "Okay you go first" and other songs here are just not just fun to listen to, but following the lyrics make it an extra treat. It's hard to write about such a good album, I can only tell you to visit the sites to listen to it. Awesome music well worth adding to your top ten for 2007 list. - PowerPopaholic

"Maxtone Four "Hey Hey Do It Anyway""

By Danny Brown

It's been three years since Maxtone Four's debut album, Go Steady. Hailed as "dirty, sweet pop," it was a mix of killer guitar riffs and songs that showed pop rock could be adult in its approach, it and led the St Louis quartet to be nominated for Best Pop Band in the print publication Riverfront Times. Now they're back with Hey Hey Do It Anyway, and listening to the aural delights on display, you have to ask why they didn't come back sooner than this.

As soon as lead song "Just Say I Know" kicks in (with main chords sounding eerily similar to The Cars' classic "My Best Friend's Girl"), you just know you're going to enjoy the rest of the album. In fact, if you mixed The Cars with current indie darlings The 88, you wouldn't be too far off what Maxtone Four has to offer (without being too derivative).

"Ashtray" follows, and again its guitar riff intro drags you into the song before it's even begun. Telling the tale of a guy who'd happily kiss the girl of his dreams, even though she smokes and tastes like the titular ashtray ("so I swallow cigarette butts with red lipstick halos"), it's a knowing nod to what depths we'll go to for the sake of love. Or maybe its just hormones…

If there's one thing that Maxtone Four excels at, it's in the way their breezy pop hides the darker nuances of their lyrics. Prostitution, social depravity and college sex tapes to name but a few, the songs on display here have an edge that so many other pop rock acts can only dream of.

"I ***** Hate This Place" is a prime example. Decrying the mundane rat race of everyday life that we can't escape from, no matter how hard we try, it's a cautionary tale of how alcohol can offer an all-too easy release:

barely 6:05 and the boss says I've mucked up
face burning in disgrace
I try to explain he still don't know he's sending me
to liquor's sweet embrace ...

Yet the band also have their humorous streak, as is shown in the soon-to-be-classic "Short Pants," which you can just see leading the soundtrack to the next Farrelly Brothers movie, with its sharp power pop chords and simple "short pants, big girl, do what you wanna do" lyrics.

With a tight sound, intelligent songs, and darkly ironic lyrics, Maxtone Four show that pop rock doesn't need to start and finish with the likes of Avril Lavigne and Maroon 5. If they could only get the break that they deserve, then the rest of the music industry might just recognize this too, and not a moment too soon. -

"Maxtone Four "Hey Hey Do It Anyway""

By Paul Little

More than anything else, Maxtone Four want to rock your ass and make you feel good.
Hey Hey Do It Anyway, the sophomore LP from St. Louis power-poppers Maxtone Four, opens with a wink and a nod in the form of a wry attack on the cliché that is the egotistical rock star. "Just Say I Know" is a song which at the very least aims to take the archetype down a peg, if not burn it in effigy. "It's been done before/ And it's been done better," admonishes Maxtone singer and principal songwriter Brian McClelland, "There's no new original rock star/ I don't want to waste your time." The tune is as humble as it is sardonic, a fun but strictly by-the-numbers melodic pop exercise, which seems to suggest that McClelland is perfectly aware that one false move could land him squarely in the sights of his own criticism. Having playfully dispatched this strawman, Maxtone Four proceed to crank out an economic burst of unpretentious rock and roll that lasts about 30 minutes, neither overstaying their welcome nor leaving listeners feeling cheated out of a more substantive experience.
Like many of their contemporaries, such as British Columbia's similarly under-the-radar Jets Overhead and the comparatively gargantuan Fountains of Wayne, Maxtone Four gleefully raid the closets of past masters like Big Star, Matthew Sweet and even the polished jangle of early Warners-era R.E.M. for ideas and inspiration. Hey Hey's songs are uniformly energetic and loaded down with handclaps, harmonies and hooks galore, an occasional punkish riff rearing its head every now and then. Dressed-down synths and keys sometimes flavor the set, but the music largely stresses economy over invention. More than anything else, Maxtone Four want to rock your ass and make you feel good.
Interestingly, repeated listenings reveal a compelling dichotomy at work on Hey Hey, as the album's occasionally dark lyrics often contrast rather starkly with the buoyant melodies of its songs. "Kickstand" presents a rumination on loneliness and dashed hopes, while "I Fucking Hate This Place" is a gloomy rave-up inspired by McClelland's job as a 911 dispatcher. Not every song is spoiled milk and wilted flowers, thankfully, with numbers like "Bob"—a tribute to eccentric St. Louis scenester Beatle Bob—and the charmingly simple "Short Pants" providing much-needed levity.
Maxtone Four doesn't set out to reinvent the wheel with Hey Hey Do It Anyway, but the music contained within doesn't ever hint that the band would be remotely interested in doing so. They are, by their own admission, aware that it's all been done—and indeed it's been done better—so they are content to explore a well-trod path in well-executed fashion, which is something that should be enough to content most any power-pop enthusiast. B - PLAYBACK:stl

"Maxtone Four - Hey Hey Do It Anyway (CD, Maximum Tone Fidelity Records, Pop)"

A short album...but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in substance. Hey Hey Do It Anyway is a super cool, pure feelgood album full of insanely catchy tunes. After making their initial splash, this St. Louis band apparently took a bit of a break before getting down to recording this album (the Spanish phrase on the front cover translates to "Sick? No, Tired."). Taking a break must've been the right choice at the right the tracks on this album sound anything but tired. The band crams eleven songs onto this short album that clocks in at just over 30 minutes. They deliver their songs with direct intent...never allowing fluff and unnecessary elements to clutter the mix. Smart guitars combine with excellent vocals and a propulsive rhythm section...creating a nice whirlwind of pure pop energy. Cool tracks include "Just Say I Know," "Melody Girl," "Bob," and "OK You Go First." This album is bound to be a favorite among pop fans all over the world. (Rating: 5+ out of 5)


"Maxtone Four "Hey Hey Do It Anyway" (Brickhouse Acoustics)"

By Mite Mutant

Maxtone Four got me hooked from the get go with the opening "bah bah bah's" and hand claps on "Just Say I Know". Right then I found myself thinking that I was in for a treat. The sound has a retro '60s-'70s poppy bounce to it with a modern alternative sound. The playing is tight and vocals are wonderful. The band also does a masterful job with incorporating the right amount of harmonies into the songs. "Ashtray", "Kickstand", "Melody Girl", "Short Pants" - all great. This is one wonderful CD. This is one you need to get. - The Chickenfish Speaks

"The Maxtone Four, nominated for BEST POP GROUP (the 2004 Music Poll)"

"At the heart of all pop, from Justin Timberlake to the Flaming Lips, are hooks, and the Maxtone Four have more hooks than your hall closet. Listening to the band live, you might be fooled into thinking it's a cover band playing songs that you can't quite remember -- the Four's songs are part of that never-ending river of catchy rock that gets tagged with different genre titles every few years but really never changes at its heart. It's pop. It makes you smile, gets jammed in your head and comes back out in a hum. And the Maxtone Four are crafting that simple, joyous sound as well as anyone in St. Louis right now." - The Riverfront Times, St. Louis, MO, 7 June 2004

"Singles Going Steady: Maxtone 4"

By Jessica Gluckman
Friday, 16 December 2005

Anyone who enjoyed Dressy Bessy’s first-ever St. Louis show in December (or even their second show in March) has Maxtone 4 to thank. Despite being busy with a shift in their lineup, festival shows, and the promotion of their new album, Go Steady, the band has made and continues to make philanthropic efforts to bring touring acts that normally skip STL into town. I sat down at the Way Out Club with M4 frontman Brian McClelland, bassist Chris Clark, and Jeremy Miller, who—
BM: He plays drums for my band
JM: For your band?
BM: For my band. The Brian McClelland Band.

You’re renaming the band?
BM: It was the Brian McClelland Band before we changed it to Maxtone 4 because we couldn’t think of a band name. We’re going to a five-piece in the next couple of months, adding a keyboard player. We’re still going to be Maxtone 4. We could have 18 people and we’re going to remain the Maxtone 4.

You were invited to the International Pop Overthrow. What is that?
BM: That’s a festival that occurs in four or five different cities: Liverpool, L.A., New York… Chicago’s the biggest one; that’s where it started. It’s power-pop bands, period. It’s awesome to go to this festival and see 30 bands in a couple of days that are in the same genre of music. We actually got invited to that. Notlame, a record label out of Fort Collins, Colorado, has a CD store online and started selling our record. It was a feature of the month. We sold more records through that Web site in a month than we’ve sold in St. Louis since we released it. We sold them all over Europe. We’ve got someone playing us on the radio in Portugal and the Netherlands right now, which is weird because we don’t have somebody marketing the records there; it just wound up in the DJ’s hands.
JM: It was listed as one of the top 20 albums of last year by the radio station in Portugal, at number 6. Another guy put it in his top 20 list: Fountains of Wayne was at number 6; we were number 11.

Do you think bands deliberately choose to skip St. Louis, or do you think St. Louis doesn’t try to bring a lot of bands in?
BM: People think of St. Louis as not a music town, though there are a lot of people interested in making it one. What I’m trying to do now is book power-pop or indie rock bands that don’t usually come to St. Louis—and to promote them properly once they’re here, so that they’ll want to come back.

What other national acts would you love to bring to St. Louis?
BM: We’re trying to get Sloan; everyone’s discovering Sloan right now. We’re trying to get Apples in Stereo; we’re friends with John Hill, who’s also in Dressy Bessy. Elf Power says they’re coming back in a few months and I hope that’s true. Beulah. There’s 30 other bands…

What can fans do to make St. Louis more of a music town?
JM: Go out and see bands you’ve never heard of.
CC: And those bands you’ve heard of, but not heard.
JM: Take a chance; that’s what we need. One person that likes the act brings two or three people to the next show.

What local bands do you especially like?
BM: My favorite band is the Sayers. They’re on their second record. They took a break between records, but I don’t think anybody’s forgotten about them.
JM: Eero; they’re fabulous. A lot of people haven’t heard about them yet, but they will.
BM: We’re playing with Andy Conrad and his band tonight; this is three quarters of the band Colony. Colony was incredible: so much fun, so many great pop hooks. Every song on their last record was radio-ready, even in the current market, but their label didn’t do anything to promote it. If any St. Louis record deserved bigger things, it was that one.

What are the biggest obstacles for a local band?
BM: Number one would be girlfriends. Number two would be alcohol. Number three would be lack of initiative.
If a local band had their shit together, what would be their biggest obstacles?
BM: That’s a different question altogether.
JM: If your goal is to be signed to a label and to tour nationally, it’s getting your music heard by people outside of St. Louis, because the people you need to help you are not in St. Louis.

What are the strengths of the St. Louis music scene?
BM: There’s some really great bands. KDHX is incredibly supportive. If you give them a record and they like it, they’re going to play it. A problem with KDHX, though, is you have to be tuned in at the right time to hear the type of music you like.

Ken Williams is a great boon to the music scene; his local show [FM 101.1 The River Home Grown] is incredibly eclectic. Ken’s doing everything he can for no extra pay, spending time away from his wife and kid to support local bands, which is amazing. The Point also has a local show.

In all this discussion about the scene, I forgot to ask you: anything to say about the new album?
CC: Buy it.
BM: That’s terrible. You can’t just say that.
JM: Steal it!
BM: Don’t say that, either.
Go Stead - PLAYBACK:stl

"Maxtone Four "Hey Hey Do It Anyway""

By Jennifer Layton

What a fun CD. I love bands that prove that pop music does not have to be mindless drivel. Maxtone Four writes music that is jangly fun and lyrics with a million details and the occasional streak of wicked humor. You gotta love a band that plays music that could easily fit on the soundtrack of “That Thing You Do” while singing lyrics that belong on the soundtrack of “Rock and Roll High School.”

The CD catches you from first track. Imagine Squeeze and the Kinks crashing a concert by The Cars. Catchy and sweet, with dark undertones lurking in the message. If you don’t want to go that deep, you can just enjoy chair-dancing to it. (Some of us aren’t brave enough for a dance floor.) Those who dig deeper will be rewarded with sharp wit and memories that instantly connect. -


Go Steady (LP 2004)
Hey Hey Do It Anyway (LP 2007)

"OK You Go First" (2005 single version) appeared on "International Pop Overthrow 2004 Compilation CD"(2004)
"Paranthetic" (2005 single version) appeared on "KWUR 90.3 FM presents Underground Music Revolution, Vol. 1". (2007)

"The Set" original airdate 2/14/08 (DVD 2008)




The album cover of St. Louis-based Maxtone Four’s long-awaited sophomore release, Hey Hey Do It Anyway—taken from a ‘60s Spanish pharmaceutical poster—was the last piece of a musical puzzle that the band began assembling three years ago. The poster’s text, floating over the shoulder of a mod worker bee drifting off at her typewriter, translates as: “Sick? No, Tired,” an image singer/songwriter/rhythm guitarist Brian McClelland felt best summed up the quartet’s mindset—within the band and their personal lives—at the time these songs came together in late 2004. The cheerfully chugging guitar pop on the surface of these 11 tracks often masks seen-it-all, bittersweet lyrics—including sun-drenched but surprisingly wary missives on the original music scene (“Just Say I Know”), soul-sucking jobs (the analog synth-assisted audience fave inspired by McClelland’s day job as a 911 dispatcher, “I Fucking Hate This Place”), and friends that get old way too fast (“Parenthetic”).

“The irony,” reveals McClelland, “is that, two years later, the band has never been more fun—and it’s never sounded better or more confident.” He adds that much of that has to do with the reformation of the current lineup (bassist/designated trou dropper Chris Clark has returned after a busy year sabbatical that saw him playing in several original local projects and an ongoing gig with the St. Louis–based blues outfit the Little David Band.) and his long-time friendships with lead guitarist Mike Hellebusch and rock steady drummer Jeremy Miller.

Also in their corner during pre-production was one of McClelland’s favorite St. Louis–based rock stars, Joe Thebeau (Finn’s Motel, AOK, the Finns). Thebeau’s main focus was helping tighten or refocus lyrics and—in “Just Say I Know” and “OK You Go First”—adding some fun melodic twists, including the music for the former’s (and the album’s) ascending chord intro and the latter’s sweet A-minor chorus turnaround.

McClelland spent much of his downtime between Hey Hey’s recording sessions performing and recording with fellow St. Louis skinny tie popsters Tight Pants Syndrome (an experience he says “really upped my game, vocally and melodically, which is having a nice crossover effect with the Maxtone tunes”), as well as working up material for another project covering an indie-r terrain, Whoa, Thunder!, described by McClelland as “girl/boy skittery mod pop for cats.” Adding, “I’ve been stockpiling songs for the last two years, so at this point I’m just figuring out which song goes where.”

The band’s upcoming live dates—their first performances in over a year, including a May 25th date at St. Louis’ Duck Room being taped for broadcast (and DVD release) by STL’s The Set —will feature the debut of a new, yet-to-be recorded surf-rock shuffle called “Ultimately Baby.” New to the audience, anyway—McClelland first submitted the song to his bandmates two years ago. At that time they had decided not to work up any new material until they wrapped production on Hey Hey. “So now we’re finally catching up,” McClelland laughs. “That’s the good thing about taking such a long hiatus—besides feeling totally re-energized and inspired to make music together again, we have a really extensive catalog of new tunes to choose from. After playing what was basically the same set for most of 2005, that’s a welcome treat.”

• Maxtone Four’s 2004 debut, Go Steady, was distributed nationally in Japan in July 2005.
• M4 has shared stages with Of Montreal, Sloan, Dressy Bessy, Aqueduct, Steven Burns, Jump! Little Children, the Orange Peels, and many others.
• M4 was nominated BEST POP BAND in STL’s the Riverfront Times.
• Go Steady’s “One More Thing” and a 2005 advance single of Hey Hey Do It Anyway’s “Short Pants” received regular radio airplay at WMRV the River in St. Louis, and has been featured in college, online, and traditional radio playlists around the globe, including Germany, Portugal, Spain, Japan, and the UK.
• Go Steady and Hey Hey Do It Anyway are available online at Not Lame Records (, iTunes (, CD Baby (, Kool Kat Musik ( and in select St. Louis record shops.
• "There's a Girl," "Picking Up the Pace," & "Emptyspace" from M4's debut, Go Steady, were featured on MTV's series Next in 2007 &2008.
• "Kickstand" from M4's Hey Hey Do It Anyway has received airplay on BBC2.

“Maxtone 4 has been threatening to become the city's best power-pop band for the past few years. With its second album, Hey Hey Do It Anyway, the quartet is finally making good on its promise.”
-The Riverfront Times

“The Maxtone Four delivers the goods when it comes to catchy, jangly guitar riffs and sharp-witted lyrical humor. Awesome music well worth adding to your top ten for 2007 list—this is a crunchy pop treat along the lines of the Cars meets the Spongetones.”
-The Powerpopaholic

“Strong songwritin