That's Him! That's the Guy!
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That's Him! That's the Guy!

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| INDIE
Band Folk Acoustic

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Help Me, I'm On Fire is the five song EP from the Michigan duo known as That's Him! That's The Guy!* David Martin and Joseph Scott have given us a little treasure chest in these five songs--open carefully, because mixed in between the guitars and banjos and electronic flourishes (parts Grandaddy or Don's Mobile Barbers, let's say...both good company.) is sweetly sung heartbreak. Martin's lyrics are a heart opened wide, vulnerable and exposed as if to see (or hear) it beating, full of uncertainty and isolation and honesty: "I've been let down by my childhood idols/ I've let my guard down and paid for that trust in hurt/Come to realize they're all just human/Same as me, for better or for worse." (For The Learned)

The absolute beauty to be found in Martin's tentative vocals (and gorgeous harmonies with Scott), along with the simple--and joyous--melodies of the songs, coupled with the absolute frankness of the words themselves, creates something almost unsettling in their repeatability. ( Please see "Angry and Vengeful Lord" for evidence of that.) Martin is singing these songs to you, but he could just as easily be singing them for you, me, anyone--we can all relate to these sentiments.

TH!TTG! is currently working on a full-length album, to be released sometime in the spring. If this EP is any indication of what's to come from the band, winter can't end soon enough. - Seems Confusing to a Stranger



This quirky disc reminds me of some of my other unusual favorites – my daughter’s CD of old Burl Ives songs for kids, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds outtakes, REM’s Dead Letter Office, and Velvet Underground songs like “I’ll Be Your Mirror.”

I like how THTTG’s minimalist, folksy approach sounds you’re listening in on a couple of guys sitting at home, making a 2006 mini-version of Dylan’s Basement Tapes. It’s unadorned – off-kilter sometimes equals slightly off-key here – but more often than not charming and haunting at the same time.

THTTG is in fact two guys – David Martin and Joseph Scott – tucked away in rural Michigan. Martin’s lyrics are more like confessional short stories told in image-rich run-on sentences, and he sings them over guitar, banjo and simple keyboard touches.

“For the Learned” is mournfully pretty – kind of like a deconstructed version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.” In a similar vein, “February” is a beautiful song with wry lyrics (such as “February is the month for quitting/If you give up on me I would understand.”)

“These Days” is vibrantly strummed but would work better with just guitar and keyboard, minus the hammering drums. The drums work better keeping metronome-like time to “Love Again.”

The harmony vocals throughout the disc are compelling – not always pretty, but they contribute to the duo's spirit of outsiders' camaraderie. The singing doesn't quite work on “Angry and Vengeful Lord,” but listen to the words: the images are vivid.

It’s a good idea to end the disc with the instrumental, “Help Me, I’m on Fire.” The banjo-and-electric guitar intro is a cool contrast – they are the stage and the keyboards play out a smile-as-you-eyes-well-up scene.

That’s Him! That’s the Guy! Have put together a disc that reminds me of a well-written, enigmatic short story – just enough to leave you pleased and still curious at the same time. - Muse's Muse


The Hyperbole

“That’s Him! That’s The Guy! (TH!TTG!) are a band that really matters.” Well, at least that’s what their press kit says. In a music business full of derivative, pretentious “next big things,” original talent is not something that grows on fruited trees. Most of the CDs I receive in my mailbox are either frighteningly mediocre; or worse yet want to make me impale my critical ear on a sharp stake. What is even more irritating is reading idiotic press releases that say things like “The revolution and the apocalypse are but dada poems, babbled into an audience substantiating nothing. Real change begins with art like the songs of (TH!THG!).” Sorry, but I just listened to their EP and didn’t hear the next “Times They Are A Changing” nor are the great protest singers of the late 60’s in any danger of being superceded.

Unbiased Review with Minimal Hyperbole

Help Me, I’m On Fire begins with “For the Learned,” an extremely pleasant track that sounds like a cross between Barenaked Ladies and Simon & Garfunkel. In staying with the philosophy outlined in the band’s press release, the message is not “didactic or heavy handed.” In fact, if you distill out the dada, it is accessible folk pop with well-written lyrics and solid finger picking acoustic guitar. “These Days” is a cleverly conceived song that should be the anthem for anyone who is not ready to join a 12-step program. Its strummed guitar part combined with marching snare give it a classic seafaring quality and it’s the kind of song that should be played loudly on an Irish pub jukebox with a room full of intoxicated patrons singing along.

“Love Again” is creatively built around a simple banjo part combined with terrific vocal phrasing that offers a haunting quality without being melancholy. “Angry and Vengeful Lord” is a stripped down acoustic track that showcases the considerable vocal talents of singers David Martin and Joseph Scott. I have a theory that the amusingly cryptic lyrics are about a lovers quarrel followed up by Homeric makeup sex. With a line like “We skipped the goodnights and fell into the bed like the sword of an angry and vengeful Lord” what else could the writers mean? The duo also plays all the other instruments on this CD, which while adding the requisite color allows the essence of songwriter Martin to shine through.

I’m one of those assholes that read everything I get with CDs I’m going to review. Sorry to disagree with their flowery publicist but I did not hear the “brain melding music with the message hewn into each painstakingly chosen word.” To the contrary, I appreciated what I perceived as an unorthodox, loose storytelling quality to the lyrics and economic musical approach in presenting the no frills material. Apart from any colorful exaggeration, this is a damn good EP that left me wanting more.

Reviewed by
Phillip E. Hardy
September 18th, 2006 - Sound the Sirens


Discography

2006- Help Me, I'm On Fire EP

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

David Martin was born the son of Army parents on Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. He grew up with a fair amount of good ol' boy in his blood: his first words were "God damn it," and his first exposure to music was country radio blaring in his dad's pickup truck. At age 14, after the 5th move of his life, David met Joseph Scott (familiar as a member of indie-folk band Canada) in Muskegon, MI. David and Joseph shared interests in punk rock and disavowal of their good ol' boy heritages (Missouri and Kentucky, respectively). At age 24, David decided that the songs he had been writing alone in his bedroom were good enough for public scrutiny. Joe agreed, added his talents, and TH!TTG! was formed.

Their debut six song EP has been met with acclaim from press and fans alike. The album has received airplay at WCBN, WTHS, KSUA, WHUS, WMBR and others stateside, and RDU (New Zealand), CKUA (Canada) and Peel Grass (The Netherlands) overseas. The album was also nominated for a Jammie for Best Local Folk album in West Michigan. Their first full-length, entitled "The Army Life," will be released in Fall 2007.