Monday, August 30, 2010
Alvin Band 2010
With Pitchfork picking up on Miniature Tigers' sophomore LP "Fortress", is it safe to say Alvin Band might get some more blog buzz? Probably not, but I'm still hopeful. Fuck, I'm blogging about it now, and I'm still pissed off about the lack of exposure Rick Schaier's marvelous Mantis Preying received. Putting out one of the most unique, succinct, and undoubtedly best albums of the year, in a year that had a phenomenal lineup of music from newcomers and veterans alike, is clearly no easy task. Mantis Preying's whimsical take on vocal heavy arrangements, and grinding it through a Beach Boys, Medulla and rock opera-esque mixture is commendable, but not its main selling point. It wouldn't stand under its own weight (and especially its influences'), if it wasn't for Rick Schaier's grasp on harmonies and engaging pop songs. Something Animal Collective have so adeptly demonstrated in the past, and likely a group that Rick Schaier owes a bit to, as well.
I can only imagine what it took to produce Mantis Preying, as it's clearly not reproduceable live with just Rick Schaier, and who knows how it'd sound with other people taking over the harmonies/rhythm. How did Bjork go about touring on Medulla? Although, she could probably manage to tour with a range of very talented vocalists to support her, something Rick Schaier wouldn't be able to do.
Which brings me to this: has the lack of a live presence (currently) killed Alvin Band's potential to expand his audience? Let's look at Miniature Tigers, as they've managed to gain a fair bit of coverage and are near constantly touring. Miniature Tigers were fortunate enough to piggyback off of fun. and some other established acts in the past year or so, too. Obviously, as Rick Schaier plays drums for Miniature Tigers, he's not going to be able to tour on his own under Alvin Band. What can Rick Schaier bring to a live performance that is on par with Mantis Preying, which his limited recognition has mostly been focused on? No one mentions the EP he also released with Mantis Preying (Lady Portrait), as it wasn't really notable in any respect. Lady Portrait could be done live, and probably not with a large backing band or talented vocalists (outside of Rick Schaier). Alvin Band's site does note that Miniature Tigers play some Alvin Band tracks, but even if those are from Mantis Preying, they won't sound identical to their recorded forms.
Rick Schaier's only chance to be recognized really comes from an assortment of blogs and the bigger music sites. How can this be done by the time his follow-up to Mantis Preying starts to make the rounds, which should be very soon? This likely will fall on his label (Intelligent Noise), to promote his creative brand of pop everywhere possible. Especially if the next album is as special as Mantis Preying turned out to be. It's not hard these days to go viral.
Mantis Preying is one of the few hidden gems I came across in 2009 that I think could have and should have enjoyed more success. Someone dropped the ball somewhere, but it's not lost forever. Intelligent Noise just need to find a replacement, or Rick Schaier needs to do a better job of promoting Alvin Band through Miniature Tigers. It didn't hurt to have Alvin Band mentioned on the official Miniature Tigers MySpace (hell, I'm pretty sure that's how I found him to begin with), but there really needs to be more. I don't know what the live shows for Miniature Tigers are like, but someone needs to be mentioning Alvin Band and playing some tracks at every show. Also, making sure to have some copies of Mantis Preying available so interested people can pick it up at shows. This could all already be happening at shows, but if it isn't, someone should definitely get on it.
Dinosaur Feathers, one of the best surprises from this year, have managed to really foster an audience after a ton of touring and then having some blogs and larger sites writing about them. Totally deserved, and something Rick Schaier is certainly capable of replicating.
Does any of this mean anything that wasn't already happening? I don't know, I'm neither Rick Schaier nor his label. Maybe Rick Schaier's already more than content with Mantis Preying's performance and the limited attention it's received.