The Humbugs

We are a little under two weeks away from Record Store Day, and a little under one week into our series of posts about the various participants in our exciting street festival.  With one stage in the shop and one outside, we can host more than a dozen local groups and we have been lucky enough to collect nothing but our favorites!  You can scroll back to read about some of the bands we’ve already introduced – These posts are being written in no particular order, incidentally, and a schedule for our Record Store Day performances can be seen by clicking on the link up above.

Here’s today’s band, the Humbugs:

01 Selective Memory

The Humbugs are a power pop quintet led by Adam and Kristin Marshall who have been playing together in the Twin Cities for more than a decade. In that time they’ve made four discs full of inventive pop hooks held together by lush production, making a name for themselves as the Cities’ finest proponents of classic power pop.  The track above is “Selective Memory” from their album Twist the Truth.

Maybe you’re wondering what good old fashioned power pop is – Its straightforward rock and roll with economical arrangements and driving drum beats.  Unlike most of the punk and metal records I grew up with, power pop bands downplay the bluesy roots of rock and roll for catchy melodies and harmonizing vocals.  Yeah, the Beatles are the quintessential power pop band, and its hard not to hear their influence in the Humbugs records.  What’s fun about the Humbugs records is that their sound is also inspired by some of the 80s new wave bands like Prefab Sprout and Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

Hymie’s regulars may remember Adam Marshall from the Record Store Day celebration that closed out our last day at the old record shop, where he played a solo set.  This year he’s had enough notice to put together the entire group, including the solid rhythm section of Matt Baccoli and Tim Formanek and Matt Senkovick (Also of Atomic Flea).

The audio in this video clip is not the best, but Adam and Kristin’s performance is tops – Here they are performing one of the highlights from the Humbug’s newest album, On the Up Side. The song is “Employee of the Month”, and while I doubt Adam would really describe himself as the singer-songwriter sort, he sure does a great job of it in this performance:

There’s a lot of self-depreciating humor in Adam’s lyrics, even if the music is generally upbeat (They have a song called “Breaking Up with Myself”, for example).  I plan to give Adam a hard time about this song because I know his day job is pretty much just like the one I had before Laura and I took over the record shop.*  I read an interesting line in the section about the band on their website, which says “lyrically we try to keep it loose so there is enough ambiguity so that a person could fit the songs to their own life’s soundtrack.” Interestingly, a song by the Humbugs did appear in a movie soundtrack.

And On the Up Side is a positive record. The production is simpler than on their previous two discs (Especially than the 2002 album Stereo Types), and they really achieve the goal of meshing classic British invasion pop with new wave. The jaunty “Give me a Clue” starts out with a similar feel to Elvis Costello’s hit “Veronica” but has a guitar solo that could have fit on an album by George Harrison.

09 Give Me a Clue

*And incidentally, Jill is now up to her twenty-fourth consecutive month as “Employee of the Month” at Hymie’s.  How about that!

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