Friday, October 2, 2009

M. Bison

M. Bison (09.09, Self-Released)

For: Apples in Stereo, Circulatory System, Ben Folds

Byline: Nothing like the real M. Bison. Tuneful, piano driven pop.

Where would Indie Rock be today without video games? We wouldn't have bands like Final Fantasy, Rival Schools (plus their album United By Fate). Hmmm, Can anyone help me out here with some more? In turn we wouldn't have hordes of pre-pubescent metal heads in the nineties yielding uzi-machine guns in Aerosmith's Revolution! Oh yeah, and those fighting games with the Wu Tang Clan and Def Jam artists, 50 Cent! Moonwalker! The moral of the story I guess is that you either have to be really obscure to be named after a video game or be really famous and awesome to have a video game made after your likeness.

Anyway, M. Bison seem like a couple of really nice dudes from Seattle, totally unlike their sadistic, end-boss, tournament host in Street Fighter. M. Bison's Self Titled Album is a virtual Sybil of musical personalities battling for dominance. The first five songs of the album sound like a tribute band to the Elephant 6 collective (303!). Driving, 60's British Invasion guitar lines, swirling keyboards, and a playful vocal patterns characterize the first half of the album. Pure Kinks style chugging riffage. I have no idea what lyrical approach M. Bison try to take, however. One second they are playing straight ahead Apples in Stereo the next they spouting lines that the Moody Blues wish they wrote, like, "A Crystal Labyrinth it curves into the sky/You wander corridors as coursing through your mind". Yikes. Both a savior and a millstone propping up each song are punchy, poppy, and downright complex piano lines a la Ben Folds. Remember him? Everyone had a big fat girl crush on him at one time right? The "I think I am way more clever than I am?" type songwriter that wins over every girls heart. Well, for better or worse M. Bison's main man sounds a lot like him. Even down to the over-emoting over lines like "Cinema Smiles/through the turnstiles/wide angle lens/whispering 'oh honey you care'". The ballads are almost unbearable. Two songs that don't fall into the Elephant 6/Ben Folds camps are "Follow Me to the Lake" that has a dark, prog-like build that reminds me of a late Sunny Day Real Estate or Mew. "All Things To All People" follows a similar trajectory, starting with a "Space Oddity" style synth intro before moving into darker territory. Piling on xylophones and a irresistible pitch-shifted Keyboard hook reminiscent James Dewees. To be fair though, this type of thoughtful, clever, complex, and ever so catchy type Seattle Indie-Bar-Pop beats the tuneless, grating High-School-Drop-Out-Bar-Rock that you find anywhere else. The piano is spot on. The tunesmanship and talent are undeniable. Just I don't know. M. Bison always seemed like a total jerk.

Ryan H.

How is this even possible? Jeff Grant of M. Bison in High School.

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