Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Beyond Dischord: DIY Punk, Pop, and Ska - The Max Levine Ensemble

If there was one band that did more to encourage the really small scene within a scene, it would probably have to be The Max Levine Ensemble. Formed by David "Spoonboy" Combs and a number of friends while still a student at JDS, and named in honor of, who else, Max Levine, TMLE became a guiding force, setting up shows, touring, and releasing records at a furious clip.

Though nominally a ska band at their inception for a JDS talent show, by the time their third record How to Build an Intergalactic Spaceship came out in 2003 they had shed the horn and skanking for a sound that hewed closer to the scratchy low-fi pop of bands like The Bananas, Carrie Nations, and other Plan-It-X bands (in fact, TMLE loved Plan-It-X so much that David moved to Bloomington for a time, where as I understand it he lived in a big house and used to steal internet from the Indiana University library and released a solo record).

Now, when I was a younger and much more idealistic young man (this was before I became a jaded and antagonistic rock psued, a development I blame entirely on this man.), I was able to more identify with posi-political lyrics of songs like "Fuck You I'm Not P.C." (which is actually a song calling for more Political Correctness) and "Democracy." I can still enjoy them for what they were for me, which is a portrait of what I was into at 16 or so (dissent, dissent by dancing, dancing by dissent) and I tip my cap to Spoonboy, who is still out there making music with TMLE and on his own, always on his own terms.

You'll find below a link for the following: Chach, Cops, and Donuts (which is a compilation of their first two records: ... Chach Rules!, ... Go to Jail, and a bunch of toss offs and rarities), How to Build an Intergalactic Time Machine, and Ok Smartypants.

The Max Levine Ensemble

For those of you not sure if you want to pull the trigger, peep these YouTube links.

TMLE "Ghost Song"

TMLE live at Fort Reno 2006

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