Maxeen - Maxeen (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Maxeen (2003)


Earlier this year SideOneDummy announced the signing of a seemingly unknown LA band called Maxeen. Curious I checked out the tracks available from their website, and amongst a few promising live recordings was a demo of a ska-tinged early-Police style tune called "Love Goes A Long Way." For me it was an affirmation of the how great a promotional tool the Net can be for bands, as the file sat proudly on my computer's desktop like an everyday application. Open Email. Launch Mozilla. Play "Love Goes…"

Months later the band's self-titled debut album is here and it more than lives up to expectations.

A lot of credit goes to producer Ed Stasium (Ramones, Talking Heads) for properly capturing the band, as the recording has a ton of energy and sounds fantastic. It would have been a mistake to slow things down, smooth out the edges and build everything around the pop-qualities of Tom Bailey's voice. Instead the band blazes through twelve tracks with abandon, committing to disc some of the most catchy and unique punk/pop in recent memory.

There's a strong new-wave influence on Maxeen's debut, but new-wave in the edgy guitar-pop revisionist vein as opposed to the synth-pop that bands are mining nowadays. Its impossible not to make the Police comparison, as both bands could share the description of a vocalist / bassist lead three piece with a penchant for nervous pop-rock with elements of ska and reggae. However Maxeen goes further, speeding into both Elvis Costello and Pixies territory when Sting & co would have been slowing things down for a ballad.

There's no shortage of great songs here, most with layered hooks that should leave the tracks in your head for hours. "Strangers" and "Soleil" are great examples of the band's songwriting approach. Guitarist Shannon McMurray give a nod to U2's anthems with "Lead Not Follow." The relaxed "White Flag" provides a great counter to the frenetic "Shuffle My Feet" and "Take The Weight Off." My aforementioned gem "Love Goes A Long Way" is present in a more up-tempo and energetic recording than the demo. While music this poppy and upbeat may turn off those looking for something edgier, Maxeen's smart enough from instrumentation and songwriting perspectives that they should have a wide appeal.

Maxeen has such a great sense of good pop-songwriting and such an energetic delivery that it should be impossible to keep them hidden in the underground for very long. They take great 80s post-punk as a starting point but quickly kill any notion that they'll be limited to a revival-act. This band can and will be huge, mark my words.