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American Mars, from Detroit, plays an ethereal, textured brand of Americana laced with pedal steel and vocalist Thomas Trimble's frankly confessional lyrics. Influenced by moody predecessors such as Galaxie 500, Grant Lee Buffalo, and Yo La Tengo, American Mars came together in 1995. In 1997, the group recorded their debut, Late, with producer/pedal steel player David Feeny (Mule, Simon Bonney, Cathouse). Touring extensively from late 1997 into 1998, the group experienced some dissent, and at tour's end the members went their separate ways.
Trimble continued to write songs and, in 1999, played some shows with David Feeny (including Toronto's North by Northeast Festival). Shortly after, the two entered the studio (in various sessions over a nearly two-year period) to collaborate on a new American Mars record, leaving behind the "band" concept and bringing in a rotating cast of musicians to flesh things out. Guests included former Mars member Karla Richardson, drummer Scott Michalski (the Volebeats), Jim Johnson, Patrick Pantano, Mike Popovich, and bassist Garth Girard. (Popovich and Girard would go on to join the live lineup of American Mars.) The album, No City Fun, came out in 2001.