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Yesterday Rules

The Mr. T Experience

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Album Review

Yesterday Rules is the first Mr. T Experience album in four years, and the first to feature the latest members of the MTX "Starship": bassist Bobby J and guitarist/keyboardist Ted Angel. But some things never change, and Dr. Frank's flair for idiosyncratic yet plain-spoken pop certainly hasn't. Yesterday is punk in the same way the Modern Lovers were — it's a spiritual companion of the genre, but doesn't have much room for screeching power chords or unintelligible screaming. Instead, MTX puts a light strum into things, relying on ringing, twanging 1960s guitars, clean acoustics, lively basslines, and unobtrusive percussion. Frank's lyrics are front and center, and he proves as culture-harangued and relationship-challenged as ever. "I don't have any friends," he begins in "F****d Up on Life"." "I stay out of the fray/I figure I do less damage that way/And all I ever want to do is just get plowed." This bushy-tailed tale plays out — naturally — over a rousing little ditty complete with a plinking toy piano outro. It's a restatement of Gen X self-loathing and social lethargy, appropriately made by a guy who's been making albums since Gen X was still a hot new buzzword. Later, Dr. Frank only needs a quiet acoustic guitar to get across his feelings about "Jill," a girl he misses dearly but won't stop screening his calls to hopefully hear from. In other words, "What I'm getting at, Jill/is I can't stop not knowing why I never don't feel like/crying." "Institutionalized Misogyny" muses on Chomsky, Michel Foucault, and of course, Woody Allen, "Oh, Just Have Some Faith in Me" cranks up a decent Cracker impersonation, and those chiming guitars return for the country-ish rocker "Sorry for Freaking Out on the Phone Last Night." Yesterday Rules won't make MTX a household name. But it has huge appeal for Dr. Frank's peers — guys as desirous of human companionship as anyone, but shackled by over thinking and days spent staring at the ceiling.

Biography

Formed: 1984 in Berkeley, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

The Mr. T Experience came out of the same Berkeley/East Bay Gilman Street punk rock scene that eventually spawned Green Day, but they are often left out of the history of this scene, or at least they rarely fit prominently into the punk rock genealogy. The Mr. T Experience (or MTX for short) played the same Ramones/Buzzcocks/Descendents-inspired punk-pop for years without gaining any of the commercial success of Gilman Street peers Green Day and Rancid. Perhaps this is a result of the perception...
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Yesterday Rules, The Mr. T Experience
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