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Album Review

Third time's the charm for the High Strung: on Get the Guests, they come into their own, adding more ambitious, detailed soundcraft and production to their already winning lyrics and melodies. "What a Meddler!" opens the album with bold brass fanfares that seem to announce how much the band has grown since These Are Good Times and Moxie Bravo; "Maybe You're Coming Down with It" offers more proof with its stinging lyrics and bittersweet harmonies. Though songs like "The Gravedigger" — one of the High Strung's best Who-channeling moments — shout out to the rough-and-tumble sound of their earlier work, most of Get the Guests concentrates on brainy power pop. This is a band that tours libraries, after all, and it's hard not to smile when a song named "Arrow" has lyrics like "try not to quiver" (especially when a melody that seems instantly familiar backs up that clever wordplay). "Raise the Bar" and "Rimbaud/Rambo" follow suit, with playful lyrics and equally playful guitar riffs chasing each others' tails. Get the Guests' slower songs are also some of the band's finest; "There Was No One Before You, There Was No One Before Me" has a hushed excitement despite its mellow tempo that captures falling in love. "She's Not Even Mad at You" balances the band's brains ("she's got an 188 IQ but she's real hard to learn") with heart. Musically speaking, Get the Guests is the High Strung's finest and most varied hour, ranging from pretty, simply delivered melodies like "So Dry" to "The Baddest Ship"'s insistent piano and fuzz bass. The album sounds different enough from their previous work, and from song to song, that it's kind of surprising that this is the third time the band has worked with producer Jim Diamond. Get the Guests' only drawback is that the sheer amount of songs on it makes it hard to absorb all of them at once. Of course, this isn't the worst problem an album can have, and Get the Guests' embarrassment of pop riches just means that repeated listens are even more necessary.


Formed: August, 2000 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Indie Rock

Years Active: '00s

Motor City natives Mark Owen, Chad Stocker, Josh Malerman, and Derek Berk comprise the founding lineup of the High Strung, whose music borrows equally from melodic power-pop and psychedelic garage rock. Although formed during the summer of 2000, the group's legacy stretches back to elementary school, when the latter three members became best friends at the age of 11. Once they'd entered college, the High Strung began playing shows in the Midwest while concentrating on material for a proper album....
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Get the Guests, The High Strung
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