Watch this video and tell me it’s not everything modern music is missing. This is the band Marvelkind back in the late 90’s, from their Ep Mini, and maybe it’s not quite true to say there’s nothing like this in modern music, because they are, to a great extent, still around. The Illinois natives are popular enough to be highly regarded in their home city of Chicago, but history seems to have unfairly, insanely, overlooked them. Little is written about them (this post alone will greatly increase their web presence), but I’ve become an ardent fan since being blown away by ‘Jackass and Pussycat’, and I’m intrigued by what I can glean of their story. I love hearing about when bands shack up together, Brian Jonestown Massacre style -what musician wouldn’t love an environment like that- and for 6 years the Marvelkind did just that. The band shared a house on Logan Boulevard with David Baker of Mercury Rev, which was set up with multiple studios. The house was a creative hub for local artists and musicians, and guests included Nash Kato of Urge Overkill. Out of this set-up came the band’s first full-length album, Conquering the universe-chorus-verse.
Their stuff has genius all over it, with rampant hedonism à la Jane’s Addiction, giving way to experimental electronica, heavily-processed sounds, bursts of Black Lips style brat rock, or Yo La Tengo’s melliflously slack psychedelia. If anything can help explain why such a talented bunch of visionaries never made it big, apart from the fact that they clearly aren’t sell-outs, it may be that their type of music exists in its own space. It’s rock n’ roll, but not really as you know it.
Their 2nd album, State of the Artificial, came out in 2007, long after the bands fans thought they’d wrapped it up (singer Benjamin Hughes moved out to LA to pursue acting). State is, if anything, even better than the first album, and has a rabid bite that no amount of post-Emo teen bands could hope to acheive.
Marvelkind has begat several side projects, among them the brilliant Assassins, who seem to be doing pretty well, and the intriguing, and nicely-named I, Rowboat. The fact that Marvelkind’s own dormant Myspace has a paltry 800 friends seems like a crime. Listen to Swiss Valley, U.S. Erf, Plug in the Drug Machine, Slackadelic, Raperville… there’s more energy and drama in one song than most bands achieve on five albums.
I have absolutely no idea why the band’s bio appears on a site dedicated to real estate in Prague, but you can find more about them there.