Tag Archives: The Electric Grandmother

Album Review: The Electric Grandmother – Cancelled.

There’s great comfort in knowing how in this crazy ass world, two amazing people met from different timezones back in the mid-90s, fell in love, got married, and eventually had kids …a band.

The history behind The Electric Grandmother pretty much revolves around Pete and Mary Alice’s love for 80s and 90s sitcoms as well as absolute love for one another.  It is pretty inspiring where I sit here and think about it.

They are band-mates for life and two of the most genuine people I have gotten to know for over the past twenty-five years.  One grew up in Ohio, the other in Hawaii, it is like a living sitcom when you think about it.

Pete and Mary Alice were actually with me the night the Menzingers had to cancel their Kentucky show due to food poisoning and I miraculously got them in touch with Kent, NOFX’s manager.  I only mention that as they both thought I was the man that night for getting things right.  What can I say?  I’m a legend in my spare time.

In the past, I’ve failed to make mention of their releases as I had this moronic thought process where I would not review material from friend’s bands.  Clearly that has changed within the past couple of years.

I am not sure why I chose that route, but I can say that I almost would prefer to share the talent of those I know and love rather than keep it all to myself.  I am surrounded by some amazing people and it would be unfair not to share what I hear.

Enough about me, let’s talk about The Electric Grandmother some more.

Originally starting in Columbus back in 1999, the duo moved to D.C. and kept on a truckin’.  Their live shows are not to the norm and usually come with a slideshow and bubble machine.  I’ve never met a person who has not gotten a kick out of their shows.  Even the metalheads in Canton at some bizarre house-venue adored them.

The Electric Grandmother is not really for those who carry boundaries on their music genres or lack a humorous imagination.  To be a fan means you need to carry appreciation for experimental approaches and a love for sitcoms.  After all, this is the band that dubbed themselves “sitcom-core”.

Cancelled is a concept album of sorts about a man whose sanity is compromised by the cancellation of his favorite cop TV drama program by a new one.  The album digs far deeper with emotion than previous albums have as duo Pete and Mary Alice take a new approach at their appreciation for television by speaking of a man whose life is affected by change.

In fact, I will just let Pete and Mary Alice explain it a little more:

“Cancelled is this story of a man’s descent into madness following the cancellation of his favorite cop-drama. This is the unfortunate feedback the man received at his office, the mindless reaction to the shallow “Cop Force,” the show that caused “Police Department” to be pushed aside.”

With that said, I’m hoping you can understand the originality of this band and can appreciate the story that surrounds this album.  I know I did.

“TV” was the first track on the album with Pete singing and Mary Alice providing background vocals.  This track was pretty intense to listen to all due to distorted ambient sounds that supplied the introduction to the story of a lonely man and his beloved TV show.

I actually heard “Police Department Theme Song” a few weeks back on and adored it.  This track shed light on how someone could be so obsessed with a show.  It was the intro music for the show that the man more or less worshipped.

“Radial Sunrise” was a happy-go-lucky song showcasing the man in positive spirits thanks to said TV show.  Pete’s quick singing on this track was just great.  Pay attention though, or you might miss something.

“Feedback Lives” is the absolute change in the story where things start going south.  Even the music sounded concerning as well as the signing about two new dudes who change everything.

This change continued with the downward spiral of “Cancelled”.  This track had Pete and Mary Alice taking turns telling the story from the man’s angle as well as the network’s.  I really loved the music on this one too, it was all over the place.

I am not going to sit here and tell the entire story, you will have to hear it for yourself.  I will say though by the time “The End?” came on,  I could gauge a level of uncomfortable restlessness by a man who could not adapt to change.

This songs on album are so much more in-depth than from what I recall their previous albums containing.  It’s like Beck, Cibo Mato, Kraftwerk, Daft Punk, Postal Service, Mike Patton, and Bran Van 3000 all got in a huge ass fistfight.  That’s probably a complete crap shoot there, but at least I got to say crap shoot here on this good ol’ blog.

Seriously though, I was super intrigued throughout the album and loved the variety as well as the overall story.  I was impressed with the music Pete and Mary Alice created as well as their vocals.  They both really have matured into some pretty amazing musicians.

On top of a great idea of an album, there are also music videos for a couple of the songs to give you even more of a visual.  Check them out below and enjoy.

If you have the slightest curiosity about this album, just click play below already.  The Electric Grandmother have hopped boundaries and borders this time.  It only makes sense considering the adventure they have been on from the day they caught each other’s attention.

They Are Called Fort Wilson Riot

Earlier this year I had one of those evenings that made me remember why I do what I do.  Before you start thinking dirty thoughts, I am talking about my love for music and sharing it with all of you wonderful readers out there via this high tech blog.  I don’t get paid for this (yet), but I can tell you what, I will do this for as long as I can just because I love doing it…

Great, now where was I?

Oh yes, that one evening earlier this year when I remembered why I love music and my blog and blah blah blah…  Flashback time.

It was a warm summer evening and my favorite Columbus folk-duo The Electric Grandmother were playing a show at Annabell’s in Highland Square (a hipster rich area in Akron).  We arrived just before the show was to start and I remember helping them move their gear into a side room of the bar as there was another act scheduled before them.

Mary Alice & Pete (aka The Electric Grandmother) offered me a delicious tall PBR as a thank you for helping them get situation (who later in the night dedicated a song to me – how thoughtful).

As I sat there and enjoyed that 24oz. of goodness, there was a male/female duo getting set up.  I remember specifically stopping everything I was doing the second they started their soundcheck.  All I could think of was “who in the hell is this?”  Mind you I was dead serious and not sarcastic…

The band was called Fort Wilson Riot and they just so happened to fill in a last minute slot at Annabell’s as some unnamed venue in Cleveland cancelled on them.  They were not looking rushed but you could tell they were moving as fast as they could to get set up.  It was then and there they started that song that my attention was captured.

The song they played was called “Snakes & Scorpions” and featured the duo singing in a perfect harmony backed by an electric guitar and electric keyboard as well as a drum machine providing the beat.

It was a simple set up but the sound was not what I expected at all.  The duo consisting of Jacob Mullis and Amy Hager reminded me of everything I liked about acts like Dresden Dolls, Mates Of State, Matt & Kim, and even The White Stripes.  Why?  Because they complimented one another perfectly.  It’s like the ying and yang of music.

I liked what I heard and apparently so did everyone else in the bar that night as the entire basement of Annabell’s filled up after a couple songs in by Fort Wilson Riot.  They were indie rock, they were pop rock cabaret-style…they were…good.

No one was expecting to hear that kind of music that night.  I know I wasn’t.

I remember looking at Pete & Mary Alice and then looking around at all the people who gathered to see this mysterious band play.  It was one of those acts where we could see people mouthing the words “who are these guys” followed by “they are really good.”

When I see people do that while watching a band I can not help myself but smile.  That is why I love music and that is why I like to share it.  Chances are I am not the only one who decided to tell someone about Fort Wilson Riot.  I know I have multiple times, and here I am telling you all.

After their set I greeted them and throughout the night we chatted.  I found out that they were from Minnesota and once were considered an “indie-rock opera” before slimming down to the duo.  They were touring in a van on their own and had been touring with Ice Palace before making the stop in Cleveland.

Amy and Jacob hung out with us for the rest of the night and by the end of the evening they hooked me up with a copy of their latest album Predator Prey, a self-made album that once I listened to, turned me into even a bigger fan.

Not only is it the duo on the CD but they also enlisted a bunch of their talented friends to put together one great listen.  I highly recommend checking out “Forgotten Language”, “All My Friends”, “Snakes & Scorpions” and cabaret-heavy “Diamond Blues”.

Have you found yourself interested in this band Fort Wilson Riot I speak of?  Fear not you can check them out by heading over to their Bandcamp page.  The album is only $8.  What are you waiting for?

Fort Wilson Riot “Snakes and Scorpions” from Fort Wilson Riot on Vimeo.

Fort Wilson Riot “All My Friends” from Fort Wilson Riot on Vimeo.

You Down With The EG At The OG In The C(anton)?

Photo By Allison Edwards
Photo By Allison Edwards

Saturday night I conquered new territory, saw a show, and got to hang out with old friends.  It was a very quick and triumphant evening full of laughter, new faces, and 80’s/90’s sitcom references sung in the key of The Electric Grandmother (TEG).

Let me explain because I am sure you are scratching your head right now…

TEG, aka my great friends Pete and his awesome wife Mary Alice (MA), decided to grace the city of Canton, OH with their presence and play a show at a place called Old Glory (more on OG in a moment).

So what kind of music do they play?  The answer is Sitcom-core.  Take one part 80’s & 90’s sitcom love and add it to freaky beats and a roller-coaster of vocals that are pure raunchy yet hilarious.  That is Sitcom-core.  I should also add TEG has been doing their thing before Nerd-core was even fathomed – so no haters please, they are pros at this and honestly, it is way more entertaining.

The two person team is musically and visually entertaining with Pete belting out the singing and creating the beats while MA takes care of a slide show like no other that coincides with the music.  It is like nothing you have ever seen or heard and you need to have an appreciation for cheesy ass television to even remotely have a clue.  It’s fun and meant to be fun and they are also my friends so I guess that makes it even more special to me every time I get to see them.

Photo by Allsion Edwards
Photo by Allison Edwards

Aside from them making what TEG is, I have known Pete for half my life now and he along with Mary Alice are two of the most genuine people I know.  Sadly I do not get to see them as much as I would like to as they reside in Columbus but we still communicate quite often.  Needless to say when they told me they were going to be performing at a venue in Canton I was most than pleased and canceled all zero plans I had that evening to go and see them.

Now I am not familiar with Canton at all but thanks to my trusty GPS I was able to find Old Glory, at least I thought I did.  The sign on the building said Old Glory Tattoos and for a quick moment thought I found the wrong place and was about to give the bird to my GPS.  You see, I have a bad history of GPS’s taking me through the ghetto of different cities.  I have driven through the projects of Baltimore once on account of a GPS thinking it knew the quickest route to a venue so once I learned that Old Glory Tattoos is now Old Glory I just laughed.

Old Glory is basically a DIY house.  They are working on getting a liquor license so they can sell beer during shows and turn into a business but until then they open their doors to all who want to attend free of charge.  Until that happens the venue is BYOB and smoking is welcomed (not a fan) since technically they are not a business.  The owners of the place were super awesome and I wish I was able to remember their names but to make a long story short the place was a tattoo shop in a not-so-good part of town so he decided to close the shop up and open up something fun – a place where bands could play music.

Photo By Allison Edwards
Photo By Allison Edwards

There was no cover for the show as mentioned before but donations to the venue and the bands was accepted.  Supposedly there were to be 5 bands all together that were to play that night but only 3 showed up and stayed.  I guess one band showed up called Hollywood Lies (no link necessary, I am not going to promote them) and said they would be back but never came back.  Apparently they played the Warped Tour and they were too good for OG.  Kinda of a douche move if you ask me…  It’s ok though because I did not want to see them play if they were going to have that type of mentality.

The neat thing about DIY houses is that there are loyal attendees that will always come out and see what is going on.  Rather than have TEG play just to a handful of folk the owner of OG kept asking them to hold off and kept making phone calls.  By 10:30pm there was a nice collection of music and beer lovers in the house.

TEG took the stage and immediately wowed everyone in the place with “The Day I Pretended To Watch Airwolf”.  Those in the crowd who were there to see TEG knew what to expect but for all of the people that just came in unknowingly they were all very accepting of Sitcom-core to their virgin ears.

I admit I get nervous for my friend’s bands sometimes when they get on stage to a new crowd but I don’t ever need to worry about Pete.  He is one of the punkest kids I know in life and he could really care less what you think about his music.  He is there to have a good time and just do his thing.  The folk in OG Saturday night really did get a kick out of TEG as they played though the night with”England-man American”,”New Coke Rap”, and also fan favorites “Car Phone” as well as a song dedicated to The Golden Girls.  Throughout the songs MA kept the projections moving along with hilarious pictures that reminded all how corny yet memorable television and culture was in the 80’s and 90’s.

By set’s end the place was having fun and that is exactly with TEG came there to do.  Giving away free CDs and making fun of the bands that did not show up to OG that night TEG was all about having a good time.  TEG is not a gimmick by any means and what they do is for the love of performance, gratitude, and plain old generosity.

How generous?  Well TEG is offering all of his synth heavy albums for free download.  Yes, free.  The following are a couple links to download his most recent albums.  Check them out and honestly if you don’t like them delete them but I can guarantee that at least a couple of the songs will crack you up and who knows, you might just become a fan of The Electric Grandmother.  It’s ok, I won’t tell your friends…but you should because it’s ok to like them.

Download This!The Electric Grandmother – Listening Party
Download This!The Electric Grandmother – The Stenographer
Download This!The Electric Grandmother – Pee Sells But Who’s Buying

For more free downloads visit The Electric Grandmother’s website.

Be their friend on Facebook.  TEG writes a pretty funny and to the point blog as well…

Here is a quick documentary done about The Electric Grandmother: