When he heard SYF was devoting a week exclusively to Chicago music, my friend David suggested we cover M.O.T.O. I didn't know much about the band, so I asked him if he'd write something up. David very generously agreed. (I love guest posters!) So enjoy, and be sure to check out David's delightful Chicago band, The Layaways. The band's site hosts several mp3s for your indie-pop lovin' pleasure!
Also, you have until midnight tonight to enter our contest to win The M's CD (still no correct answer). Check Monday's post for details.
I've always thought of Paul Caporino, the man behind M.O.T.O., as Chicago's version of Robert Pollard. Both began releasing their ragged, low-fi recordings in the late 1980s. And like the Guided By Voices founder, Caporino has a savant-like ability to craft songs with instantly catchy hooks.
Musically, Caporino has much more of a punk influence. Lyrically…let's just say that with M.O.T.O. you'll need to brace yourself for a dose of songs about genitals and various scatological topics. On Single File, a collection of M.O.T.O. songs from 1988 to 1994, the lead-off track is "Crystallize My Penis." That's followed by "It's So Big It's Fluorescent" (about…you-know-what). And the fourth song on the disc is titled "The Turd That Came to Life." You get the picture. But even if your tolerance for songs about dicks is low, there are plenty of M.O.T.O. gems to enjoy.
The three tracks below are a good place to start. "Dick About It" (think insult, not anatomical reference) is a punky song from a 1989 EP. "The Street Where Love Lives" is an uncharacteristically sweet song from a 1994 single that reminds me a bit of They Might Be Giants, with a few chord changes from a Squeeze song for the bridge. "Dance Dance Dance Dance Dance To The Radio" from 2003--its title borrowed from Joy Division's "Transmission"--is one of my favorite tunes in recent years. A two minute, 17 second blast of hooky pop it will, just like GBV's "Teenage FBI," remain lodged in your brain after a single listen.
Dick About It - M.O.T.O.
The Street Where Love Lives - M.O.T.O.
Dance Dance Dance Dance Dance To The Radio - M.O.T.O.
Relative to Pollard, Caporino has remained somewhat under the radar--no recording contract with Matador or TVT yet, nor has Ric Ocasek called to volunteer his production skills. But with hooks like these, it doesn't seem far-fetched to imagine that M.O.T.O. will find a wider audience.
Find more mp3s at the band's Web site and at Garageband.com page.