Narc Out The Reds is the featured artist of this week's "On Mondays I listen to..." album review. They just released their new 10-inch record, Lipstick On My Cholera & Solitaire in the Tiny Hours, via GTG Records, last Saturday (November 2016) at Mac's Bar in Lansing, Michigan. The release party brought a great crowd with many eager fans, each dying to get their hands on the 10-inch vinyl release.
(Side note: How cool is it that Narc Out The Reds released these songs on a 10-inch?!)
Narc Out The Reds is an alternative, noise-pop-noir band out of Lansing, MI. They are known for their epic songs with "frantic yet melodic" movements and emotionally thought-provoking lyrics. The creative minds behind Narc Out The Reds are Christopher Baratono (Vocals/Guitar), John Miller (Drums/Backing Vocals), Joshua Siwek (Bass/Backing Vocals), and Ben Southwell (Guitar/Backing Vocals).
I first met Narc Out The Reds, along with The Hat Madder (another project of Baratono's and Miller's), in June 2014 while playing a festival together in Saginaw, MI. I remember listening to their show and becoming mesmerized in the unnerving yet lyrical music before me. I also recall Baratono's commanding stage show and hypnotizing vocals.
We were reconnected while on a Gore Gore Girls bill last May (2016) and have played multiple shows together since then.
Since their ...Are On the Run (2010) and ...Have Just Enough to Cover Up (2013) album releases, Narc Out The Reds have continued to create music in their traditionally epic style. Their latest release, Lipstick On My Cholera & Solitaire in the Tiny Hours, is a confirmation of the immense talent and originality within the band.
(Narc Out The Reds - Lipstick On My Cholera & Solitaire in the Tiny Hours. Photography by Whitney Spotts. Modeling by Ariella Zanoni & Kayl Foster. Styling by Meagan Borowy.)
Lipstick On My Cholera & Solitaire in the Tiny Hours was recorded and mixed by Isaac Richmond Vander Schuur and assisted by John Miller at Thin Black Line Studios in Williamston, MI and Epiphany Studios in Dimondale, MI.
Narc Out The Reds' 10-inch record features two songs, "Lipstick On My Cholera" and "Solitaire in the Tiny Hours". Both tracks are epic movements that clock in at just under ten minutes each. The songs are emotionally driven, which evokes a deeper listening experience with the complexity of each musicians' parts. For Lipstick On My Cholera & Solitaire in the Tiny Hours think Smashing Pumpkins' arrangements meets Matt Bellamy's vocals meets Television's revolutionary Marquee Moon.
According to the album liner notes, "Lipstick On My Cholera" (09:31) was inspired by the novel A Summons To Memphis by Peter Taylor. The lyrics, "Dress it up, lipstick helps. The story's yours, write it yourself" promote a powerful, haunting love that the listener is effortlessly consumed by. The music's uncomfortable rhythms provide an eerie yet lovely environment for the lyrics to swell and grow in throughout the song.
A smooth guitar tone opens the song, with Baratono's and Southwell's riffs quickly building upon each other. When Siwek's bass and Miller's drums join in the mix, they bring a pounding counter melody with a positive tug-and-pull that eventually draws the song into it's beginning rock opera vibe.
Baratono's vocals later open the song to a punkie crooning above the instrumental tracks. The rock opera vibe transitions into a gratifying alt-rock melody, singing "Little one, little one with the lipstick smudge". This sets the attitude for the rest of the song.
I love the backing vocals leading into the first guitar solo and the "Stop, GO!" lyrics. As the song builds and relaxes, there is a Smashing Pumpkins feeling between the guitar and vocal work. At 07:43, the track is finally able to breathe once more with lighter guitar, bass, and calmed drums. The song ends beautifully, with spaced-out mixing on the guitar.
The liner notes also indicate that "Solitaire in the Tiny Hours" (09:15) was inspired by the novel Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse. The song begins with possessing Matthew Bellamy-esque vocals that drive the song forward.
The whammy (slide?) in the guitar work is another example of the pure musicianship that Narc Out The Reds has. Each person is obviously experienced in their playing styles. Due to the confidence within their musicianship, Narc Out The Reds are able to experiment and write such complex parts.
I enjoyed listening to "Solitaire in the Tiny Hours" not only for the instrumental complexity, but also for the relatable lyrical messages.
"I lost you. I meant to. I lost you. I meant to, I meant to... Summer always feels so far away, until it's here and gone the next day." Makes you think, doesn't it?
As I listened to this track for the first time, I found myself in a trance, absorbing every word of the story.
The song builds again at 07:56, with the simple lyrics, "Like solitaire at 3am". Despite their simplicity, the words gain a supernatural ability to draw the listener in with some of the most energetic and emotional singing of the entire ten minutes.
The only drawback to "Solitaire in the Tiny Hours" is the abrupt ending. The song concludes with the dreamy feeling of finishing the last page of a book. A sort of being lost in reality feeling. I know it's been ten minutes, but come on guys, there's at least thirty more minutes of story left. There has to be...
As I write my "On Mondays I listen to..." reviews, I generally listen to each album a minimum of 5-6 times. Despite the length of the Narc Out The Red's songs, they never came close to being boring. Each track is an intricate piece within itself, with multiple movements and climaxes. Lipstick On My Cholera & Solitaire in the Tiny Hours will definitely be on repeat for more than one Monday.
Do anything to get your hands on this record, you won't regret it.
Narc Out The Reds' Lipstick On My Cholera & Solitaire in the Tiny Hours is available on 10-inch vinyl. They also have previous releases available for digital download/streaming on bandcamp and physical in-print items available on GTG Records.
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