My passion for Martha and the Muffins is no secret. The name of my weekly program, “In Between Sleep And Reason,” comes from the first track on Side 2 of their 1984 album Mystery Walk. Heck, the original invitation from our KEXP online content guru to blog here came after he peeped something I posted about a M+M-related solo project.
If pressed to name my favorite Martha and the Muffins record, that honor goes to their third LP, This Is The Ice Age, largely because it’s the one I’ve spent the most time with since high school. (Thank goodness for cut-out bins!) But in a critical capacity, I’d rank its follow-up, Danseparc, as their best album. The second of three albums made in cahoots with producer Daniel Lanois (U2, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris), it took the ambient and percussive experimentation of its predecessor, and inched everything up just a notch in the weirdness stakes -- without a dip in quality of songwriting. Imagine my delight then, when I read last week that Danseparc is finally being released on CD in early August. With bonus tracks! (And, better still, promise a brand new album due later this year.)
Why Martha and the Muffins? They spoke to my experiences as a teenager, pure and simple. Songs about holding down a mundane day job (“Echo Beach”), or your attachment to that weird cabin your Dad insisted on calling “the summer place” (“You Sold the Cottage”), made a lot more sense to me as an adolescent than sci-fi lullabies and moonage daydreams. So I was gratified when I read the following quote from M+M guitarist/songwriter Mark Gane in the book Future Rock:
|“You’ve got to understand the music industry wants stars and they want people to believe that every morning I wake up there’s a limousine that takes me to a trendy restaurant where I dine on exotic seafood. But that’s not the case at all. We’re middle class. We all come from the suburbs. I make no apology for that. I think we’re representing our backgrounds. To me that is being honest and if people don’t like that type of honesty, that’s fine. We don’t particularly want to be rock stars anyway.”|
Martha and the Muffins might not have been rock stars, but for a kid like me, from an ideal nuclear family, residing in a split-level house on a quiet cul de sac, being able to identify so closely with a band that I admired so much was a very pleasant surprise – in a place where they were few and far between.
Martha and the Muffins’ official video for “Danseparc”
DJ El Toro is the host of the overnight show In Between Sleep & Reason, Wednesday mornings from 1 AM to 6 AM on KEXP 90.3 FM Seattle and kexp.org. His column, Weird At My School, appears every Monday on the KEXP Blog.