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Plastic Ants | Falling to Rise

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Pop: Power Pop Rock: Psychedelic Moods: Mood: Dreamy
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Falling to Rise

by Plastic Ants

Maximum chamber pop
Genre: Pop: Power Pop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Hang on to the Good That You Got
4:13 $0.99
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2. Falling to Rise
3:04 $0.99
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3. Feels Like Forever
4:32 $0.99
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4. Across the Falls
4:42 $0.99
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5. Sympathetic Strings
3:04 $0.99
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6. Not Much Makes Her Cry
3:45 $0.99
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7. Oceans Black and Blue
2:56 $0.99
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8. Say Goodbye to Massachusetts
5:44 $0.99
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9. It's Happening Now
3:16 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Plastic Ants are all about hope. But when we reached out to our favorite author to write the liner notes to our new album we had no real expectation he would respond to our request, much less agree, especially since he has yet to allow anyone to publish his first novel, the now-near-mythic “Tiny Bars.” (A long-out-of-print excerpt suggests the title refers to the complimentary soap found in hotels—a metaphor, we think, for the sense of imprisonment felt by the protagonist, a nameless roadie for The Broken Glass Question, a fictional prog-rock group.) So you can imagine our shock—and delight—when Duvet’s reflection on the album turned up in our post office box. Unfortunately it was a little late to include in the first edition of the album, but we hope to update subsequent pressings. In the meantime, we present his notes in their entirety here—which is perhaps the first time his writing has appeared anywhere in decades (amazing, really). We are ever grateful to Mr. Duvet for sharing his passionate reaction to the music, not to mention the big heart, beautiful mind and clear voice so evident in his writing. We hope you enjoy as well, Plastic Ants.

Falling to Rise: A Reflection on Plastic Ants

Let us, my friends, consider the humble couch. Whether you’re battling Doctor Doom on your X-Box One, numbing out on narcotic TV and pita chips, getting fucked up, awkwardly trying to fuck, or perhaps fetal-curled in forced exile from the spousal bedroom--for all these things and more, there’s always the beautiful, cruel couch.

They go way back, too. For the Romans, the infamous “triclinia” were the pleasure-platforms of the day. The puritanical American colonials couldn’t afford the sinful things, but near Valley Forge National Park today, you can buy a shitty sofa from the local Ikea for $200. Yet if couches today are so often sites of screened violence, Dionysian excess, and contemporary Eros, they can also be seats of enlightenment every bit as soul-altering--for me at least--as Siddhartha Gautama’s Bodhi Tree.

OK, maybe that’s a stretch. But as I sprawl here today on my own gray, fraying Scandinavian couch, taking in Plastic Ants after a night of excess, I am feeling desperately grateful I’m alive to hear this substantive music and to have a way, and a comfortable place, to express it.

The Ants make me, and they will make you, want to adore something. They will make you want to cry, to laugh, and to paint something green and gold. Such is the depth, soulfulness, and timeliness of this music--an aural concoction that manages to be both soaringly optimistic and unsentimentally dark--if I could break the Plastic Ants into crunchy little pieces, I’m afraid I would lie back on this couch and devour them in one go.

But then I wouldn’t have any left, and that would make me angry. Which is, sadly, the operative emotion that too often gets in the way of my listening to the Ants. Back to that couch: I was sitting in my psychotherapist’s chaise longue a few weeks ago, and we were discussing John Lydon, that improbable ginger-haired philosopher-king from Holloway, London. Anger can indeed be “an energy,” he reminds us in “Rise,” a point my therapist thought I should remember a little more often.

Today, that conversation is on my mind. Every time that I play and re-play certain tracks on this new Plastic Ants’ recording, I get pissed off. Fucking livid, actually. How can the endlessly hummable, lyrically multifaceted “Sympathetic Strings” not be up for a Grammy this year? Who was the chota bag, I ask, who made that decision? Vis á vis other pop songs from the last decade, it seems truly unsurpassed in sheer compositional originality and beauty. And how has the recording industry somehow missed the chance to throw its money behind the jeweled gorgeousness and plain-old subtle-as-Satan songwriting flair of “Feels Like Forever”?

These songs aren’t the fleeting creations of a good college-town band getting a bit too much exposure, or some character-flawed vanity project that thinks it deserves fame. These are--and perhaps you should sit down on your couch there, partner--works of collective genius. So when one considers the mountains of dismal shit being promoted elsewhere, it’s very hard not to feel at least a modicum of furious injustice, and not a little depressed at who we are as a people. The foundations of even the hipster soul begin to quaver.

Fortunately, it turns out that Plastic Ants are prepared for just such 21st century, Kierkegaardian sickness unto death--you know, the kind that wafts up from your iPhone like the smell of fried silicon?

“Hang on to the good that you got,” singer-songwriter Robert Cherry exhorts in the muscularly moody song of the same title. It turns out, even with so much that people like me see to be miserable about, Cherry and his polymerized arthropods find just as many opportunities to have hope. In a dazzling duet with Lisa Walker (Wussy), she sings, “You can never win, but you can lose more slowly,” but in the context of the song, it’s a phrase that falls under the cleverest of dialogic critiques, for love survives, we learn, in “in pixels of blue memory,” and the dialectical, yin-yangy nature of life emerges.

As a matter of fact, that song’s title, “Falling To Rise,” embodies many of the Blakean and indeed gnostic themes of Plastic Ants. But the music itself even more expressively channels them.

In the chillaxed but lively bass lines of John Curley (Afghan Whigs), we so often experience a steady, intense, thoughtful mind-pulse at work. Curley limns the edges of rebellion, too--this is rock and roll, after all. But he more frequently provides a kind of subterranean set of mysteries and dark knocks that, frankly, remind me of the human heart.

The drums of Joe Klug (Wussy) are aspiring, expansive, and intermittently shimmering, but also big and meaty enough to stake down the great canvases of the soul that Cherry likes to unfurl.

And none of it would work without the useful piano and string-scapes, and essential singing, of keyboardist Guy Vanasse, who also contributes songwriting and a great deal of sunnier, harmonizing counter-point to the more shadowy imageries of Curley and Klug. All in all, the music brings us to the notion that, as crappy as things can get these days, there is indeed good to hang on to.

A couple years ago, John Lydon made a memorable appearance on Conan O’Brien, and--as he sat on that interview couch--he made an observation about the music industry that has stuck with me. “How had the Sex Pistols changed things?” O’Brien asked. Well, the Pistols did change music. But then that ended, and now the industry has become a fortress against quality. “It's worse than ever,” Lydon told O’Brien with characteristic lion-hearted confidence. “To be a new band now, you're really up against it--big time.”

I don’t doubt the truth of what Lydon said. If anything, I imagine that he understates the horrors of the industry. So, yes, it’s bad--real bad. We don’t know if it will grow worse, too. As Lydon puts it elsewhere, he may be wrong and he may be right. But as utterly execrable and indecent and unfair as the music world has become today, Plastic Ants serve as a reminder that great music will not rest, and there comes a time when we need to--when we must--get off the couch. We must go running into life with hearts as thumpingly believing and alive as, well, John Curley’s bass lines. I, for one, have been inspired to stand up today and press onward. And with that thought in mind, and some Ants on your burning iPhone, I hope you will do the same.

--James Duvet, Manayunk, Pennsylvania, July 2014

ROBERT CHERRY vocals, guitar
JOHN CURLEY bass
JOE KLUG drums, percussion
GUY VANASSE keyboards, vocals, string arrangements

with guest performances by
AMY GILLINGHAM cello
LISA WALKER vocals

Produced by JOHN CURLEY and PLASTIC ANTS

Recorded by JOHN CURLEY at Ultrasuede Studio, Cincinnati, Ohio
Mastered by DAVE DAVIS at The All Night Party, Cincinnati, Ohio
Vinyl cut by JEFF POWELL at Ardent Studios, Memphis, Tennessee

Art direction by JEFF JOHNS
Photography by JOHN CURLEY and JEFF JOHNS


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