Outrageous Cherry - Seemingly Solid Reality

Detroit’s Outrageous Cherry have been making records for close to twenty years now, ranging from experimental psychedelic excursions such as 2001’s The Book of Spectral Projections to pure AM radio inspired and reverb-laced pop. The brainchild of vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Matthew Smith, the group has had a revolving door membership over the years with one constant, Smith’s partner in crime, guitarist extraordinaire Larry Ray. When I listen to Outrageous Cherry I am constantly reminded about something Smith told me in an interview I conducted five years ago on behalf of their then new record on Rainbow Quartz Records, Our Love Will Change The World. Smith noted that from the band’s initial baby steps, “Outrageous Cherry was supposed to be a bubblegum band. I envisioned the Archies, if Leonard Cohen had written their songs to pay the rent.”

As simple as that statement sounds, there’s a ring of truth to it on almost every Outrageous Cherry recording. Smith has a genius knack for infusing subversive messages and arrangements into seriously catchy pop songs that will stay in your head for days. Like all bands that have been around for more than an album or two, Outrageous Cherry have had their highs and lows in terms of popularity. The group seemed to be riding a nice wave five years ago when Rainbow Quartz released the aforementioned Our Love, as well as the following year’s Stay Happy. Both of those records emphasized the band’s more pop-oriented side with a hit parade’s worth of peppy radio-friendly nuggets. With the backing of an influential and successful indie label known for its focus on ‘60s and ‘70s influenced artists, it seemed like Outrageous Cherry might finally achieve some long-deserved mainstream success. This coincided with the championing of the band by influential DJ Little Steven Van Zandt, who released an excellent compilation of Outrageous Cherry’s work entitled Wide Awake in the Spirit World on his Wicked Cool imprint in 2008. Sadly, Outrageous Cherry still remains too much of a best-kept secret in the mainstream, though fellow artists, such as Wilco and New Pornographers love them, the latter even releasing an Outrageous Cherry covers EP! In any case, after a brief recording hiatus post-Stay Happy, Outrageous Cherry came back with a bang on 2009’s phenomenal Universal Malcontents on Alive Records. While Alive is much more known for their garage and punk acts, the label seems to be a nice fit for Outrageous Cherry. For one thing, I can’t think of any label that has done more for Detroit artists than Alive (check out their latest signing The Sights!), and, especially its sister label Bomp! Records, formed by the late Greg Shaw, who put out numerous MC5 and Stooges archival releases during a time when no one seemed to care about either artist.

Like Universal Malcontents, Seemingly Solid Reality is a perfect marriage of all of the genres that inspire Smith, namely ‘60’s bubblegum and ‘70’s AM radio pop with a dash of psychedelic sound to keep things off kilter. To quote Smith, “I grew up on that early ‘70s pop radio when all those different things were mixed up. Things weren’t divided into different formats. Back then it was Anne Murray next to Deep Purple next to Kool and the Gang next to T. Rex. Nobody complained. If you tried to do that nowadays, people would think you were expecting too much of them. Today, it would be an act of political insurrection to play the Beatles next to Gordon Lightfoot and Kool and the Gang all in the same hour.” Seemingly opens with a bang on the alluring title track instrumental, which brings to mind the vibe of David Bowie’s “Heroes” with a hard-hitting glam guitar sound, a perfect mood setter for the excellence that follows. Much of the album outlines the contrasts that have been prominent throughout Smith’s writing career, namely, upbeat arrangements with deep, thought provoking messages such as on “Unbalanced in the City,” an account of urban alienation set to a punchy T. Rex beat. Other highlights include the Modern Lovers-like stomp of “Self-Made Monster” and “Forces of Evil,” which is laced with a sinister psychedelic guitar sound courtesy of Smith and Ray. My favorite song is the finale, “The Unimportant Things,” reminiscent of solo John Lennon, featuring one of Smith’s strongest vocal performances to date.

Label: alive-totalenergy.com
Artist: alive-totalenergy.com/x/?page_id=228
MySpace: myspace.com/outrageouscherry


Cross Country Time!

The photo on the left says it all. Cross Country is a brutal sport. You need to have the strength of a marathon or half-marathon specialist and you need to have the wheels of a 5K guy to handle all the surges and burst of power needed to run a good cross country race. Last week I brought out the cross country spikes and did 5 x mile repeats on a grass loop with 440 jog recoveries. The session went pretty well but I averaged about 25 seconds per mile slower than I would have done on the roads or a track. Cross country running is an entirely different animal and the only way to get better at it, is to do a lot of off road workouts. The best XC runners seem to be able to run nearly as fast on grass and dirt as they do in road races. I'm planning on doing an XC specific workout every week this fall leading up to club nationals, with the exception of weeks when I'm racing (I'll hit the track for lighter tuneup workouts those weeks). In past years I haven't done enough cross country work, so this time there will be no exceptions. Tomorrow I have a good one planned on the grass loop at Lakewood Park, a ladder consisting of mile, 1320, mile, 880, mile, 440 with 440 recoveries between each surge. The miles will be run at 10K effort and the shorter reps will be run at increasingly faster paces with the aim of finishing the last 440 at about the effort I would sustain in a mile race.

As far as racing goes, I won't be toeing the line until I run a low key 5K on October 3, followed by a much higher profile 5K on a hilly course on October 24.  I had initially planned on doing the Cleveland Heroes Run 5 miler this coming Sunday, but Bella is having surgery on Friday to get her tumor removed and will be in the hospital over the weekend. Racing is definitely not on my mind this week.


Painted Hills

Fronted by ex-Beachwood Sparks guitarist, singer, and songwriter Josh Schwartz, Painted Hills combine the beautiful, canyon rock atmospheres of his former group with classic ‘70’s-inspired songcraft that brings to mind the likes of John Lennon and Emmitt Rhodes (a cover of the latter’s “Time Will Show The Wiser” can be found on the vinyl version of this release). The opener “Come on Down” flows like the best of Lennon’s solo work, with Schwartz’s lush melodies taking center stage. Another huge highlight, “Everybody,” soars with seductive “Cortez The Killer”-like guitar work (Neil Young would be proud!). Other tunes like “Morning Light” and the rocker “Kaleidoscope Eyes,” have bring to mind the Paisley Underground sounds of groups like The Rain Parade and Dream Syndicate, or contemporary fellow travelers, such as The Quarter After.

Click here for more info on Painted Hills


Northcoast Challenge 5 Mile

On the plus side it was good to race after 8 weeks away from competition. On the minus side, it kind of showed. While my pacing and finish were solid, I ran about 10 seconds slower per mile than I expected to, finishing in 29:34. Not sure if it was the wind (gusts of 20mph coming from the West and South), or having a really upset stomach pre-race (an Imodium 30 minutes before gun time settled me), or just being rusty, but I didn't get into the race groove I usually do. What helped me was that I always seem to have a knack for knowing what pace is right for the day. My splits were as follows: 6:01, 6:01, 5:54, 5:54, 5:44. The last mile definitely hurt, but it felt good to gut out a fast finish on a day that wasn't my best.

As for what's next, I'm going to scrap the Minster Oktoberfest and start focusing on XC now. Bella's surgery is going to be on September 15, so she definitely won't be 100% to travel for the race - most likely she'll need crutches or a cane for awhile. When I initially made plans to do the Minster race we thought the surgery would be more like mid-August.

As for XC training, I need to ramp up the miles. Averaging 35-40 miles a week (pretty much what I've been doing since July 4) isn't quite cutting it. Obviously, high mileage wasn't my biggest priority this summer; helping my wife get through radiation treatment was, but that said, I do know from trial and error that hitting 50 a week is my optimum level for peak performance (my results tend to stagnate once I get around 60 a week), so I'll aim for that, while including key workouts like mile repeats on cross country surfaces and long tempos.


15 x 1:00 on / 1:00 off

Did my last pre-race hard workout yesterday, an old school one that's popular with the Kenyans amongst others. After an easy 2 mile warm up, I did 15 sets of 1:00 hard (i.e. 5K race effort) followed by 1:00 easy. I started the workout closer to 10K effort, but was definitely moving along faster than 5K race effort by the end. This is always a good workout. It seems easy on paper, but, man, do those 1:00 recoveries start to catch up with you! There's no recovery in a race, so definitely a good simulation. I feel ready to roll on Saturday and it looks like the weather is going to be pretty ideal. I'll keep you posted.


  © Designed by Mousetrap Marketing from Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP