Rhythm & Views 

Make Up

In the mid-to-late '90s, Washington, D.C.'s Make Up were a live band to be reckoned with. Their distinguished "gospel yeh-yeh" sound (stripped down soul/garage), along with singer Ian Svenonius coming off like a hybrid of The MC5's Rob Tyner and Love's Arthur Lee--spewing hilarious between-song banter that included faux-Marxist didacticisms--put them in a category all their own. Though they churned out four LPs and way too many singles in their short career, their live show was what won fans over.

Untouchable, recorded in 2000 in their hometown, captured the band at the end of their five-year run, but also at the apex of their creativity, perhaps due to the addition of second guitarist Alex Minoff, and their last, and most interesting album, Save Yourself.

Songs from that album make up the bulk of Untouchable, including the title track, the funky "White Belts," the Memphis/Stax genius of "C'mon Let's Spawn" and Love-esque "Call Me Mommy." Add to this an assortment of the band's singles, such as the Rhodes organ-led funk of "Hey! Orpheus" and the rockin' "Born on the Floor." Of course, no Make Up show would be complete without Svenonius' call and response with the audience ("Can I hear you say yeah!").

At the end of their run, the Make Up had carved a niche all their own, one that would be almost immediately and completely lifted by bands like the (International) Noise Conspiracy and The Hives. If you want a document of the real deal, then Untouchable is your ticket.

More by Brian Mock


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