Get into the Maypops!

"Copyright dates can be deceptive," says MAYPOPS frontman Khalid Hanifi with a wry smile.

The album, SPIRITS OF AGNEW, was tracked, mixed, and produced at The Loft (Saline, MI) by Tim Patalan (Sponge, The Fags, Lovedrug, Peter Searcy, Hoarse) and in Khalid's basement. Guest musicians on the album include Tim Patalan (The Fags), Ron Pangborn (Marshall Crenshaw, Matthew Sweet, Was Not Was), Vinnie Dombrowski (Sponge), Chris Peters (Electric Six, Getaway Cruiser) and Drew Peters (Getaway Cruiser).

SPIRITS OF AGNEW is the debut release from Ann Arbor, MI popsmiths MAYPOPS but from what you'd gather this CD was released in the year 2000. Turns out the only Y2K system failure was this album not seeing the light of day. True, a few locals got their greedy paws on it but it has been waiting in the basement until now.
(See: who killed JFK; location of Hoffa's body; main ingredient in Velveeta for similar cases.)   Thankfully the wait was worth it as this 14-track juggernaut is a welcome vacation from the new-metal/emo-core landscape of late.

SPIRITS OF AGNEW is a veritable Cliff's notes of the inner-workings of Khalid Hanifi's brain/life. "Blackeyed Susan" {lust at the gas pump} charges out of the gate with wreckless abandon and hope "I promise to drive/if you promise to shift". "Yola My Blues Away" {kicking the blues}  steals it's title from an old Skip James' song but the fuzz guitar and backing "oohs" are all Khalid. The tragically beautiful "The Bloom Is Off The Rose" {pursuit of emptiness}  takes us to a dark place where hope is a farce and the narrator "moved to Hollywood and died". "Stuck In First" {anthemic ennui}  revels in the obsession with being discontented. "Summer Thunder" {first love anxiety}  smolders with wah guitar and the mantra "remember how she feels inside."  "Set Me Up, Knock Me Down" {being at the mercy of others}  paints a portrait of helplessness with the ironically hummable "Set me up/knock me down".  "Purple and Blue" {love and brutality}  delves into the darkside of romance that just won't quit. The acceptance in "Love Song #37" {saying goodbye}  is that what's over is over and what's done is done. "Baked Cliche" {sweet nothings}  is most likely the grandest pop song on the record with staccato cello, whirling organ and the promise that "one of these I'm going to show you."  "Hangman" {physic boudoir action}  swelters with slide-guitar and hyper-syllabic patter from Hanifi who ponders "Is she a super-physic summer chanteuse?". Thin fuzz-bass rules the explosive "Ready To Crawl" {euphoric humiliation}  which has our narrator admitting "Feeling like I'm ready to crawl/back to you now." The call-to-arms "Combustible"  {smoke 'em if ya got em}  spells it out with "tired of feeling functional/does anybody have a light?"  "Lazy" {an american folktale}  is a mischievous anthem that lets us know "Whippits are a lot of fun." "Listen Sound Off" {a lullaby for the music industry}  ties the album up nicely with it's Brian Wilson-dynamics, Paul McCartney-grace and oh-so Khalid lyrical twists.

Now what do you do when you're an up-and-coming band signed to a major label and the press is singing your praises? You get dropped when your A & R guy jumps ship and your debut album never sees the light of day. Such was the fate of former MAP OF THE WORLD front man, Khalid Hanifi. Signed to Atlantic Records in 1989 the band released the e.p. AN INCH EQUALS A THOUSAND MILES to rave reviews and heavy radio-play. Unfortunately fate intervened and the group's full-length release was shelved after the new suit in charge decided it wasn't Atlantic material. The band, unfortunately, broke up shortly thereafter. This might seem a sad tale for our hero but in fact it fueled a new fire, Khalid fashioned the noise-pop ensemble KISS ME SCREAMING in the early '90's consisting of some former MAP OF THE WORLD-mates as well as a few newcomers. Eventually KISS ME SCREAMING gave way to the more refined MAYPOPS, reuniting some old faces - rock solid Oni Werth, whose understated brilliance grounds all of Khalid's releases since the latter days of MOTW, serves as the ambassador of groove and is the only other full time MAYPOP; inventive and incisive KISS ME SCREAMING guitarist Brian Delaney also graces a number of tracks - as well as gaining some new allies. When Tim Patalan got behind the board things only got better (doesn't hurt having Vinnie Dombrowski and Ron Pangborn on the skins either). Time on the shelf hasn't aged this record a bit and if anything it's more relevant now than it was 5 years ago.

This man still has 14-and-a-half minutes of fame left so shut-up and listen.