My Son The Doctor (MSTD) surely have make their mothers proud because here’s a band that is both a spokesband for their generation (see “King of the Zoomers” below, track one) but that also caters to the tastes of Gen X critics such as myself (critics who can make or break a professional musical career at the drop of a blog post!) because for instance it’d be really easy for me to write something like “MSTD bring together the tightly-wound nervy energy of the pre-Brian Eno Talking Heads with Mission of Burma’s slashing guitar attack and Wire’s fragmented minimalism, but overlaid with Pavement’s laconic drawl and Guided By Voice’s bracing brevity, with the four young fresh fellow’s Zappa-esque sardonic sense of humor serving as the cherry on top.”
But thank goodness I’d never resort to such overheated, over-referential, word-salad rhetoric just to impress their mothers.
And it’s additionally impressive that Brian Hemmert (vocals), Joel Kalow (guitar), John Mason (drums), and Matt Nitzberg (bass) have applied their M.D.’s and Ph.D.’s to something so lowbrow as a set of literate rock songs masquerading as goodtime party jams as they did last year on their sophomore-but-not-sophomoric EP Taste Those Dreams because in truth it’s not easy straddling the line between thinking and rocking (and “rock” they certainly do, especially live, see the reader’s note above) not to mention the band’s sly sense of humor (even harder to carry off in this context) and when I actually listen to the lyrics it sounds like I’m hearing characters from Douglas Coupland or Michael Chabon or Bret Easton Ellis novels doing the talking (maybe less so the latter but there is a consistent enumeration of food and restaurants, clothing and style on the EP, though less so hard drugs, mutilation, and nihilism).
And yeah I know I know even more Gen X references what can I say (hi, Moms!) but My Son The Doctor do excel at drawing enticingly fragmentary but no-less-evocative-for-it sketches of various (likely) overeducated slacker types, like those so often found in ‘90s novels and songs and films. But with the crucial difference being that MSTD’s slackers seem to be having a grand ol’ time, free of all that ‘90s angst/lack of affect which makes me think, “What’s the secret, Gen Z? Adderall? Snapchat? Buying Adderall on Snapchat?” (either way at least none of us are as insufferable as millennials…millennials sheesh!)
Or maybe it’s just their “Generation Zen” acceptance of life as it stands, having come of age during what increasingly seemingly looks like the end times and it’s right there in the generation’s name for chrissakes because what exactly comes after the letter “Z” so why not party like it’s 2029? (or hey maybe it’s just me inflicting imagined pain upon the next generation, and if so my apologies!)
Anywaze it’s not like I’ve got a Ph.D. in musicology or anything so I’ll leave it to the experts to figure these things out. And guess what, I’ve gone and buried the lead again because MSTD have released a brand new music video today (watch it again directly above so you don’t have to scroll to the top of the page!) which is the very thing we’re here to celebrate. And even better yet, alongside the video launch they’ve graciously shared some revealing song-by-song “liner notes” for Taste Those Dreams but don’t worry, they don’t give away the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle cuz you gotta retain a little mystery in this business of ours, obviously, so thank you very much gentlemen! (Jason Lee)
Some quotes from us on the video:
In the post-vaccinated blur of 2021 we played a million shows, but never got around to finally filming a music video for any of the Taste Those Dreams songs. Our first music video was made in late 2020 for “Dancing In Your Basement” (see above). We wanted to take the energy and personality of that video to the next level.
We had this concept for a video of having the band compete in a cake baking competition against each other. After workshopping the idea with video producer Sara Laufer, (Paper Moon Records) we realized the true gold was having Brian, John, and Matt working together in an attempt to impress Joel. It fits our existing roles both in life and within the band reasonably, so Joel became the critic.
“Rubber Hands” felt like the obvious choice for this premise—it’s one of our favorite songs from the EP and is both light-hearted and angsty. Plus it has a whole section listing spices, and we wanted to play into that. We’ve always felt like a great music video brings out the band’s personality. Unfortunately, this is truly who we are.
About the Taste Those Dreams EP:
Oh the winged angel of Time, how it does fly. Looking back on our seminal sophomore EP Taste Those Dreams has been a whirl. The EP was recorded almost entirely in a house named Beth’s Cottage in rural Pennsylvania with engineer and friend Ian McNally of Moon Hound. The EP was mixed by Jake Cheriff at Paper Moon Records (Moon Kissed, Dead Tooth, Brother Moses) and mastered at Peerless Mastering by Jeff Lipton (Superchunk, Spoon, Stephen Malkmus, Wilco, LCD Soundsystem).
“King of the Zoomers”:
Generational critiques? More like conversational antiques! This song is about Gen Z, which is our generation and millennials are p lame. It’s about those pesky little e-cigarettes. It’s about love.
“Zoomers” was the first single we released for Taste Those Dreams and we’ve played it live more than almost any other song. Sometimes weeks can feel like months, folks, and in that sitch you just gotta ‘shake it out with a zoomer king in a cloudy trance.
Making the music video for Rubber was a blast, since we got to revisit this track. It’s a staple in our live set right now—but probably because people just like watching Brian scream out spices.
The namesake of Taste Those Dreams right here folks. “Necro” was maybe the most fun to record cause Joel and Ian spent hours writing and recording backing guitar lines. The second verse in “Necro” is one of our favorite moments on the EP. Somehow it hasn’t become the anthem for dating in New York, but there’s still time.
“Hotel for Dogs”:
Oh man—who knows. This is a really old song of ours that doesn’t particularly make much sense. I still visualize the Hotel Pennsylvania for “Hotel for Dogs,” because that’s where a huge number of the show dogs for the Westminster Dog Show stay. It seems to accidentally be about the experience I had going on a date to the Westminster Dog Show, realizing that the dogs were way richer than me.
Bethany gets the most plays—it’s probably the most on-the-nose pop punk song we’ve made. Something for the groms to skate to. It’s also the only song on the EP with three actual choruses.
“You’re a Sailor (In a Sailor’s Hat)”
This song is….polarizing. It’s one of our favorites, but partially in that the song is basically unlistenable and because there’s a few fish puns in the second verse that nobody has ever really acknowledged. I believe it recently hit 100 plays in Canada. We used to play it live almost all the time but haven’t in probably 6 months. Maybe it’s time to bring it back…It’s the same length as “Rubber Hands” but feels about 3x as long.
John considered quitting drumming after recording "Sailor"—it took three times as many takes as every other song, for whatever reason.
Brief addendum by Jason Lee: “I witnessed MSTD perform “Sailor.” probably the last time they play it live, and the audience went nuts for this song. Which just goes to show never put a drummer in charge of your street team…