Thursday, July 2, 2009

Human Switchboard - Who's Landing In My Hangar?

Human Switchboard - Who's Landing In My Hangar

Most reviews of this band focus on the influence of the Velvet Underground, but who wasn't influenced by them? The only album by this Cleveland band, 1981's Who's Landing In My Hangar? falls somewhere between the garage rock of the 60s and the punk explosion of the late 70s. The guitar work and self conscious style weren't too different from what many New York bands of the era were doing, but the desperate, passionate vocals of Robert Pfeifer, the occasional melancholy vocal turn from Myrna Marcarian, and the constant hum of the Farfisa add an underlying sense of sadness and ennui common in the Midwest. Most of the songs concern failing relationships and sexual frustration, with the lyrics often focusing on the mundane details, especially on centerpiece "Refrigerator Door." This all makes it sound like this isn't a fun record to listen to, but it is. There's a combustible energy to these sharply written songs that prevents things from ever sinking into self pitying drudgery. This is a small masterpiece from a band that was destined to never quite make it out of Ohio.

FUN FACT: Lead singer Robert Pfeifer was convicted in 2006 for wiretapping while stalking an ex-girlfriend.


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