The Mind Sirens-

Decatur Cherry Smash LP/CD


Your Flesh No. 33 1996

"An exquisite bas-relief. A beautiful design-deep love of the physical aspects of the subject is powerfully apparent-executed with attention to detail indicative of still more infatuation. But only an inch or two deep and cut in hard, rasping, knuckle-bloodying stone. Mind Sirens' Brian Butler has an amazing grasp of the lush, sophisticated songwriting convention au courant in the post-psych pre-prog epoch: trippy, terpsichorean smart-pop. His forebearers are the likes of Todd Rundgren, Emmit Rhodes and Michael Browne, back in their most disciplined days working with The Nazz, Merry Go Round and Left Banke/Montage respectively. Only this lilting, slightly lopsided writing is rendered via a brusque blistered didactic power trio-no trimmings allowed. So bass, drums and one distort-o guitar back up Butler's lone, lonesome vocal. This creates a cool foreshortening and leveling of songs and sounds leaving a lot implied that others would reflexively write-in, in tedious, orthodoxical obsessive detail. This winds up being fresh and refreshing by comparison. The limitations frame and spotlight the songs' virtues."-Howard Wuelfling

Ptolemaic Terrascope #18

"Having watched Mind Sirens' slow progress from 1988 towards this debut album via a trio of thoroughly enjoyable seven-inch releases, I'm not too proud to admit that I still completely missed a trick where this band were concerned. I had them earmarked as a kind of fragile Teenage Fanclub; a band with a gravelly-throated lead singer which specialised in complex, intricate harmony pop with big chunky guitar sounds that occasionally fractured into a myriad light-reflecting textures. Whilst that's true up to a point, what I hadn't divined until now was just how spine-tinglingly powerful this North Carolina trio could be when they set their hearts on the job in hand. The yearning, distorted fuzz guitar which bleeds through the mix enticingly on the opening 'Redesign My Mind' becomes a fluid, trippy, dreamlike haze on 'Back Of My Mind' (no coincidence in the similarity of those two titles, I suspect) and finally grows a full and magnificent head of hair on 'Lifeline', a killer tune which manages to stand out even amongst the nine other gems on this album. 'Undone' likewise hovers enticingly around a haunting guitar break, and the pastoral expanses of 'Alaska' (originally available on a split-7" single with the Blue Green Gods) and echoing distortion of 'Breton' close the album in magnificent style. Whenever I hear Brian Butler's quavering vocals I am reminded of Bruce Hampton, which is no bad thing. A fine example of how passionate playing can count for far more than impressive musicianship."-Phil McMullen

Magnet vol. 2 #10

"Rumor has it that Durham, N.C., noise-pop trio Mind Sirens, tired of being criminally ignored by all but the most dedicated singles collectors for as long as Superchunk has been revered, is planning a record called 'Kansas'. Not only will this become part of the Jettison label's 'songs about state names' tradition, a certain cheesy band with the copyrighted name will sue, resulting in loads of free publicity.
True or not, the Sirens can hold their own in the court of public opinion given the chance to play their tunes. Identifying traits: Brian Butler's yearning, pre-J. Mascis vocal whine (he's a classic crooner trapped in the body of an alt-rocker) and his equally memorable guitar tone, which falls somewhere between Ted Nugent's thick distortion and Lou Barlow's casual warmth (and with a unerring arpeggio-driven sense of melody); and an economical rhythm section sensitive to Butler's, uh, sensitivity. There's even a gorgeous, waltz-like ballad named after the 50th state (I told ya) just to prove he's a worldly guy. It all comes across like one of those great 'lost' pop albums. You, of course, can help avert that future status."-?

Stay Free #10

"Brian Butler is one dirty low-down rat. As front man for the Chapel Hill's elusive Mind Sirens, he has crafted some very disturbing and yet instinctively appealing songs, but he emerges only occasionally to play a show. Only a dirty low-down rat would torture his fans by baiting them with a near perfect gem like 'Graveyard' (from the Falling Off the Planet compilation) and never come out to play. At least now there is a full-length. The songs seem to have grown out of the same corner of Butler's mind that produced 'Graveyard' in that each begins with a simple guitar lead-in after which the psychedelic effects and creepy vocals are heaped on. Backed by a formidable wall of rhythm that includes the smashing cymbal-mania of Ian Davis and the stoic bass lines of Mike Barker, Butler runs recklessly through the head of the listener, causing neurons to miss-fire and brain waves to get crossed.
We will soon be seeing Mind Sirens playing out more often with a few personnel changes. While Davis has moved along to devote more time to Bicentennial Quarters, Mind Sirens have added violin and guitar from Pat Mackey and replaced Davis with one of a long line of Zen Frisbee veterans."-Charlie Speight

Independent #47

"There's a fine line between soulfulness and whining. On Decatur Cherry Smash, Mind Sirens' singer Brian Butler trips delicately along it. His voice, which is saved from monotony only by its odd quaver, is so consistently-ahem-soulful that it paradoxically tells us little about his actual mood, beyond the fact that he's feeling strongly about something.
Luckily, Butler's a far better guitarist than singer, and his kinetic playing fills in the emotional blanks his voice leaves. Butler's guitar, in fact, is the cornerstone of Mind Sirens; the rhythm section exists mostly to prop up his drunken guitar lines, which saturate the air like the smell of a wino's sweat.
Thick, reverb-laden, ragged at their low end the guitar lines are all staggering chords and buzzing strings. At the high end, the flurries of notes sound like someone trying to rip off the thick sound of the Allman Brothers using just one guitar. Much of the best pop music of our era does this: kids too pigheaded or poor to know better, trying to imitate the sounds of whole bands by themselves, and succeeding after a fashion.
Mind Sirens may not make the best pop music of our era, but they too succeed after a fashion: Decatur Cherry Smash is oddly compelling, at least in its portrait of the inside of Butler's idiosyncratic head."-Ross Grady

Trash #19

"The long awaited full-length from Mind Sirens has finally materialized. From one of the low key powerhouses of the Chapel Hill music scene for years now, this album's songs fall together to form a complete whole of changing melody patterns and spooky vocals. Brian Butler's songwriting is captured at an interesting point in the band's career. With then new drummer Ian Davis, the band found an anchor it had been looking for to drive its oddly patterned pop. With songs like "Breton", "Lifeline" and "Thinking Without Seeing", the strange influence of the South rides latently along, with commentary in third person tunnels of human misery and cruelty, as well as relief and strength.
For Mind Sirens fans, this will be a full serving of what was just a glimpse before from some singles, as well as the big hit "Graveyard" from the Jettison compilation Falling Off the Planet. This album was recorded almost a year after "Graveyard", with masterful production by Caleb Southern who had just moved from 8 to 16 tracks with his infamous Kraptone Studio. Recorded in the bowels of the old Cat's Cradle between shows, purists will note hardly any overdubs on these complexly moving songs, and it sounds clean, clean, clean. Mike Barker's bass is big and tight. Just a note for Mind Sirens fans who haven't seen them out lately playing, they're holed up for the time being working with new drummer Matt Murphy (formerly of late period Zen Frisbee), as well as adding violin and another guitar a la Pat Mackie."-Jason