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American Music Club

American Music Club is a San Francisco-based band led by singer-songwriter Mark Eitzel. Although commonly lumped with other bands from the "slowcore" and "sadcore" movements, AMC is better known for mastering the disparate strands of American music into a wholly unique synthesis all their own.

Although born in California, Eitzel spent his formative years in Great Britain and Ohio before returning to the Bay Area in 1981. After a brief stint with the band The Naked Skinnies he founded American Music Club in San Francisco in 1982 with guitarist Scott Alexander, drummer Greg Bonnell, bass player Brad Johnson. The band went through many personnel changes before arriving at a stable line up of guitarist Vudi, bassist Dan Pearson, keyboardist Brad Johnson, and drummer Matt Norelli. This lineup would change over the next several years but Eitzel always remained the core of the band in terms of its vocals, lyrics and thematic focus with Vudi and Dan Pearson accompanying him on guitar and bass.

Their 1985 debut, The Restless Stranger, offers a rough outline of their increasingly eclectic sound and firmly established Eitzel's worldview, a harrowing vision of life as seen through the bottom of a shot glass. 1987's Engine honed the formula: the addition of producer Tom Mallon as a full-time member expanded the group's sonic palette.

American Music Club earned a solid cult following on the strength of 1988's California. Their next LP, 1989's United Kingdom, appeared only in the nation which lent the record its name and consisted of leftover material and live tracks.

In 1991 American Music Club emerged with the record that is widely considered their masterpiece, Everclear. Critical acclaim attracted the attention of several major labels. Eventually AMC -- now consisting of Eitzel, Vudi, Pearson, multi-instrumentalist Bruce Kaphan, and drummer Tim Mooney -- signed with Reprise in the U.S. and Virgin throughout the rest of the world.

Mercury followed in 1993 and, despite positive reviews, Mercury fared poorly on the charts and earned virtually no recognition from radio or MTV. In 1994, AMC issued San Francisco, which balanced confessional tunes like "Fearless" and "The Thorn in My Side Is Gone" alongside more accessible offerings such as "Wish the World Away," one of the band's biggest hits.

The band disbanded soon after San Francisco was released and reunited in 2003 to record a new album, Love Songs for Patriots, which is described by reviewer Mark Deming as "a stronger and more coherent effort than the group's last set, 1994's San Francisco, and while it's too early to tell if this is a new start or a last hurrah for AMC, it at least shows that their formula still yields potent results. Here's hoping Eitzel and Vudi have more where this came from."

On June 20, 2007, AMC announced a new lineup connected to the band's base of operations moving to Los Angeles. Eitzel and Vudi remain, while Mooney and Pearson stayed behind in San Francisco. They are replaced by bassist Sean Hoffman and drummer Steve Didelot. AMC's next record, tentatively entitled MacArthur Park, is set to be released in early 2008 on Merge Records.

Discography

  • The Restless Stranger (January 1985)
  • Engine (October 1987)
  • California (October 1988)
  • United Kingdom (October 1989)
  • Everclear (October 1991)
  • Mercury (March 1993)
  • San Francisco (September 1994)
  • Love Songs for Patriots (September 2004)

References

  • Wish the World Away: Mark Eitzel and the American Music Club by Sean Body, SAF Publishing, Ltd. (April 1999), ISBN-10: 0946719209, ISBN-13: 978-0946719204