Friday, August 23, 2013

Make It Plain on Rok Lok and strictly no capital letters Records

Just reading the about page on Rok Lok Records is exactly why I love writing about singles for this dumb blog. Back in 1998 Mike Andriani was inspired by the success of DIY labels like KRS, K Recs and Shrimper and wanted to do something similar with his local scene. That’s it. It’s the simplest plan and the hardest to follow through with. Especially at first. One day you have nothing, the next day you have to figure out a release, come up with the money, design the thing and maybe start organizing shows for the bands involved. If you’re lucky, you break even, but even better you make your town a little better for everyone involved.
One of the bands that Rok Lok Records (and let’s not forget their UK pals strictly no capital letter Records) wanted to support from their scene is Make it Plain. They’re a five piece out of Patchague, Long Island featuring a married couple Duncan and Kristen MacDougal on guitar and vocals…pretty sure that’s her on the sleeve, channeling an early Sunny Day Real Estate or Rainer Maria indie pop punk sound.

A-Side’s "Somersault" has that ultra crisp production, capturing every gated slice of distortion. The insert has the lyrics two ways, one written out on an old cassette and the other on an old dirty typewriter. This reaches for an epic melancholy emo sound with upper register Tanya Donelly vocals; she’s perfect for delivering this late summer track of an unrequited relationship. It’s hitting on all those things that Sunny Day did for me at the time; a misguided angst and the exciting parts of hanging out with your friends while also being bored out of your mind. Everything was incredibly important in your self-centered world and then you meet someone and the whole thing eventually falls apart. Adventureland captured this period perfectly as well and I wish the soundtrack would have taken more chances with sounds like this.

On the B-Side "Hutch" has a slow start reminding me of another favorite of my depressed-no-one-understands-me- days, The Spinannes. The heavy, unusual beat with that bass end in double time after a false start. Thumping against Kristen’s butterfly vocal, they work with and against each other before coming back plowing right into the belly of this one. Bursts of chords over her layered vocal is sadder because it comes off so blindly optimistic? It’s just too damn fresh and shiny, you start to question what they know about heartbreak or tragedy - except they're really digging deep into those heavy emotions that come out in huge dynamic changes that grab your collar. Kristen’s vocal is a incredibly unique fit with this mathy, tougher emo punk sound, they found a great vocalist hitting those nostalgic chords.

Pick this up from Rok Lok Records or the overseas inclined should contact strictly no capital letters Records/distro.


  1. Thanks for the review! However just a quick not Duncan and Kristen MacDougal of Make It Plain are a husband andwife NOT brother and sister.

  2. Wow, totally assumed that. Sorry guys. Congrats.
    It would have been weird to be both.