Like cockroaches, Styrofoam cups and Joan Rivers, the Makers are bidding for a key position on the list of things that could survive a nuclear holocaust. Since 1991 these guys have been cranking out the rock jams on nine releases on three renowned indie labels: Estrus, Sub Pop and Kill Rock Stars (all in the band’s home state of Washington). On Everybody Rise!, their tenth release and second for Kill Rock Stars, the Makers make another attempt to trump their diverse rock sound. But after nearly a dozen albums, the Makers seem to be heading down a trail already laid by many artists.
With their first three releases — Howl and Devil’s Nine Questions in 1994 and All Night Riot in 1995 — Mike Maker and Don Maker (real-life brothers whose real-life surname isn’t Maker) helped explode the garage-rock scene. Cast amongst some nineties-era notorious garage-rock legends such as the Oblivians and Guitar Wolf, the Makers were a force to be reckoned with. But something happened as their career grew: the boys changed their stage names (Michael Machine and Don Virgo) and traded in their signature buzz dirt sound for glam rock. With Sub Pop’s Rock Star God (2000), the boys became less back-alley punk emulating Otis Redding and more candy-store thug emulating West Side Story. More mascara and slicker production created a new type of Maker.
Everybody Rise! reflects late-seventies-era Rolling Stones blended with early-eighties Rod Stewart. Each track is a failed attempt to recreate the late-seventies disco-rock fusion. “The Story of You and I” plays like jangly pop reminiscent of over-produced Velvet Underground clones such as the Dandy Warhols. Opener “Matter of Degrees” starts with a Lenny Kravitz-style seventies guitar drive that by its simple nature is so cliché it burns. On other stabs at rock anthems, including “Everybody Rise,” the band tries to show its rock chops with recycled lines including “Saturday night is all right for fighting, nothing comes easy in this ugly room except her.”
In the desire to change and grow as musicians, the Makers get lost in the throes of egotism. It’s happened to the best of them (Dylan, Bowie, the Stones) but only a few survive. The Makers have lost the sound that made them stand apart, and with Everybody Rise! they are falling deeper into the abyss of recycled rock. Without any back story, this album just sounds like a loose version of Lenny Kravitz trying to cover the Faces.