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The MadHats | Songs for the Common MANiac

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Modest Mouse Primus Ween

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United States - South Dakota

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Rock: Progressive Rock Rock: Modern Rock Moods: Mood: Quirky
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Songs for the Common MANiac

by The MadHats

Modern Progressive Rock for the Common MANiac.
Genre: Rock: Progressive Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Miss Catastrophe
3:52 album only
5:22 album only
3. Paintball Mercenary
4:01 album only
4. Get On
2:13 album only
5. The Mortal Dilemma
4:51 album only
6. Romulan
5:21 album only
7. Pork Chop/Intro
1:51 album only
8. Mint Jelly Dreams
4:12 album only
9. 11 on 4
4:27 album only
10. Motion Sicky
4:16 album only
11. Be Someone Else
3:05 album only
12. Mr. Disaster
3:56 album only


Album Notes

“An outstanding CD”
“The only recorded music I can recall that pulled me into its world the way “Songs for the Common MANiac does is some by The Doors, The Beatles’ “Abbey Road”, and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.
- Rapid City Journal, May 6, 2006

Music's own mad scientist, Keller Williams, calls The MadHats "..incredible."

The MadHat's music offers an original sound and blend in a mess of current pop music forms and stylings. The satirical lyrics dance through the progressive compositions, while musicianship takes center stage. Constant rhythmic and dynamic changes and blending of odd and even time signatures characterizes The MadHat's sound. A "Hats" fan describes them as being a smoothie blended on high, alluding to their mixing of a variety of musical forms. The MadHats are a totally improvisational experiment, and their music is an intoxicating, psychedelic marmalade with a hard blues/rock bite to it. A music critic for "The Rapid City Journal" describes The MadHat's music as an, "outrageous and totally unpredictable ride, rooted in a range of musical styles, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Pink Floyd to Modest Mouse." "[The MadHats] turn music on its head, and with the bands booming popularity, a new album in the works and a music video on the way, it looks like upside-down is the way to be."



to write a review

Steve Thorpe - Rapid City Journal

'Maniac' an Uncommonly Good Debut
The Mad Hats’ first CD, “Songs for the Common MANiac,” may turn out to be a benchmark for Black Hills music in more ways than one. At the recent Northern Hills CD release party in Spearfish, Tim Andersen, owner and chief engineer at Aberdeen Recording Studios, told us that he had played the CD for some industry types in California, and they were interested.

“Songs for the Common MANiac” is an outstanding CD. It is also musically far enough over my head that I’m wondering what I can write that will do it justice. Rhythm changes within songs are the norm rather than the exception. One of the cuts, “11 on 4,” is in 11/4 time. Obviously, these guys didn’t consider the humorous sadism inherent in trying to make a guy my age try to count “one” where I’m inclined to throw in a knee-jerk “12.”

My ears put an entirely different spin on the story. The CD is a delight. The first three or four times through it, I found myself pulled into the instrumentals, chuckling almost constantly at the variety of musical and rhythmic surprises. The music engaged me so completely that it made my habit of listening to music to review while driving a hazardous activity. The only recorded music I can recall that pulled me into its world the way “Songs for the Common MANiac” does is some work by The Doors, The Beatles’ “Abbey Road,” and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”

Obviously, the music is a collaboration. At various points, drums, bass or guitar will step into the foreground, grab the listener, then slip back into the whole, delicious stew of melody and groove.

Lyrically, the album is Justin’s “Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.” It runs the gamut of day jobs, paint ball, TV dreams and adolescent angst: “Feel so tired, I feel so low/Like an anarchist bomb, I’m gonna explode/Put your hikin shoes on, I’m ready to go/There’s an endless valley between me and my goals,” from “Get it On.”

There is self doubt: “Many times have I fallen on my face/Many ways have I fallen back into place/Can I do the things I wanna do/And if I did them would it bother you,” in “Mister Disaster,” and the ultimate question, “... do you feel ashamed when you’re thinkin’ ’bout/The times you’ll miss cause you lived your life like this?” from “The Mortal Dilemma.”

That’s my interpretation, but I’ve been told I think about things like interpretations too much. My bet is “Songs for the Common MANiac” will come to mean different things to everyone who listens to it. Listen once, and it’s likely you’ll listen long enough that you start thinking about what the songs say. The music is that compelling.

Derric Miller - Hardrock Haven

One of the most playful, weird, and somewhat eccentric trios you can hear today go by the name of The Madhats. Hailing from Spearfish, S.D., their music is a constant flux of bands like Pink Floyd, Phish, Ween, and a few dozen other bands. They bring all of their influences in to make an original sound, something trios by nature seem to do. The Madhats are also funny, as song titles like “Paintball Mercenary,” “Mint Jelly Dreams” and “Motion Sicky” attest.

The band is comprised of Justin Olson on guitar/vocals, Mike Brennan on bass, and Chris Tetreault on drums.

Songs for the Common MANiac begins with a groovy acoustic rocker, “Miss Catastrophe.” It actually as a bit of a Ska feel to it, with the line “ain’t nothing at all” repeated throughout the track. Olson has a throaty, warm and deep voice, and delivers the lines here with a somewhat rigid cadence. His solo is anything but rigid, though. He has tremendous feel as a guitarist, especially in this track.

“Paintball Mercenary” is an offbeat song, with the riff sounding like a South Dakota legendary band (to South Dakotans anyway), Janitor Bob and the Armchair Cowboys. The lyrics will make you laugh, especially when Olson sings, “You better get, way down.” It’s basically a song about someone who takes paintball way too freakin’ seriously, and one of the best songs on the entire CD.

They get bluesy on “Get On,” with a funky riff and vocal delivery as well. One thing you’ll hear is that the band doesn’t have much time for background/backing vocals. Their song constructions don’t really make room for classic choruses anyway, but it makes the already pared down song styles that much more naked. Not a knock on the band, just a description.

Like Led Zeppelin? Well, The Madhats pretty much take the driving rhythm section of “The Immigrant Song” and bend it to their will on “Romulus.” Odds are that when they play this one live, the crowd is waiting to hear Plant’s otherworldly “aahhhh-ah-ah …. ah!” but it won’t happen here. The middle of the song doesn’t sound anything like the beginning, though. They change tempos and rhythms, and show they can be fairly intricate songwriters.

The weirdest track is probably “Motion Sicky,” a droning and somewhat annoying four minute track. Of course, they do this on purpose, to give you that feel of something … sicky. It’s funny as hell they have the ability to write something this flat-out disturbing and effective.

The CD ends with Miss Catastrophe’s husband, “Mr. Disaster.” If that’s not the case, then it still brings the CD full circle. They save their heaviest and most electric track for the end. Gone are the acoustic guitars and in place is a distorted rock guitar riff. It’s a crunchy, heavy duty song, and you’ll hear that when they play faster, their music is more accessible.

If you are into bands who sound like no one else, you’ll have to give The Madhats a try.