By Benjamin Leatherman
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"Current solo artist seeks drummer, bassist, perhaps keyboard player. Must be into early-period Guided by Voices, adore Strummer, Westerberg, Weller, Richman. Must be interested in rocking out un-ironically. Hipster douchebags and scene kids need not apply. If interested, contact Dfactor at his music blog, www.WavedRumor.com."
Talking with David Murrow, the guy behind the power-pop rock project Dfactor, it becomes apparent that he doesn't give himself enough credit. Take his 2009 album, Slashing the Sunlight. Lacking a band, the recording was a strictly solo affair, with Murrow playing all instruments and producing it himself. The album ended up a perfectly sloppy encapsulation of Murrow's interests, owing as much to classic-rock acts such as Kiss, Mott the Hoople, and Slade as it did to power-pop icons like Cheap Trick, The Raspberries, and The Smithereens.
He started writing at the end of 2008 after moving to Phoenix some months earlier and not hooking up with any bandmates. He recorded throughout spring 2009. Mixing and mastering that summer, he finally got the thing out in September.
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It's pretty good, too. The resulting work suggests a drunken bender with Robert Pollard and Hüsker Dü, dressed up with lo-fi hiss, flanged guitars, and feigned English accents on loan from The Kinks and Nick Lowe. Ever-productive, Murrow says has a follow-up EP ready for release by summer and has kept busy with Waved Rumor, the blog he's maintained for eight years as "the secret daily outlet for undernourished rock 'n' roll worshipers."
While tons of songwriters fronting full combos bitch about the lack of artistic control, Murrow seems less content to rock by himself. In New York, he used to lead a band, the not-so-humbly named Anthemic Pop Wonder, and fondly recalls being "part of a drinking collective with pals in '99 and '00 that played Guided by Voices songs. We drank many wonderful rehearsals and played precious few gigs." Murrow's desire to play out with folks has caused him to pull some head-scratching moves, jokingly suggesting he and I form the silliest supergroup of all time, a Wilco cover band with New Times music editor Martin Cizmar on lead vocals.
More seriously, the lack of a band led Murrow to reluctantly turn down a spot on the bill for this weekend's International Pop Overthrow. The three-day power-pop showcase orchestrated by L.A. promoter David Bash is held at various times in American cities such as Detroit, San Diego, Chicago, and Milwaukee and in a pretty legendary spot — Liverpool's Cavern Club. As a solo act and with his old Anthemic Pop Wonder gang, Dfactor played the fest in NYC and the Phoenix area, where the IPO takes place at Mesa's Hollywood Alley. This year, however, he decided to sit out.
"For this year's fest, I wanted to have a band to play it, and when I couldn't get it together, I opted out to let David find a deserving local pop band to play instead," he says.
Bash did his job, though, culling plenty of Phoenix-based acts, as well as national touring acts, to take the stage at Hollywood Alley. "We had our first IPO Phoenix last year at Hollywood Alley, and it turned out my instincts were right," Bash says. "It was very clear that many Phoenix-area club-goers considered Hollywood Alley to be a place 'to go and check out live music,' which was music to my ears!"
Bash identifies the aesthetic that binds the festival together as "melodic rock 'n' roll music."
"The kind of pop music we feature at IPO is melodic rock 'n' roll, the kind of music that is clearly influenced by what was on the radio in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, but isn't necessarily retro," Bash says. "That's what we mostly look for in a band who will play the International Pop Overthrow festival, and the bands at IPO Phoenix believe in that aesthetic."
He says he seeks acts that feature "strong melodies, hooks that stay in your head long after the song is done, and really nice vocal harmonies." Sounds a lot like a certain someone I know. Can we get this guy a drummer and bass player, stat? IPO will rock, sure, but I think without Dfactor, we aren't getting the best show we could.