So you think you know what doom-wop is?

Mister Heavenly – Bowery Ballroom – January 16th

When I got the offer to check out a new band, Mister Heavenly, I couldn’t resist… or more accurately, I couldn’t believe it. They didn’t even have an album out and they were signed to Sub Pop? (Heck, their Myspace page has only be in existence since December of 2010!) Then of course there were the members themselves. Nick Diamonds (Islands/Unicorns), Honus Honus (Man Man),  Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse), and… Michael Cera?? Well ok. Sign me up!

Mister Heavenly, minus Michael Cera (photo courtesy of Sup Pop)

When I took my spot in the crowd, I remember thinking it odd that the two guys in front of me were each wearing red knit hats… that is until I saw Michael Cera walk on stage. The kid has been in the band for about a month, and he totally has fan boys. Of course, his character in Nick and Nora helped establish his persona as an indie kid – even if it was technically fiction.

Michael Cera plays bass – it’s true (photo Renee Barrera)

All of the literature surrounding Mister Heavenly identified their music as doom-wop, a new genre that they had proudly pioneered. And I have to say, as far as ridiculous made-up sub genres go, the idea of doom-wop was pretty appealing. (1) As a self-proclaimed pessimistic idealist, doom-wop seems like it’d be right up my alley.

Except… well I can’t say I really heard it in their music. Where were the upbeat melodies? The complimentary vocals?

One song that at least came close was the oddly-named “Diddy Eyes,” allegedly inspired by basketball player Rolando Blackman’s eyes:

With their ridiculous non sequiturs and stage banter (and, let’s be honest – their very existence), I can’t help but wonder if the whole thing is a joke. Here you have three rather successful indie artists… and Michael Cera. It almost seemed like a big brother mentor program. I mean the kid had to actually look at the neck of his bass as he powered through the songs. It kind of just seemed like a sham – albeit a light-hearted and well-intentioned one.

But hey… this doom-wop thing is a good idea. Could someone please get on that?

(1) doom-wop – n. the intersection of doo-wop and doomed love songs.


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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