December 1999

The Yes Men - TV Planet
Indiepool 1999-01
Released: 1999

by Bruce Bassett

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

[Reviewed on CD]One could likely surmise from a name like The Yes Men that this band is anything but a group of people nodding compliantly to the powers that be. After all, real yes men would be the first to agree, as they usually do, if that is what they think their superiors want, that they would not categorize themselves as yes men at all. Rather, they are simply good team players. Therefore, we know that any self-proclaimed yes men must be impostors. And true to my theory, The Yes Men are a dose of counter-culture wrapped up in some wry, and at times poignant, wit. And while I can’t describe the lyrics as completely antiestablishmentarianism, I did want to use that word at least once in my writing.

The music can be very generally described as edgy folk pop, but this is a relatively superficial description as The Yes Men offer the listener much more than that. Intertwined throughout TV Planet are country, Celtic, rock, adult-contemporary and even gospel flavors. The influences of other artists such as Dire Straits (with the picking and guitar sound on "Edge of Paradise"), Great Big Sea (with the vocal styling in verse on "January 2000" akin to that of GBS’s take on "It’s the End of the World"), and The Rankin Family (in the chorus harmonies on a number of tracks) are a few that are readily apparent. And although these outside influences are evident, at no time do The Yes Men lose their unique identity as a band.

There is plenty of upside for this fledgling band. The performances by this quartet are rock-solid, and the songs are of reasonable length so as to not wear out their welcome. Vocal harmonies are light years ahead of most other pop bands', and Kathryn Clark has a refreshing, compelling voice as she sings some lead but mostly complimentary harmony to Alex Mason. One of TV Planet’s biggest assets is in its realness. It sounds like real musicians playing real instruments, and this sense of a live performance is especially appealing. TV Planet has a sharp tongue and is well thought out musically. The cross-pollination of many musical styles lends itself to being a highly accessible work.