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Make Up

The Make Up was born from the smoking cinders of the Washington D.C.-based guerilla punk terrorists Nation of Ulysses, a self-proclaimed "violent and rejectionist" music group that sought to transfer power to the people through cathartic musical experience. After a hiatus of several years, singer Ian Svenonious, guitarist James Canty, and drummer Steve Gamboa joined with bassist Michelle Mae to develop Nation of Ulysses's polemical punk into a gospel- and rhythm and blues-inflected rock and roll baptism-by-fire while continuing to adhere to the old band's most basic ideological tenets.

The Make Up wants to create a musical vehicle that can provide an antidote to the stultifying cynicism in which the modern music world is steeped. Utilizing the power of big hair, black clothes, and white belts, not to mention secular evangelism, love power, and orgiastic theatrical excess, the Make Up makes genuinely liberating rock and roll music in a society whose "rock music" is defined according to the rigid guidelines of money and marketability.

You might be surprised that such a visceral sound could be so firmly intellectually grounded, but the more you listen, the more you'll realize what a strong grasp this band has of all the most cogent rock metaphors, from Svenonious's ragged, sexy voice to Mae's boomin' bass, from Booker T-style keyboards to James Brown-style horn parts, from Baptist melodrama to revolutionary fervor. "White Belts" and "C'mon, Let's Spawn" both come from the Make Up's brilliant 1999 record, Save Yourself, maybe their most fully realized excursion into their comically sincere gospel garage-punk world.

"Born on the Floor" and "The Choice" each appear on their '99 singles collection, I Want Some. "Gospel 2000" comes from their '96 debut studio LP, Sound Verite. The Make Up's live performance of "Time Machine" appears on the soundtrack to the cult independent music documentary Songs for Cassavetes, alongside performances by Sleater-Kinney, Unwound, Dub Narcotic, PeeChees, Henry's Dress, and many more. This collection of Make Up gems demonstrates rather nicely why the band continues to occupy its rightful place in the grand pulpit of rock and roll.

Particularly rabid fans of Ian Svenonious may be pleased to learn that he's also released a super-kitschy, '60s lounge-inspired EP, Play Power, under the name of David Candy.