DIY releases from local bands

June 1, 2008


There are few programs as annoying on television as those home-makeover shows were an over-amplified crew of do-gooders descend on the dwelling of some downtrodden folks to remake their humble abode for the benefit of the ratings and the sponsors. But it's hard to doubt the sincerity of the Michigan City Vandals, who proudly boast of being "post-ironic" and trumpet the slogan "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."

Formed two years ago in Chicago's favorite getaway lake town of St. Joseph, Mich., the group -- bassist/vocalist Julee Laurent, guitarist Joey Greenand drummer Matt Clancy -- is donating all of the proceeds from their new D.I.Y. album "Our Own Little Slice of Hell" to build a Habitat for Humanity house in nearby Benton Harbor. "We need to raise $75,000 to do this, and getting people out to shows is our best way to sell records," Laurent writes. Of course, it's also the best way for the band to build a following, but the earnestness of the group's lyrics is completely in line with the ideals of its charity work.

Rollicking, optimistic and relentlessly tuneful, the Vandals' indie-pop songs take aim at Gen Y apathy and attempt to inspire it to action -- all without taking themselves too seriously. "Corporate TV / Obscures our realities," Laurent sings in "Generation Rx." "Everyone's a rock star / Courtesy of Pfizer ... Everyone wants to be rich / And everything's a sales pitch." As sales pitches go, this one is pretty convincing, and the group and its cause are well worth listeners' attention.

The Michigan City Vandals perform an acoustic show June 22 at the Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, and a full-on electric show July 10 at the Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln. Meanwhile, visit the band on the Web at or