When discussing Midnight Movies, comparisons to Phil Collins are understandably scarce. For one thing, they don't sound anything alike—various music publications have compared Midnight Movies' music to Nico, Stereolab, krautrock and horror-film scores. Phil Collins sounds nothing like that. However, you might draw a connection between Midnight Movies' singing drummer Gena Olivier and the fact that Collins did the same double duty when he was with Genesis. Sure, it's an easy connection to make, but who doesn't love a good Phil Collins reference? Well, probably Gena Olivier, I'd imagine.
Olivier was a lead vocalist who, in the midst of a futile drummer hunt, abruptly gave the part a shot and found she had the rare ability to coordinate her limbs with her vocal cords—even though the only beat she knew was one she picked up at age 13 in a playful Nirvana cover band named Bile. Would that Bile could make a triumphant return at OCMA as well, but perhaps that zeitgeist has come and gone.
Back to Midnight Movies. The LA quartet offers an eerie mixture of delicate vocals and not-so-delicate instrumentation courtesy of guitarist Larry Schemel and keyboardist Ryan Wood, who have the good personal fortune to not invite facile comparisons to any prominent aging pop stars. And back to some of those other comparisons: Olivier insists Midnight Movies doesn't sound anything like the more recent output from Stereolab, though she doesn't mind the horror-film part or the Nico bit. "I think she's really cool, so that's cool with me," Olivier says. And what self-respecting artist wouldn't rather be compared to the Velvet Underground chanteuse than the man behind the Tarzan soundtrack?
Midnight Movies will release a new single in October or November, and for the next record, Olivier passed on drumming duties to new bandmate Sandra Bu. Perhaps now the Phil Collins comparisons will disappear. Please.
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Midnight Movies with Pop Levi and DJ JAG at the Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 759-1122. Thurs., Aug. 17, 8 p.m. Free.