The city of Detroit is unlike any other city nestled in the diverse confines of the United States. It's streets are littered with personality; step one way and you'll find yourself entrenched in a mysterious cloud of smoke bubbling up from the cities countless sewers. A step in another direction could lead you into the cultural avalanche that is Mexican town. But, no matter where you go, diversity (as well as a little bit of danger) is guaranteed to rigidly tap your shoulder and demand attention. Check that. It'll grab you by the shoulders and shake you to your knees, leaving you forever affected by the struggles it's seen throughout it's years. It's fitting, then, that one of the most diverse and dynamic rock bands the city can call it's own has not only drawn inspiration from this metropolis in waiting, but echoes it's every nook and cranny in their ever evolving, hardly derivative and character-filled epicness. That band is A Thousand Times Yes; and like the city of Detroit, they have embraced an ethic purely based on defying the expected. When a direction seems fully plotted within the context of a song, the three horsemen (actually two horsemen and one horsewoman - drummer Greg Evangelista "Lull Tucker", singer/guitarist Joe Hoffman "Casper Von Hoffman" and singer/bassist Audra Marks "Sparx" ) snap the reigns and charge full on down rarely beaten paths of manic tempos, restrained beauty and bursts of poetic fury. Comparisons could be countless or very few; it just simply won't matter once the fevered rush of the band's push and pull sets in. It can be as fast paced as Jefferson Ave. In the middle of a workday, or as stark and haunting as the Cass Corridor at 4 a.m. And that's the beauty of a band intent on wooing you with the charms of heart and struggle. But, where and how did that struggle begin? Some say in Rhythm, South Dakota, where the three dusty punks with their hearts sewn on the outside of their t-shirts found themselves surrounded by the air of kindred spirits. Others proclaim it started in the bookish, yet surprisingly disheartened realms of Michigan's state capital. Whether or not either happened - whether or not you want or need to know the truth - is of no consequence. In truth, it's the power of song that dropped like-minded magnets in the pockets of Lull, Casper and Sparx; one based off of the story-telling nature of folk and the furious delivery of punk, with equal amounts of pop and post-rock thrown in for good measure. It's a simple mix that often times comes off with complicated results. But, don't be fooled: A Thousand Times Yes are not here to show their superiority over you. This is a band fashioned on a sense of community - a sense of togetherness - that will win your heart and your mind over. After incarnations that found them playing basements and bars with rustic glee, the band collaborated on their first attempt at a body of recorded work. With the writing, recording and release of "Michigan," the mitten-state was used as a foil that not only provided initial inspiration to the group, but an almost lifeblood holding the songs up when even they couldn't tell if one was set to collapse. Called a "quintessentially American album - delicate, fragile and honest" by Repellent Zine, the band tackles geographic struggles of the heart and mind with a confidence that often behests other bands with the gall to attempt something that comes close to having a "concept." And here we are again, roads traveled, friends made and music hatched from the womb of our three heroes. After countless performances in Detroit's familiar watering holes, and successful tours completed, sharing the stage with such acts as: Back In Spades, The Fags, Thunderbirds Are Now!, +/-, John Doe, The New Year, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Slumber Party, The Dismemberment Plan and We Ragazzi, the band has sewn together more songs that zero in on the uncharacteristic beauty that the city emits. "Heart Beats" is the answer to "Michigan"'s sense of longing, confusion and heart ache, as the gears are wound tighter, the words are all together as direct as they are abstract and the intensity level is stretched to it's most dangerous capacity. With the buoyant pleas of such new songs as"Body Of My Own" and the slicing screech of "Sibling Rivalry, Sibling Love" an undeniable heat is generated; one that can only be matched by the smoke bubbling up from Detroit's underbelly. And like the cities hard-working, blue collar peoples, A Thousand Times Yes deliver a muscle that isn't based off of random acts of violence. It's one based off of honesty; a quality that brings the band and the city even closer together with tightness that could deflate even Detroit's most essential hipster's garage-rock affiliation. Despite their love and admiration for Detroit's greased gears, this is a band that eschews genres and stereotypes, unlike many of the better-known city-dwellers with a stash of vintage gear and Mick Collins' number on speed dial. Fittingly, calling a record "Heart Beats" is, in essence, what keeps this band not only separate and original - it's what keeps them alive.
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