Ordinary World: twisted, welcome catharsis

By Chris Cooper

When the bio sheet for a band arrives with the greeting “Dear Pop Revivalists,” I feel a mixture of curiosity and dread. Good pop or bad pop? Classic pop, schlock pop, punk pop (ugh) or what? For Pete’s sake, Beethoven was the “pop” music of his era; so exactly what kind of pop am I reviving here?

Get Set Go is the tortured brainchild of a guy named Mike TV. And tortured would be a bit of an understatement, actually. Though drenched in bouncing drums, gooey sweet harmonies, chunky guitar and tinkling piano, this album is as dark as that well from that movie “The Ring.”

Get Set Go’s previous release, So You’ve Ruined Your Life, gained music placements in some popular television shows but still went unnoticed by most of the listening public. Rather than disappear into the indie mist, Mike TV wrote a boatload of songs (mostly autobiographical) documenting the year and a half after that first album.

Apparently it was a pretty tough time. And that’s what makes this CD such a wonderful and painful thing to experience. We all know that Ben Folds is honest to the point of causing stomach pains, but this Mike TV guy ... jeez. Tunes like “Get Thru The Day” and “Won’t Let Her Go” dig into the joys and miseries of underachievement, drug use, self-loathing and complacent heartbreak, while “Ordinary World” is a parable of any little town, any little group of people and how life really works most of the time. It’s sad and sometimes too real.

There are moments of slightly less-than-miserable mirth, however. “Lift Me Up” is brighter, though it does feel a little out of place next to the other songs. But the lyric about being “...the sorta guy who can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory...” made me laugh out loud and want to kick myself for relating so closely to the sentiment.

The last three songs of the CD all have “die” somewhere in the title, so things don’t necessarily get much better overall. After 21 songs, one inevitably notices a similarity, shall we say. Those of weak constitution may want to digest Ordinary World in smaller pieces, but absorbing the CD in one sitting is a cathartic experience, which could be a positive thing. Maybe.

It would be a good idea to point out that this CD is chock full of “bad language” and carries the prerequisite parental advisory warning. This will likely limit some of its appeal, but I can’t imagine these tunes being delivered any differently. As a whole the album feels like a conversation with a friend in which a bunch of things you knew, but were afraid to discuss openly, were laid on the table in plain view for the whole world. Uncomfortable and real, Get Set Go makes music that pokes you in uncomfortable places and somehow still makes you laugh. Highly recommended. 4 stars.

(Chris Cooper is a music guru and guitar teacher at In Your Ear in Sylva. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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