Someone Still Loves
You Boris Yeltsin
with Junebug Spade
9 p.m. Wednesday
113 N. Crawford, Norman
$8 advance, $10 door
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is certainly one of the more unwieldy band names in rock ‘n’ roll history, an especially impressive distinction in a field that’s witnessed The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, “¦ And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, and We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It.
Perhaps more striking is that the group with the Glasnost-friendly moniker hails from the Midwestern bastion of Springfield, Mo.
But make no mistake; the members of SSLYBY (admittedly not the most inviting acronym imaginable) are proud of their Missouri roots and have carved out a unique success story without venturing from their beloved hometown.
“We all love living in Springfield,” said group drummer/vocalist Philip Dickey, who co-founded the band with Will Knauer in the late ’90s. “I can’t really imagine relocating just to try to get bigger or something like that. I always think of The Flaming Lips being from Oklahoma City. That’s one of the biggest bands in the world, and they’re not from California or New York or Chicago.”
As a matter of fact, the four-piece outfit, which hits the stage tonight at Opolis in Norman, is a case study in how the Internet can shatter old-school notions about how to become rock stars.
While Dickey acknowledged the “stupid, long band name” helped snag them initial attention, the real breakthrough came in late 2005 when SSLYBY posted MP3s of “Broom,” its self-produced record, online. The guys had recorded it over an eight-month period in Knauer’s house.
“It just seemed like, ‘Let’s see if we can actually make a record and get it printed,'” Dickey said. “I guess I imagined selling it at a local CD store and giving it to friends. When we got done with it, I listened to it on the way to school and I was, like, ‘Oh, my God, this is actually kind of good, you know?’ It kind of freaked me out, but I was just graduating from college, and so my main goal was finding a real job.”
But that real job appeared to be finding the band. Spin, Pitchfork and a chorus of other music magazines heralded SSLYBY’s buoyant brand of power pop. One of the act’s songs, “Oregon Girl,” was featured on TV’s “The O.C.” ” before SSLYBY had even secured a record contract.
“It was a dream come true, how people found that album,” said Dickey, now 27. “It was all really unexpected. Out of nowhere, we just started getting e-mails every day from all over the world. We could right away see that people liked it because it sounded like we’d made it at home.”
Amid the fanfare, the group signed with Polyvinyl Records, but a 2008 follow-up, “Pershing,” drew a mixed critical response.
“‘Broom’ was a darker album because we had just broken up with some people, and we were depressed,” said Dickey. “‘Pershing’ is a much happier record. It didn’t get the same reaction and reviews. That was a weird feeling.”
If the guys were stuck in a sophomore slump, however, they seem to have shaken it with their latest effort, “Let It Sway.” Co-produced by Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla, it represents SSLYBY’s most self-assured to date, a feast of sparkling, infectious hooks.
Dickey, who got married last summer, said the group went into the recording studio with one simple aim.
“We just wanted to make a record that we would actually like to listen to when we were kids,” he said. “To think about all the rules now of indie rock, what makes you popular in Pitchfork and what makes you popular with hipsters is really tiring. We’re just not that cool. We wanted to make a record that you could play for anyone, no matter whether they loved indie rock or still don’t know what indie rock is.” “Phil Bacharach
Photo: You Boris Yeltsin