CD REVIEWS – Awesome New Republic brings to life work of former ‘Canes

Sex, love and North Korea: Welcome to the world of a local band called Awesome New Republic.

The work of former UM music students MJ Hancock and Brian Robertson, the limited edition, vinyl 12-inch All Party Talks is a manifesto illuminated by disco lights, a haiku you can dance to.

From the sinister opener “Go 2 Bed with North Korea” to the stunning closer “Parachute the Movie,” Awesome New Republic finds clever ways to fit insightful social commentary between funky drum loops and pulsing bass lines. In the album’s unstable, shifting landscape, a shaking bedframe becomes a bombed out city, a love song becomes a cry for pacifism.

Recorded at a house on Blue Road, All Party Talks sparkles with a crisp yet complex sound, drum machines sharing space with ethnic percussion, smooth jazz chords cozying up with distorted digital blips. The duo’s musical adventurousness is grounded by Robertson’s stellar keyboard chops and Hancock’s soulful voice, which makes even the most esoteric cultural reference sound like a Motown come-on.

“I’ll be your veteran, babe / at the victory parade,” he sings on the last song; you can almost see the confetti fluttering from skyscraper windows as Awesome New Republic waves to the crowd from a convertible. All Party Talks is a victory they have every right to celebrate.

Matt Gajewski can be contacted at