Human Switchboard - Who's Landing in My Hangar? LPFat Possum Records
Most music writers seemed incapable of discussing Human Switchboard without mentioning the Velvet Underground, and there's no getting around the fact Rob Pfeifer's melodic style and clipped vocal delivery bears a certain resemblance to what Lou Reed was doing back in his formative days. But there's an emotional tension and sexual paranoia in Pfeifer's work that sets him decidedly apart from the Velvets and their many followers, and songs like "This Town" and "Refrigerator Door" speak of a grim, landlocked existence that would likely not have occurred to anyone outside of the Midwest. And while Pfeifer's jagged guitar has a certain Velvets-like quality, the homey buzz of Myrna Marcarian's Farfisa organ makes it clear there's more than a little garage in this band's formula, and there's a weary wisdom to Marcarian's occasional vocals that's human and endearing. While Human Switchboard left behind a pair of live documents, Who's Landing in My Hangar? was their only studio album, and while the Spartan, low-budget production isn't always flattering to the band's sound, the cutting emotional clarity of these songs shines through; perhaps this isn't the ideal Human Switchboard album, but it leaves no doubt that they were a great, passionate band with plenty to say, and Who's Landing in My Hangar preserves ten of their best songs for the ages.