flicker. We’re Not Aliens…But If We Were, Would We Tell You? / M. Verna, Life’s Too Spicy, 1996

flicker. We’re Not Aliens…But If We Were, Would We Tell You? / M. Verna, Life’s Too Spicy, 1996

Side A: Mike Verna: drums, vocals; other performers unknown.
Side B: Mike Verna: everything

Side A: (flicker.)
Hell Toupee
Fearing The Combine
The Tension Relieve Me
So Scared
Just A Thought
Two Strokes, A Cardiac, And A Marriage

Side B: (M. Verna solo)
Pit Of Stew
Lazy Suzy
I’m The One
WGM Blues
I’m A Flag

All information that came with this tape is lost to history, leaving me only with a hand-written J-card and 55 minutes of very strange music. However, thanks to the “magic” of Google and my own well-honed research skills, I’ve located the ancient home page of Mike Verna! Lo and behold, at the very bottom of his Press page are two links to a very early version of this here website, and the URLs helped me dig out my original review from the DemoBase:

Six months to the day after their first review in Demo Universe (for the Play It By Ear cassette), Flicker. returns with We’re Not Aliens and the magic is still cookin’ like good soup. As before, Flicker. expertly disguises itself as a lo-fi indie-rock band, but we know better: they are abundantly talented musicians, driven to push the padded mailer with all the power in their mighty hands. Apparently these boys catch a load of doo-doo for their production values, or lack thereof. What fools these mortals be! Are 64 pristine digital tracks needed to convey the burgeoning creativity of this bold threesome? I think not! The band’s death-metal-on-drugs cover of of Billy Joel’s “Pressure” perfectly encapsultes the Flicker. sound: free, confident, funny and completely wacked. So guys, like, what’s with the period after your name?
Side two of this tape is solo work by drummer-singer Mike Verna and a different ball of wax entirely. “Pit Of Stew” sounds like Tom Waits on an assortment of unmarked pills. “Lazy Suzy” is a goofy little ditty that owes five bucks to the Bonzo Dog Band (whether Mike knows it or not). “I’m The One” sucked a bit too much helium than is healthy, “WGM Blues” is a crud-encrusted homage to (or mockery of?) scratchy old records and “I’m A Flag” is lugubrious and warped. He says the band can’t do this stuff, and he’s probably right. But I’d like to hear them try.

Jim Santo’s Demo Universe, 1996

Mike’s Music page hasn’t been updated in 15 years, and this tape isn’t listed, but there’s a lot more to listen to if you are so inclined. (He’s got two full albums on Apple Music, as well.) The site also includes many examples of his photography, as well as information on his film work, most notably Access Nation, a 2004 documentary about local public access television. Verna’s iMDb page reveals that he’s been a Reality TV show editor in Los Angeles ever since, jobbing on two Real Housewives series, most recently on the Emmy-nominated Below Deck. Lastly, his Links page (remember links?) confirms my suspicions regarding the influence of the Bonzos on “Lazy Suzy.”

Ain’t the innernet wunnerful?

(Provided in lieu of J-card artwork, the image above is a Google Street view of 422 Admiral Street, Providence, Rhode Island, and I gotta admit, this looks exactly like how I’d imagine the house where these sounds were recorded. Maybe the place was in better shape in 1995, but I doubt it.)

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