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Maxtone Four

Maxtone Four is...


Brian McClelland - guitars and vocals

Jeremy Miller - drums and vocals

Mike Hellebusch - guitar and vocals

Chris Clark - bass and vocals


"The Maxtone Four have more hooks than a hall closet." - The Riverfront Times.  Their style strips away the current musical trends of aggression, angst and whiny navel-gazing, replacing them with solid, hook-filled, guitar-driven pop/rock. Songs about girls and sunny skies.  A mixture or 60's British invasion (Kinks, the Zombies), 80's new wave (the Cars, the Knack, Squeeze) and more recent indie guitar rock (Fountains of Wayne, Sloan, Superdrag) has developed into a truly unique brand of songwriting, filling Maxtone Four's driving tunes with hooky, buzzy guitars and timeless pop melodies.


One of these new songs, "OK You Go First", was featured on the International Pop Overthrow 2004 Compilation CD, released across the US in late Summer 2004. Their debut CD, "Go Steady", was picked up by a Japanese distributor in the summer of 2004 and made available (with steady sales) through HMV Tower and HMV Virgin record stores across Japan.

The Maxtone Four has opened for many national touring acts—including Sloan, Dressy Bessy, of Montreal, Elf Power, Steve Burns, Jump, Little Children, Amy Rigby, and Th' Legendary Shack*Shakers—as well as being selected for showcases at IPO Chicago (2004, 2005, & 2006), The Lot (2004 / St. Louis), PrideFest 25 (2004 / St. Louis), and the Midwest Music Festival (2004 / Indianapolis).  The Maxtone Four was nominated BEST POP GROUP by The Riverfront Times 2004 Music Poll.


Click to view or print

the Maxtone Four press sheet.


Go Steady

Click to learn

more at CD Baby

1. There's a Girl

2. One More Thing

3. Pretty Sky

4. Emptyspace

5. Makin' Up (Yeah Yeah)

6. Picking Up The Pace

7. Leigh-Anne

8. Milo

9. Babygirl

10. 27

11. Goodnight Again



Listen to song samples:

Click once to activate the player and then click 'play' to start the player.

Click the 'stop' button to stop the player.



Produced by Drew Johnson at Angstrom Sound.

Copyright © 2003. All Rights Reserved.




Hey Hey

(Do It Anyway)

Click to learn

more at CD Baby

1. Just Say I Know

2. Ashtray

3. Kickstand

4. Hate This Place

5. Melody Girl

6. Short Pants

7. Bob

8. Farmington

9. OK You Go First

10. Parenthetic

11. Hey Hey (Do It Anyway)



Listen to song samples:

Click once to activate the player and then click 'play' to start the player.

Click the 'stop' button to stop the player.



Produced by Mike Hellebusch at Brickhouse Acoustics.

Copyright © 2007.  All Rights Reserved.




Review: Maxtone Four - Hey Hey Do It Anyway

(Courtesy of, 2008)

Maxtone Four got me hooked from the get go with the opening "bah bah bah's" and hand claps on "Just Say I Know". Right then I found myself thinking that I was in for a treat. The sound has a retro '60s-'70s poppy bounce to it with a modern alternative sound. The playing is tight and vocals are wonderful. The band also does a masterful job with incorporating the right amount of harmonies into the songs. "Ashtray", "Kickstand", "Melody Girl", "Short Pants" - all great. This is one wonderful CD. This is one you need to get.
-- Mite Mutant (2008)


Review: Maxtone Four - Hey Hey Do It Anyway

(Courtesy of Playback Magazine, November 2007)


Hey Hey Do It Anyway, the sophomore LP from St. Louis power-poppers Maxtone Four, opens with a wink and a nod in the form of a wry attack on the cliché that is the egotistical rock star. "Just Say I Know" is a song which at the very least aims to take the archetype down a peg, if not burn it in effigy. "It's been done before/ And it's been done better," admonishes Maxtone singer and principal songwriter Brian McClelland, "There's no new original rock star/ I don't want to waste your time." The tune is as humble as it is sardonic, a fun but strictly by-the-numbers melodic pop exercise, which seems to suggest that McClelland is perfectly aware that one false move could land him squarely in the sights of his own criticism. Having playfully dispatched this strawman, Maxtone Four proceed to crank out an economic burst of unpretentious rock and roll that lasts about 30 minutes, neither overstaying their welcome nor leaving listeners feeling cheated out of a more substantive experience.


Like many of their contemporaries, such as British Columbia's similarly under-the-radar Jets Overhead and the comparatively gargantuan Fountains of Wayne, Maxtone Four gleefully raid the closets of past masters like Big Star, Matthew Sweet and even the polished jangle of early Warners-era R.E.M. for ideas and inspiration. Hey Hey's songs are uniformly energetic and loaded down with handclaps, harmonies and hooks galore, an occasional punkish riff rearing its head every now and then. Dressed-down synths and keys sometimes flavor the set, but the music largely stresses economy over invention. More than anything else, Maxtone Four want to rock your ass and make you feel good.


Interestingly, repeated listenings reveal a compelling dichotomy at work on Hey Hey, as the album's occasionally dark lyrics often contrast rather starkly with the buoyant melodies of its songs. "Kickstand" presents a rumination on loneliness and dashed hopes, while "I Fucking Hate This Place" is a gloomy rave-up inspired by McClelland's job as a 911 dispatcher. Not every song is spoiled milk and wilted flowers, thankfully, with numbers like "Bob"—a tribute to eccentric St. Louis scenester Beatle Bob—and the charmingly simple "Short Pants" providing much-needed levity.


Maxtone Four doesn't set out to reinvent the wheel with Hey Hey Do It Anyway, but the music contained within doesn't ever hint that the band would be remotely interested in doing so. They are, by their own admission, aware that it's all been done—and indeed it's been done better—so they are content to explore a well-trod path in well-executed fashion, which is something that should be enough to content most any power-pop enthusiast. B | Paul Little



Review: Maxtone Four - Hey Hey Do It Anyway

(Courtesy of, October 2007)


By Danny Brown

It’s been three years since Maxtone Four’s debut album, Go Steady. Hailed as "dirty, sweet pop," it was a mix of killer guitar riffs and songs that showed pop rock could be adult in its approach, it and led the St Louis quartet to be nominated for Best Pop Band in the print publication Riverfront Times. Now they’re back with Hey Hey Do It Anyway, and listening to the aural delights on display, you have to ask why they didn’t come back sooner than this.

As soon as lead song "Just Say I Know" kicks in (with main chords sounding eerily similar to The Cars' classic "My Best Friend’s Girl"), you just know you’re going to enjoy the rest of the album. In fact, if you mixed The Cars with current indie darlings The 88, you wouldn’t be too far off what Maxtone Four has to offer (without being too derivative).

"Ashtray" follows, and again its guitar riff intro drags you into the song before it’s even begun. Telling the tale of a guy who’d happily kiss the girl of his dreams, even though she smokes and tastes like the titular ashtray ("so I swallow cigarette butts with red lipstick halos"), it’s a knowing nod to what depths we’ll go to for the sake of love. Or maybe its just hormones…

If there’s one thing that Maxtone Four excels at, it’s in the way their breezy pop hides the darker nuances of their lyrics. Prostitution, social depravity and college sex tapes to name but a few, the songs on display here have an edge that so many other pop rock acts can only dream of.

"I ***** Hate This Place" is a prime example. Decrying the mundane rat race of everyday life that we can’t escape from, no matter how hard we try, it’s a cautionary tale of how alcohol can offer an all-too easy release:

barely 6:05 and the boss says I’ve mucked up
face burning in disgrace
I try to explain he still don’t know he’s sending me
to liquor’s sweet embrace ...

Yet the band also have their humorous streak, as is shown in the soon-to-be-classic "Short Pants," which you can just see leading the soundtrack to the next Farrelly Brothers movie, with its sharp power pop chords and simple "short pants, big girl, do what you wanna do" lyrics.

With a tight sound, intelligent songs, and darkly ironic lyrics, Maxtone Four show that pop rock doesn’t need to start and finish with the likes of Avril Lavigne and Maroon 5. If they could only get the break that they deserve, then the rest of the music industry might just recognize this too, and not a moment too soon.



Review: Maxtone Four - Hey Hey Do It Anyway

(Courtesy of and, October 2007)


A short album...but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in substance. Hey Hey Do It Anyway is a super cool, pure feelgood album full of insanely catchy tunes. After making their initial splash, this St. Louis band apparently took a bit of a break before getting down to recording this album (the Spanish phrase on the front cover translates to "Sick? No, Tired."). Taking a break must've been the right choice at the right the tracks on this album sound anything but tired. The band crams eleven songs onto this short album that clocks in at just over 30 minutes. They deliver their songs with direct intent...never allowing fluff and unnecessary elements to clutter the mix. Smart guitars combine with excellent vocals and a propulsive rhythm section...creating a nice whirlwind of pure pop energy. Cool tracks include "Just Say I Know," "Melody Girl," "Bob," and "OK You Go First." This album is bound to be a favorite among pop fans all over the world. (Rating: 5+)



M4 on Radio BBC2

Check out the play list for Bob Harris’ Saturday Show on Radio BBC2 to see which lil’ ol’ Maxtone Four ditty got wedged in between Zeppelin & Todd Rundgren!  Strange, sweaty, and altogether welcome bedfellows:








Page Last Updated: January 19, 2010


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