Dinner show: Christian Burke (ethos)

Sat, Aug 12, 2017 @ 5:30 pm to 7:30pm

Saturday, August 12 / 5:30-7:30pm / No cover
ethos (Brit-pop)

[From Detroit Metro Times, 2002]: Over rounds of Newcastle at the Garden Bowl at 3 in the afternoon, Burke speaks softly and eloquently about the band he’s fronted for the past decade. Although the group’s dreamy, blissed-out pop sound often draws comparisons to Britpop and the like, Burke insists the band defies labeling.

“We’re not mopey,” he emphasizes with a smile. “The whole Britpop thing comes up a lot. I don’t think it’s an honest reaction, but I understand it.”

Burke wrinkles his nose slightly when asked about comparisons to the Smiths. “Yeah, we get painted with that brush a lot,” he says. “But I think a lot of people don’t really get the Smiths. There’s a lot of very subtle humor to them, which I think a lot of people miss — but I’d say we share that same subtle humor.”

The musician doth protest too much. As much as the comparison makes Burke squirm, ethos does truly tip its hat to Morrissey’s school of the melodic and morose.

Much along the lines of the bitterly funny “Girlfriend in a Coma,” that subtle sense of humor comes into play in ethos’ “Gonna Die.” A sleepy, swirling ode to unrequited love, the song is punctuated by Burke’s falsetto voice, which laments, “I am writing songs for somebody new … someone who’s not you” — followed by an almost comical singsong chorus of “la la la la la la.”

With a cursory listen, it would be easy to brush the song off as a slice of sugary emo schmaltz — but it’s not. Burke’s not afraid to express yearning and heartache considered so characteristically unmasculine — and the end result is haunting.

“‘Gonna Die’ is a lovely song that I never thought people would like,” says Burke. “It’s a false drama. Sometimes just craving the attention of someone unattainable is what living is all about. It’s like the notion that the crush is superior to the actual conquest.”

Ethos is also equally adept at kicking the pace up a notch and churning out hook-riddled pop fare, like “Me & You” — a song where emotional gristle is stirred up with a slide guitar and keyboard-laden riffs, and could easily make Morrissey and Johnny Marr stand up and salute.