the set-up
Reminiscent of Elvis Costello’s Angry Young Man period, meaning the good Elvis Costello, this group kicks ass, from “I Am Your Radio” (voted Coolest Song of 2003 by Little Steven’s Underground Garage) to the disc’s last, titular track. Start listening now and hold bragging rights over your friends for years to come. (Martin Stein)

Super catchy power pop with equal emphasis on power and pop. Like a cross between Cheap Trick and Elvis Costello, Boss Martians have killer hooks, hot riffs and tasty keyboards all over this record. This is totally my bag, and “Kill My Telephone” is my new theme song. (JC)

“…this album is fucking fantastic!”

With their steely, hard-as-nails (think Ramones in the Motor City) sound and crunchy, rave-up songwriting, it remains a mystery to me why bands like Seattle’s Boss Martians, who’ve been making consistently thrilling music since 1995, remain relatively unknown while more celebrated newcomers head straight to performing slots on Saturday Night Live. Like previous outings, The Set-Up begins with plenty of 60s/70s touchstones — Northwest garage rock, Stones/Sonics dynamics, plenty of late 70s power pop and Cheap Trick-style hooks — but plays it with such panache that you’ll find a great big grin on your face and plenty of tapping toes on virtually all of this baker’s dozen. “Oh, Angela” finds the band writing the best simple Elvis Costello rockin’/pop ballad since Get Happy! while “Walk Away” comes on like Graham Parker (circa Squeezing Out Sparks ) fronting The Dickies. Derivative, yes, but what isn’t? GREAT STUFF. -Luke Torn

Straight-up chopped-chord power pop from the Who/Faces/Creation beginning to amped-up guitar New Wave era heroes like The Vapors, Cortinas, and Undertones. These people were probably Jr. High students when Material Issue helped these sounds live in a buncha bands carryin’ the torch through the ’90’s — The Heartdrops, Pat Dull and the Media Whores, Manda and the Marbles, hell, the whole Break-Up records crew. The Set-Up moves from Joe Jackson, Buddy Holly, and Dwight Twilley pop into the loud tangents on power moves by Flop, the Fastbacks, The Muffs… you know, the GOOD stuff. Nice use of mid-tempos, heart-tugging melodies filched from Rhino’s 15 CD “New Wave” collection, and a great, warm, blaring guitar sound. I hear some of the classic Southern stuff: early Big Star, the dB’s, hell, even Lets Active, which gives these guys a leg up. I’d buy them all new Chuck’s if they’d cover Def Lep’s “Hello America.” Craig Regala

If ever I hit rock bottom and become enmeshed in a whole world of teary-eyed misery, I shall hurriedly insert this jubilantly rockin’ disc into my CD cartridge and let the good times once again roll. The Set-Up is an inspirationally riveting bundle of garage, mod, power pop, punk, and blue-eyed soul all dressed up and ready to groove. The vocalist reminds me of a passionate hybrid mixture of Elvis Costello, Pat DiNizio (The Smithereens), Steve Marriott (Small Faces), and Robin Zander (Cheap Trick). The guitars are all-at-once crunchy, jangly, lively, and divinely intricate, possessing the utmost of unbridled beatific energy. The bass and drums euphorically thump along like a full-tilt boogie machine working overtime, and a steady swirl of holy-rolling organ riffs perfectly complements the entire package to a tee. Leave it to the Boss Martians to rekindle the effervescent flame of hope, happiness, and fun in rock ‘n’ roll. The Set-Up brings it all home with a nod, a wink, and a glowing smile, so be prepared to get your rocks off immediately upon first listen. -Moser

The fifth effort by The Boss Martians, The Set-Up, is a concoction of power pop, punk, garage, hard rock, and even some soul. For some bands, this could spell calamity, but not these guys. It is not every day that you see a band using so many different styles so well. Tracks such as “I am Your Radio” and “Oh, Angela” are great lounge-out or rock-out songs. Set this up in you CD player. Darren Ratner

Who’s the Boss? The Boss Martians, that is. The Martians are a Seattle-based band with an unapologetic punk/pop sound that’s rooted in garage rock. They’ve been around since singer and guitarist Evan Foster joined up with keyboardist Nick Contento while the two were attending college in Tacoma. Earlier albums showed more of a pronounced surf-rock influence (Their name is a combination of the titles of two surf/garage gems: The Rumblers’ “Boss” and Bobby Fuller Four’s “Our Favorite Martian”), but that’s given way to super cool, charged pop that would be welcome on any CD shelf.
Fans of the Martians will know that in 1998, the band took a hiatus and pushed ’60s-influenced project, Mystery Action. The Martians came back strong in 2000 and released a new album in 2002, Making The Rounds. The band followed up with most recent The Set Up, easily one that will hold up to the test of time and remain a favorite. The CD is full of catchy tunes you’ll be boppin’ to for days: “I Wanna Be Your Addiction,” “Walk Away,” and “Oh, Angela,” which sounds amazingly like a young Elvis Costello at his sneering best, whipping out lyrical ammunition like “Oh Angela, I saw you crying when he handed you the bits and pieces of your broken dreams in a cardboard box that’s torn up at the seams.”
If you long for the heyday of rock music when bands like The Jam, Costello and The Ramones were the coolest, grab a copy of The Set Up and rejoice.

…there are scores of bands on MTV that this is better than. Whereas most American punk kids emulate Green Day, this combo’s garage-pop sounds like they have listened to their share of Buzzcocks, early Elvis Costello, and even latter day bands like Superdrag. “(I Wanna Be) Your Addiction” with its nervy vocals and rattly guitar could be a Shelley-DeVoto composition. Production help by Jack Endino means thats there’s the proper amount of sparkle as well as combustion. One of the top in the genre of late. (Stakerized!)

Was expecting something more garagey but was pleasantly surprised to see a slightly more high octane version of what Elvis Costello used to do in the late 70’s. This Seattle duo of Evan Foster and NickC must have all of the right records (or at least the ones I like) and must enter the studio raring to go.
This rips from start to finish… all the way from “(I Wanna Be) Your Addiction” to “The Set-Up.” This fucker smokes. Now I wanna (NEED TO) hear all of their other stuff. (Tim Dagger)

The Boss Martians continue to advance their career with outstanding garage rock music. It never ceases to amaze me how they can play such simplistic straightforward rock and continue to get stronger with each album. “The Set-Up” is their best yet, a real classic.
Evan Foster is an amazing vocalist, he sounds like Elvis Costello on steroids. His powerful voice and remarkable lead guitar takes this band to where many strive to go but never reach where all aspirant musicians want to go.
When “I Wanna Be Your Addiction” kicks in with the first few chords, you know without a doubt that Foster is singing from the heart asking his lady love to let him be her drug of choice.
If you like non-stop barrel ass music that never puts on the brakes and blows your speakers out, this is the right music for you. You get the same formula throughout the entire album, no frills or surprises here, its straight attcha rock music with a simple format that works. Go to, if you would like to be more acquainted with this garage band. Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

Some ten years ago the Martians, led by guitarist Evan Foster, started out as a very purist instro surf band. Over the course of various singles and LPs they began adding vocal numbers, fuzzed-out garage rock, and some powerpop influences. A year 2000 side project of Evan Foster and organist Nick Contento’s called the Mystery Action resulted in a great CD of catchy and fuzzed-out pop-garage, and with the last Martians album, Making The Rounds, it was obvious they were moving even closer to their current sound. The Set Up finds the band fully transitioned into a power pop band, and a very good one at that. To be quite frank, this is one of the best CDs I’ve heard lately. The songs are totally infectious and Johnny Sangster’s production is spot-on. Kicking off with “I Wanna Be Your Addiction,” it’s apparent Foster has honed his knack for writing incredibly great songs. There’s not a dud on this whole CD. The album was recorded by the core of Foster and Nick Contento, the only two original members of the group. Three different drummers, Dusty Watson – who’s played with everyone from Jon and the Nightriders and Dick Dale to the Queers – Trivett Wingo, and former Fastbacks/Posies member Mike Musberger help out on the skin duties. Brandon Gonzales handles the bass except on the three tunes that Foster is credited to. Despite that, the CD is cohesive and rocking to the max. “Kill My Telephone” gives new reason to have caller I.D., while “I Am Your Radio” makes use of a great metaphor. “Oh, Angela” sounds like a lost Elvis Costello outtake from his “This Year’s Model/Armed Forces” period. Elsewhere, echoes of bands like the Plimsouls show up on songs like “Stress Case” and “Opportunistic Girl,” while “Vows” brings to mind vintage Graham Parker. Contento’s even expanded his sonic palette of organ and piano to include (gasp!) synthesizers! So, if any of that sounds like an enticement, I strongly recommend you pick this up right now! ? 2004 – Alan Wright

Hey, this is all right! I didn?t think I was into this album the first time I heard it, but had to revise that opinion when I found myself knowing the words and singing along the second time through. The stuff is catchy, particularly songs like ?I Am Your Radio?, which was nominated ?Coolest Song of 2003? by listeners of garage rock radio show Little Steven?s Underground Garage. Classic power-pop with a glossy finish; think Cheap Trick and Elvis Costello all tarted up with some Ramonesey leather and a lacquer of slick modern production techniques. The Jam might?ve jammed to this. Passable lyrics from this Seattle four-piece don?t get in the way of the hotted-up guitar glides and vocal melodrama. Little surf guitar luauing around in there too. Solid! By: Brian Howe

Slick and tight pop meets punk enthusiasm in the garage on the Boss Martians’ new platter, The Set-Up. Often associated with the bloated garage idiom, this Seattle band is more of a real good, bar-chord-friendly power-pop band than the fuzz-mongers they rub elbows with. When I spun “Oh Angela” and “Run And Hide,” I could’ve sworn it was Elvis Costello. I suppose it’s the B-3 that shows up throughout the disc that makes folks draw that rootsy conclusion. If you like slick, fast, poppy, and catchy, then dig The Boss Martians. (Frank De Blase)

WHERE Y’AT (Your Monthly Guide to New Orleans)
Little Steven Van Zandt recently declared The Set Up?s ?I Am Your Radio? ?the coolest song of the year? on his syndicated Underground Garage radio show, but reserve judgment until you hear the rest of the album: the remaining songs are even better. The first track, ?I Wanna Be Your Addiction,? opens the floodgates with a combination of infectious simplicity, unforgettable melody and unassuming innocence that?s hardly been heard since the halcyon days of the Ramones. The dozen more numbers are similarly designed to hook the listener instantly, you know, like Elvis Costello used to do when he was still good. Since their inception, the Martians have explored and excelled at being the Astronauts, the Sonics and the MC5 ? with their own musical personalities intact all the while ? but their current devotion to power pop brings things to a whole new level. The Undertones? ?Teenage Kicks? seems to be the blueprint from which they?re drawing much of their inspiration nowadays, and though shades of their previous album?s (Makin? The Rounds) hard rockin? sounds abound, damn if this ain?t the very best they?ve sounded yet! Producer Johnny Sangster (Posies) seems to be the perfect match for the Martians, capturing all the rough edges but keeping the soul and feeling of the band in the forefront. Don?t pass this one up, it is truly all good. Scott Tyler

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