“Look, there I am! I’m on the light-pole! It’s me, from freshman year in high school,” cries Pat Smith coquettishly. The music major, and bass player for reagan?, simperingly shows off his boy scout-like mugshot, centerpiece on his band’s show bill. “We thought it’ll be funny and weird on the flier, so people will check us out,” explains Smith.

Paul Wong
Brosch practicing reagan?omics. Get it? Like the President! Courtesy of VPM Records

With their 2nd album, All The Way From Allen Street, this quartet is on a one-way street to success, driving its somewhat peculiar name throughout Michigan. “The name is quite mysterious actually,” infers Brian Bonenberger, the band’s co-founder and guitarist. But, when asked about its origins, he bluntly replies, “sorry, that’s all you get.”

Formed in Brighton in late 1997 by Smith, Bonenberger, and ex-drummer Joe Conchola, reagan? started off as three high school freshmen jamming up cover songs in Smith’s basement. The troupe’s female vocalist, Sarah Brosch, was actually introduced a year later from an advertisment. According to the group, Brosch was signed on “because she was the only one who used punctuation in her response.” In the four years since reagan?’s inception, they have already recorded two albums – the first one in 1999, with the help of local producer Gene Fiero, titled She Uses Punctuation.

Reagan? picked up their newest member, Michigan State drummer Christopher Takis, in January 2002 – right on the heels of the band’s second release All The Way From Allen Street. Small town wholesomeness is an immediately apperceived trait of reagan?, for although seemingly quite new tothe business, Allen Street is definitely not a sophomoric production, with 10 full length songs acoustically mastered to perfection.

“We’re really happy with how the CD came out,” guitarist Brian Bonenberger explains. “We spent over a year working on it so it’s really polished and sounds a lot better than anything we’ve ever recorded before.”

The magic of reagan?’s voice can be experienced in Brosch’s angelic vocals, with Bonenberger’s gutsy finger-work and Smith’s strumming, melded gently into thoughtful compositions. When asked to describe their music, the band simply expresses their distain to being pigeon-holed into a singular confining characterization. The band has been labeled alt-pop, rock, indie rock, pop-rock and any other combination of those terms.

“We try to write energetic melodic rock tunes that stand out as a refreshing sound compared to the bland mainstream of today’s rock music,” offers Bonenberger. This said, reagan? is diverse in style, boasting everything from ambient beats to haunting choruses reminiscent of the theme from Magnolia.

It’s also a wonder how much reagan? has an ear for exquisite arrangements. Their songs are reflective, resolute, and excruciatingly soulful – as evident in vocals Sarah Brosch’s blues-charmed chords.

Overall, reagan? is crisp and chillingly intimate. Their newest efforts are beautifully mastered. If visually-impaired swine can fly, reagan? must be the angelic levitation that carried its tune.

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