Layered, dense, and driving, this Chicago-based outfit recalls British new wave bands Lush, the Cocteau Twins, and Joy Division. Though her vocals sit low in the mix, singer and songwriter Ami Gloria shows ample confidence. Light also pierces the dark textures, as on “Highway”: “Open your big bark eyes / Upon that big dark highway / I’ll be walking along.”
“My Ride’s Almost Here” is a chamber-pop gem à la Nick Drake, but the rock mode of this Boston band works equally well. “The Fight Against Paranoia” rides on tumbling rhythm, and “Try This Again” melds rustic accordion to scratchy, catchy guitar riffs.
Those who know Llanas from his time in the BoDeans will recognize his voice: still sharp and tough, yet infused with urgency on the leadoff track “Déjà Vu” and the plaintive rocker “The Best I Can.” On the tender side, “I’m Still Alive” could serve as Llanas’s theme song, given the ups and downs of his former band: “I’m grateful for another day / Another chance to find my way.”
Peter Himmelman is a rock ’n’ roll anomaly: an observant Jew who has long declined to play any shows on the sabbath. But this serious commitment to his faith gives his songs heft. He’s addressed brokenness, healing, and humility in songs such as “Impermanent Things” and “Mission of My Soul.” And Himmelman has a knack for melding lyrical complexity with catchy melody.
I am told to be grateful as I wake each morning wrapped in the unfolding blanket of dawn, shake off the moon, dying stars, and taste the beige-gray breath of incipient day.
Grateful to whom or what? To the rain that coats the pavement with its timid sheen, the birds’ silence in the settling damp, the bodies of neighbors rising, reluctant, in boxes of houses that line the street with woe and weariness?
Let me drink strong coffee, toast my bread with dailiness, uncurl myself to a day lit only by a hidden sun. I might have been rich or famous, cured cancer, saved the world. For now, let me watch butter melt as a golden flower.