Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Kid, Go Listen to Loomings!

March 28, 2009

At its forefront you’ll find a good deal of iniquity in the world of rock n’ roll. But, hiding in the alcoves of northern Illinois, you’ll find the ever-virtuous Kid, You’ll Move Mountains. They’ve got it all: that honesty and humbleness that when you hear it, you know even before you check their Myspace page that they’re from the Midwest; the patience that, after a year of recording, put a well-thought-out full-length album under their belts despite geographical complications and the numerous bands they began as a side-project to; and the simplicity and simultaneous bravery that offer something easy to latch on to while also challenging the band to explore the reaches of its own lengths and depths. These guys (and gal) aren’t just in it for the free beer, that’s for sure.

If you’ve heard any of the bands (El Oso, Troubled Hubble, Inspector Owl, etc.) that are parents to the lovechild that is Kid, You’ll Move Mountains, you might have a guess as to what their debut, Loomings, holds in store – but you couldn’t guess how well they pull it off. The brothers Lanthrum provide a fierce rhythm section and a sturdy spine without being afraid to throw a wrench into things with unusual bass effects and captivatingly intense beats. Corey Wills’ fancy effect-laden guitar work does an exemplary job filling out the band’s sound with spacey riffs and all the right noise in all the right places, weaving in and out with Nina Lanthrum’s often Hold Steady-esque piano work. The occasional chiming of Nina’s sweet and un-straying vocals blend seamlessly with Jim Hanke’s almost effortlessly sincere lyricism and strategically placed peaks and valleys of intensity and serenity.

“I guess it all depends how you want this to taste,” Hanke calmly sings to open up the album before riling himself up with loads of clever wordplay and brutal honesty. But I like to think of this line as a disclaimer, explaining the thought that just as our peers or anyone else can convince us of something, we can just as easily convince ourselves of the same, or otherwise– and to acknowledge this is to acknowledge that the band is well aware of our predisposal, thus allowing us to relinquish our biases and listen with an entirely open mind. From there the album only picks up.

With a mere nine tracks, Loomings is damn near impossible to get bored with. Even when the tempo isn’t at its highest, they put enough candy in your ears to keep you on a sugar high until well after the album’s end. If “I’m a Song From the Sixties” doesn’t have you on your feet dancing or “An Open Letter to Wherever You’re From” doesn’t have you singing “Midnight, my house – the last one out of the city, burn it down…” non-stop, then you probably need your ears cleaned out.

Kid, You’ll Move Mountains’ debut full-length(ish) may have come out in the middle of a harsh Midwest winter, but I think Loomings will become an instant classic filed under ‘indie rock road trip’ music, and it leaves us hopeful for a summer just as long, so that we can listen to this with the windows down and feet on the dash for just a while longer. For fans of bands like Maritime, Annuals, and Mock Orange, I strongly suggest you get your hands on this release.

El Oso-Whichever Chapter Covers Now

May 1, 2005

el-osoBand Name: El Oso
Album Name: Whichever Chapter Covers Now
Best element: Unique take on indie-rock
Genre: Indie-rock/indie-pop
Website: http://www.eloso.net
Label name: Contraphonic (http://www.contraphonic.com)
Band e-mail: eloso@eloso.net

There’s just some voices that can not be silenced. Even after they stop physically coming at you from your speakers, they resonate in the corners of your room, the headspace of your car, the attic of your mind. In a figurative sense, El Oso possesses one of those: a jubilant, joyous, unique indie-rock voice.

In a much more literal sense, vocalist Jim Hanke has the voice I’m describing- a light, soaring, yet highly sincere and gripping voice that glues me to El Oso. His voice is used with great precision throughout the album, from soaring lines on the minimalist opener “Country Radio” to plaintive lines on the rockin’ “The Great American Novel” to the distorted whispers that accompany the dark, cramped “Lions”. If that little grocery list didn’t give you an inkling of El Oso’s sound, this next line should: El Oso plays indie rock with occasional electronic tendencies and an emphasis on pop relatability.

And since they emphasize the pop elements of their sound, those are the elements which turn out the most. The elegant piano line here, the electronic pattern there, a splash of slide guitar and bells- all used sparingly and for great effect. The basic set-up is guitar/guitar/bass/drums- but what they do outside of that set-up is what makes El Oso shine musically. The best example of this is the powerful “Mt. Iceberg”, which cues up a chorus of male voices before dropping down to a click-drumming pattern, a bell kit, a piano, and hushed vocals. To say that it’s a contrast isn’t doing it justice- it’s a statement.

If you like the Shins, you should definitely check out “Julie Ann Fitzpatrick”- it’s a thrill that the Shins would be envious of. If you like the Strokes, you should check out “Natural Life”- you’ll dig it. And if you like downtempo, mellow stuff, you have to check out “Bury It and Smile”.

If a critic says he hates something, I usually go out and buy it to see for myself. If a critic says he likes something, I’m not as interested in it, for some reason. If I need to thrash El Oso to get you to go buy this, then I’ll do it- because you need this album if you like indie music. There’s no way around it. Whichever Chapter Covers Now will be on my top ten of 2005 list, and probably towards the top three. Until then the voice of El Oso will echo in my head.

-Stephen Carradini

IndependentClauses@hotmail.com

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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