…Since I hate it that I’m always posting about stuff I like and writing nice things about it and hoping I don’t come off as a shill on the take, I would now like to be a grumpy contrarian and pose the following question:
Are there any artists as crashingly dull as Modest Mouse or Death Cab For Cutie?
Follow-up regarding these two bands and ten years ago: What the hell were we thinking?
So back in February we hepped you cats to the long-rumored and finally-released second album by a Chicago band called The Living Blue, who have been a favorite of mine since they started recording back about five years ago as The Blackouts. Sadly, that second album, Walk, Talk, Rhythm, Roam was The Living Blue’s swansong. By the time it came out and reading between the lines, I gather that most of the lineup of the band had split and that lead singer and guitarist Stephen Ucherek was kicking around the Windy City putting another group together. By the end of February, The Living Blue was officially no more…but Ucherek had a new band called Village, and some new tracks up on a Village myspace page.
I think I may have linked to some of those back then. The songs were very raw and obviously demos or reference tracks. A few months ago Ucherek announced that he was actually getting these new songs by Village recorded in studio, and had recruited a band proper to make Village an actual group instead of a one-man show. Over the last month or so more demo tracks and stuff have come out, and the quality of the songs has steadily improved. But none of that prepared me for what I’m listening to right now.
Seems as if in the last day or so Ucherek has uploaded 4 songs from an ep he hopes to release soon, and these are finished studio tracks, and to put it mildly, they’re stunning. You can only hear them on his myspace page, so I suggest you run, not walk over there right now. Go! Go! We’ll still be here, but seriously head over there. Oh right, a link:
Here’s the thing. The Blackouts record was pretty good. The first Living Blue disc was even better. The second Living Blue disc topped them both, and is absolutely excellent….but here Ucherek and company have outdone all of that. He’s abandoned any lingering pretext of his roots playing a vaguely “garage-rock” sound and has instead embraced a sound that hearkens back to the postpunk days of classic Homestead Records stuff, only with a better songwriting sense than all but a few of the folks on that label had.
Just play those four songs in order, dude. “Hopeless” just threw me on my ass, but “Trash Palace” is the best song Ucherek’s ever written and manages to top “Hopeless”. I’ll admit that the loosey-goosey and unhinged demo version of “Lava Birds” sounded better to me than this more careful and studio-realized version does, but it’s still a great song. Finally, “Downtown Girls” builds an awesome guitar riff in the verse and then outdoes it with an even better one in the chorus.
It took Walk, Talk, Rhythm, Roam almost 2 years to get released, and clearly Ucherek spent that time well by writing a whole lot of very, very good songs. The ep is tentatively titled “Minimal Animal”, and the band promises it’ll be available “soon”. For now, bliss out on the tracks at myspace, because these are four of the best songs you’re going to hear this summer.