One-time cover stars Pelican hail from Chicago, metropolis of the Great Lakes states. While last year saw the departure of guitarist Laurent Schroeder-Lebec, new blood has brought new tunes beginning with the 7" the band will drop next week. To celebrate, guitarists Trevor de Brauw and newcomer Dallas Thomas, bassist Bryan Herweg and drummer Larry Herweg were kind enough to put together a playlist that focuses exclusively on bands from the good old Midwestern United States. Feel free to listen along to their carefully cultivated picks here. While you're at it, check out "Deny the Absolute"--one of two tracks on the aforementioned 7"--below and pick up a hard copy from our pals at The Mylene Sheath here.
Pinebender's "Begin Here" (from 2003's The High Price of Living Too Long With A Single Dream) Pinebender are a perfect band by my aesthetic definition: beautifully melodic, emotional music bludgeoningly delivered. The opening cut from their sophomore album The High Price of Living Too Long With a Single Dream (added points for an album title that any and every underground musician can relate to) swaggers with a dirge-y sway, as an earworm guitar melody get buried under waves of distortion that pile on with each repetition of the verse/chorus. Then the bottom drops out you drift slowly back to shore. (Trevor)
Shiner's "The Egg" (from 2001's The Egg) Al from The Life and Times' previous band. So ahead of their time. This year saw the Shiner reunion supporting the reissue of this LP on vinyl. This is the standout track on the album. The drumming on this track/album is stellar. Highly recommended! (Larry)
Electric Hawk's "Depailure" (from 2011's Electric Hawk) One of, if not the, tightest and best sounding live band in Chicago right now. Heavy, melodic, and catchy. Can't really put my finger on what band to compare them to...judge for yourself. Every time I see them play it is like getting kicked in the crotch and getting a music lesson at the same time. (Dallas)
Young Widows' "The Muted Man" (from 2011's In And Out Of Youth And Lightness) If we're talking about Midwestern bands, I can't pass up the opportunity to talk about Young Widows. Young Widows have been making some of the most interesting and unique music over the past eight years. This song, "The Muted Man", is off the full length In and Out of Youth and Lightness and stood out as soon as I heard it. It trudges along and drags you with it, but ultimately it leaves you hanging. This is something that Widows do so well, they build atmosphere and tension just to the point of climax...and then the song ends. (Bryan)
Sweet Cobra's "Silvered" (from 2010's Mercy) Chicago hometown heroes that Pelican has played with for years. This is their third full length and my favorite. This is my choice track from that album; dynamic, epic, and heavy. Unfortunately, this was their last album with guitarist Matt Arluck, RIP. Word is they just tracked a new album downstate with Matt Talbott from Hum. (Larry)
Bloodiest's "Fallen" (from 2011's Descent) If you ever wanted to hear Neurosis with fast, droning virtuoso finger and tremolo guitar picking, along with tight pounding drums and eerie melodic vocals on top, this seven piece unit nails it every time. (Dallas)
Low's "Over the Ocean" (from 1996's The Curtain Hits The Cast) This band requires zero introduction. I like to think some of our forays into the "less is more" mentality have their roots in Low's deliberately understated approach. This song has been a longtime favorite, perhaps most of all due to its perfect two note guitar solo, which manages to be as evocative as it is minimal. (Trevor)
The Life and Times' "Day Six" (from 2012's No One Loves You Like I Do) Opening space rock/dirge track on the latest album from these Kansas City/Chicago boys. Pelican has toured with these guys over the years and had the pleasure of having Al guest vocal on our track "Final Breath". Hope we can work with him again in the future... (Larry)
Radar Eyes' "Disconnection" (from 2012's Radar Eyes) While most of the sub-scenes in Chicago ebb and flow, the one constant has been the city's tight-knit garage rock scene. The current crop of bands in that circle are on a creative tear lately--arguably best among them is Radar Eyes, who merge excellent barebones punk song structures with gothic sonic texture and undeniably catchy melodies. "Disconnection" was my favorite song from 2012, subject to an epic quantity of plays. (Trevor)
Califone's "Slow Rt. Hand" (from 2001's Roomsound) This is a song from Califone's first full length, Roomsound. Califone has been experimenting with country, rock, blues and electronics in Chicago since 2000. This song captures the foot-stomping percussion, the beautiful twangy drone of acoustic guitars and the many other instruments that float in and out of the periphery. Not only is the song well written but the recording itself gives it a live, gritty character that one comes to expect from Califone's work. (Bryan)
Anatomy Of Habit's "Torch" (from 2011's Anatomy Of Habit) Not for people looking for instant gratification, but if you wait for it, the pay off is immense! A good mix of Joy Division, Swans, and even a bit of High on Fire at the end. One of my Chicago faves for sure. (Dallas)
Hum's "Boy With Stick" (from 1995's The Pod EP) Hum was one of the heaviest bands out of Illinois during the mid '90s. This track is a b-side from the single "The Pod", which was released just before their second record You'd Prefer an Astronaut. This song is a great example of Hum's style, which was melodic, spacey and devastatingly heavy. I was lucky enough to catch them at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago in 1998 when they played their last show before disbanding. That experience changed the way I think about heavy music and still inspires me to this day. (Bryan)
*Order a copy of the "Deny The Absolute" b/w "The Truce" 7" here.
**We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here.
Past entries include:
Scale The Summit Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) (Part 1) (Part 2) Mouth Of The Architect Howl Kings Destroy Zozobra Call of the Void Saint Vitus Bar Coliseum Woe Anciients Soilwork (Dirk Verbeuren) (Björn Strid) Intronaut BATILLUS Inter Arma Helen Money Misery Index Ancient VVisdom Holy Grail Rotten Sound Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2) Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2) Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2) Early Graves All That Remains Bison B.C. A Life Once Lost Fight Amp Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander) Vision of Disorder Grave Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2) "Best of" Rush (Part 1) (Part 2) Dawnbringer Ufomammut Shadows Fall Horseback Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2) Torche "Best of" Meshuggah Astra Pallbearer Barren Earth Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)