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Eric Bachmann, Chin Up Chin Up, Jeremy Enigk...

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Wednesday, Oct 11, 2006
by PopMatters Staff

Eric Bachmann —"Carrboro Woman"
From To The Races on Saddle Creek.
Returning home from tour to no commonly-defined home, Eric Bachmann largely wrote his new album, To The Races, in June and July of 2005 while voluntarily living in the back of his van. Bachmann made the best of the hospitable Northwestern summer by setting up home and shop in his vehicle, and found that living like a makeshift Siddhartha worked well for him: he used the time to craft the unadorned and unapologetically forthright collection of songs that compose his first Saddle Creek release.



The Awkward Stage —"The Morons Are Winning"
From Heaven Is For Easy Girls on Mint.
In a musical climate that has never been more artificial, commercialized, and commoditized, what with television commercials replacing record stores, radios, and live venues as the new medium by which new artists get discovered along with the whole American Idol phenomenon wherein we are shown the card trick, taught how it is done, shown how empty and vacuous the industry has become, and yet we still line up for more. For those of us feeling the cultural atrophy, and yet who enjoy good pop culture, The Awkward Stage is at the forefront of that return to quality and, quite simply, pop artistry.



Chin Up Chin Up —"This Harness Can’t Ride Anything"
From This Harness Can’t Ride Anything on Suicide Squeeze.
As anyone who’s lived there can tell you, the Midwest can be an unforgiving place. The winters are freezing, the summers are humid and it’s easy to feel landlocked by the vastness of earth in every direction. Chicago’s Chin Up Chin Up have successfully embodied that feeling with their second full-length, This Harness Can’t Ride Anything;  yet as bleak as things may appear, there’s a pervasive feeling of hope inherent in the band’s brand of avant pop which stretches further than the Windy City’s skyline.



Rafter —"Bicycle"
From 10 Songs on Asthmatic Kitty.
All the day-in-day-out experience of working with every conceivable genre/instrument/taste has created a Frankenstein richness that Rafter employs to grand effect. Electro-keyboard chug and gurgle is matched with wind/string flourish, raw drum melded with toy piano plink and banjo plunk. The wire that runs through and connects these disparate structures is a wide-openmindedness when it comes to style and sound, and a lyrical essence that more often than not trades the circuitous metaphor for the straightforward communique.



Jeremy Enigk—"Been Here Before"
From World Waits on Lewis Hollow.
The last time Jeremy Enigk, the singer and songwriter for emo-core pioneers Sunny Day Real Estate and The Fire Theft, released a solo album, Hilary was testifying about Whitewater, Dolly was being cloned, and the Ramones were about to play their last gig. It’s been awhile. If World Waits has more rock and less chamber texture than its predecessor, they both share a timelessness in sound that has roots in Enigk’s lifelong love for The Beatles, The Who and vintage U2.

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