Chin Up Chin Up Chin Up Chin Up EP

[Flameshovel; 2005]

Styles: jittery indie-rock that never spares the whip
Others: Punjab, Minus The Bear, Pinback, The Appleseed Cast

As a young and struggling band, Chin Up Chin Up has racked up an unusual level of psychic woe. During the time that the band was working on their first full-length album, original member and bassist Chris Saathoff was sadly killed in a hit-and-run accident. Following a period of mourning, the band persevered and finished the album, We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers, which has been received well and given the band a decent following even outside their hometown of Chicago. The band was able to preserve many of Saathoff's bass lines, but ultimately, the album and its release were posthumous events. Luckily, there was an EP recorded and released before his untimely departure, and the band's current label, Flameshovel, has seen fit to release an extended version of it, making it available to a larger audience.

While digging into the catalogue can often seem like a step backward, especially for an emerging band, this EP is not a simplified or reduced version of the sound of the full length. With that said, four of these tracks are also on the full length - with the extended portion being three differently mixed versions of these songs. But in the songs that are not shared, this shorter release actually shows more range, indicative of a precocious band feeling its way into its identity. This isn't to say that the EP doesn't hang together well, because there are definite constants throughout. One can count on intricate guitar maneuvering over a solid, but constantly shifting, rhythm section. Another unifying element is the hushed and anguished vocals of Jeremy Bolen. Unfortunately, when Bolen breaks out of the hush, his voice loses a certain charisma. This is particularly evident on "Fuck You, Elton John" and "Pillage the Village," where he seems to shoot for the quirky yelp of Isaac Brock but instead hits something more akin to the vocals of deceased fellow Chicagoan Wesley Willis. Although it could be fun in its own right, it undermines the otherwise earnest spirit of the songs. Apart from those moments, the EP paints a picture of a band with tons of potential, and with the benefit of knowing its future trajectory, it seems that the potential has begun to pan out.

1. Collide the Tide
2. Fuck You, Elton John
3. For All the Tanning Salons in Texas
4. The Soccer Mom Gets Her Fix
5. I'm Not Asking for a Tennis Bracelet
6. Pillage the Village
7. We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers (Stephen Snydacker Mix)
8. Falconz and Vulcanz
9. The Architect Has a Gun (Ronald Simmons/Gene McDonald Mix)