There is so much good music in Chicago that it's a wonder you don't hear about more bands from here. So it's with great pleasure that I get to review a local band like Fall Classic. They're a four-piece that has played my favorite rooms in the city. Other than that, they haven't provided much in the way of a bio. But they sound amazing - raw drums and fuzzy guitars, organs and rough vocals. Like a garage band that knows what they're doing before they decide to release anything. Because of a lack of information, we're going to get straight into the music itself.
When you hear their album Man/Other Beasts, it begins with "Bones & Blood.” You will start to wonder if you've gone back to 2005. It sounds like a summer spent driving to park district gyms and theaters that are no longer open to see bands that nobody has heard of. It sounds like nostalgia. The band decides to add some soul and funk to their raw sound with "I Need A Year,” a sprawling song with an incredible breakdown. "Can You Hear Me Now" gives us alternating handclaps and drums and a catchy guitar riff. The chorus is absolutely glorious as chaos unfolds beneath, singer, Ryan Jeffrey's cry of "Can you hear me now?".
Admitting that you're only going to disappoint someone is the central message of "Lion,” the last song in the "Man" section of the album. It revolves around a simple, but powerful, guitar riff and the line, "...I will let you down..." After an intermission that features the repeatedly sung line, "We'll never survive on a fox's share," the second half of the album, "Other Beasts,” begins. Rather than mellowing out like many albums do on the sixth song, the band adds complexity to their arrangements with "Firebreaks.” The drums are sparse while the guitars focus on riffs instead of chord progressions, creating a chaotic sound that is kept just under control while Andrew Fatato takes over the lead vocals. "Fox & The Fowl" continues with the jazz and funk influences of "I Need A Year."
"The Devil" is a haunting song that sounds like a barren landscape. The arrangement is simple without being dumbed down. The guitars play only what is necessary, almost there for effect rather than something that song was actually built around. Distorted strings introduce the closing track, "Sleeping In Guest Rooms" with a catchy riff that is still stuck in my head as I write this. Meanwhile, the song itself is a bit hard to follow lyrically. It almost feels like the lyrics are meant to give the singer something to say. The song as a whole feels perfectly complete without a need to really probe for meaning.
Fall Classic, you've done Chicago proud.
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