Ian Svenonius is an exceedingly busy man circa Fall 2017. He's not only playing gigs with a reunited line-up of The Make-Up (that pic up there by moi during the band's blistering set at The Black Cat last May), he's also about to unveil a semi-solo debut on Merge with his Escape-ism project, and he's now gonna drop an all-new Chain and The Gang record this Friday. Called Experimental Music, the record is, quite frankly, very nearly the most consistent long-playing release this band has ever put out on the market.
Recorded in Michigan with a line-up that includes a bunch of solid players (Fred Thomas, Danny Kroha, Shelley Salant, Ben Collins, Madie McCormick, and Amber Fellows), this new one from Chain and The Gang is a concise slab of retro-leaning, DIY-style alt-rock of the sort that only Ian could possibly pull off. In other hands, this would devolve into kitsch but the former Nation of Ulysses front-man has a knack for this sort of yeh-yeh stuff, delivering it with just the right mix of fervor and farce that it requires, as the team flays behind him. If the opening title track is like Brill Building song-craft as imagined by the young fellas in V.U., then the strutting "Logic Of Night" is an on-target mish-mash of Standells and other Nuggets legends. Similarly, the wonderfully-titled "Rome Wasn't Burned In A Day" sounds exactly like you'd imagine it would, all "Look out, look out, look out!" Shangri-La rabble-rousing wrapped around organs and drums that pop like cheap cap-guns. Wisely, Svenonius keeps things revved up here, steering away from the down-tempo numbers that littered older Chain and The Gang albums in favor of sharp rockers like the party tune "Come Over" and "Temporary Insanity", a track that brings to mind the charms found on the End Of The Century release from The Ramones. The trend here on Experimental Music towards stompers hits a kind of peak on the intriguing "Don't Scare Away the Ghost", a cut that sees Svenonius ride a riff into oblivion with a certain degree of conviction that's a good deal more serious than the song's clever title.
Succinct and superbly delivered, Experimental Music is the most intense Chain and The Gang record yet. It is punchy, smart, and fun. Full of delicious swing, Svenonius has marched Chain and The Gang through some real paces here, and on towards the light. He's seen it, they've seen it, and now fans can see it. Get with the program and sign up with the Gang.
Experimental Music by Chain and The Gang is out via Radical Elite and you can order it via Dischord, or the link below.