Release Date: Feb 22, 2011
Record label: K Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi
If nothing else, you gotta give Chain and the Gang frontman/driving force Ian Svenonius (late of Nation of Ulysses and Weird War, among others) credit for heading off any critical brickbats before they can be swung at his band’s sophomore album. His defense is right there in the album title: “Don’t like it? That’s OK, cuz—ahem—Music’s Not For Everyone. ” Odds are, however, he won’t have to resort to that sneer.
Ian Svenonius has been a talk show host, an essayist, and the frontman for D.C. punk, hardcore, and mod/soul groups Nation of Ulysses, the Make-Up, and Weird War. Add to that résumé a stint earlier this year as the honorary activities director and keynote speaker for a weekend-long, garage rock "Bruise Cruise" to the Bahamas. In a Washington City Paper essay about the cruise-- titled "A Supposedly Punk Thing I'll Never Do Again"-- Svenonius also acted as a sort of self-aware narrative interlocutor, peeking over the fourth wall to ask, "How's the story going? What's it going to say?" On Chain and the Gang's debut, Down With Liberty...
Chain and the Gang's second album gives Ian Svenonius another opportunity to stand in front of a massive ensemble of musicians on his soapbox. As on Down with Liberty... Up with Chains!, a who’s who of K Records clientele backs up the former frontman of the Make-Up while he holds together the purposely loose show with poignant rants and loads of charisma.
The key to “getting” Chain & the Gang is to understand the oeuvre of its conceptual wellspring, namely one Ian Svenonius. If that name rings a bell, it should. Aside from simply sounding important, Svenonius is a punk rock OG, a scene vet with massive cred, having fronted early-90s DC/Dischord outfit Nation of Ulysses, whose seminal record, 13-Point Program to Destroy America, served to influence the sound and politics of bands like At The Drive-In and The Refused.
The Psychic Paramount Are you ready for “The Psychic Paramount II”? Have you checked your hydration, nerves, attention span? Been jumping rope, taking your Omega 3? This is instrumental power-trio prog-rock for those who never had time for Rush and find the Mars Volta a bridge to nowhere; it’s greasy and physical and incredibly loud. This New York band’s new album, on No Quarter, feels like constant minimalist crescendo and tension building. It’s the kind of thing Glenn Branca used to do so well in the 1980s, but with elements he denied himself: psychedelic side roads, flexible rhythm, and only one guitar, played by Drew St.