Release Date: Jul 24, 2015
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Chicago stalwarts Eleventh Dream Day have carved out that most perfect niche in the world of indie rock. Having survived a pre-Alternative Nation stint on a major label and with members comfortably working in other musical or vocational arenas, they can calmly reconnect every few years and discharge a torrent of Crazy Horse-like guitar wrangling and pained lyrical bloodlettings with little concern for their commercial prospects. Now seems a great time for the band to return with their influences (Neil Young, Television) far past their creative primes, their peers in creative hibernation, and the current spate of guitar rock proving far less daring and dangerous.
Eleventh Dream Day is probably as much a force as a band at this point. There's something about it that draws Rick Rizzo, Janet Bean, and Doug McCombs (and Mark Greenberg, for the last few albums) back together every X years to show that they're still one of America's most underappreciated rock bands. It seems they've been upping the energy since Greenberg joined the band, and on Works for Tomorrow they're further energized by the presence of Jim Elkington (using a second guitarist for the first time since 1994's Ursa Major).
Few—if any—indie rock bands have been subject to as much armchair quarterbacking as Eleventh Dream Day. They had the songs, they had the chops, but they just never quite got the timing right. Their brief dalliance with the majors was, by most accounts, an unmitigated disaster; Atlantic so badly botched—and then quickly abandoned—1993's would-be breakthrough El Moodio that the band issued a director's cut of sorts, New Moodio, in 2013.
Maybe it’s all the Red Bull sponsorship that has been infiltrating the music industry, and the subsequent endless free cans of the “energy drink” that come along with it. Or maybe it is our culture’s increasing emphasis on the value of youth and the refusal to grow old. Or maybe it’s the fact that digital piracy has greatly reduced back catalog revenue streams for lifers who should theoretically be able to slow down and let the money roll right in.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. The last few years have seen a number of bands most commonly associated with the late '80s and early '90s either reforming, replaying the hits or completely reinventing themselves. Pavement, Pixies, Sebadoh and Dinosaur Jr. have successfully and - especially in the case of the latter - convincingly positioned themselves not only at the heart of the nostalgia market, but also as genuine critical contenders again.
Eleventh Dream Day—Works for Tomorrow (Thrill Jockey)“I’ve got no advice to share!” Guitarist Rick Rizzo and drummer Janet Beveridge Bean don’t just say it, they holler it like a coach threatening to bite off an umpire’s nose-end. Most likely you know the Eleventh Dream Day story; 80s Chicago best-in-show guitar rockers get screwed twice by the same major label, throttle back and carry on in lower-key fashion while various members gain acclaim in other bands (Tortoise, Brokeback, Freakwater, Horse’s Ha). The story gets trotted out every time they make a new record, as though the new record by itself is proof of a sustainable-living happy ending.
Hop in the time machine, manipulate the dials, teleport yourself back to 1985 and tell expectant citizens of the era that some of their young, thrusting, larvae-like independent rock bands are going to exist for another thirty years. The idea would likely frazzle their noggins, wouldn't it? Thirty years before that, the "rock band" as we think of it today hadn't even been invented. Any prototypical bands shameless enough to still hang around in 1985 were de facto dinosaurs, so why not compound your befuddling by informing the 80s that The Rolling Stones will, in 2015, continue to exist, and make mindboggling amounts of money every time they deign to tour? At which point they will surely be weeping bloody tears for their children's future.
At this very moment, there are likely hundreds of bands banging out a wall of power chords in the privacy of a practice space or somewhere in public. It’s also likely that very few of them will bring the same passion and fury to the proceedings as Eleventh Dream Day. These relentless Midwesterners continue to play one- or two-chord crunches which sound like they invented them.
Fact: there is no such thing as a bad Eleventh Dream Day record. However, it’s also true to say that it’s been a fair while since the hiatus-prone Chicago-based outfit released a truly great one; in the shape of 2000’s superb Stalled Parade. Whilst 2006’s Zeroes And Ones and 2011’s Riot Now! were up the band’s own very high standards, the former was a tad too studio-polished and the latter a little over-reactionary in its rawness.