Confession of the day: The Panic Manual’s album reviews by 12 year olds have made me self-conscious of writing my own as they are often
1) more comprehensible and
2) more carefully researched than mine.
So, rather than upping my game, I instead roped my friend Scott over at Impassable Nights into doing a side-by-side review of Minor Characters’ new album with me. Hopefully the knowledge accumulated from our combined 48 years can begin to compete with middle schoolers (because yes, everything is a competition and you can win everything – often by adopting the strategy of quantity over quality). Readers can also feel free to think of this as the equivalent of 4 album reviews by 12 year olds.
I first discovered Chicago Foursome Minor Characters when they opened for Portugal. The Man at the Vic a couple of weeks ago, and I was immediately a fan. They’re the kind of band you love to love: up and coming, great sound, with no pretensions and a “just happy to be here” attitude. Turns out they dropped their first EP in November of last year so of course I had to check it out. The self-titled, five track album has a gratifyingly eclectic mix of sounds ranging from a retro-pop feel on “Burden” to a 90’s punk vibe on “If I were you” all overlaid with an indie sensibility and interwoven with some excellent falsetto from lead singer Andrew Pelletier. Upon listening to it in its entirety, what struck me most was the ebb and flow of the album – one moment sweetly melodic and the next gripping you with catchy guitar riffs and engaging lyrics. You can check out the entire album on their website and if you’re feeling this band, and you decide that you can forgo that McChicken sandwich this week, the album’s on-sale for $1.
This search for the next big act can be incredibly daunting. Take a snapshot of the music industry today and it’s nothing like it was 10 years ago. The Internet has transformed the music landscape; nowadays, anybody can make it big, so long as they come up with something novel, different, or at least stylish. When I first listened to this EP, my ear drew comparisons to Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief with a touch of The Shins. But that’s not for what bands want to be known. At the heart of the independent music scene, one key desire stands alone: the drive to be unique (let’s not dive into the paradox of non-conformity as conformity). I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the album really ends with a taste of its own – something authentic. Give the album a listen, and let me know if you can figure out from where this long-lost flavor came. It’s certainly not tied to your McDonald’s dollar menu.