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Rockin' Our Turntable: The Prairie Cartel

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 5, 2009 4:40PM

2009_11_pc_wdampg.jpg Where Did All My People Go is an apt title for the full length debut from The Prairie Cartel. The band -- Scott Lucas, Blake Smith, and Mike Willison -- is stocked with some of the survivors from the mid-'90s Chicago music scene that never stopped producing new music. The trio comes from a guitar heavy past but their mutual love of electronic music brought them together to synthesize their own take on motivating the denizens of the dance floor.

There is no shortage of dance rock bands these days, but what sets The Prairie Cartel apart is an infusion of what we can only describe as the Midwestern work ethic into their tunes. The songs are solid, burly, and imposing in their approach. Most of the lyrics drift towards the abstract but their delivery is unflinchingly direct. When the band does makes statements, there seems to be an unusual honesty hidden within the lyrics of "Ten Feet Of Snow" for instance, there's a directness not found in ironic stances of most of the band's dance rock brethren.

The album opens with the deceptively simple "Keep Everybody Warm," and it seems as if we're in for a simple dance rock hybrid, perhaps something along the lines of early Pop Will Eat Itself. Not bad, but not exactly inspiring. "Keep Everybody Warm" segues into "Suitcase Pimp" and it's from this point on that we're on a ride that just keeps increasing the intensity. The members of The Prairie Cartel already have a long history crafting incredible rock and/or roll guitar hooks, so they meld that with their honest appreciation and manipulation of the dance genre to create a sonically monstrous hybrid. In fact the trio doesn't let up for the first quarter of the album until the Smith sung "Beautiful Shadow" allows a brief and delicate respite from the attack. From this point on the group revels in switching up their game and keeping us surprised., employing such tactics as the Spaghetti Western twang sneaking into the Wax Trax industrial throb of "Narcotic Insidious," the gentle wash created by "No Light Escapes Here," and the primal scream of "Fuck Yeah That Wide."

It's this flexibility, and intensity, mixed with the confident delivery of men certain of their pursuits, that makes Where Did All My People Go hold our attention for its duration, andd it's those things that send up to the turntable as the needle scratches towards the label, turn the record over, and play it all over again.

MP3: The Prairie Cartel "Suitcase Pimp"

The Prairie Cartel play a record release party for the album tonight, November 5, at Angels & Kings, 710 N Clark, 9 p.m., FREE, 21+