The Damn Choir Chart Their Best Territory Yet On New Album
By Katie Karpowicz in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 7, 2014 7:20PM
Photo credit: Vanessa Buholzer
For years now The Damn Choir has been a local band worth noting. Apt at executing a plethora of genres, the potential to be great has always been there. It's just been an issue of finding the right cohesiveness for all of those varying influences.
On the band's third album Creatures of Habit, they've finally found that balance. We're just surprised it took sectoring their different musical styles even further to find that smooth flow. Creatures is a wintry pop album that slips in and out of indie punk and roots rock spells with little warning. So perhaps it's the lyrical elements that bond these thirteen songs together so tightly.
Singer and primary songwriter Gordon Robertson explained to Chicagoist that Creatures is "essentially a concept album" and though after giving it a listen we were quick to assume the overarching theme is a gut-wrenching breakup with a loved one, he was quick to correct us.
"It's a breakup album in a different sense," he told told us days before the album';s February 7th release. "I grew up very religious. I was home schooled K through 12. It's about losing someone to the church."
And while Gordon confirms the songs are about multiple people, there's one character that seems to pop up more than others. "It's mainly about one girl," he eventually admitted.
With painfully vulnerable lyrics like, "...I lay in this shallow grave and count the days. And I wait for you, so now you know that this grave was built for two," that's not hard to figure out.
It's worth noting that despite the central theme, this album is anything but sappy or emotionally stunted, especially in the musical department. Roberson's voice is at its best on songs like "Radiator" and "Surgery." The songs on Creatures are more dynamic than anything we've ever heard from The Damn Choir before and Katy Myers cello is the beautiful, soothing backbone holding all the chaos in place.
Local listeners will also enjoy picking out all of the Chicago references that run deep on Creatures. Songs like "The Town With You In It" (Robertson's favorite off the new album) hit you over the head geographically but more subtle salutes to the city (";...in the city of big shoulders take my hand," off "Radiator") are peppered throughout. Robertson admitted with a laugh that "Butcher" started as a challenge to himself to move away from the darker subject matter on the album and write a love song. Instead the finished product is a quirky narrative about Division Street the day after Humboldt Park's annual Puerto Rican Parade (complete with characters like the napping nun, the methamphetamine cooking teen and Spanish women sweeping their stoops).
We've already seen plenty of excellent album releases in 2014, so we're pleased to add a local contribution to that list.
The Damn Choir's album release show at the Hideout tonight is unfortunately sold out. The band departs on a lengthy national tour with another one of our favorites Archie Powell & The Exports following the show, but Gordon promises they'll be back this summer playing as many local festivals as they can.