Rockin' Our Turntable: Hushdrops' Double LP, 'Tomorrow'
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 13, 2014 9:05PM
Hushdrops' first album, Volume 1, came out in 2003, and while the band has never stopped playing live shows no new material appeared until now. There are few veritable music geniuses in Chicago—there are many talented folks in the scene but only a small percentage are truly visionary—but the argument could be made that Hushdrops' singer/guitarist John San Juan is one of them. When you pair his encyclopedic knowledge of music with his ability to play just about anything he lays his hands on, add the steady bass playing of Jim Shapiro and the tornado drumming of Joe Camarillo, you get something truly unique. Pair that with the band's near obsessive—O.K., fully obsessive—attention to detail and you can see why it took their new album Tomorrow a decade to grow into what it's become and get released into the world.
Visionaries tend to not make small statements, so Tomorrow is a sprawling double album that reaches into all corners of the musical world while always hewing closely to San Juan's distinctive voice and style. There's a lot of '60s and '70s rock in here, a deluge of pop and psychedelia, but there's also a manic punk underpinning driving much of the music. I suppose one could describe Tomorrow as today's version of Maximum R&B.
Since Tomorrow is a double album, it's best listened to in a single listen. Taking in the music at the appropriate doses only leads to euphoria; taking the whole thing in one sitting without breaks between sides can lead to a happy exhaustion. Its construction also makes it difficult to parse one song's virtue over another's as the music is meant to wash over you and lead from one wave into the next. As we were trying to pick apart the virtues of "Have We Gone Too Far," a beautifully surging gem of pop, we found that the follow up thunderous crush leading into sweet melodies that is "Find Her" only amplified the previous song's power. So wait, this is truly what an album is supposed to do! Songs comment upon and strengthen each other and aren't simply placed in order of descending possibility of single release? What a concept! And so on and so on, all throughout Tomorrow.
It isn't lost on us that an album titled Tomorrow would take so many of its cues from the past, right down to the rather unexpected move of recording this ambitious collection of songs entirely in mono. But if that's the context you view something like this in you're missing the whole picture. Hushdrops has used every bit of their own grasp of musical history to create something so perfectly put together it can only exist just over the horizon of our expectation. This is truly an album that exists somewhere outside of the present, an album for tomorrow.
The Hushdrops play a release show for Tomorrow Sunday, June 15, at Liar's Club, 1665 W. Fullerton, BBQ at 4 p.m., band on at 6 p.m., $5, 21+