Forgotten Species Builds Beautiful Walls Of Sound
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 21, 2014 7:00PM
It's a cliche to be certain but Forgotten Species literally came into being over drinks at a bar. Keyboardist Chris Nixon is one of the owners of The Burlington, a bar his pal Blake Smith would frequent, and other friends Lizz Kannenberg and Matt Zemburski occasionally slung drinks behind the counter. O.K., we're slightly burying the lede because all four of these folks had already put in time in various local band—Smith was in Fig Dish, Caviar and The Prairie Cartel; Nixon was in Sono; Kannenberg had played in SND ON SND and Grammar as well as slinging guest bass in a number of other one-offs (and is a sometime Chicagoist contributor when she has a free second); and Zemburski held down the drum kit in Eiffel Tower—so this wasn't exactly a crew of novices falling into a caper together by pure chance.
Given the members' experience it's no surprise that Forgotten Species' debut EP, Hades Fades, is a tight piece of work. Smith has always had an undeniable knack for a hook and he's not afraid to bury a melody underneath a wall of fuzz. His collaborators step up to the challenge of making their own mark and the result is five songs that demand to be played on repeat. Kannenberg's bass provides a nice solid through-line that acts as counterpoint to Smith's waves of noise, and her vocals provide a similar sense of balance to Smith's singing. Nixon's keyboards also fight their way through the mix and add unexpected bursts of melody that continue to strengthen the structure of each song. And Zemburski bashes away in the background, doing his best to tie the whole thing together with a steady beat while still taking chances and veering into fills to make sure no corner of a song feels weak.
The band's sound has its root in late '80s and early '90s British fare, pulling bits and pieces from shoegaze and Britpop while slathering it with a healthy dose of post-millennial noise. Smears of noise dominate the mix but at the core of each song is the sort of perfect pop that would survive even if you stripped it down to a single instrument and a human voice, something most bands as addicted to the distortion pedal and pure volume can't claim to be true. It's intoxicating and their EP is filled to the brim with this delicious mix of noise wrapped around taut songwriting. Give the whole thing a listen here.
While the EP is excellent, the band's live show delivers on it promise and Forgotten Speces is playing an EP release show tomorrow at Schubas. Daniel Wade (a guy you might already be familiar with) and Ancient Friends open.
Saturday, Nov. 22, at Schubas, 3159 N Southport, 9 p.m., $8, 21+