Eleventh Dream Day Returns To Their Roots On New LP
By Chicagoist in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 22, 2015 7:30PM
Eleventh Dream Day, photo by Sam Prekop
Chicago-based Eleventh Dream Day has been mining the same simple and noisy blueprint since their inception in the mid '80s, when they were too noisy for college rock and too laid-back for the hardcore scene.
Not much has changed in the intervening thirty years. After a hiatus in the mid '90s, the band began to absorb some of the influences of post-rock while bassist Doug McCombs was busy creating Tortoise's milestone Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Fast forward to 2015 and the band has returned to their garage-rock roots on their forthcoming Works For Tomorrow.
Their highly-discussed, Neil Young-influenced sound has been replaced by a jittery kraut-rock vibe, slowly growing momentum and steam as the tracks progress. "I'm gonna take it slow!" Janet Beveridge Bean growls on the album opener "Vanishing Point," as the song dissolves into a freak-out which wouldn't have sounded out of place on the iconic '80s independent label Homestead. Rick Rizzo and Bean trade lead vocal duties but maintain the same intensity, creating a throwback, nearly-punk feel. Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon often did this, but never came together in perfect unison like Rizzo and Bean. There is a palpable chemistry between the two that nails the unsexy partnership of a real, breathing relationship.
"Cheap Gasoline" perfectly creates a Nuggets-era psych-rock flavor that churns on a loud organ riff and mad-man drum fills. Basically a one-chord song, the track eventually dissolves into another noise freak until everything drops out. "Driving with no destination, cheap thrills and cheap gasoline," is the chorus and the mantra here.
"Snowblind," another Bean vehicle, takes her powerful cackle and lays it on top of a blues stomp not unlike The Black Keys. Where Eleventh Dream Day was once a taste-making touchstone for a new generation of noisy bands, the 2015 edition of the band sees them absorbing the current sounds of the new generation. Luckily, they bring along the crunchy electric guitar of Eleventh Dream Day classics like 1989's Beet and 1991's Live To Tell.
The electric gospel-blues of bands like Spiritualized and Primal Scream sounds like an influence on the powerful album centerpiece "Go Tell It." Another single chord rave-up, "Go Tell It" could also be a love-letter to the recently departed Lou Reed, king of the one chord rave-up. The production wisely stays out of the way of the guitars and the dual lead vocals, adding a power to the chorus once it hits. And "The People's History" is the catchiest thing here, with a stop/start verse exploding into a cloudburst chorus that brings to mind the band's earliest moments.
While Works For Tomorrow doesn't surprise, it leaves the listener and longtime fan satisfied. The rock and roll equivalent to a chicken-fried steak, if you will. New converts will likely be few and far between, but the converted will have a treasure trove of new nuggets to satiate.
By: Andrew Derer