Friday, August 26, 2005

Shameless boosterism

I don't know if you've noticed, but I've been talking more about Chicago music lately (this week alone Red Eyed Legends, Eva Destruction and Her Big Band and producer Brad Wood). It's intentional. A few weeks ago I decided that I'm not paying enough attention to the local scene and need to do something about it. That thing about thinking globally, acting locally--it applies to indie rock too. And it's not like I lack bands to write about. We've got a vast, rich, eclectic city of music here. But, you know, I'm not expecting Mayor Daley to show up on my doorstep with a key to the city or anything . . .

WildernessOne of the best albums released by a Chicago artist this year--Wilderness from Archer Prewitt--seems to have been somewhat neglected by the mp3 blogging community. Neglected despite an 8.5 from Pitchfork, an A from Stylus and acclaim from plenty of other professional critics. Neglected despite Prewitt's prodigious talent for writing complex, intricate, yet engaging songs, his fine musicianship, warm, seductive voice, and a pedigree formed by stints in such legendary Chicago bands as The Coctails and The Sea and Cake.

This is a record full of surprises, none as great as "O, KY," a tribute to the state of Prewitt's birth and a meditation on his father's death. As it lyrically wends itself through rough emotional terrain, tempos shift, piano lines fade in and out, Prewitt's acoustic strumming is contemplative, then tense, then joyful. It's a mature song on a mature album--in the best possible sense of that word. This kind of musical sophistication and mood is hard-won, built on lived, not fabricated, experience and would be unimaginable coming from one of the "emo" horde's more callow singer-songwriters.

O, KY (mp3) - Archer Prewitt

We Go Alone (mp3) - Archer Prewitt

Final Season (mp3) - Archer Prewitt

"We Go Alone" is from a Thrill Jockey Records compilation and was also, I believe, released as a b-side. "Final Season" appears on Prewitt's 1999 album White Sky.

Prewitt's not just a fine musician, he's also a respected illustrator (see the Wilderness cover) and comic artist. He's produced three issues of Sof' Boy, featuring a strangely unsettling character that resembles Caspar the Ghost and the Pillsbury Doughboy and whose adventures refer to some of the vicissitudes--some violent--of Prewitt's own life.

Sof' Boy

4 Comments:

Blogger -tr0y- said...

posts like this one are why i stop by every day. Prewitt's record was one of my fave of last year!! i looked at my "times played" on iTunes and it looks like ive played the entire album on my laptop 13 times since i bought it. that doesnt count on my iPod.

9:59 PM  
Blogger trill42 said...

Very cool post, Amy. You're right; Wilderness deserved lots more attention. Archer Prewitt is great. Don't turn down that key if it's offered... first find out if it can really get you into anywhere you want to go, or whether it's just an oversized novelty item.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Dave Max Crawford said...

I play in Archer's band, and I must say, it's nice to read a post from somebody who has actually LISTENED! Thanks for the kind words and boosterism.

2:43 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

So good of y'all. Dave (or is it Max?), I'm always happy to hear that artists aren't, if nothing else, offended. (And don't be so modest--you do more than play in Archer's band. You're a valued fixture on the Chicago scene. I can't even count the number of great records you've contributed to.)

9:07 PM  

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