Illinois – What The Hell Do I Know?

by Woody on April 17, 2007

Fine, I admit it: I listen to Satellite radio. I feel this strange sense of cheating as though I’m not putting in the effort as I come across great new bands on freak occurrences much like Columbus and the New World. At work, XM is plugged in constantly through the stereo. Unfortunately, this means I’m often subjected to endless hours of “Classic Rock,” “Love Songs,” or some other nearly impossible genre to define. Occasionally, I’m given reign and I quickly plug in my iPod or turn to the indie station (another nearly impossible genre to define). Guilt aside, gems can be found: I discovered The Long Winters on satellite radio two years ago while I drove a nicely equipped delivery truck. And earlier this year The Broken West caught my ear while at work.

Illinois, method of discovery aside, share many similarities with The Long Winters and The Broken West. Their collective brand of upbeat indie pop has taken over my playlist as of late. Maybe its the coming of warm weather; maybe its their sad lyrics made to sound happy; or maybe its just me wanting to be entertained while still maintaining my “indie cred.” But no matter what it is, I like it.

Their new LP, “What the Hell Do I Know?”, out last month on Ace Fu Records, contains only 7 songs, the longest of which clocks in at 3:14. Do not let the brevity fool you; every song feels complete by its end. Crisp, hummable melodies accent over toe tapping rhythms. And the album closes with what may be the coolest drum beat/bass line ever in the minimalist “Bad Day.” The seamlessness in which all the instruments and vocals join together is what makes Illinois so enjoyable. Every instrument, vocal line, and hand clap finds it’s place perfectly. Even at their most grating (meant in the best way possible) they evoke the best of Modest Mouse’s banjos and vocal ticks. On the standout track, One On One, occasional guitar chugs accent the already syncopated bass drum drawing out the odd rhythms that pervade nearly every song, yet they do not distract from the traditional pop sensibilities.

Check Illinois out opening for The Kooks through the middle of May including the already sold out show at the The Metro May 5th here in Chicago. They then go on tour again opening for one of HearYa’s favorites, The Hold Steady, in June. However, they will be making a solo stop here in Chicago on May 22nd at Schuba’s.

Illinois – Alone Again

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Woody April 18, 2007 at 9:42 am

I tried writing a review on these guys and must have named every indie band since 1990 in describing them. I guess the thing I like best about them is how unique they sound while still incorporating nuances from bands that I grew up loving. Count me amongst the many who are excited to see where they take this band in the future.

Shawn April 18, 2007 at 4:42 pm

Seriously, I love these guys. “Screendoor” may be my favorite song this year, and I first heard about them when I wrote this little piece [link] over at the site. There is something accessible about every one of their songs. Good choice to spotlight today.

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