You won’t find the repetitive beats of mainstream alternative rock in any of the seven songs contained on The Chordaes’ new extended play What We Breathe In. You also won’t find the jaded lyricism that has weighed so heavily on the singles dominating rock-oriented FM stations, nor the inauthentic rebellion that some of The Chordaes’ weaker peers often try to pass off as punk-influenced. What we do find in What We Breathe In is one sultry dreamscape after another, stylized with confessional poetry from singer Leo Sawikin, sublime sonic experimentations from the band as a whole, and a sense of refinement that, while missing from past releases, finds the band at the most fitting stage of their artistic evolution. Mark Needham mixed “Venus,” one of this EP’s most sterling treasures, and inevitably gave it the proper attention that the multilayered track needed to play out as the symphony of throttling, shoegaze-esque grooves that it is compositionally. In the other six songs, which include the title track, “Tuesday Afternoon,” and the startlingly touching “All My Life,” mixer Kevin Killen has his way with The Chordaes’ buoyant basslines and vintage tonality, and shapes it into a visceral force to be reckoned with that, frankly, I can’t get enough of.
In “This is How it Ends,” “All My Life” and “Tuesday Afternoon,” The Chordaes employ a lot of diverse elements in their play to entrance us, starting with the zany, unpredictably brash explosions of percussive catharsis that all three of the songs proudly feature. The Chordaes have great chemistry and a creative equilibrium that you can tell is organic through and through, but there’s a lot to be said about the drumming. The beats in the title track instantly smack us in the face with their uncaged vigor, and though they’re not the center of attention in “Miles Across the Sea,” their muted presence affects the tone of Leo Sawikin’s verses nonetheless. “Venus” and “Got to Get Out” are a bit more streamlined, giving all of the spotlight over to the harmony in the pensive strings, which occasionally contrasts with Sawikin’s vocal to yield a chic, postmodern depth in the melodies they’re creating together.
There’s so much for even the most extreme music buffs among us to dig through in What We Breathe In, but the bottom line is pretty simple – this extended play is a very accessible record that both occasional rock fans and alternative fanatics can agree is free of the stale, fragmented inadequacies that are too often accepted as status quo in our modern times. Whether it’s the rolling thunder of the guitar in “This is How it Ends,” the elusive swagger of “All My Life,” or the undying humanity that “Venus” was born of, you’re going to find something to connect with in What We Breathe In. The Chordaes have been making a lot of noise in the underground, and having paid their dues and then some, this record feels like the right release to finally bring them the exposure that they’ve worked so hard to receive. Let’s not forget their multi-talented producer Marc Swersky that brought out the best in these guys.
Photo by Nina Wurtzel Photography
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