September 09, 2005

Chin Up Chin Up "S/T"

Chicago's Chin Up Chin Up history has had a great deal of sadness, yet it's one that is seemingly hopeful and ultimately uplifting, one that shows the power of perseverence through tragedy. In February 2004, bassist and founding member Chris Saathoff was killed by a drunk driver. The band had recently completed demos for its upcoming full length album, We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers, and his death sent the band into a tailspin. Had they decided to split up would have been understandable, but instead of giving into tragedy, they pressed onward, releasing their debut album last fall, to much criticial acclaim.

Chin Up Chin Up is an expanded reissue of the band's debut EP, which they self-released in 2002. As self-released debut records often do, Chin Up Chin Up captures the young Chicago band in its formidable years, as they had yet to develop their smooth indie-rock post-rock groove later heard on Skyscrapers. "Virginia Don't Drown," which the band would soon rerecord, starts off the EP, and this version is much looser and somewhat slower than the dense (and excellent) album version. Other songs, such as "Fuck You, Elton John" and "Pillage the Village" are not without their charm, even if they are a little bit plodding a tad generic math-rock in sound and are not quite as well-developed. On "For All the Tanning Salons in Texas" and "The Soccer Mom Gets Her Fix," the band starts to develop the ideas that made their debut album wonderful; again, these ideas are loose and not quite as polished, but they aren't bad, either. Expanding the album with three songs of later vintage--two remixes of album songs and a new number, "Falconz and Vulcanz," gives the record a grander feel, but these songs don't quite have the same magic as the original album versions and they kind of feel out of place here as well.

In perhaps a fitting twist, the reissue of Chin Up Chin Up coincided with the conviction and jail sentencing of Saathoff's murderer. Perhaps this is a fitting way to close the paniful first chapter of Chin Up Chin Up's life. Here's to Chin Up Chin Up's future.

--Joseph Kyle

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