Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Eleventh Dream Day

In the late eighties along with my untreated addiction to NME I was also a voracious consumer of the music press in general and had a particular penchant for those titles that dealt with more obscure music and it was by flicking through their pages that I made many a discovery. One of these was made while reading the underground leaning Bucketful Of Brains, which despite periods of activity is still a going concern today, the band was Eleventh Dream Day, I guess the article must date from 1990/1991 as I can remember the journalist being very excited at having got his hands on copy of a promo only live LP entitled 'Borscht'. As was often the case with discovering new artists in the written press back then if you wanted to actually hear the music you had to fork out to buy the record, whereas today you are spoilt by the zillions of music blogs promoting their favorites and thus giving you an all important taste before lashing out. So it was that Eleventh Dream Day ended up on that long mental list I had of records to buy and sure enough the day arrived when I found a copy of their debut album 'Prairie School Freakout' in a bargain bin and so it was that I became the proud owner. Basically a live in the studio offering recorded in 6 hours with a buzzing amp and displaying plenty of energy and attitude for these real songs played on loud guitars. If this reminds you of Neil Young and Crazy Horse that is only normal a Rick Renzo had taught himself to play guitar by listening to 'Zuma'. So there is plenty of interest here for Young fans a the two guitarists riff it out above the solid rhythm section, of particular note is 'Beach Miner' a highly infectious number with Television style guitar over a Crazy Horse rhythm. The interest created by the album led to a contract with Atlantic, which the band failed to capitalise on and after just three albums for the major were dropped in 1993 because their critical acclaim was never picked up upon by the record buying public.
Rizzo and drummer Janet Beveridge Bean were a couple and took some time off to look after their newborn child. 1994 saw the release of 'Ursa Major' for US indie City Slang and the band starting to be interested in a more textured sound as the guitars became less evident. Another period of inactivity was to follow with Rizzo returning to college, he is now a teacher, and Bean focusing her energy on Freakwater. 1997 saw them reconvening to record 'Eighth' which was infact their sixth studio album for Chicago indie Thrill Jockey that remains their home to this day. By now the band had become a part time affair, with the occasional concert in their Chicago hometown and visits to the studio becoming rarer and rarer. 2000 saw 'Stalled Parade' a fine album following on from the previous two but not really what I thought they did best, which is US indie guitar rock. So it was a very pleasant surprise for me to here their latest offering 'Zeroes And Ones' and to discover that it is a return to the early days with a beefed up sound. The album has been on heavy rotation here for the last few weeks and personal fave at the moment is 'For Martha', a song that fools you with it's 5 second Phil Spector wall of sound drum intro before the distorted guitars come crashing in and it's off on a four minute spin with twin male/female vocals culminating in a highly caustic guitar solo. I reckon 'Zeroes And Ones' is their best album yet an amazing feat when you consider this is not even their day job This essential album can be bought from Thrill Jockey or downloaded from EMusic, one never knows if enough of us buy it maybe they'll tour or get back in studio before 2012!

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