Music bloggers aren’t music journalists, anyone that calls us such is being a little unfair on all those real critics, with their professional qualifications and, well, you know, paid jobs and all that. We don’t want to belittle our plucky bloggers, as from our humble positions we’ve still managed to carve out our own corners, establishing ourselves as influential voices from the lowly position of an amateur, purely out of passion and a bit of hard work. One vent often aimed at bloggers is that we don’t properly research our subjects, with some blogs only placing one or two lines of assessment upon the artists they’re recommending. However, The Recommender is proud to confirm that we do our best to investigate anyone adorning these pages. With today’s example, we got a mixed biography that encouraged further research, but context aside, we also discovered some exceptionally great music.
Chasing the history of a band involves approaching their managers, labels or PR representatives, and what sometimes comes back is the version of events that they wish for you to portray. This is of course perfectly understandable, as controlling One’s image is so important in these modern times, with some bloggers lazily selecting to simply cut and paste this information as they find it. We duly received such an example when we were helped out by the band’s label, Roll Call Records. They kindly handed us the information we required, adding onto the email a document with their pre-written biography. The band in question was the marvellous On An On and their back story was explained in a rather romantic light. The biography of this new trio, who hail from Chicago and Minneapolis, seemed perfectly honest, by clearly admitting that they used to be in various bands, but were best known as formerly being in the group Scattered Trees. The biography further explained that the band enjoyed an epiphany during one drunk night at SXSW, whilst attending a Miike Snow performance. What they experienced, as if some higher intervention had suddenly occurred, was an irresistible impulse to “flip the script on everything they’d previously known about making music“.
Wow! That sounds pretty incredible. What a night that must have been, as they all came together in harmonious agreement during a very drunk but enlightening moment. It went on to explain that “conservative compromises would be a thing of the past“. Fantastic! However, we aren’t one to stick to just one side to any story, so we hunted around online and a slightly different picture started to unfold. Take the article on the Prefix Magazine website and they entirely remove the romance. They explain how the Chicago band, Scattered Trees, split up earlier in 2012, when two members departed the band and left the other three unsure what to do. It goes on to explain that they still had “studio time booked in Toronto“, so they ploughed on regardless, deciding on a name-change “and On An On was born“. This version of events totally flattens the story out, but who are we to judge which is more accurate. Being the old romantics that we are, we will go with the enjoyable label version. Either way the difference matters for nothing once you hear the music. And what stunningly beautiful sounds their split has resulted in. Who gives a flying fuck for a back-story when the future is promising music this special.
They’ve banked the debut album, called Give In, and the ten-tunes-strong piece of work is all set for a release on Roll Call Records/ILG on January 29th. The debut track, Ghosts, came out in September, and it shows off a trio that are still sounding as full and rich as a five-piece ever could. This is a case of a band losing two members and sounding bigger. Maybe it galvanised them, maybe it channelled their ideas, maybe it freed up their skills and imagination as they tried to compensate. And compensate they have, as Ghosts is as arresting and impressive as anything you will hear in 2012. Nate Eisland, Alissa Eisland and Ryne Eswting make up the three-piece, all involved in singing and sharing out the instruments in a maze of multi-skilled energy. The single is the perfect example of how they combine, beginning as it does with a beat that sounds like robots doing a slow march past your window, steadily expanding the song as vocals and a simple guitar line enter your headphones. The stunning moment really hits you at the 50 seconds mark, as their combined vocals sour like an emotional Pet Sounds break-down. The song peaks in a train of slow motion layers that chug to a climax, before they break it all down again and set about one of the most cinematic long closes we’ve heard in ages.
The accompanying video debuted on the Vice network’s video site, Noisey, earlier this week, hopefully giving them a useful platform for reaching the crowds they surely deserve. Dave Newfeld will raise their game again in the studio, having worked with Broken Social Scene, Los Campesinos! and Super Furry Animals in the studio. It all sets things up tidily for the full album. In the mean time you can hear more if you are able to catch them on their Autumn/Winter tour, which has seen them already complete dates in the southern United States, but more dates are scheduled for their home turf, as they reach Milwakee, East Lansing, Chicago and Minneapolis for the first half of December. If the debut album’s title is anything to go by and seeing as both versions of the back story hints at a band slamming into a genuinely difficult junction, then this re-birth really shows us what a band can produce when deciding not to ‘give in’. A little investigative research beyond the press release will always throw up points of interest, but with this new trio the biography actually pales into insignificance when everything they’ve achieved since tells us that they took the correct path when hitting that fateful junction. (MB)
ON AN ON – GHOSTS
ON AN ON – GHOSTS (YACHT REMIX)