“Sad bastard music.” In my life I sometimes go through ebbs and flows of moods where I just want to listen to the most depressing music I can find all the time. Elliott Smith, Iron & Wine, Tom Waits. Now that I have some songs from local Chicago folksome-foursome The Damn Choir, I can add them to my rainy day Depressedtown, USA, listening.
That’s not a bad moniker to have. I’m not downgrading them by saying “sad bastard.” It’s something that they call themselves, and they definitely deliver. With lead singer Gordon Robertson’s picked guitar and gritty, next-day-hangover baritone, Katy Meyers’ sorrowful cello, Chelsea Heck’s angelic backing vocals, and Miguel White’s tasteful drums, The Damn Choir’s first full-length, Faithful Fools, creates a beautiful soundscape and perfect soundtrack to a rain-soaked day after.
Clear influences from Iron & Wine and Damien Rice show through in songs like “Brooklyn”, “Battling Arms”, and “Fingers Length”, and Robertson’s voice closely resembles Rice’s. The opening guitar line of “Brooklyn” sounds similar to Sam Beam’s “Naked as We Came” and contains some great lines such as, “Says you’re love’s like sleeping with a shadow cause I wake up then you’re gone.” “Battling Arms” contains another great guitar part coupled with some fantastic cello that soars and cries in the background. While “Fingers Length” is a bit more up-tempo, it is no less melancholy: “When your head hits pillows my dear, just remember I’m not here.” Someone broke this poor boy’s heart big time.
The Damn Choir do a fantastic job of using every instrument to its fullest capacity without being overbearing or too overly sentimental. The band is tight and well put together for only having been a band for just over a year. Faithful Fools is a strong debut and shows some great promise. I definitely recommend it for those of you who are fans of groups like The Swell Season and the aforementioned influences. Check out their MySpace for more upcoming dates as they become available and a taste of their album. Definitely a band to keep your ears and eyes open for.