I first heard Distractions’ “We Were Better Off in the Rain” when they released it as a single earlier this year. On it’s own, it’s instantly catchy and a giant wall of sound, but little did I know it was just a small sample of one of the most intricate pop albums to come around in a long while.
Dark Green Sea is as ambitious as it is strange. Singer and songwriter, Tom Owens comes off as a baritoned Brian Wilson and Dark Green Sea is slightly more operatic than the Beach Boys on their superficially comparable Pet Sounds. This album has so many movements, it’s difficult to tell where one song ends and the other begins.
There’s two sides to Dark Green Sea. There’s the undeniable pop elements of a song like “You Were There Always Up All Night,” that begins as simple, fast-paced sunny pop, before splitting at the seams and turning to the bizarre Chicago by-way-of Dr. Dog-style horn section. None of these pop songs on Dark Green Sea are left untainted by the strange hands of Distractions, and I mean that to be a compliment.
Though not a concept album, Dark Green Sea does steadily maintain a mood of unease and absurdity throughout. I couldn’t help imagining, as I listened, a darkly comical, yet oddly scary, underwater sea cruise with Distractions as the nightly lounge act.
Distractions on Giant System:
Rabble Rabble used to be the band that showed up on just about every single good bill in Chicago. Then they were the band that documented their trip to Austin, TX, giving us one SXSW vlog a day. As if they weren’t already the hardest working band in Chicago (didn’t they just release a live LP in March?), now Rabble Rabble is finally going to be the band that takes over your record player.
During their tour of the east coast last summer, Rabble Rabble recorded two songs at Gimme That Sound Studios. The resulting 7″ will be released on May 23rd at the Empty Bottle.
Now, I’ve never been overly impressed with Rabble Rabble’s recordings; I think they have much more to offer in a live setting. But the new 7″ from Chicago’s psych poster boys (and girl) is a different story. The lead off track “Why Not?” gives listeners that same psychotic psychedelia they’ve come to know and love from Rabble Rabble, but this time in a more controlled environment. “Why Not?” would feel right at home in any movie chase scene (think Duel on Acid).
The b-side, “Long Hook” sounds like a lost track from the Kinks’, Village Green Preservation Society, but on speed and a whole bunch more acid. Though most of the song is sung through three-piece chants, the lead vocals even sound like Dave Davies on this one.
Be sure to pick up a copy of Rabble Rabble’s new 7″ at the Empty Bottle on May 23rd with Distractions and We Are Hex