Music fans everywhere may be thinking that since the demise of windy-city standby, Sweep the Leg Johnny, Chicago rock has gone by the wayside, that its had its heyday. I'm here to say that its still going stong. With new writing in the works by Tekulvi, South by Southwest appearances by Haymarket Riot and Lustre King, and a stunning new album by rock mogul Alex Dunham's Abilene, I think its safe to say that Chicago will be holding its own against the Brooklyn scene in the East.
Two Guns, Twin Arrows begins with the crashing of Dunham's reverb-drenched tube-distorted guitar, chiming in slow and steady, dark and dissonant. The guitar is soon joined by the clean contrast of Fred Erskine's trumpet, a lone high-hat struck in straight double-time by Scott Adamson, and the grueling, hoarse, screams of Dunahm, "Our father / son of bad ways / why take them back to play / and watch over them / steal their decency". Dunham sounds tortured, driven, and inspired. After the initial lash, bass enters, trumpet returns, and things quiet down a bit. Here, Erskine hearkens back to his June of 44 days, producing a sound very similar to that of his noodling in 1999's Anahata. Much of the album proceeds like this, with the trumpet as one of the main focal points. Craig Ackerman (since replaced by Doug McCombs) has also taken some pointers from the 44's Sean Meadows on the bass. Droning, sneaky, murder-mystery type lines that aren't easily put aside.
The standout track on Two Guns, Twin Arrows is Blanc Fixe, a driving, melodic drone complete with guitar-trumpet solis and air-tight drumming by Adamson. The track has that dusty-road at 3 AM feeling, rocking a dorian mode on a full moon, coyotes howling. Again, Dunham pipes up with his reflective but abstract lyrics, "Summertime has come / We sold the light as a giveaway / Autumn light had sung / But she was kept at bay".