Whether you choose to believe it or not, people generally judge albums by their covers. It’s an understood scientific fact.
After swinging by the record-shop Landlocked Music in downtown Bloomington, Indiana, I stumbled upon Chain & the Gang’s new record hanging out by the new releases. The red album-cover featured a dude with mop-top hair who wears candy-striped bell-bottoms and stands with a microphone in hand. Over the top of the singer, a graphic artist sketched the images of a light bulb, a microphone and coils of wires connecting these inventions together—a bit of foreshadowing for the listener.
Prior to this day of record shopping, I heard loosely of the Detroit-rock group formed by Ian Svenonius and his musical friends, but I didn’t own any of their stuff on vinyl. Once I caught a glimpse of the cover, the record company hooked me.
After getting home, I flipped on the record. The soundwaves ran through the layers of my psyche. The music travelled through my brain’s systems of judgement—for sonics not for the art on the cover.
For what it’s worth, Chain & the Gang delivers a rock-n-roll album for the ages, obviously influenced by what came long before them—R&B and garage-rock of the 1960s. With the clear use of poetic and musical irony, Svenonius writes ten pop-songs on an album called Experimental Music.
First in the music-news headlines was, “Rome Wasn’t Burned in a Day,” released as a single in the month of August. A punky psychedelic anthem discusses the falling of a great civilization. Is this a reflection of these here political times? By the looks of it, it certainly seems that way. In the end, the listener may make their own interpretation.
The song to kick off the album, “Experimental Music” makes one dream of surfing in the warm California sun with the Beach Boys on the stereo at a beach-side taco stand. In all seriousness, it does set the tone for the general flow on the rest of the record.
Another track stands worthy of college-radio airtime. The Doorsy tune, “If I Was an Animal” shows the group’s ability to catch an ear—at least an ear that belongs to a trained rock-n-roll junkie.
Like Jim Morrison, the lead singer writes a poem-of-mystics in lieu with an orchestra of madness. Easily, Svenonius embodies the image of rockers previous such as Iggy Pop, who is essentially mod-culture stitched into a person.