Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Great-grandpa Illinois

If you're from Pennsylvania and you name your band Illinois, is that a 'grass is greener' sort of thing? "It was my great-grandpa's name," claims lead singer Chris Archibald, when asked by my accomplice Mitch, after we saw their performance this past Saturday night. To this, Mitch calls 'bullshit' and Archibald can't hold back a smirk, looking like the kid caught in a funny lie.

Whatever the reasons for a Bucks County, PA band naming their act after a state that's nearly 12 hours to get to by car, they're holding all the cards right now. After being the talk of SXSW, they're being wined and dined by all the labels, and since a couple in the band (Archibald and bass player Martin Hoeger) have already been burned by the majors, they're taking their time with the process.

When they played the Crocodile, you could see what all the fuss was about. They're not easy to pigeonhole, drifting in and out of styles without seeming schizophrenic. The Kinks (Muswell Hillbillies-era) meet The Beta Band, with some Mercury Rev flourishes thrown in. The banjo is a nice touch, but by no means the focal point. Playing songs from their Ace-Fu released EP What the Hell Do I Know?, along with many more (supposedly a 100 or so at their disposal,) the band had the smallish crowd in the palms of their hand for the duration of the evening. They've smartly only released EPs thus far, building buzz their first full length (whenever that comes out.)

Album: Illinois - What the Hell Do I Know?
Download: "Alone Again"
Download: "Screendoor"

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