Release Date: 5/27/07
Chicago Art Rock band Ideamen formed in 2006, shortly after keyboardist Tim Swanson’s brief stint in Dog Fashion Disco. Their first EP, Progress, is truly something special. As opposed to other oft-associated bands, such as Tub Ring and Dog Fashion Disco, Ideamen only very, very rarely get heavy, and in the couple moments they do on this release, it is in an accessible way, adding variety to the tracks in a tasteful way. Just listen to the heavy guitars that function as the rhythm for the awesome Proggy keyboard lead towards the end of “Cavity.”
Ideamen are certainly among the most accessible of their ilk, but don’t let that fool you – this EP features several twists and turns, even during the course of a single song. From borderline pop moments, such as the high-energy opening piano and vocal lines of “Vivid”, to the Latin-infused “Know The Dance,” to the manic Country-esque “Straight Shooter,” complete with slide guitars, to the slowly digested, thoughtful Faith No More-esque “Add One,” there is a lot to explore in the ~20 minute run time. They also lean quite heavily on the melodic side, and with one major noticeable characteristic: vocal harmonies. Glorious three(? I think)-part vocal harmonies.
A review of this album, nay this band, would be incomplete without mentioning the vocal harmonies (speaking of which, their 2014 album Schemata is also fantastic). From this writer’s perspective, it was wondrously fortuitous to find a recent underground band who appreciates vocal harmonies and does them well at the time that I did, as in this snapshot of time, I was positively obsessed with The Beatles. When one listens back to a majority of the music from the ‘60’s, one of the most striking things about it are the lush and impressive vocal harmonies. So I ask: why are more bands not doing this?! And why especially, are so few bands doing it in more alternative forms of music? These vocal melodies and harmonies will get stuck in your head. This EP seems designed for listeners who enjoy disparate forms of music who also greatly appreciate a good vocal melody.
In a just world, Ideamen would be a fully active touring band with a significantly larger following, but alas… I mean, who really needs another excuse to visit Chicago, after all? C’est la vie!
Highlights: it’s an EP, FFS. There’s nothing to throw away here.