Feathers – Absolute Noon EP

Absolute Noon EP

It’s gratifying in a way, that 10 years down the line, Chicago’s post-rock boom still hasn’t lost its positive influence and magnetic pull upon the US alt-rock landscape. Sure, of course, there have been troughs, with a small-scale media backlash dished out at the tail end of the 1990s, branding the Chicagoan musical flood as some kind of wasted opportunity to change the face of music forever. But with us now knowing that the scene and its key exponents never sought to change the world, the city’s musical elite has been enjoying some kind of renaissance.

This is a renaissance not necessarily with the groundbreaking gusto of 10 years past, but simply with the delivery of some damn good records (check out Tortoise’s It’s All Around You, Brokeback’s Looks at the Bird, and Jeff Parker’s The Relatives if you need any convincing). With such home-grown reinvigoration on the table, it’s with happy inevitability that outsiders have slipped inside the city limits to improve their diet. Hence from recording-orientated visits to Chicago, in recent times, we’ve had Wilco’s rebirth with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost is Born, Teenage Fanclub’s subtle recalibration with Man-Made, and now Miami, Florida natives Feathers’ dreamy debut EP, Absolute Noon.

Whilst Feathers (AKA Eddie Alonso, Matt Crum, and Eric Rasco) don’t offer a remarkably new spin on the wordless instrumental grooves of the Thrill Jockey/Drag City family trees, with Absolute Noon they do prove that Miami heat blends extremely well with Chicago’s windy city chill. The opening “My Apple Has Four Legs” marks this short-form starter set as a success straightaway. With its buzzing 70s-sounding synths, twangy sitar shapes, and busy percussion, a balmy summer mood will wash into your speakers. Admittedly, the collaborative assistance of John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea & Cake), Mike Jorgenson (Wilco), Paul Mertens (Archer Prewitt’s backing band), and Fred Lonberg-Holm (Jim O’Rourke, Janet Bean’s Concertina Wire) looms large over these five tracks, the basic song kernels do belong to the promising penmanship of Alonso and Crum.

Second track “Coral Fingers” is a good bridging piece, oozing with Stereolab-like electro-pop squelch and Sea & Cake-flavoured fluidity. The impeccable orchestrations of “The Rise,” with its gorgeous strings and low-end brass blurring into more digital sounds, is the obvious crowning centrepiece of this collection. Penultimate cut, “Coffee Bean” slides in with a short dub-like pulse before drifting into the finale of “Old Cutler,” which sounds like a great lost outtake from Jim O’Rourke’s wonderfully elaborate Eureka.

With an economical five tracks, this first Feathers release leaves you with a lust for more, something that the Fall-scheduled Synchromy EP will hopefully capitalise upon. Until then, this brief introduction exhibits a bright beginning for three Floridians coming into the Chicago cold.