For the past four years, Chicago’s Loyal Divide has been creating sounds that inspire more than just your average hipster head-bob. Whether it be supporting Crystal Castles & Chromeo or prepping a tranced-out crowd before Deadmau5, feet unanimously begin to shuffle. It’s their blend of familiar sounds that allow this quartet to straddle already blurred genre lines. From house beats and early 90s hip-hop jams to the darker, lo-fi productions reminiscent of Lee Scratch Perry and Can comes a sound that is both accessible and triumphantly original.
Andrew McCarthy - Drums, Drums / Samples
Adam Johnson - Vocals, Guitar, Sampler
Sid Chittajallu - Bass
Jon Notowidigdo - Guitar, keys, Sampler
Bodice Ripper (2011)
Labrador EP (2008)
Self-Titled EP (2007)
Loyal Divide: "Otto" F. Rachel Sarah Thomas (Prefix Premiere)
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If you have or haven't listened to Chicago's Loyal Divide prior to now, then "Otto" probably will th...If you have or haven't listened to Chicago's Loyal Divide prior to now, then "Otto" probably will throw you for a loop. You see, it's not really like anything else in the psych-electronic band's catalogue, except for the surprising breakdown that I won't describe with any terms other than "purely hypnotizing." Perhaps fittingly, the previously unreleased track features guest vocals from fellow Chi-city resident Rachel Sarah Thomas, of Automata. "Otto" is the only song she's ever done with Loyal Divide, though you'll likely agree that they should start spending more time together in the studio. You can stream the haunting track below.
Loyal Divide - Bodice Ripper (Review)
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Loyal Divide is a drug you want to take. The Chicago quartet formed in 2008, releasing an EP indepen...Loyal Divide is a drug you want to take. The Chicago quartet formed in 2008, releasing an EP independently. That brings us to Bodice Ripper, the energetic and youthful full-length currently making waves in their hometown.
"Young Blades" is a loop-heavy introduction to the upcoming slew of accessible new-wave electronica. My favorite track on the album is "Vision Vision". With its warbling synth and carefully crafted layers, it produces an automatically catchy groove. It includes a beautiful change of pace brought on by a well-executed bridge. The song is also the creepiest on the album. If you aren't scared off by the effect-laid scream, continue listening, but keep in mind that the band loves simulating this furious noise on other tracks as well.
Instrumental "Vein Harvester" shoots straight into another beautiful track, titled "DDF." Primarily a drums/bass focused track, the song harkens to 90's-era Massive Attack. We get a Radiohead-esque conglomeration of a beat in "Baladron", which entrances and supports the massive layers of the song. We also hear this instrumentation on "New Years", which supplies Amnesiac qualities.
Three of the final four tracks showcase acoustic guitar, revealing the band's versatility and openness in their sound. Naturally as an electronic band, the lyrics take a back seat. They are able to utilize the vocals as soft melodies (in the case of the silky BGV's) and stoic and erie warnings.
Still somewhat underexposed, I look forward to watching these guys continue to make great music. For the genre, Loyal Divide is a moving and inspiring band. It's hard not to have an immediate reaction to Bodice Ripper, and those reactions should be overwhelmingly positive. In a genre stuffed with overflowing regurgitation, Loyal Divide sets up camp on the respectable side of technology.
Recommended If You Like
Modern Indie-Electronic Bands; Massive Attack
SOMA Magazine - Loyal Divide
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Adam Johnson is the songwriter and producer behind Chicago’s Loyal Divide, a young band that’s takin...Adam Johnson is the songwriter and producer behind Chicago’s Loyal Divide, a young band that’s taking the blend of rock and electronic music in striking new directions. His band has generated a powerful street-level buzz in the past few years, but Johnson says he never intended to be a full-time musician, even though he grew up playing guitar.
“My dad’s a musician,” Johnson says. “He plays guitar and sings whenever he has a leisure moment. He has a nice Martin guitar from the ‘60s, so I picked it up and started playing. In high school, I had a cover band with Sid (Chittajallu, Loyal Divide’s bass player) called Three Cowboys and an Indian. Sid was the Indian. We started another band at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with Jon Notowidigdo on guitar and drummer Andrew McCarthy. We played covers of indie rock songs and never had much of an audience.”
The quartet shared a camaraderie and love of music that bound them together. After school, they moved to Columbus to make it in the music business. “We made a horrible EP, with no real idea of what we were doing. Then we moved to Chicago.” Johnson recalls. “We moved into a house that was freezing cold. We had no money, so we recorded our second EP, Labrador, in our basement using Pro Tools, samplers and synthesizers. That winter, Sid and I listened to Purple Rain, the Blade Runner soundtrack and Hell Hath No Fury by Clipse and we moved away from indie rock to a more expansive sound that combined rock, hip hop and ambient sounds.”
Johnson put together Labrador using drum machines, samples he nabbed off of YouTube and live instruments played by the band. The four songs on the record took a year to produce, but its release created a street-level buzz. Johnson knew he was onto something and started working on Bodice Ripper.
“We were broke, so I moved back to my parents’ home to record. I’d ride public transportation to shows, then sleep on the floor and go home and work on the album.” The live shows were infrequent, but the band’s mysterious sound was starting to gain a strong cult following. “It took a year to make Bodice Ripper and a year to get it ready to release, but we’re finally ready to put it out into the world.”
The dense, volatile music on Bodice Ripper rides a relentless electronic pulse with unexpected twists and turns hidden in its dense sonic structure. “These are rock songs, but they start with a rhythm sample that becomes the backbone of the sound,” Johnson explains. “From there, we build a structure with guitars, sax and keyboards.” The album opens with “Young Blades,” an avalanche of sound anchored in a bhangra meets hip hop rhythm, spiced by Bollywood strings, the tolling of gamelan gongs, a throbbing rock bass line and subtle vocals buried deep in the mix. “I like to give people something to dig for,” Johnson says, “so I embed the vocals in the music. I think it adds to the longevity of a song if it doesn’t immediately give itself away.”
“DDF” has a club friendly dance beat, sci-fisynthesizer accents and vocals drifting through the mix like the ghostly serenades. The tune builds up to an unbearable tension before resolving in a shimmering wash of synthesizers. “I wanted to do a tune with a steady four on the floor disco beat and not worry about being innovative.” Other tracks like “Labrador,” “Vision Vision” and “Near Native” are more cinematic, with a dark, almost ambient, feel.
“The songs did not come easily,” Johnson says. “A lot of hours went into them. We didn’t write songs using a guitar or piano, and then develop the sound. We started with pure sound, pure rhythms and then tried to make a song out of it. A lot of the time, I felt like I was lost in the wilderness. I had the tracks from Labrador to point the way, but it took a year to make the rest of the album. The problem with composing on computers is that you have an infinite number of options. I got to the point that I was struggling with the endless possibilities. I finally had someone else mix the songs, and that gave me the focus to finish the record. I got the album title from the books my mom used to read, Victorian romance novels they call bodice rippers. The phrase implies sex and violence, a perfect mix for rock and roll.”
Loyal Divide: Dark lo-fi electronics and a whole lotta skronk from Chicago
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Chicago's Loyal Divide dropped its Bodice Ripper album last week on Kilo Records and promptly wasted...Chicago's Loyal Divide dropped its Bodice Ripper album last week on Kilo Records and promptly wasted little time sharing a new song. While the free song via Twitter might be haphazard, the track is right in line with Loyal Divide's dense production. Tenderness to recording is one of the band's finest attributes from the march of the drums, the clever ghostly vocal looping and the found sounds of hollow reverb and fingers squeeling down the strings.
Loyal Divide beg to be heard simply because it's clear they care dearly about giving a song a fair shot at achieving it's utmost potential, otherwise they'd never try out a skronking saxophone solo. Did someone in the band learn to play the saxophone or always knew how? Or did their curiosity to test out a saxophone halfway through the song eat at them to seek out a saxophonist?
Bodice Ripper was a record roughly four years in the making, which translates to Kilo Records possibly prying it from the band's hands. Loyal Divide is a band that loves its gadgets, but also earns the privilege to lug them in the van. DJ Quik recently selected the band's single "Vision Vision" for a freestyle session. Do you even need a bigger vote of confidence than DJ Quik and of course, us?
Bodice Ripper is out now on Kilo Records.
Loyal Divide, “Baladron” MP3
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If all things have a time and space, then Loyal Divide‘s is in the air, probably above Turkey, when ...If all things have a time and space, then Loyal Divide‘s is in the air, probably above Turkey, when you’re taking the long way to Japan from Chicago, say around 1973. You’re probably going to the Asian premiere of Soylent Green, but it’s been dubbed by funky stoners from Tokyo. Loyal Divide are in fact from Chicago right now, but the have a huge hum of percussion reminiscent of Herbie Hancock “Watermelon Man” era and some heavy psychedelic overtones, some Do Make Say Think dramatic buzz. Theoretically the phrase “deep groove” means something else but they should adopt it. FYI, “baladron” is Spanish for cocky douche.
Mp3 Loyal Divide, Baladron
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The 5-piece experimental pop/psychedelic group, Loyal Divide, are gearing up to release their new fu...The 5-piece experimental pop/psychedelic group, Loyal Divide, are gearing up to release their new full-length in February. To give you a little taste of what is to come, here is a new jam called "Baladron."
"Baladron" makes it pretty clear that this group draws their sound from a wide variety of influences ranging from experimental-electro to pure indie-rock. Listen as the tribal styled drums, hypnotizing bass line and occasional ripping guitar suck you in to the world of Loyal Divide.
The Chicago based group will be releasing their debut, full-length titled Bodice Ripper in February but until then, this will have to hold you over.
[MP3] Loyal Divide: “Vision Vision”
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The number of quality Chicago bands sent my way the past few months has been increasing, with Loyal ...The number of quality Chicago bands sent my way the past few months has been increasing, with Loyal Divide continuing that trend. I was just sent a few tracks by the band this morning and am particularly enjoying my snowy jam session with “Vision Vision”.
Trade in your analog time piece for a new, high-tech digital watch because these guys don’t mess around with too many “old school” or “boring” things. Loyal Divide specialize in tracks that are choppy, electronic, fuzzy, and downright haunting at times. Sometimes it sounds like they want you to groove along smoothly to their beats and melodies, but then they throw in some jarring electronic turbulence to give your eardrums white knuckle syndrome. When it happens, be prepared: place the mask over your face and know that while the bag doesn’t inflate, good music is flowing.
Loyal Divide, “Bodice Ripper” (Review)
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There isn’t much available about Loyal Divide besides the fact that they are from Ohio and came to C...There isn’t much available about Loyal Divide besides the fact that they are from Ohio and came to Chicago, then played and played some jingly jangle music. Their first sound was more ‘indie’ and now this year it’s like a light switch! They’ve been really pumping out their new sound, this new debut album and who knows what’s next next.
Bodice Ripper is like a gradient of midnight blue and azure, it starts of with some gothic rough beats and ends literally with whales. Mixing together all sorts of world and animal sounds, this is the kind of music that breathing evokes. It’s all about air, the heavens and floating while at the same time flying through some sludgy clouds. While you could allude Loyal Divide to Thievery Corporation or Radiohead, that would be overtly simplifying the spectacle of most of these tracks, let alone the complexity of this up and coming band. This impressive debut album is something emotive and quiet, like stained glass bubbling on the side of a factory on the Moroccan coast. I would have never guessed they even lived in Chicago had I not known it before. It’s crazy how fantasy filled Bodice Ripper is and how abstract it becomes considering what Loyal Divide used to sound like. If this is the new sound of Loyal Divide and they continue to strengthen their sound like this the world can be theirs. Who knows maybe in the next album I can get some wolves.
Song: Loyal Divide, “DDF”
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Chicago’s Loyal Divide are clearly a band who studied at the school Radiohead, creating skilled and ...Chicago’s Loyal Divide are clearly a band who studied at the school Radiohead, creating skilled and dramatic electro-rock-n-bass loops that Thom Yorke and Co. have excelled at over the years. Look no further than ”DDF,” a tune full of infectious electronic stutters.
“The idea for DDF came from sharing bills with DJs here in Chicago,” Loyal Divide guitarist/vocalist Adam Johnson tells Hive. “I love watching a good DJ make a crowd go bonkers. I wanted to work that feel into our live set. [The song is] made entirely of processed samples that I pieced together. The only thing we recorded (apart from the vocals), is a saxophone, which was unrecognizably processed into sounding like a spaceship.”
Loyal Divide’s debut album, Bodice Ripper, is due out in Fall 2011.
Cold winter of '07 inspires Loyal Divide's long-player
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Listening to the debut long-player from Loyal Divide, you would never guess it was recorded anywhere...Listening to the debut long-player from Loyal Divide, you would never guess it was recorded anywhere but a professional studio. Singer/producer Adam Johnson crafted it someplace that has been a longtime favorite for indie musicians on a budget: a closet in mom and dad's house.
Johnson, a Columbus, Ohio, native, returned home to make the band's first proper album, "Bodice Ripper," which is a slinky, exacting electro-rock offering. While it is very modern and sits well among its contemporary influences, its brutish, synthetic sound, the dark, mechanical chug that drives the dance beats, is a throwback to the classic "industrial" sound that Chicago's famed Wax Trax label was issuing in the late '80s and very early '90s.
Johnson's time in the closet produced something remarkably expansive, given the space and also the technology at his disposal — using nothing but a small mixer, a Mac mini and a sampler. Said Loyal Divide bassist Sid Chittajallu: "It was a very inexpensive and convenient way to record."
Before recording, the band had been living together since moving to Chicago in fall 2007, after attending Miami University. The band has a serious symbiosis because of living, practicing and playing music together 24/7 early on, and that's evident on "Bodice Ripper," even if the album was completed by sending tracks back and forth via the Internet.
"Basically, as Adam was producing and completing each track, he would delegate musical tasks to the remaining three members, which we would complete … and send back to him," Chittajallu said.
The inspiration for much of the album came from the foursome being young, struggling musicians new to the city.
"The inspiration for the music on the album was generated from the mind-numbingly cold winter of 2007. CTA travel was much more enjoyable when listening to electronic music," Chittajallu said. "It was our first time in a big city — poor and ambitious, and it just so happened that it was the worst winter Chicago had seen in 25 years or so. The cold, mixed with the fact that … four people were crammed into a small, two-bedroom apartment in Lincoln Square, where our drummer slept in the kitchen; the environment it created really added to the mood of the tracks."
While the album isn't bleak, frosty or redolent of kitchen-sleeping, per se, it does have a particular intimacy. Johnson often sounds as if he could be right next to you, whispering. The music swings from sinewy to supercharged, distorted rock — effete to forceful over the course of a chorus. For a young band, Loyal Divide has a well-defined, danceable sound that suits its plans. "We're working on doing some remixes and collaborations with some hip-hop emcees in Chicago — Ill Legit, Rocky Fresh, possibly Million Dollar Mano and Hollywood Holt," Chittajallu said.
While "Bodice Ripper" won't be released until early March, the band members are getting ready to tour as much as they can. Johnson is splitting time between Columbus and Chicago, where the other three members of Loyal Divide — Chittajallu, guitarist Jonathon Notowidigdo and drummer Andrew "Thundarr" McCarthy — now live separately. None sleeps on the kitchen floor.
We can do whatever, whenever, and wherever.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.