ATHENS
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ATHENS

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
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"MidPoint Music Festival Preview"

"Making Jangle Pop with dark and progressive leanings, ATHENS assaults your ears not with hooks and repetition, but with sprawling compositions that eschew verse/chorus/verse in deference to meandering melodies and poetic lyrical presentations. There are hints of Canuck Indie Rock and Brit-Punk on last years six-song debut The Philosophers, but just enough to create some stylistic blurring to complement the amorphous arrangements." - Ezra Waller - CityBeat Magazine, Cincinnati


"The Lawrentian"

"A solid, danceable groove unified the majority of Athens' set, but the groove itself morphed from futuristic synthesizer jams to prog-rock, finally returning to a jarring blues-influenced stomp, sometimes all in the course of one song. "
-Tom Pilcher, The Lawrentian - Lawrence Univesity (Appleton, WI) - The Larentian - Lawrence University


"Nuvo (IN), Show Preview"

Chicago band Athens to play Sam's Saloon Jan. 30

Posted on January 28, 2009 by S Hall


Athens, Pigtail Crooks, the Humans
Sam's Saloon, 1640 Prospect St.
Friday, Jan. 30, 10 p.m.
www.myspace.com/athensinchicago

Good luck trying to categorize Athens, the Chicago band playing Friday night at Sam's Saloon in Fountain Square.

Their geeky-white-guy approach to funk and world rhythms calls to mind Talking Heads, but the quieter moments have a smoky blues feel. The arrangements and production on their new independent EP - titled What Would We Wear Were We Werewolves? - are a sort of kitchen-sink psychedelia, alternately funny and spooky. Its closing cut, "The Farthest Song," is a demented epic of a circus march featuring glockenspiel, piano, strings, police whistles, bird sound effects and Dixieland-style horns.

Vocalist-guitarist Andrew Yearick, who fronts the theatrical band's deceptively traditional four-piece lineup, seems to enjoy bewildering his audiences.

"My favorite conversations are usually after shows, with people who hear us for the first time and are trying to come up with an accurate label for us," he says via e-mail. "We listen to all sorts of things. I usually go to the library downtown, and they let you check out six CDs at a time. Once a month or so, I like to pick up CDs from each different section, then we'll just soak it up while we eat dinner, do dishes, etc."

The band members live in a converted church building, where they spent seven months recording a follow-up to their 2007 release, The Philosophers. They hope to make a video to accompany each of the seven songs on the new disc.

"We put the effort into the EP that I think most bands would put into an album," Yearick says. "We really tapped into our childhood memories of old Disney and Looney Tunes cartoons, the kind of really demonstrative music that lends itself well to the visual medium."

Athens' visit to Indianapolis is part of a campaign to hit various Midwestern cities on short weekend jaunts throughout the winter and spring, followed by longer East Coast journeys in the summer. They will play Saturday at Rhino's in Bloomington.

- Nuvo (Indianapolis, IN)


""If Andy Warhol made music instead of art""

Well the day that I received this press kit and album I was busy as hell and apparently I was only interested in the lyric-less depressing post rock that I had already been listening to all day. I put the album uniquely titled; "What Would We Wear Were We Werewolves" ( WWWW... as I will call it) in my CD-Rom, listened to 40 seconds or so of the first track, then took it out of my computer in a fit of extreme irritation. I had no time for experimental weird shit (pardon my German), so then proceeded to forget about the review all together.
I am glad I did. Here is why:
I realized early last night, that Athens was playing at Berlin Music Pub tonight (Jan 9th). Well, this review would be less than important if I waited until after they visit our fine city. So, I took the press kit with me to my scheduled PMel practice (always multi-tasking) and gave it another chance. This time I let the un-nationally renowned panel of musical Nazi's (otherwise known as my band mates) take a listen to the 7 track disc.
I will be summarizing everyone's thoughts as well as my own from this point on.
Within that first 40 seconds that I previously explored the CD, someone muttered "Ha! If Andy Warhol made music instead of art...". I couldn't agree more. This "re-peaked" my interest (funny, I have little interest in Warhol though) and we decided to continue on.
Throughout the course of offering our ears to the Athen's originals, several more "famous" band names were thrown out there: Talking Heads, Flaming Lips, Man Man, Jane's Addiction, and even the more recent electronic mess of a band; Mindless Self Indulgence. True, many elements of these acts are found on the album.
The instrumental ensemble of Athen's (featuring: Adam Galek on drums, Andrew Yearick on guitar (also, Lead Vocals), Jedediah Olaus on guitar & glockenspiel, and Nick Chupein on bass & synthesizer) never leaves you bored throughout the EP. The tracks switch between a standard rock progression to circus like sections that are slightly reminiscent of "Mr. Bungle" even ancient Egyptian themes find their way into the compositions.
At first listen the backup vocals on the opening track ("The Future") might send you packing (I sure did). Don't give up so fast though! I guarantee that you will at least enjoy listening to the entire album one time through for novelty sake. You will find that the songs carry more than just comical high pitched vocal jabs and start to show a believable underlying seriousness to their songs as the disc moves on.
Do I like this album? Yes. Will it become my next favorite? I doubt it, but since I am such a musical prude that it takes an album several years to get inside my "musical pants" to find a space in my daily playlist. So does that really say much? Nah. I think "WWWW..." will find its way into the hearts of experimental/fun/creepy music fans in whatever city they play.
These guys are playing at Berlin Music Pub on January 9th 2009 at 8pm (as far as the letter I received says). Check them out; if their live show is as interesting as their album, you are set up for a hell of a night. I am sure they will have their disc for sale at the show. If not you can pick it up at CdBaby and iTunes along with a previous release called "The Philosophers".

Alan Quandt
FortWayneMusic.com
General Manager, Developer & Ad Sales
- fortwaynemusic.com


"Athens, Exposed!"

Chicago-based indie outfit Athens sent me a CD and a cryptic press release the other day. ("You are invited to an important rendezvous with Athens in a public place," it said.) The band - which makes art rock that deftly yanks influences from funk to blues to polythythmic worldbeat - will perform at 8 p.m. Jan. 9 at Berlin Music Pub, 1201 W. Main St. The band's album "What Would We Wear Were We Werewolves" is filled with the kind of quirky, witty, new-wave-ish dance rock that might even get the bar's neighbors across the street dancing.

-Emma Downs - Ft Wayne Journal Gazette


"Athens rules the Reptile Palace"

Review: Athens rules the Reptile Palace
by Jay Spanbauer, of The Advance-Titan
Monday, December 08, 2008

On a frigid, snowy Saturday night, the Reptile Palace in Oshkosh emitted a vibrant energy that warmed all in attendance, where Chicago-based Athens took the stage for an evening of unforgettable music and showmanship.

Athens is vocalist and guitarist Andrew Yearick, bassist Nick Chupein, guitarist Jed Olaus and drummer Adam Galek. The band hails from Chicago, although all of the members originate from Pennsylvania. The band has been performing since 2005 and has released two EPs.

Athens came to Oshkosh on the night of Dec. 6 fresh from recording and mixing its latest release, the tongue twister titled, “What Would We Wear Were We Werewolves?” The album was recorded during a seven-month period in the band’s church-turned apartment in Chicago.

“It is much more of a cohesive piece than our last release,” Yearick said. “We spent a lot of time recording it and trying to get everything just right; it helped that we knew a lot more about recording this time around, as well.”

The album is available locally at the Exclusive Company and Appleton Import Records; the album can also be purchased on iTunes and from the band’s MySpace page.
Playing in Oshkosh was just one of the band’s stops around the Midwest in promotion of its new album. Athens will continue to play throughout the Midwest for the next several months, including stops in Madison and Chicago and is also creating videos for every track of the new album.
“We made a green screen in the basement of our apartment,” Chupein said. “We brought in a director, and just finished making the video for ‘Big Fat Old Man.’”

Although most tracks center on “indie core,” the songs evolve and contain elements from disco to blues. Try “Modest Mouse meets David Bowie,” or “Sonic Youth meets the Talking Heads.” But Yearick said he tries not to concern himself with genres or labeling his music.

“The songs keep changing, and I don’t really feel like we are headed in any certain direction,” he said. “Whatever direction we’re going in, we’ll roll with.”
T
he eclectic-nature of Athens made for a phenomenal performance. Opening the set was the frantic “Big Fat Old Man,” that raised the eyebrows of the small crowd in the smoke-filled bar. The band cycled through songs off the latest release as well as older songs. Disco-infused “The Future” appeared to win over the crowd with it’s driving feel and hilariously awesome background vocals.

The tiny stage of the Reptile Palace was filled with a multitude of instruments. Other than the standard guitar, bass and drums, there was a glockenspiel, a cowbell, a synthesizer and the all-important whistle.

The set was highlighted by the brilliant guitar/effects work of Olaus, and the vocals of Yearick that sounded like a mix between Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse and Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys.

At the conclusion of the set, someone from the back of the bar went to the stage, giving the band a crisp $100 bill to play another. The band, laughing at the situation, agreed.

“The Reptile Palace was a great example of a show where we planned to have a tight 45-minute set to promote the new CD, the unexpected happened and we made a night out of it,” Yearick said. “[After the set break] we played a couple songs that we left off the first set list, rehashed a couple that we did play, jammed some cover tunes that we never rehearsed and made a song up on the spot…oh and we jammed with the bar patrons for a half hour afterwards.”

It was a great night for music at the Reptile Palace. The only real disappointment was the relatively small crowd, but the band didn’t seem to mind, as Yearick said the band enjoys playing intimate sets.
Athens will be busy the rest of the year, as well as the beginning of next year touring the Midwest, gaining as much publicity and exposure as possible. There is hope to extend its touring across the entire country next year, as well, releasing a few singles along the way. A full-length album is also in the works for the end of next year.

Keep an eye out for Athens as they travel the country in the next year, as they are no doubt worth checking out. Its new EP, “What Would We Wear Were We Werewolves?” is also worth the mere $7 price tag. Oshkosh was lucky to have this band stop for the evening, and I hope, for your benefit and mine, that they will make the trek here again soon.
- The Advance-Titan (Univ of Wisconsin - Oshkosh)


""birthing a sound that knows countless fathers""

ATHENS

“What Would We Wear Were We Werewolves

It is more often than not, sadly, that all art forms—be it music or film—run the inevitable course of the mundane and tire one like last week’s meatloaf, if that is all it does, that is. Enter ATHENS, stage up. Theirs is a brand of music that smacks of creative energy in its boundless approach to birthing a sound that knows countless fathers: the result? A veritable clashing of styles that range from the feral twang of Indian sitars and in true cosmopolitan fashion, injects the tribal bump of somewhere certainly elsewhere. That familiar rock sound is retained and too, does the listener experience a gauntlet of traditional styles like blues. The fluidity that ATHENS applies in synthesizing these very distinct properties is like that of a brilliant (or mad) scientist, hellbent on bringing to life something so strikingly new. The rawness of vocalist resembles a more put-together Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse)—and to this critic’s pleasure—the controlled eccentricity of Les Claypool. Moments on the cd are heightened by the pace of instruments to create suspense invocative of dramatic cinema handled with delicate whimsy. What Would We Wear? proves to be a highly enjoyable and well-orchestrated piece of music that wraps itself up in a 30-minute package, only it begs to come undone and played again and again and again.

-Brandon Locke
http://www.secondwavemusic.com/new/view/67 - SecondWaveMusic.com


"Americana-UK.com"

Athens”What Would We Wear Were We Werewolves”

Art-rock, where have you been hiding? It feels good to listen to something unhinged for a change and this is genuinely playful, unafraid to be ridiculous. The opening ‘The Future’ sounds a bit like Devo taking on Frank Zappa which in itself is quite ridiculous. To follow it with a song that starts like Chinese folk music morphing into Indian before remembering that it’s rock and roll that pays the bills before giving in to the Middle East and suddenly I’m seeing Mark E Smith in a Turkish karaoke bar and that really is ridiculous.

The wilful eccentricity, the urge to engage with different genres and styles makes them ripe for comparison with any number of bands, ‘Big Old, Fat Old Man’ has the elasticity and punch of experimental hardcore bands like NoMeansNo who incorporated jazz elements into their sound.

The brief ‘Did You Go Through That Room?!’ (which takes longer to type than to listen to) is pure cartoon music, echoes of Carl Stalling, the same influence tiptoes through ‘Wrong Neck of the Woods’ where both the music and vocals are like a Chuck Jones short, bright colours, surreal landscapes, exaggerated mood music, abrupt changes of direction, it’s got them all. And there’s more of it in ‘The Farthest Song’ with wild passages of piano and strings, has the piano is hurled down the stairs and the horn section expires under a steamroller, a whistle blows, there’s some syncopated jazz with everyone flailing their limbs as though they are trying to shake them off. It’s a half-hour rollercoaster ride through the hyper-real landscape of art rock.


Date review added: Monday, May 11, 2009
Reviewer: David Cowling

http://www.americana-uk.com/auk/modules.php?op=modload&name=Reviews&file=index&req=showcontent&id=4618 - www.americana-uk.com


"The Capital Times (Madison WI)"

Athens of Chicago named their latest album like a tongue-twister: "What Would We Wear Were We Werewolves." Say that five times fast and you'll end up blowing air through kissy fish lips. Try it. It's an appropriately silly title for an album full of fun, wild-eyed guitar rock, tinkling noisemakers and Tom Waits-like theatricality.

Athens is aptly compared to Dr. Seuss -- if you dropped his cartoon world in a back alley and funkified it.
-Katjusa Cisar
- The Capital Times (Madison WI)


"A Musical Chameleon Named "Athens""

As a seasoned music writer -- note the sarcasm here -- I can usually think of a three- to five-word description of a band's sound that narrows down what they sound like, however reductive or generalized it might be. As Chicago rock group Athens played last Saturday night in the coffeehouse, however, I could not for the life of me think of any such three- to five-word description. Dark indie rock? No, that makes the band sound like bad emo. Jammy synth rock and roll? Too confusing. After accepting that it would be too hard to pin down the sound with a nice one-liner, I decided to soak in Athens' genre-bending sounds and try to make heads or tails out of what I heard.
The coffeehouse crowd last weekend appeared much less concerned with describing Athens' sound than I was, and most of the usually somber crew got up to dance for the last half of their set. A solid, danceable groove unified the majority of Athens' set, but the groove itself morphed from futuristic synthesizer jams to prog-rock, finally returning to a jarring blues-influenced stomp, sometimes all in the course of one song. "Big Old Fat Old Man," the lead single from the band's 2008 album "What Would We Wear Were We Werewolves," especially shows off Athens' loud, raucous, blues-influenced rock side.
As Athens opened its set, lead singer Andrew Yearick hinted at the ever-changing, evolving nature of the band's songs, saying that the group of four would "start it off more quietly and get progressively more rocking."
Jumping around from glockenspiel and guitars, both acoustic and electric, with multiple effects pedals, to synthesizer, bass, drums and assorted percussion toys, the band had a very specific idea of exactly what sounds the four wanted in their songs, and they did not confine themselves instrumentally.
This "everything but the kitchen sink" approach to songwriting can be effectively used to add a unique flair to a band's music, but it can also be horribly abused, making the music more confusing than good. Athens generally made good use of the varied instrumentation, but at times the band sounded a little too weird for my personal taste.
Yearick's vocals and lyrics also emphasized the mercurial, shape-shifting nature of the sound, as he jumped ridiculously high falsettos to comically punk yells mid-song. Perhaps the best way to approach Athens' lyrics is from a comedic perspective rather than from a perspective of conveying some deep, serious emotion.
This comedic sense comes especially from the main hooks in "Big Old Fat Old Man" and "The Future": "I got this big fat old man sittin' on my chest / sittin' on my chest!" and "We are the future / we wear space boots."
By placing Athens alongside They Might Be Giants and Flight of the Conchords rather than The Mars Volta, I appreciated the group's chameleon-like sound much more than I would have otherwise.
- Tom Pilcher, The Lawrentian - Lawrence University


Discography

New full-length coming June 2011!

What Would We Wear Were We Werewolves? - 2008

The Philosophers - 2007

Photos

Bio

Athens has had various incarnations, with the most recent being the most essential. Two alchemists, working feverishly in the basement of a haunted castle, are producing a recording that will change life on Earth as we know it. Soon they will light the sacred beacon and assemble a horde of musicians to aid in their quest. Who are these wizards? Who are these madmen?

This is what the media says...

"Art-rock, where have you been hiding? It feels good to listen to something unhinged for a change and this is genuinely playful, unafraid to be ridiculous... bright colours, surreal landscapes, exaggerated mood music, abrupt changes of direction, it’s got them all. "
- David Cowling, www.americana-uk.com (May 11, 2009)

"Athens is twangy and angry and weird and funny. It presents the challenges and picks the fights rock 'n' roll is supposed to. "
- Frank De Blase, Rochester City Newspaper (Jul 22, 2009)

Contact the band at athensinchicago@gmail.com