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Chicago, IL | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Chicago, IL | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Rock Indie




"It only sounds like you've heard Bloom before."

In the rise of '90s revivalist acts, Bloom fits somewhere in the middle. It's neither explicitly grungy nor fueled by pop-punk. The brainchild of singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and frontwoman Sam Larson, Bloom sounds instantly familiar, as though drifting permanently in the minds of angsty teens everywhere.

The band began as a solo project, with initial recordings beginning in 2014. For Larson it was a reflection of a new love, and she put her feelings into lyrics that became the base of her music. "I felt like there was no other way for me to express this except through music," Larson said. "I did that sort of as a catharsis."

Now Larson doesn't feel the desire to write so openly or explicitly about her own life. She's more drawn to the process of writing in character, or looking at herself from a broader point of view. Your typical singer-songwriter project, this is not.

Larson didn't create a full-fledged band until she was ready to tour. Since that initial tour, the band (finalized in August 2015 and including Joseph Montes, Yusuf Mohammed and Alexander Watson) remained, creating a more fleshed-out version of her initial project.

For one, the band serves as a jumping-off point for many of her new songwriting ideas. Many of the core ideas for her songs are in her head, but Larson will defer to the band if necessary to better articulate her initial point. Still, it is evident that she is the leader of the project, and with that role comes a certain responsibility to articulate her vision as clearly as possible. Thus far her efforts have been successful.

The songwriting process is an ongoing one for Larson, who contends she doesn't stop writing songs. "The songwriting process should always be as open as possible," she said. Larson and Bloom are at work on a new album, which will have 12 to 14 new songs. This newer material is darker, including references to death, loneliness, depression as well as the universal conundrum of confronting who you are versus who you want to be in the world.

Ani DiFranco still wearing her heart on her sleeve
Ani DiFranco still wearing her heart on her sleeve
"The last album was a lot more of a knee-jerk reaction and this one is more contemplative and taking serious note of things," Larson said. It is also a reflection of Larson's more deliberate songwriting choices. Rather than merely relying on herself as the narrator, she is drawn to formulating a deeper understanding of the world and the people around her. "There've been certain circumstances in my life that led me to not just reflect on how people touch me, but how I touch other people," she offered. "It takes a more mature understanding of things to realize things are more complex than what they seem. It's easy to see things in black-and-white terms."

On one track, "In Love With a Ghost," Larson explores self-harm and suicidal ideas, painting a scenario where that feeling is palpable. She says it was one of the most difficult tracks for her to write on the new album. In contrast, "Baby We Need A Break" was one of the easiest. Larson said the melody popped into her head for what is shaped as a diss song about an archetype.

By structuring her craft in this manner, Larson aims to connect with as many people as possible. "At first, it was because I needed attention, but I think as an artist, you have to grow out of that feeling," she said. "Shedding that egoism with music has altered my worldview."

But most importantly, she is driven by the idea that one never knows what other people are going through in their personal lives. Rather than feel exploitative, her process seems entirely sincere and in accordance with exploring the boundaries of her curious mind. - Chicago Tribune

"Adoration by BLOOM"

When Sam Larson launched her fuzz-pop band BLOOM with a self-titled debut in January, she chose arguably the perfect nom de plume for the year that was to unfold. With the September release of their six-song cassette Adoration, Larson and her new band have blossomed in something fantastic.

The drum and bass rush to catch up when Larson beams the opening lines of “He Got Me High,” the bopper with a sidewinder hook that kicks off Adoration. That rhythm section (Mike Reed and Joseph Montes) lays down a catchy foundation- a quintessential ingredient for any satisfying pop-punk tune.

Larson’s vocal performance matches the song’s bombast with a mesmerizing mix of urgency and longing. “High” ends with the fading crunch of her guitar, offering a moment of silence for her voice to conjure up “New Wave Dream.” When the guitar jangles on in, this time it does so with the same slacker fuzz you hear on the Smashing Pumpkins’ single “Drown.” Larson’s voice is softer here, fluttering, twirling and falling over her own effervescent chugging.

Two songs in, it’s clear BLOOM has evolved significantly since that first release. Among those nine early tracks are alternate versions of “He Got Me High” and “New Wave Dream,” both pretty different and pretty damn good in their own right. The juxtaposition of styles offers a nice contrast between the crews involved with both albums.

In January, Larson was handling vocal duties, guitar and bass while working with Chris Kramer (Slushy/The Lemons/No Bunny) and a drum machine. On Adoration she’s joined by bandmates Montes and Reeb, with recording, mixing and mastering by Brian Cook (Panda Riot).

The new sound is brighter, less industrial, and more focused, but also more muscular. Tighter melodies and hooks electrify the re-rendered tracks, and Larson’s skill as a singer and a songwriter seems to have made significant strides over the roughly nine months between recordings. Another song that appears on both albums, “I Wanna Make Your Dreams Come True,” is a perfect example of this maturation: The Bloom-version plods a bit, with Larson tucking timid vocals behind a layer of skronk in a way that feels isolating- as if those dissonant guitars and the gloominess were a moat to keep us out.

Conversely, the incarnation on Adoration is ripe and loud and boldly booms open with a defiant swagger. The beat and melody of the chorus have a malt-shoppe rock feel that makes it sing-along friendly, and Larson’s voice is again up to the task of carrying tension and sincerity across nearly every syllable.

Adoration closes on “Yoo-Hoo Johnny,” a searing alt-rock rager that also has a slight early-Pumpkins vibe. Larson, Montes and Reeb bash through it in perfect harmony, delivering a performance that’s both tight and unrestrained. It also feels like the one moment on the album where Larson really cuts loose, letting her until-now carefully controlled voice bristle and flair with white-hot emotion. It’s a raucous way to close out the album, and it sounds like it’d be a an absolute bulldozer live. Will have to confirm soon. - Midwest Action

"Recap: Frontwoman Fest"

This past Saturday, The Burlington in Logan Square became The Girlington (to steal a line from Bleach Party’s Meghan MacDuff). The intimate basement venue played host to the second annual Frontwoman Fest, a showcase of female-led bands that raised $1,400 for Girls Rock! Chicago.

I’m naturally biased toward the punkier sets, but the fest had a phenomenal lineup with something for everyone. Got a taste for weird ambient tunes? TAL and Haki have got you covered. If you like meaningful, poppy electronica, try Axons, and for a more straightforward indie sound, check out Impulsive Hearts. In fact, check out all the bands that played Frontwoman Fest on Bandcamp—there wasn’t a bad act among them.

Let’s replay the highlights:

Bloom was a last-minute addition to Frontwoman Fest (Yoko and the Oh No’s had to cancel due to sickness), but the local three-piece stole the show, performing with the power and lovable energy of a labrador gamboling up to the crowd. Granted, there was little to separate Bloom from any other pop-punk band—the music was high-energy, it was young, it was often heartbroken, you get the picture—but that didn’t stop them from kicking ass. Sam Larson’s voice is a force to be reckoned with, and the band’s limited recorded output is only a shadow of its live performance, so keep an eye out for a chance to catch Bloom live. - Pop'stache


Still working on that hot first release.



The music of BLOOM is not overly complicated. The four-piece from Chicago looks up to guitar heroes such as Guided By Voices, Teenage Fanclub, and Sonic Youth while treading melodic ground similar to Best Coast and Dum Dum Girls. The real heart of the band, however, is lead singer/guitarist Sam Larson, whose voice, beautiful, raw and unadorned in heavy effects, cuts through the listener like a knife. Her very personal songs preach the struggle of youth, true heartache, and feminine strength.

Band Members