Chantigs
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Chantigs

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press



by Jason Thompson

Pure Stereo Enjoyment

San Francisco's Chantigs have apparently been rocking it up for some time. Previous releases such as Up with the Chantigs found much favor amongst those who were looking for something fun and new that wasn't at all like what the other kids were playing. Not having heard those supposed fab previous releases, I can safely say that the Chantigs' latest escapade Four Hats is one crazy, fun, and rocked-out trip that at first glance might have you scratching your head, but upon a second listen will have you cutting a rug in no time flat.

Chantigs have been called everything from "experimental" to "psychedelic". If incorporating a banjo into a happy garage rock groove is "experimental" then so be it. But these guys know what they're doing. Four Hats isn't one of those oddball albums that finds a band doing every thing they can to be different. The Chantigs' sound is different, but in no way is it alienating or weird for weird's sake. There are tons of hooks and melodies to wrap your ears around here.

My first tip off that Four Hats was going to be cool was a glance at the stylized track listing on the back of the disc. It may or may not have been intentional, but the songs are printed in a font and run-together fashion that looks exactly like the one David Bowie incorporated on his Station To Station and Changesbowie compilations. And anyone who wants to mimic Bowie during his Thin White Duke phase has my attention. Of course, the actual music in another matter entirely.

Hearing the opening track, "Vicious Halo", with its shaky vocals might very well put one at a bit of unrest and cause he or she to quickly do a "Turn that off!" action, but if that happens, then all is lost. Really though, the track sounds a bit like The Small Faces when they were getting into their Ogden's Nut Gone Flake territory. Kind of fuzzy, kind of trippy.

But it's the second track, "Cables and Wires", where Four Hats takes off. Chantigs favor falsettos and vocal harmonies, and while some are quick to start comparing the group to the Beach Boys, I say they sound more like Frankie Valli gone super hip -- or at least Valli getting into some really good drugs. Hand claps, funky piano, do-do-do vocal hooks and a bit of a rhythmic strut all add up to some serious fun here. It's a damn fine summer sounding song with strange, enjoyable lines like "Cherry trees and diaries / Winter snow and autumn leaves" all adding to the blissed-out performance.

After that is the gleeful, spaced-out "Mt. Trashmore", with its delightfully loose as a goose guitar line that opens the song. The incorporation of the banjo into the background is cool as hell. Not since a certain recording I had of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue that also gave prominence to the instrument have I heard it used so well in a genre that wasn't country or bluegrass. Oh sure, Brian Wilson used the thing extensively during his experimental phase, but here it seems more of just a fun kind of thing. At first you don't even notice it, and then it pops right out at you. And who can get that great "Ma-ma-ma-ma-ma Mount Trashmore!" refrain out of their heads after hearing this one? Classic!

"Your Twinkling Eyes" features some great reverb guitar, garage rock organ, and grooved-out echo-drenched vocals that tend to recall some great '70s tracks like Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" or Gary Wright's "My Love Is Alive". And then there's the rollicking "Kinkle The Kid" that revisits that acid-washed Frankie Valli turf, complete with a really strange cheap sounding keyboard playing high notes coming out of the left channel during the verses. There's seriously so much stuff going on in these mixes that you'll be picking them apart with each listen.

"Me Me Me" sounds like New Wave '80s meets late '60s San Francisco (yes, the irony of Chantigs coming from Frisco is not lost on me), while "Concentric" goes straight for the retro grooviness in a full scale assault on everything considered to be hip in a Nuggets compilation. If there were "new" Nuggets, then Chantigs would be king of the hill every time. It's hard to argue with the odd country-ish funk junk of "Teeth of Day", the psychedelic "Movie Stars", and the bordering-on-disco "Frazzled Funtime" coming from one band that pulls off each genre exercise with ease.

Don't miss out on the Chantigs! If you have, then by all means head to Rodent Records and pick up Four Hats. There's a little something fun for everyone here. Bringing back a true "alternative" to whatever is left of that stale genre and playing their hearts out as if it were the end of the line, these guys make great music that is a blast to hear and play again and again and again. Four Hats is an indie rock masterpiece.

— 25 April 2002 - Pop Matters




For the moment Chantigs are still trying to write the perfect song, and to sing the perfect melody.

I'm hesitant to see these guys perform live because I have this fear that they wouldn't use puppets and this song clearly NEEDS puppets on vox. I thank Dustrin for sending this to me after he saw Chantigs open for Beulah a few years ago.

Chantigs are still making avant-pop. - leaf and lime


Discography

Up With Chantigs, CD, 1998
Raquel, 7" Single, Rodent Records (1999)
Mission Faucet, CD Rodent Records (1999)
Four Hats, CD Rodent Records (2001)
My Door, Your Door 7" vinyl EP, Rodent Records (2003)
Korea 7" vinyl single, Rodent Records (2004)
"Holly Jalopy" West of Eden, Zip Records Compilation (2005)
Little Windows and There Is No Time ,CD rr [2007]

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The singular formation of Chantigs began in late 1996 during the burgeoning influx of avant-pop muzik into the San Francisco Mission art scene Ö

In 1995, Greg Turner, Matt Slavnik, and Josh Bevelacqua eagerly traversed their way from their homeland of Yorktown, Virginia to the amber mountains of California. The three were well familiar with each other, as they had been playing for four years under the guise of Dying Echo (w/ Joshís older brother Dennis). Upon arriving in San Francisco they then stumbled across a local musical conceptualist and creator of Rodent Records and Global American studios, Elton Ridge. Elton was in transition after the demise of Kin To Weasel and Corn and Co. and shared with them a similar wry vision and hurly-burly humor of what avant-pop should sound like.

The instrumental duties were naturally solidified with Greg and Elton on guitar, Matt on the bass, and Josh on the drums. Now the quartet needed a name. After incessant debating, Chantigs was decided on due to its subtle vibro-resonance on the tongue and upper cleft of the mouth. The next obvious step was to write, perform and produce an album showcasing this fruition. While the Global American recording studio was usually booked solid during the days with bands, after midnight the facility became completely empty. It was during these wee hours that the Chantigs sound was realized.

Released during the summer of 1998 on Rodent Records, ìUp With Chantigsî is an eclectic mix of songs that combines infectious melodies and soaring harmonies with funky drumbeats and bombastic production style. A 45î single of Raquel (Hey) was quickly released accompanied with a non-album b-side called ìInvisible Stairsî.

After playing a handful of local gigs to perfect their live delivery, Chantigs began writing and working on a new release. ìMission Faucetî was unveiled during the late fall of 1999. Described as epic and surreal but with the signature harmonies and ìall over the shopî production, ìMission Faucetî is more introspective and fluid than their first album with more focus on collaborative song crafting.

Around this time Chantigs became a more prolific live act performing in various events such as the International Pop Overthrow (IPO) in Los Angeles and Noise Pop in San Francisco as well as traveling longer distances to cities like Portland, Eugene, Chico, and Humboldt (Eureka).

In the spring of 2001Rodent Records released ìFour Hatsî, Chantigs third release, the title being inspired by Eltonís recent epic wedding in Zipolite, Mexico. ìFour Hatsî is described by one reviewer as ìone crazy, fun, and rocked-out trip that at first glance might have you scratching your head, but upon a second listen will have you cutting a rug in no time flatî. It was the last record to be recorded at the Global American facilities, as the studio moved to a more accessible location at 18th and Mariposa St.

For the moment Chantigs are still trying to write the perfect song, and to sing the perfect melody.