Chin Up Chin Up

Chin Up Chin Up



Look beyond the steely skyscrapers jutting into Chicago's grey sky, past the potholed streets and shadowed alleys, and you might be able to find something beautiful in this scuffed-up metropolis. Something like a cornflower pushing through a cracked sidewalk, struggling its way toward sunshine. Or the sun glinting off choppy lake waves at dusk. Or the sounds of Chin Up Chin Up, whose disarmingly resonant debut album We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers is ready to carry you through autumn and beyond.

Recorded by John Congleton (90 Day Men, The Roots, The Paper Chase) at Electrical Audio and Soma studios throughout July, We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers proves that sentimental pop songs don't have to be cloying or trite. Meticulously layered with solid drums, keyboards, and warm guitar, these ten songs will wrap themselves around your mind and stay there all day.

The band's history reaches back to 2001, when Jeremy Bolen and Nathan Snydacker formed Chin Up Chin Up (think optimism and perseverance, not exercise). The two guitarists were joined shortly thereafter by percussionist Chris Dye and bassist Chris Saathoff. In January 2002, the band released a self-titled EP, which inspired MOJO's call for readers to "meet your new favourite Chicago art-pop band." Later joined by keyboard player Greg Sharp, Chin Up Chin Up toured extensively, playing shows with the likes of the Appleseed Cast, the Mercury Program, Pedro the Lion, the American Analog Set, Broken Social Scene, Smog, and Pinback.

But midway through writing We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers ­ hours, in fact, after mixing the demos the band faced a tragic loss. In February, bassist Chris Saathoff was walking home from a show at the Empty Bottle when he was struck and killed in a hit-and-run accident. For months thereafter, the rest of the band mourned the loss of their good friend. "We all hung out together more than we hung out as a band," Bolen recalls. "We didn't think about music for a long time."

In due time, Chin Up Chin Up decided to regroup and finish the record. Using three discs' worth of practices that the band had recorded over the last few years, they pieced together the record's final six songs, keeping Chris's bass lines as intact as possible. Nathan then played the bass on the remaining tracks in near-homage to Chris's last writings. "Falcons and Vulcans," "The Architect Has a Gun," and "Get Me Off This Fucking Island" feature Chris's last performances with Chin Up Chin Up, but his talent and creative spirit live on through the band's music.

Chin Up Chin Up makes music about hope, about persevering through tragedy, and the redemption of optimism. Listen to We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers from the title track's crescendoed bounce to the banjo and guitar of "All My Hammocks Are Dying" and you'll discover the beauty of old souls dancing like adolescents, their hearts bruised but beating stronger and louder each day.


We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers [Flameshovel 2004]
S/T EP+3 [Flameshovel/Record Label 08.09.05]