Earth Program
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Earth Program

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Alternative Punk

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This year, I have been very fortunate in finding good free releases from bands willing to take chance and bank on their performances. Rather than release a bunch of demos, many recording artists are putting forth quality artistic efforts for free, and these are hooking audiences and expanding awareness of their work. The Earth Program’s Invade! continues this trend.

I would describe the Chicago-based band’s debut LP as spacey, psychedelic punk. Tracks range from the experimental (Keeneecheewaa) to pop-punk (Pink Pit [reprise]) to damn good (Mawkish) and everything in between. They even include a hidden track at about 10:58 on the 13th track, Stay Tuned.

I am not typically enamored with what is labeled as pop-punk, but I really enjoyed this recording. Much along the line of the new Hot Rats and MGMT releases, Invade! demonstrates that you can make a good album that is a lot of fun. So give it a try, I bet you won’t regret it.

VERDICT – 3.75/5
- The Dadada


It’s been said that everyone’s a critic, but admittedly there isn’t too much to criticize about the Earth Program’s debut album, “Invade!”


Fresh off the presses from “Obbityville”, the self-released album creates an experience not unlike sitting down as a kid and going through your parents’ record collection. Little stylistic bits jump out at you right away: acoustic arpeggios from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Eno’s iconoclastic usage of audio samplings, late Beatles’-styled psychedelic vocals, and all of it blended together in a melting pot with various incarnations of the pop-punk milieu.

It’s also evident after a Loud Loop Press interview in February that the Earth Program wants it this way. “Invade!” is much more an experiment with building a cohesive identity than an expression of some limited and particular worldview.

That the Earth Program kicks up musical dirt in this way is less of a stylistic abstraction than a genuine search for something that fits. Many songs on the record are constructed in such a way that the listener can invariably see what must have happened behind closed doors. “Eat your makeup,” one of the band’s showcase tunes, has a verse and chorus structure that, while not perfectly aligned, are as extremely catchy as anything you’ve heard in the past few years. There’s a real “try this, try that” mentality in the band’s work that comes off as transparent and refreshing.

Christopher Mondo, with his highly characteristic voice, takes the lead vocals on most if not all of the tracks. Not everyone will react positively to his technique, but it’s one of the few weapons in the band’s arsenal that keeps them tilted to the punk side of the aisle rather than the side of bubblegum pop.

“Keeneecheewaa”, the third song on the record, is the first track that fits with the album’s awesome cover graphic -- a retro 50s-style sci-fi etching of an open-mouthed man wearing antennas for glasses while another larger antenna pokes out from his noggin. The song is ultimately one of the record’s fitter happier moments, an audio sample of a 50s appliance commercial accompanied by spacey instrumentation that punctuates two upbeat tracks.

“Mawkish” and “Pink Pit (reprise)” are the strongest songs. Whether the Earth Program is truly DIY or not, they appear to have listened to the perennial advice of the major labels that say to break-up a long EP with a powerhouse on track seven. “Mawkish” is probably the best representation of well-crafted pop along with Christopher Mondo’s characteristic vocals on the album. And “Pink Pit (reprise)” contains a high dosage of those punk-rock vibes, including a great beat and guitar riff combination.

“Invade!” rounds out nicely with a lengthy 12-minute tune called “Stay tuned” that brings back that alien spookiness and adds traces of “You Forgot it in People.”

Actually, now that I think about it, there is something to criticize about “Invade!” It turns out that “Stay tuned” is 12-minutes long because the Earth Program has embedded a secret track at the end, which is just straight-up bush league. We’ll let this one off with a warning.

*Posted by Jason Shough in: Albums Reviews

http://loudlooppress.com/reviews/the-earth-program-invade/#more-7988 - Loud Loop Press


Where to begin with Earth Program? One of the most unique, quirky, and unbelievably solid bands in Chicago’s scene, Earth Program is something that everyone can love. Although they describe their music as post-punk/indie pop, I would have to say they are a little more complex than that. They start with loads of reverb on the microphones with vocals that sound Perry Farrel-esque (only with more insanity) and then add in a little psychedelic surf rock for kicks. They continue by screaming, “You know you really don’t like me” at the audience. Earth Program displays many faces and is constantly taking listeners on a ride. Stage antics are a must for Earth Program. If it’s not costumes, then it’s wild dancing and stomping. It’s captivating and relentless and wonderful.

*by Britni Day

http://loudlooppress.com/features/10-chicago-bands-to-watch-in-2010/

- Loud Loop Press


If I had to choose one word to describe Earth Program’s debut album INVADE!, it would have to be quirky. Eccentric would also do.


If I had the luxury of an entire phrase to represent this Chicago-based band, “they march to the beat of their own drum” would be a nice one to use (and it has the added bonus of including a witty, albeit cliché, reference to music). Or I might just cut to the chase and say “this band is really weird.”


In the press kit that accompanied their album in the Phoenix office, the band describes its first record as “lay[ing] the groundwork for infinite folds of a poetic narrative phrased in both tender melodies and screaming emotion.” Keep in mind that this is written in the style of the opening to Star Wars, with lines of text stretching off into the stars. Peculiar, yes, but also strangely endearing; a quality that it holds in common with Earth Program itself.


The record, which (I think) is the story of an alien invasion, swings madly from one musical style to another. It opens in “Pink Pit of Abomination” with a gentle acoustic guitar introduction that is quickly disrupted by the disconcerting vocals. These are not pleasant singing voices like you find in pop groups. By this I do not mean that they are poor; the eerie singing fits well with the science fiction narrative. From “Pink Pit of Abomination,” the group moves directly into “Eat Your Makeup,” which initially sounds like an old Beatles song but becomes more pop-rock as the song goes on.


Later, “Invasions” makes good use of a synthesizer and sounds of a radio being tuned to create a uniquely unsettling track. “SpookHouse” comes out of nowhere with a faster, harder sound, and “Greeny” continues this trend.


My favorite track, “Le Gloom” is an energetic piece that distinguishes itself through its clever lyrics. A brief sample: “Weep your eyes you reigning snowflake / Le gloom is the moon so she flows / Slumber loudly awaken softly /Sense to you your weighted brainstem.” Obviously, these are not the lyrics of any old generic pop band. Another example is found in “SpookHouse”: “I will eat your burnt toast if you like / Castaways will often bring orange light / Witches hibernating in mountain tops / Common sense has left you impolite.” The lines are definitely unconventional, but that’s a welcome relief after all the drivel that comes out of the radio otherwise.


For all that their album is self-released through their own label (Tastee Records), Earth Program does not sound cheap or amateur. Their use of sound effects (including radio and TV audio clips) is crisp and professional.


However, INVADE! definitely isn’t for everyone. Like I said, it’s a weird album. But as for me, I have to love a band that lists their major influences as The Beatles, Nirvana, The Twilight Zone and The Adventures of Pete and Pete.


The album came out on Dec. 1, just in time for you to buy it for those fans of bizarre music in your family. Earth Program’s MySpace page includes several songs from INVADE! for you to sample (including “Le Gloom”), as well as a list of their upcoming performances. You won’t be disappointed.

By Annah Hackett

Diversions Writer


http://www.loyolaphoenix.com/2.541/diversions/chi-town-invasion-1.950227

- Loyola Phoenix


The air in “The Spook House” is dense, like smoke, but there is no evidence that anyone in Earth Program lights-up, at least not habitually.

Maybe a fuse is broken – a valid concern given the volume at which the band rehearses – but it’s more likely that the feeling is just imagined, conjured visually by the cluster of amps on the floor and the hypnotizing beam on the wall (literally, there’s a hypnotizing beam on the wall).


“Mister Bibbles”, the stage name of the band’s bass player and backing vocalist, Matt, says music is an escape from reality. Whether it’s true is irrelevant, because it’s clear that few bands probably understand what it means to be surreal quite like Earth Program. Walking into The Spook House -- the name the band has given their practice space -- is a bit like walking into the movie “Being John Malkovich,” where normalcy is turned upside down -- or downside up. Before you know what’s happening, a man who appears totally sane on the outside (lead singer Christopher “Mondo”) suddenly begins yelling into a microphone about “eating makeup” while a small dog struts around the room staring at you, as if hypnotized.

If they were being weird for the sake of being weird, we might not have a story here. But Earth Program has a philosophy, albeit a very loose one (the best kind), and it starts with their belief in the D.I.Y, or “Do It Yourself”, movement in Chicago. Several times throughout the rehearsal, someone in the band made a comment about being poor and making music. Somehow, being poor doesn’t sound so un-American when they say it.

“It’s people using their disadvantage to their advantage,” Matt (Bibbles) said. “It’s using aesthetics as a weapon.”

The last part was Bibbles talking about someone who might sport a “punk” hairdo because of his or her inability to afford proper grooming. But given where the band was sitting, and the way they make music, it could easily apply to almost everything they do.

Building the Community

In September, 2008, Christopher Mondo met Jennifer “Ann Droid” through a mutual friend. Christopher had been hosting an open mic night at Kaffiene in Evanston and met a lot of musicians that way. Meanwhile, Bibbles connected with Michael “Signal”, the band’s drummer, through craigslist.

“When I joined the band I was really impressed by the support structure … in place,” Signal said. “People who do visual art, or drawings or paintings.”

Earth Program loosely revolves around the principle of community, and it’s very evident that the whole process is organic and uninhibited.

“Another cool part about D.I.Y. is the community itself,” Bibbles said. “There are a lot of people out there who’re interested in these kinds of things …[ like] getting friends together and making a project bigger than it already is.”

“The more people you have on, the more diverse and complicated it’s going to get,” he said. “But with the D.I.Y. community it’s usually a lot more laid back and just people who are enjoying themselves and turning their hobbies into something a little more meaningful.”

From their appearance, Earth Program is made up of four members: Jennifer, Christopher, Michael and Matt. But from the inside out, that’s not the way they see it at all. The point of being D.I.Y. is to pull in artistic talent from wherever it may roam.

“All of us in Chicago are kind of doing it ourselves, so we’re looking to work together to build a community,” Ann Droid said.

Proving their dedication to the community aspect of Chicago music, Earth Program launched a label this past year called Tastee Records and put together a compilation album of local bands called “Cultivate Your Brain.” Among the bands featured are Dinosaurs in Outer Space, Francophone and The BlowHoles.

“It’s all just propping each other up,” Signal said.


“Retro Spooky Space Punk (or Mamajama)”


Jennifer Ann Droid, who plays guitar and sings in the band, mentions that her shirt is from the robot store. She’s referring to RobotCity Workshop, on Sheffield just north of Belmont, one of two stores in the country dedicated entirely to selling robots and developing robot-based education for kids.

Mister Bibbles also happens to work there, and it’s very clear that the robotic and spacey paraphernalia on the walls of The Spook House owes its place in the band to his connections.

It’s also clear that Earth Program is as much an aesthetic concept as it is a musical one.

“It has a lot of aesthetic references to the movies, like 50s and 80s horror movies,” Bibbles said.
“Mamajama” is another way Christopher likes to talk about Earth Program musically. It’s a term he uses to describe the band’s inclusiveness -- they’ll sound like “anything and everything.”

“There are two notions of punk to me: there’s like the cliché stereotype, the fashion. Then there’s the attitude and the ethic,” Christopher said. “Because there are so many things that I think are punk that aren’t classified. Anything from Gandhi to The Beatles.”

“Bootleggers and Jazz artists,” Signal added.

And then Bibbles added, “there has to be a certain level of honesty.” What he seems to mean is the way Earth Program ultimately say they’re in the business of making pop music, and they “make it for everyone and anyone who wants to listen,” regardless of philosophy or intent.

Invade!

Earth Program just finished recording their first album, “Invade!” which was created and then digitally captured entirely at The Spook House. It was also released on Tastee Records.
The album shows the band in the process of finding their sound, Bibbles said. Again, they are very upfront with the openness of their music-creation process. A friend helped them to make a music video for the song “Eat your makeup”, and the band made all of its own merchandise.

“DIY is semi-rooted in punk rock ethic, but it’s also just an artistic means,” Christopher said. “Because we want to do it and partially because we’re kind of poor so we don’t really have the means of doing it besides doing it ourselves as best and cheaply and efficiently as we can.”

“It [also] gives you a lot of freedom when you’re making something that you don’t really have to be constrained within the means of making it,” Bibbles said.

*Posted by Jason Shough in: Features

http://loudlooppress.com/features/get-with-the-earth-program/#more-6791 - Loud Loop Press


So one of the band members of Earth Program, I won't identify her specifically, has been pestering me for this post for some time. I think she didn't really realize that I had quietly retired from 3hive as a way to maintain sanity. Seriously, how can anyone actually listen to even a fraction of the music that's out there and keeps on coming every day? It was her quasi-anonymous e-mail that did it; "Dear Editor, " it began. Come on... As a disclosure, I knew this band member before there was an Earth Program, back when she was the complicated girl in the back of my high school Creative Writing class. She was as awesome then as her band is now, and I'm glad I unretired just to share some tunes I think a lot of you are going to like. I mean, just listen to "Eat Your MakeUp," ok? Earth Program is pop enough to be bearable and strange enough to keep things interesting. Sounds like a fine time to be 20ish in Chicago. Oh, and hi Jen!

http://www.3hive.com/2010/03/earth_program.php - 3Hive


Discography

INVADE! 2010 debut album/full length. Invade is available for free streaming/download @ http://www.archive.org/details/EarthProgram-Invade

*Earth Program has performed live on WLUW Loyola - Chicago, IL.

*Their music has aired on several local college and on-line radio stations including: chirpradio.org

Photos

Bio

One of those underground cult bands you've always been looking for and never heard of…until now!

Earth Program is an innovative cross-genre multimedia band located out of Chicago & the fictional non-fictional world of Obbityville.

The Earth Program perform and provide a seriously cool and unique mix of experimental garage pop post punk. They describe their sound as "retro spooky space punk," "atomic rawk," "ma'ma jama" and their music (as of now) a mixture of catchy hooks/melodies, coated in salty sweat sincerity intensity and emotion, with overtone sprinkles of sci-fi/horror/pop culture influence. A delightfully delicious combination of lullabies and nightmares.

Earth Program's music/sound has been compared to other popular groups such as: Beatles, Pixies, Neutral Milk Hotel, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, early Flaming Lips, Silver Sun Pickups, Gary Numan, Modest Mouse, T.S.O.L, White Stripes, early Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, early Janes Addiction and My Bloody Valentine.

INVADE! is the bands debut album. It was self-released through the groups d.i.y. home-based indie label, Tastee Records. Upon its release, INVADE! has and continues to receive glowing reviews and words of praise from press, critics, bloggers and fans from around the midwest, u.s. and web. The band is still awaiting a bad review.

Music aside, Earth Program's live onstage antics, energy, costumes and visuals have also created quite a reputation for the band, stirring quite a buzz in the Chicago music community and beyond. Aesthetically and conceptually, the group have been highly influenced by the world cinema. In particular, b-movies/cult/surreal/avant-garde/bizzarro, etc, as well as the television shows: Adventures of Pete and Pete, Twilight Zone and Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

Earth Program has performed at many of the cities notable venues, including: Abbey Pub, Elbo Room, Viaduct Theatre, Northwestern University, Bottom Lounge and the Double Door, opening for POLYSICS from Japan.

Currently, The Earth Program working on organizing a potential summer tour, creating material for their second follow-up album, CONSUME! and managing Tastee Records. A web comic and animated/live action Earth Program web show are also under development.

Stay Tuned!