Pet Lover
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Pet Lover

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Rock Alternative

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"Pet Lover: Oblivion"

I'm biased, of course.

My pal Brian is part of Pet Lover. And I adore Brian and I adore the band.

And while I'm happy to fawn over my friends, Pet Lover deserves every good thing written about it. And it deserves to be written about a lot more.

Local indie bands are a dime a dozen. Really good local indie bands are rare currency. Pet Lover is, of course, the latter.

"Oblivion," the band's latest effort, was a long time coming, but entirely worth the wait.

I've written before about my distaste for the homogeneity that's become the bland hallmark of the music industry, overproduction to the point of obscurity, guitar riffs by focus group. No thank you.

Pet Lover is a different animal, and "Oblivion" is a particular pleasure for the variety it offers in this musical world of more of the same. As is known to regular readers of this blog, I fully cop to being a sappy girl, and for that reason, "Deep Blue Mind" stands out as my favorite song. Mind you, it is not a sappy song in the fine tradition of sappy songs. The boys have not gotten in touch with their inner Manilows. (I would wager that none of them have ever spent a weekend in New England.) But I was captivated by the unexpected piano moment on the bridge. It transforms a classic Pet Lover tune into something even more for me.

Though the next track, "Cowboys and Idiots," quickly dispenses with any sentimentality with its in-your-face open. (Is it inspired by "Bonanza"?) And just in case you were settling into the band's sound, "Detroit" provides an unexpected jolt.

"Junkpile," the second cut on the album, was featured this weekend on WXRT's Local Anesthetic, the last bastion of real music in Chicago, an endorsement of the band's worthiness.

Intrigued? You should be. And I haven't even mentioned the harmonies. Oh, wait. I just did. - Beth Kujawski


"Artist Development Evaluation"

1. What is your initial impression?

My initial impression is that your first song that I'm hearing, "Alicia", is very catchy! The words are quirky, fun, memorable and singable! Looking down at the rest of the song titles, I'm excited to hear a few more songs. The titles are so interesting, fun, and tangible. The album cover is also intriguing, with the person being lifted up by blue balloons.

Looking through your website, I'm loving your bio photos and blurbs about each member. Your whole vibe as a band is fun and light-hearted, but with serious musicianship. A great combo! Your website is informative and simple, and accurately represents your band in its look.

Overall, a great first impression of your band! Really good music alongside light-heartedness.

2. How would you describe my sound and target audience?

When the first song came on, the production was a bit heavy, and I was surprised to hear the relatable and easy-going vocals come in. The production is heavier than I would expect for a pop band, but it's a great juxtaposition of hard rock, clean pop vocals and catchy hooks. I think your recordings sound amazing!!

I think that you probably have a wide array of fans which would include fans of Greenday, Queen, Incubus, Weezer, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and even hints of Belly, or Bleu. That's a pretty diverse list! I think that you would be popular in college crowds and "young professionals" into their 30s.

3. What is the strongest aspect of my music: performance, production, songwriting?

I think that all three of these components are working together really well here, and I think that you are good at all 3. A triple threat! :-) The production is clean and organized, and you have definitely found a sound that works for you. The electric guitar sounds are consistent through the few songs that I heard, and the vocals arrangements are interesting with doubling, harmonies, etc. The drums are exciting without being too obtrusive, and the bass is solid....I'm even hearing keyboard creep in at the end of "Alicia". Very cool! The recordings are mixed wonderfully, with the vocal clearly heard and upfront, so that it's ready for "pop" radio, but isn't too loud so that it fits into the rock genre, as well.

The performances are strong and proficient, with the vocals giving great emotion and energy. The vocals jump out at me first since I'm a vocal coach, but all of the instruments are being played cleanly with great energy!! The songwriting is equally as strong, with clean form and great choruses that are memorable with well-placed titles. The melodic and harmonic contrast between the verses and choruses is exciting and keeps the songs interesting.

Overall, you're a really strong band with great musicianship. - Kristin Cifelli - wearelistening.org


Discography

Oblivion - 2010
New Game - 2003
Spitsbergen EP - 1997

Photos

Bio

PL began a long time ago. US sends forces to Persian Gulf. Originally just Kurt (drums) and Brian (guitar). Played in Kurt's attic first. Wrote songs. Sweat. Laughed. Broke old television sets. Worked on a set of tunes. Influenced by Bauhaus, Superchunk, Helmet, Firehose, et al. Made friends with Jodie. Asked her to join PL. She and her bass accepted. Practiced. Played some shows. Had tacos at Big Horse. Played some more shows. Jodie exits for Starball.

Brian and Kurt contemplate. Drink Whiskey. Meet Mike. Dig his energy. Mike joins PL. Practice. Decide to record an EP. Called it "Spitsbergen". Released in 1997. Heaven's Gate cult members commit mass suicide in California. Played more shows. Tightened the verses. Mike departs. Heads West. Continue to write songs. Practice.

Longtime friend Doug (guitar) moves to town. His previous band was Judge Nothing. They were good. Doug joins PL. Learn new songs. India conducts 3 atomic tests despite worldwide disapproval. Boom. Fellow musician and friend Chris (bass) joins band. Wrote songs. Played some live shows. Wore funny hats. Played a 12 minute set at Double Door. Made connection with local radio personality (via Brian's friend and co-worker Dave). PL decides to be his backing band.

Play DJ’s 20 year anniversary show at Vic Theatre. Brian wears a dress and combat boots. Shouts of "Pet Lover" heard from the crowd. Serendipity. Continue to play shows with Chicago DJ. Succumb to open chords. Learn to harmonize. DJ ousts Kurt and Chris. PL officially goes on hiatus. World awaits consequences of Y2K.

Kurt and Chris form BSM. Kurt also joins Money Shot. Brian and Doug continue to write songs. Play on local DJ's celebrity softball team. Mad cow in Europe. Met Gregg and John. Play more shows for DJ. Grow impatient. Convince Gregg, John and Dave to play shows with PL. Practice. Play shows. DJ go bye-bye. Songs get recorded for "New Game". Released in 2003. The US declares official end to combat operations in Iraq. Play more shows. Surrender. Gregg and John exit. Dave too. PL hibernates.

Marriages. Sunsets. New guitar strings. Babies. Work. Re-unite with Kurt and Chris. Practice. Write. Laugh. Work on set of tunes for new album. Record drums to analog tape. Add more parts. Learn parallel compression. Big Brown wins the Kentucky Derby. Work. Write songs. Proceed to the nearest exit. More babies. Practice. Enjoy life. Finalize mixes for second album, "Oblivion". Released in June, 2010. Work on songs for new album. Practice. More kids. Happy.