Run Chico Run
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Run Chico Run

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"slow action review"

There’s a reason most reviews of Run Chico Run records are only one paragraph long: they’re an incredibly difficult band to review. In other words, they force we music critics to actually work for once, to actually buckle down and attempt to put into words why the Victoria, British Columbia duo is so darn compelling. More often than not, though, the best most critics have done is admit defeat, toss off a lazy single paragraph, and haul out a stream of tired adjectives: “Unclassifiable.” “Absurd.” “Esoteric.” “Weird.” On a personal note, I must confess to having abandoned hope of filling out a 700-word review of 2004’s marvelously strange Shashbo, in favor of a more concise 270-word piece for this site. A year and a half later, with another slice of West Coast indie rock strangeness ready to enthrall, befuddle, and hypnotize, the band deserves some more detailed critical attention, so it’s time for a proper attempt, thesaurus at the ready.

Much like their fellow Victoria brethren Casey Mercer (Frog Eyes) and Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown), multi-instrumentalists Matt Skillings and Thomas Shields excel at creating an enticing art rock/indie pop hybrid that draws from a wide musical palette, and in true Western Canadian fashion, there’s not a lick of pretense present in the music whatsoever, as underneath all the eccentricity, there’s a much more straightforward pop songwriting element that keeps it all grounded. Nothing in the music is arbitrary; even the stranger departures seem to have a purpose, leading towards rewarding payoffs. It was apparent on the charming Shashbo, and even more so on Slow Action, which improves on the lo-fi feel of the previous disc, the more polished production emphasizing the impressive fact that such fleshed-out, full-sounding music is the product of just two musicians.

Both Skillings and Shields share lead vocal duties, and the differences in each person’s style quickly become apparent. Shields’s lively singing style projects an almost playful quality throughout the five tracks he sings on. “Clockwork Crows” bounces along at a new wave-ish pace (more similar to The Nein than, say, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!) as Shields spews esoteric poetry before the song dissolves into a whimsical reggae-inspired bridge. “Oneanotherwell” bears a strong resemblance to Dan Bejar’s contributions to the New Pornographers (aided by a hummable Moog synth melody), while “Slow Action is the Best Action” melds Akron/Family-like harmonizing and feedback drones with the kind of Weill-esque cabaret that we heard on Shashbo. The cutely bizarre seven minute epic “Broadcaster” makes like Modest Mouse going krautrock, as a pulsating motorik style beat gently underscores lilting guitar licks and chiming keyboard stabs, Shields’s ebullient falsetto sounding more charming than grating.

Skillings, meanwhile, brings considerably more mood to the album. The electric piano-dominated “Smitten” is a darkly gorgeous tune, and is not the first time Skillings’s deadpan tenor has resembled that of Thom Yorke. “Old Men’s Clothes” features a cool, psychedelic rock guitar riff that hearkens back to early Flaming Lips, the funereal “Silver Train Hour” combines bass, drums, piano, and organ, lurching along like Hail to the Thief-era Radiohead (but with, dare I say, a stronger sense of melody), and “Little Hairs a Curling” will do just that to listeners, its sinewy blues riff and nocturnal organ darkening the mood even more, sending chills down our collective spines.

Slow Action is a timely reminder that there’s nothing wrong with being just a bit left of center in the songwriting department, just as long as the hooks are there. Like any other Run Chico Run album, it requires plenty of patience, but even cynical listeners will be surprised at how songs like “Broadcaster” and “Sportscars for Everyone” burrow their way into our subconscious. It’s yet another first-rate effort from one of Canada’s most underrated acts, one that deserves to be heard by more than dedicated Canadian indie rock enthusiasts, not to mention given a fitting, full-length review by yours truly. I’ve done my part, now it’s time for you to do yours, and give this talented duo some attention.
- Pop Matters

"RUN CHICO RUN Slow Action"

(Boompa) Rating: NNNN

Originally a quartet that only solidified as a duo, Run Chico Run manage to sound like a group as large as Broken Social Scene on Slow Action. That all these wonderful sounds come courtesy of only Matt Skillings and Thomas Shields is as mind-boggling as their ability to sound like 20 different bands at once and come off as original in the process. No small feat, considering the melting pot includes the prog rock stylings of (gulp) Rush and Yes, some avant weirdness à la Beefheart and Pere Ubu, with off-kilter indie shards by way of Pavement and early Modest Mouse. Yet Skillings's and Shields's sense of solid pop hooks and melody keeps the weirdness from overtaking the proceedings and shows that they probably have a couple of Beatles and Byrds albums in their collection. This might be every music snob's wet dream come true. - Now magazine toronto

"Run Chico Run Slow action"

By Rob Nay

The duo of Matt Skillings and Thomas Shields take pop conventions and hang them upside down by their heels, shaking out loose change from pockets. As Run Chico Run, the two stitch together off-kilter rhythms, varied instrumentation and lazy falsettos to create weird and engaging music. Slow Action, the duo’s fifth full-length album, manages to skilfully balance psychedelic tones with constantly shifting pop music structures. Lead off track “Broadcaster” adeptly crashes back and forth from lulling to jarring, while “Famous For Being Famous” lurches hypnotically with a heavy dose of low-end fuzz contrasting the prominent, high pitched vocals. On Slow Action, Run Chico Run shows a pronounced ability to tackle songs that are both tuneful and unpredictable.(BOOMPA!) - exclaim

"Run Chico Run Mélée"

A snazzy bit of insightful pop music from the frigid reaches of Victoria, British Columbia. Swiping their name (presumably) from a Felt tune, Run Chico Run lets the guitar notes sparkle with pulsating clarity, while the shimmering vocals are the only thing that can capably surpass them. Like Felt, Run Chico Run manifests a variety of styles on Melee; over 18 tracks, everything from moody organs to smooth sounding jazz outtakes to bizarre Velvet Underground insurgent country musings makes its way to the forefront. Exemplary numbers include "Succubus", which has a pervasive, persuasive suaveness about it, intertwining stimulating vocal harmonies with equally arousing guitar parts. The cynical "Life is Harder Than Emo" purposely insinuates a dark sense of austerity while retaining a sense of vivacity, creating a chilling, introspective tune. With such a variety of thoughtful tracks on the CD, and the band's exceptional ability to provide a melange of styles, yet retain a definite cohesion, Run Chico Run is one of the best -- and most unexpected -- things to sprout up from Canada this year!
- Splendid E Zine

"Run Chico Run Shashbo"

Rating: A

From the thick, jazzy opening rhythms of Run Chico Run’s fourth full-length release, Shashbo is a sleek, angular explosion of art-pop creativity and deliriously vibrant instrumentation. Sexy, noirish keyboards and Flaming Lips-style melodic eccentricity carry much of the record. Matt Skilling’s vocal instincts are fluid but odd enough to intrigue, and the deliberately jarring high harmonies add colour. More often than not, Shashbo thrives on the dissonance of its myriad parts, easing the listener into a false sense of security before breaking out the mayhem. On Blue Bike, raw electric guitar riffs contrast with resonant keyboards, while The Prophematizer closes with a crashing, chaotic bridge. Alternately delightful and obscure, Shashbo does perfect justice to a skewed and tongue-in-cheek vision of modern pop, satisfying those with an eccentric flair without sacrificing form. Run Chico Run may be one of Canada’s more elusive acts, but they’re also one of its most adept.

Melissa Martin - Uptown Magazine


· New music from the land of witches.
Shasbo starts off with an intro that sounds like a parody to the theme from People's Court and explodes into the huge "Jacques and Madeline." With keyboards like magic telephones, heavy gangsta bass lines, solid chaotic drumming and reverb-drenched vocals, the track then switches pace to a light and tempting bossanova (or tango) and the singing turns falsetto. The duo then effortlessly drops back into the main tune – it's awesome.

The rest of the album follows the powerful, dark carnival, taking time outs every now and then for slightly more reserved pop hooks. Using various sounds and instruments in skilled, interesting ways, Run Chico Run have put together their best album yet.



- FFWD Weekly

"Run Chico Run Shashbo"

reviewed by humfinder

5/5 Stars

When I listen to Run Chico Run’s Shashbo, I can’t help but to find myself asking a plethora of questions. What drugs do these guys like to do? What planet are they from? Are there any flights that are heading out that way anytime soon?

When I put Shashbo into the CD player to give it a listen, my CD player was acting a little funny. For some reason, the disc would not play. I thought it was fat, that I was not to review this CD. I had to walk away. So I left the premises and went to “relax my mind.”

It’s like it was fated that I listen to this CD on a different plain of consciousness. When I walked back into the room and pushed play the CD started up with no problems. The orgy of clamor began to fill my head with the sounds of the sixties, seventies, and nineties. All mixed into one. As the disc played on, I heard hints of Elvis Costello, David Bowie, the Beatles, and Gomez blaring out of the speakers and into my ears. Shashbo is definitely an album that a person should listen to after a long day of work. It has the ability to unwind a persons mind and lower their blood pressure by a few points.

Personally, after a half hour of sitting in rush hour traffic, I don’t want to hear the sounds of death metal ringing in my ears. You're liable to go home and yell at your dog after an experience like that. As a listener, I found this album very soothing. After listening to Shashbo for a half hour, in Capitol beltway traffic, I found myself wishing that I had been a part of the 60’s generation and maybe that I had a grilled cheese sandwich in hand.

To understand what Run Chico Run sounds like, imagine going to a really psychedelic carnival on acid and multiply it by 10. You’d have a giant rabbit talking to you and telling you the meaning of life. Then it would ask you if you wanted to take a ride on an oversized guinea pig for only 50 cents. The music that would go along with this experience would be Run Chico Run’s Shashbo.

As I listened to the album, I couldn’t help but think that the instruments sounded like something off of a Beta Band LP. Shashbo likes to put some random noises in their music that contain plenty of effects. Keeping the music busy and giving the audience something to listen out for. Very chill.

Favorite track
#6 – Sing only Happy Happy Songs

Genre: Modern Rock/Pop
Released: 2003

"Run Chico RUn Shashbo"

Reviewed by Roman Sokal

Hailing from western Canada, Run Chico Run are part of that new wave of post fun poking jagged garage love pop bands, a la the Unicorns, Erase Errata and Xiu Xiu. Whereas the other side of the stream consists of garage rock, this side contains driving, saturated, grainy keyboards like and angry yet geekier Yes meets debut-era Elvis Costello with an affinity for the Beatles. There’s enough awkward punk style breaks in the beats and minor explosions each time the keys make a change. Perfect stuff.
- Exclaim Magazine

"Run Chico Run Shashbo"

reviewed by Soren Brothers

With the unleashing of Shashbo, Run Chico Run have accomplished something beyond my scope of comprehension. An imaginary line has been trampled and the face of rock has been exposed to a new wind from Victoria that sounds like an angry robot leaning towards the occasional Latin rhythm(“Jacques and Madeleine”) and tear jerking melodies(“Ol’ Blue Pants”) . The music is so expansive and fresh, all that’s left to ponder is how a band with such talent has remained under the radar for as long as they have.
- Discorder Magazine


"Lofimofo" 13 song LP 1997
"A Secretary Speaks" 4 Song EP 1997
"Mélée" 18 song LP 1998
"A New Peak in Lowdowness" 12 Song LP 2001
"Shashbo" 12 Song LP 2004
"Slow Action" 10 song LP march 2006



Run Chico Run play an exhilarating style of music that cannot be succinctly described using words. If we were face to face, dear reader, I might be able to get the point across to you using a combination of hand gestures, fresh dance moves and tender caresses or i might say they sound a lot like geddy lee and bryan adams being force fed ambrosia salad off the floor of a trans am by the 1976 Dallas Cowboys. In other words, they sound fragile and squishy but at the same there is this bone crushing power that will put feelings in your whiskey hole.

The Chicos formally began their career in January of 1997, as a more conventional foursome, and have since been whittled down to just one pair of fully grown men.

In May of 1997, Run Chico Run released their first album, Lofimofo, but shortly after the record's release, the Chicos became a trio and they released an EP titled Asecretaryspeaks in October of that same year. In the spring of 1998, they spent a month recording their second album Melee which was released independently later that fall.

That summer, the boys embarked on their first Canadian tour, a preposterous three-month affair that gave their souls a sound crushing, yet still managed to pay their rent. However, it was on the eve of a successive seven-week tour when the band's third member backed out last minute leaving the remaining members with two options - go out on their own or cancel all the dates. With a shrug, they decided to go out as a two-piece. The compromise? While driving between performances, one would practice playing keyboards and drums simultaneously while the other drove.

Before they knew it, it was as if the two became one - virtually interchangeable on stage and off, one spending half the set on drums and bass synth and the other half singing, playing guitar or tickling a stack of keyboards. At home, the pair routinely share undearwear and wives. "Its getting realy weird and i don't think i'm comfortable with how far things have gone," quips skillings in an unguarded moment.

A New Peak In Lowdowness, released in 2001, served as Run Chico Run's formal introduction as a dynamic duo of songsmithery and instrumentation. Needless to say, this album caught a lot of peoples attention, especially Vancouver, BC's Boompa Records.

Shashbo, Run Chico Run's 2004 debut with Boompa Records, was critically acclaimed across North America, earning everything from simple and direct testaments to their talents ("Perfect stuff." -Exclaim) to muttered wonder of their multi-tasking capabilities ("insanely talented" -Splendid).

Slow Action, the Chico's fifth full-length release, was carefully crafted with unusual rhythms and innovative melodies. Delivered with a reckless abandon that is exhilarating to hear, the two-piece, multi-instrumental, mind-blowing machine doesn't disappoint. A totally original blend of lo-fi folk, psychedelic pop, fuzzy swamp rock, and deliriously vibrant instrumentation - all that's left to ponder is how they've remained under the radar for as long as they have.

For more information, please contact Boompa Records at 604-879-2666 or