The Halamays
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The Halamays

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Pop Pop




"The Big Take-over, "This Boring Party" Ep review"

Ostensibly, it’s just another "summer fun" record— ping-pong pop with the obligatory girl/boy vox and clap-along synth hooks. But after a few listens, a sneaking suspicion emerges that Chicago husband/wife duo Katie & Pat Watkins (aka The Halamays) are toying with this formula for slightly darker purposes; not unlike the kitten on their album cover with his ball of string.

Make no mistake, the Halamays are not Steve Albini’s sort of Chicago band, and the somewhat unfashionable cuteness of “This Boring Party” would likely reek of Carebear-ism to the North Shore's grizzled standard bearers at Drag City or Thrill Jockey. But then again, it was Chicago’s Minty Fresh label that once gave us the sugary sweet indie-pop of Papas Fritas— the sophisticated but refreshingly unpretentious ‘90s band that may be the Halamays closest evolutionary cousins (albeit with far less of the latter's Logic-induced bloops and whooshes).

Like the Fritas’ Shivika Asthana-- or maybe more obviously Juliana Hatfield or Jenny Lewis-- Katie Watkins has a charmingly girlish but confident vocal delivery and a spunky energy that twirls off the record. You can practically hear her hopping up and down on the EP’s bubblegum tracks, “Sun Goes Down” and “This Boring Party.” But as those song titles indicate, there appears to be a little incongruity between the fluffiness of these tunes and the cynicism of its singers. “Why can’t we go back to the way things were?” Katie pines before negotiating the joyous chorus of “Sun Goes Down.” Meanwhile, the title track reads like the flip-side of Prince’s “1999.” “Would it be rude to just walk out and leave?” Katie asks, as she and her husband—married and closing in on 30—find themselves increasingly out of place at the “place to be.”

By the time the EP’s closing track— the legitimately haunting Pat-voiced ballad “Whispers”—comes along, the jig is finally up. This might be a summer fun album, sure. But it also might be the last summer ever for mankind as we know it, so choose your parties wisely. - The Big Take-over

"This Boring Party Review"

In 2003, America invaded Iraq, SARS invaded our lungs, and a record titled Give Up by The Postal Service invaded the hearts and minds of aspiring songwriters everywhere. If the record had drawbacks, it was that Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello’s perfect marriage of indie and electronic elements was, perhaps, a little too perfect. Here, exposed, was the blueprint for dressing up singer-songwriter fare in bleeps and bloops, a reason to ditch the acoustic for the chic of a synthesizer. It was a fun, simpler time in music, but it wouldn’t last.

Fast-forward to 2011. We are knee-deep in Ariel Pink and Dirty Projectors, dream pop and chillwave. Pop has gone avant-garde and lo-fi (again). It is anything but fun and simple, but don’t tell The Halamays. The husband-wife duo, consisting of Katie and Patrick Watkins, are, in their own way, the punkest band I know. They are ignoring the trends and following the Gibbard plan. The Halamays are asking their fans to pay $7 for their recently released debut EP, “This Boring Party,” and considering the context, it’s probably worth every penny.

Record-opener “Sun Goes Down” begins with a Matt Sharp synth line. When Katie Watkins’s vocal comes in it’s obvious she is channeling Jenny Lewis. We’re then hit with a throw-your-hands-up-and-dance power pop chorus that would make Mates of State proud. The song crescendos, of course, in a downbeat electronic instrumental. The title track, next on the EP, follows practically the same formula but both songs sport melodies that are inscrutable.

Tracks three and four, “Sleeping in the Kitchen,” sung by Patrick, and “I Heard My Mobile,” by Katie, former keyboardist/backing singer for Very Truly Yours, are somewhat companion pieces. Each is a sigh-filled ballad painting portraits of domestic life. Patrick is staying up too late, a depressed homebody. Katie sings, “I know if I answer, then I’ll have to answer to you. I don’t always have the right answer for you.” Gosh. If that doesn’t twist your insides just a little, check your pulse.

It’s a little melodramatic, but The Halamays are mining some rich material here. They cover the gamut of phases a young married couple might encounter— boredom, excitement, disconnects, and, of course, a shared interest in television programming. “This Boring Party” closes with “Whispers,” a veiled ode to the show “Lost,” but I only know that because the band told me. Otherwise, it’s a worrisome track whose sad electronic repetitions leave the listener staring off into the distance, the way any good story about sharing a life with someone should.

It’s a great end to what is a promising beginning for The Halamays. They may not be doing what’s cool in music right now, but if I had to put my money on any Chicago band to succeed in the traditional sense of mainstream success, believe it or not, it’d be them. They deserve credit for crafting catchy pop songs that are, with the right promotion, radio ready and, most important, worthy. - The Loud Loop Press

"Chicago Love Mix"

I love it when bands decide to rock. Is it a decision decided via pow-wow over peace pipe? Is it democratic, taken to a vote? Perhaps it is more transcendental than that, the guitar speaking to the hands through the amp or some other ghosts of rock and roll spiriting through the windy corridors of the city. These are all Chicago bands, so I have to think there must be some back room politics, palm greasing, and ubiquitous eye winking.

The Halamays were formally Katie & Pat. This incarnation sees them rocking harder and beefing up their multi-instrumental sound with more thumping rock drums and gushing synth rivers. The theme of the two songs on the Zombies EP is, well, surviving a zombie apocalypse. It frames the understated, direct lyrics of the band in a post-apocalyptic world, making their emotive verse playful and sometimes a little funny.

- Stereo Delay

"Glistening Post-Survivor Pop Pleasure: Chicago's The Halamay’s This Boring Party EP"

Watching Chicago’s Katie & Pat, the musical fuse burning down to what is now the sparkling and energetic Halamays, was always a feast for the eyes: instruments akimbo spread in a musical smorgasbord across the stage, then at the close of each song Katie and Pat wandering about this war zone of implements and selecting their next weapon.

In K&P, there was a sweetness in the understated, direct verse and lucid creativity in the arrangements, a blossoming of instrumentation, and in the Halamays, that lyricism is given a weight and fullness. It seems appropriate then that the transition songs (the tunnel between bands), two tracks under the name Zombies EP about surviving an apocalypse of the undead, comes at older K&P tracks with fresh angle and inventiveness, an evolution of the sound. This triumphant, redeeming, survivor tone carries through in the Halamays newest EP.

The Halamays have added an apocryphal gravity to the soundscapes explored in Katie & Pat. In This Boring Party, Katie and Pat show off bigger drums, strummy, playful reverb drenched Telecaster licks, ripe synths and gorgeous hyper harmonic vocals that make the modern but pop-come-country lines like, “I can hear you calling/It’s probably important/but I’ll ignore you” sparkled with a personal celebrity.

In this cult of personality era where clicks on personal Facebook pages are tracked and subjected to statistical analysis, it’s refreshing to hear lyrics that don’t try to paint the singer as a self-styled badass or jaded, ultra-clever wit connoisseur. Halamay’s disarming lyrics stay honest and personal without wilting, and through the windy choral harmonies, the spaces within the shining, present tones become sacred.

Where K&P used computer flourishes to occasionally accentuate their sound, playing with live drums as well as programming beats and instrumental runs into their smorgasbord array, the Halamays have fully integrated modern equipment into their sound, so that the vocal effects carry a transcendence to them without obscuring the original expression or recrafting the overall sound as an effects exploration. This mastery also allows a congruity of tone that matches the glowing warmth of their keyboards, lushly blooming throughout the TBP songs.

The Halamays unassuming mastery allows the songs to evolve into new shapes, like the cascading rounds at the end of “I Heard My Mobile,” with Katie singing over and over, “I don’t know what to say to you.” The variety, rich and multi-faceted tone, and instrumental nuance make these songs fun and exciting to listen to; the disarming honesty and the patient, shimmering clarity of the vox and song writing make them intriguing to listen to again and again.

- Hiawatha Review


This Boring Party - EP
Zombies - Single



Who are the Halamays?
Choose Your Own Adventure Below!

A) The Halamays are mythical Norse gods, generally noted for their atom-splitting harmonic precision and cool socks

...B) The Halamays are the romantically-involved robot creations of the reclusive Dr. G.R. Halamay—the mustachioed owner and proprietor of the world’s last record store. It was back amidst the dusty stacks of cut-out compact discs that they say they found their sentience, halfway through the bridge of “Something.”

C) The Halamays are Hal-amazing!

D) The Halamays are the marriage of the resolute and the irrefutably cute—roots in the grass and boots to the ass. Come see their show, and you will know, how Niagara falls in love with Ohio.

E) Who cares? I’m hungry.