The Its!
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The Its!

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January 8, 2006

THE ITS!, "THE ITS!" (PWMD) ***
THE ITS!, "THE ITS!" EP (PWMD) *


This band came together in high school, which is painfully obvious -- and pang-fully infectious. The sampled phone calls, the jerky sub-Pavement guitars, the desperate ranting about girlfriends and naive examinations of mortality, it's all so familiar ... and so much fun. Or was.

The self-titled debut is a year-old album, newly reissued because the band has been generating that coveted "buzz" -- SXSW gigs, a Disc Makers competition, props in Billboard -- and it deserves that second chance in the marketplace (of ideas and whatever else). Cheery and cheeky, The Its! recall early Squeeze in their tunefulness, to some degree, but mostly in their rascally spunk. Polish-born singer Maciej brings some kind of working-class restlessness and braggadocio to his youthful questioning ("Song for the Dead") and lust (all the others). In the circus of this music -- sometimes Clash-y in its ska rhythms, other times Camper Van Beethoven-ish in its cleansing of ethnic genres -- it's just ... adorable. Carefully sloppy, surprisingly textured and helplessly bitter, it's high school music that makes you wanna go back to high school. Or better yet: skip it again.

However, the new three-song, also self-titled EP will make you pine for all the pleasures of a chemistry lecture. Everything I just praised is glaringly absent here. Leadoff track "Punchline" is still cleverly penned, but the music sounds like a sappy Diane Warren ballad. Utterly innocuous, these tracks sound like anything and everything else out there -- modern rock white noise. Lazy harmonies, glossy (comparatively) production, fake British accents in "B-Movie Flop" -- only on "Hot as the Sun" is the former heat even hinted at. This is what they call a buzzkill, kids.

Thomas Conner


Note: The Its! are on a bill with the Sleepers and the Assembly on Jan. 26 at Metro.
- Chicago Sun-Times


Sunday, 04 December 2005

The PLAYBACK:stl Twinkly Lights Holiday Show
w/The Its!, The Maxtone 4, and eero
at Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room
December 9, 9 p.m. | 21+
TICKETS: $6 | CALL: 314-630-6404

It’s that time of year again! We don’t care if you’ve been bad or good; our only concern is do you wanna rock? ’Cause we’ve got one hell of a lineup on tap for you tonight.

As your fearless editors, we consider it our job to go forth and discover new music, then bring it to you. That is precisely what we’ve done with the Its!, a Chicago pop-dance-rock band we met at the South Park Music Festival in September. This month, we’ll be bringing ’em to you—how’s that for service? Trust us: They’re infectious, and ridiculously good. Their self-titled debut (available at cdbaby.com) is a stunningly uplifting collection of manic pop music. “That album has a really lo-fi thing going on that reminds people of those lingering melodies from the days of the Clash, Television, and the Cure,” agrees keyboardist Eric Quinlan. “We weren’t trying to sound like any one thing in particular. We just wanted to put together a solid record [from] start to finish that had a lot of heart behind it for upbeat rock ’n’ roll.” Despite the band’s obvious influences, Quinlan insists there’s more than meets the eye—er, ear: “All of us grew up on the oldies and classic rock radio stations that our parents would play at a nominal level when we would take our day trips to grandma’s. It’s a big underbelly to the structure of our sound.” Not that they wouldn’t love the big record deal, the block-long tour bus, and the expense account, but the Its! play music for all the right reasons. “Play and write from the soul and the rest is elementary, my dear Watson,” says Quinlan wisely. “It is somewhat unfortunate that many people equate your social status as a band with who you’re hanging out with, who you’re on tour with, or what magazine you’re in this month (no offense). Sometimes everything you want or need is an inch from your nose, staring right back at you, so take advantage of it.” www.theits.com


Written by Laura Hamlett - PLAYBACK:stl


South Park Music Festival
Fairplay, Colorado | Sept. 8-10, 2005

Discovery | Where else can you take in the serene beauty of the Mosquito Range in the day, lose your place counting stars at night, and hear innovative, independent music by artists on the verge? Highlights included the always breathtaking (and ever-improving) trashcan symphonies of Margot & the Nuclear So & So's, the rustic folk of Otis Gibbs, the dance-meets-wave of the Its! (Chicago's answer to Hot Hot Heat), the manic Decemberists' schtick of Happy Bullets, the alt-country-tinged storytelling of Alaskan Matt Hopper, and the hoedown-inducing washboard of Rev. Peyton and His Big Damn Band, who had all the townsfolk shaking it. - PLAYBACK:stl


by Winston Kung

I wanted to rate this album higher. I really did. From the very get-go, the entire package is utterly charming – from the awesome band name (I don’t know why, but the Its! is a name that positively bounces) to the awesome exclamation marks within the band name (this is how exclamation marks should be used. Pay attention, Panic! at the Disco) to the feel-good story of two musicians tired of playing in going-nowhere bands, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the Its!

Popping in the CD showed me the love was justified. Staring at me were 17 (!) tracks. So what could I do? Just let them play. Soak in the whirlwind. And for the next 50 minutes, comparisons of every sort floated through my mind. The La’s – with a punkier sound! The Libertines – if they got themselves off dope! Hell, London Calling, with its huge number of tightly crafted, quick pop songs! These guys were the next garage sensation. I could feel it. I was going to drop it on all my friends: I’d discovered the rebirth of the Strokes as a nicer, poppier, nicotine-less incarnation.

Then a funny thing happened: I discovered that even as I continuously looped the CD, feeding in on its addictive sound, I couldn’t differentiate between the tracks. Essentially, I was raving to my friends about an album where I couldn’t even match track to melody. Perhaps – and this was a leap for me to take – the tracks were simply forgettable.

That’s not an admission I wanted to make, of course. Everyone in the press wants to hit upon the next big thing. And the Its! come pretty damn close. They’re already on their way up, having played a series of high-profile Chicago gigs. Their debut is loaded chock full of tight, two-to-three-minute basic garage rock songs that show they’ve mastered the garage-pop songwriting structure; they take all that is tight and catchy about the Strokes’ sound and divorce it from the drugs, smoke, and sex that garage rock has carried since the Velvet Underground.

As one can imagine, the result is deliriously energetic and – for lack of a better term – bouncy. But the failing here is that it’s not a formula for transcendence, either. The Its! write hooks like they have a bank account full of them; they just have a problem varying those hooks. Maciej (they never indicate their last names) write lyrics that are witty and funny in the moment, and has an endearingly tuneless energy, but lack any sort of edge. Their bassist has perfect timing and a wicked solo in “You’re Not My Girlfriend” (the high point of the album), but basslines end up being recycled. None of this detracts from the immediate pleasure of listening to the album, of course, but it does create problems when you’re trying to designate an album as “great”.

That’s not to say there are no great songs. “Song for the Dead” is a poignant look at pointless suicides, with them proclaiming, “Even though I didn’t know you girl / I still miss you” to an incongruously happy yet irresistible beat. “I Just Wanna” evokes the best of Joe Strummer when Maciej scathingly screams, “Jokers to my left / clowns to my right / well I am not so easily amused!” at stoner friends. And “Why Don’t You Leave” incorporates “Sweater Song"-style dialogue to hilarious effect. But for every one of these highlights, there’re two songs that sound like “Take a #”, which consist of little more than a bouncy beat and a forgettable chorus.

Transcendent or no, there’s no denying this is a massively entertaining album to listen to, even if it won’t change your life or even stick with you afterwards. Maybe I exaggerated a bit when I told my friends I’d found the next garage superstars, but I doubt they mind having to listen to such a whoppingly fun CD.
— 9 March 2006
- POP MATTERS


Now they are ready to go out and conquer all. The future can only be bright for these boys as they are young, talented and ready to go with full force.

The Its! are Maciej (vocals, guitar), Nicko (bass), Pat (drums) and Eric (keyboard, guitar). They weren't always The Its, but the twenty-somethings were always drawn to each other through their addiction for music. Maciej (pronounced "ma-chie") was born in Poland. At the age of 4, his family relocated to the US. Even then, he knew that his aspirations lay in music. He recalls his ambitious attempt to write songs without knowing how to play his first instrument. It was in high school that Maciej met Pat. Pat had been playing drums since the age of 10. He worked his way through garage punk bands to pub groups. Tired of playing in dead-end bands, the two joined forces. Nicko, simply known in their musical circle as "Bassist Nick," was initially recruited as a temporary bass player for a gig. Since then, he's never looked back. Eric, after months of searching for a band, was eager to join the band. He proved his worthiness after learning the demo songs in just one night. It was with the addition of Eric in early 2004, that The Its! were complete. **Just a few months later, the band was selected by Billboard Magazine out of thousands to compete in Disc Makers Independent Music World Series showcase at the famed Elbo Room. The Its! played to a packed house of their growing fan base. In addition to the showcase, they have received National radio airplay(among the top 20 on the CMJ adds charts) , Played industry fests (SXSW and Chicagos Mob fest), Supported The Jimmy Chamberland Complex (former Smashing Pumpkins drummer) and have already sparked the interest of many industry people. Now about two years have past since the 4 members have been together and they have spent that time developing a strong live show, developing solid songwriting skills, touring a bit, handing out flyers at shows and just really becoming a solid band all-around. Now they are ready to go out and conquer all. The future can only be bright for these boys as they are young, talented and ready to go with full force. One listen to their new demo and you will have to agree, come see them live and you will have to agree, these guys are the real deal! Channeling retrofitted rock n roll, catchy riffs, and pop beats, their sound captures the familiarity of timeless rock, but remains eminently fresh and original. The Its! blend together irresistible hooks, dynamic changes, and raw energy to create an addictive sound forged by an eclectic array of musical influences. The Its! will drag you into their wall of sound, surrounding you with music for the mind and body. They will make you dance and sing along. This is music for all the music-lovers. For those who want more than listening pleasure, but those who actually want to feel it, to breathe it, to live, and to experience it. - PLAYBACK:stl / Laura Hamlett


"A late '80s Ludwig drum kit loaded with stickers rocks the beat. An Ibanez semi-hollow Artstar backed by solid vocals controls the melody....Wanting more personality in [their] music, The Its picked up the beat and interwined different styles to come up with a tasty sound. - by Kat Gresey


"From over 1,000 submissions, TAXI, the industry's leading A&R company, selected 100 semifinalists. From this list, the editors of Billboard magazine selected the six finalists [The Its] who will perform at the IMWS Midwest showcase event" - indie-music.com


"A spin tonight for an energetic, quirky bunch who don't let that energy and quirkiness get in the way of writing really good songs--these are The Its!....They have a way of infusing pop hooks along with the guitar and keyboard riffs that drive their tunes. Melodies that linger." - Richard Milne, host


"Well recorded four-song demo by The Its! I like the droning New York garage-rock sound quite a bit...especially when [singer] Maciej's hooks are nearly as strong as those of Julian Casablancas." - Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun Times, former senior editor Rolling Stone


The Its! continue to impress with their latest release, a self-titled CD that captures the essence of working class U.K. bands like The Clash or Squeeze. Lead vocalist Maciej serves as a likable everyman while searching for love, employment, or some fun on the weekend. "I Just Wanna" is irresistibly catchy while the more ambitious "You're Not My Girlfriend" deals with a stalker. - Illinois Entertainer


Discography

The Its! - "M!STAKES" LP - (2007) (PWMD Records PWMD008)

M!STAKES LP tracklisting:
01) WINNING THE LOTTO
02) WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?
03) MY FANTASY
04) SO LOUD
05) THE TEENAGED LOCAL ROCK SUPERSTARS (TLRS)
06) JUST TO SAY
07) MISTAKES
08) STATE OF THE UNION
09) INSTANT FAMILY
10) MY DAY
11) EVEREST
12) HOPE
13) WHEN THE TREND DIES
14) SEASIDE

The Its! - LIMITED ED. (Punchline/B Movie Flop/Hot As The Sun- CD Single) (2006) (PWMD Records PWMD004)

The Its! - S/T LP (2005) (PWMD Records PWMD001)

The Its! - LIMITED ED. (Delilah/Devil In Her Heart CD Single) (2005) (PWMD Records PWMD002)

BandPromote.Com Mike Galaxy Presents
SXSW 2005 (2005) (Tracks: In Your Pocket; Take A Number)

Independent Music World Series Midwest Compilation (2004) (Tracks: In Your Pocket)

S/T LP tracklisting:
01) In Your Pocket*
02) Go On
03) Take A Number*
04) Song For The Dead*
05) Consequences
06) I Just Wanna
07) You're Not My Girlfriend
08) Why Don't You Leave?
09) Pay No Mind*
10) No Reply
11) What's Going On?
12) New Beginnings
13) More More More
***includes 3 BONUS tracks***
Wake Up (previously unreleased)
In Your Pocket (ma & pa jukebox verion)
What's Going On? (live)

written, recorded, and produced by The Its!

*These tracks have received numerous spins on college radio from coast to coast. The album was in the Top 20 adds for CMJ 2005.

Songs may be streamed and/or downloaded from:
www.theits.com
www.myspace.com/theits

Photos

Bio

An independent, unsigned, band with retro and modern tendencies striving to be heard. It’s nothing new, right? Yet somehow, the boys of Chicago’s The Its! make it all fresh and exciting again. And that’s worthy of a listen.

Channeling retrofitted rock, syrupy riffs and a backbeat that launches hips into orbit, The Its!’ sound is like a Polaroid album of timeless rock, while remaining eminently fresh and inventive. Perhaps it’s the band’s four distinct personalities—Maciej (vocals/guitar), Patrick (drums), Nicko (bass/vocals) and Eric (guitar/keys/vocals)—that contributes to its frenzy of modern influences and classic styles.
Their self-titled debut, released on Chicago’s own PWMD Records in 2005, helped familiarize a new generation of attentive listeners to the band’s tornado of sound. The Chicago Sun-Times regaled, “Cheery and cheeky, The Its! recall early Squeeze in their tunefulness…[and] their rascally spunk. In the circus of this music—sometimes Clash-y in its ska rhythms, other times Camper Van Beethoven-ish in its cleansing of ethnic genres—it’s just…adorable.” Illinois Entertainer proclaimed, “The Its!…capture the essence of working class U.K. bands… Lead vocalist Maciej serves as a likable everyman while searching for love, employment or some fun on the weekend.” And 93XRT’s Local Anesthetic host Richard Milne declared the band’s music “melodies that linger.”

This summer, The Its! return to form with Mistakes. The new album capitalizes on the band’s frenetic, addictive groundwork while showing its collective and cohesive growth and reach. Overall, Mistakes has a thicker sound; the songs are edgier, fuller, with beautiful melodies and big harmonies. Lyrically, Mistakes finds The Its! taking a longer, deeper look at their surroundings and, with the help of heavy rhythm and knife-edged guitar riffs, echoing them back.

The Its! have been finalists in a handful of songwriting contests, most notably the Billboard Magazine-tapped DiscMakers Independent World Series. They’ve played festivals, including South by Southwest and Mobfest. They’ve shared the stage with bands such as Hot Hot Heat, The Bravery, Field Music and Asobi Seksu. But perhaps more importantly than a certificate or a co-bill is the impression their shows have left on audiences.
The Its! live show is filled with infectious energy. The band’s highly danceable music, combined with its members’ wide smiles and obvious enjoyment in performing, engages the crowd the way few independent bands do. As for The Its!, well, they’re not afraid to jump right in as well—sometimes all too literally. Last year saw Eric getting so involved in the band’s appearance at Chicago’s famed Metro that he ended up with a torn ACL, surgery and months of physical therapy.

Full-speed ahead, The Its!’ path is clear: “My parents have always encouraged me to do my best, don’t step on people’s feet, do what no one else will do to have what no one else will have,” says Eric. “Never give up on your dreams; anything can be accomplished with willingness.”

Classic words, handed down—and yet, they’ve never sounded fresher or truer. The Its! have something to say; just listen.