Track a Tiger
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Track a Tiger

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Alternative Folk


This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Track a Tiger @ Monks

Dubuque, IA

Dubuque, IA

Track a Tiger @ ROZZ-TOX

Rock Island, IA

Rock Island, IA

Track a Tiger @ Ragged Records





There's a good reason that Track A Tiger is getting lots of love in the music blog world. Theirs is a mature music. No, not music for old people but well-aged music. A fine wine. A '97 Brunello of the indie music world. Music that must've gestated for a while before finally being recorded and sent out for the public to enjoy. Music that resides somewhere in the musical intersection of Low and Belle and Sebastian. Music that I really am enjoying right about now. Music that makes me start every sentence with the word music. Music is as music does. Music music music, thank heavens for music like this! Okay, sorry. - Ear Farm

With the crack under my door starting to brighten and my head filled with lazy confusion about if I will ever sleep again, my nerves are wrapped in the homey comfort of Track a Tiger. The plodding snare tied to floating lyrics sets a beautiful indecisiveness lost in between letting down or getting up. Looming like an aging helium balloon, the tracks exist to sit beside and keep company.

The eerily relevant, but hopefully not personally foreshadowing album "Woke Up Early the Day I Died" has been evolving for a couple years from solo acoustics to embelishment. The result is surprisingly simple with a relaxed heaviness that never sound picked over. Occasionally visited by guest instrumentation (including electronic bleeps that somehow fit), the wandering sound stays reassuringly on track. Tiger belongs in your daily routine right either tucked in your bottle of sleeping pills or mug of coffee, and is definitely worth waking up early for.
- I'm Just Sayin is All ...

While Jim Vallet is the driving force behind Track a Tiger his debut 'Woke Up Early And Then I Died' ended up become a collaborative effort with some friends. You can tell from the laidback grooves that the album was recorded in tranquillity (the Shelbyville countryside to be precise) and its unhurried approach is as welcome as a visit from a Koala bear. There is an early Stereolab feel to the way 'Glad To Be Scattered' builds incrementally from scattered drums, splayed acoustics, bumbling bass, organic bleeps and finally to the gentle vocals. The boy/girl refrains overlap seamlessly to seal a mix that could be piped into the astronaut’s helmet as he descends the ladder to the surface of Mars. This is the sound of serenity, play it on an endless loop and you’ll soon be feline groovy courtesy of Track A Tiger. - MP3HUGGER

Okay so right now I'm having a listen to Track a Tiger's Glad to be Scattered, taken from their record Woke up Early the Day I Died and released by Future Appletree Records. I'm not sure I get the name, but I think I get the music; it's got a lovely Reindeer Section-esque feel to it; it's nice and gentle, and there's lots of lovely strings on it, but most especially there's a kind of breathiness to songs like Seashaken Heart that reminds me of Gary Lightbody. What they offer on top of the RS is a gorgeous boy/girl melodies, kind of the anti-Sons & Daughters as it were. - Music Slut

One of the joys in my mailbox on my return was a press release from Future Appletree Records about the band Track A Tiger. With their release, Woke up early the day I died, we get a collection of songs leadsinger, Jim Vallet has been working on since 2003. After continuious re-working and even a studio session at Paul Oldham's Rove Studio, the group has finally released the fruits of their efforts. The group, on stage anyways, consists of Jim Vallet, Alisa Jo Monnier, Mike Ciuni, Aaron Wilkins, and Patrick Melvin.

Now I dig their sound, slow, sleepy folkish mixed with rock hooks and on occasion, experimental pops and whistles, but my favorite part of this group, or at least their sound, has to come from the intertwining vocals of Vallet and Monnier. The harmonies between these two are outstanding and on Sound As Ever, even envoke hints of Parsons and Harris.

Now, alot of people have been posting about these guys, and rightfully so. They're that good. - The Perm & the Skullet

The world, his dad, his dad's friend Gary, his dog and all his mates likes Track a Tiger at the moment, and I can't blame them. The internet is a powerful beast as seen recently by the the rise and rise of The Arctic Monkeys and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Track a Tiger look to be the next big thing that finally will be the death knell for the NME. If they don't have the power, what's the need to buy it?

So Seashaken Heart, you need this on a tape for a that special someone that may or may not want you to get jiggy widdem, it is another beautifully lifting and lilting song that gets your heart, gives it a little squeeze and then pops it gently in that cavity in your chest where the heart goes. Sounding someway between Low and Mojave 3 it really is a captivating track. You will love it.
- Ready Art Brut

I have been living with the new disc from Track a Tiger for a few weeks now, and I find myself returning to it again and again. A caveat: I'm friends with band leader Jim Vallet, having watched him in the Iowa City bands that he willingly mentions in the TAT bio (Head Candy) and those he doesn't (Devastation Wagon, Peterbuilt, et al). Jim wrote one of Head Candy's sweetest songs, "Part of the Earth," but who knew he was capable of this?

Track a Tiger's Woke Up Early the Day I Died is a really solid collection of songs. Most wouldn't be out of place on a playlist made up of Low, Ida, and other slowcore boy-girl bands, while there seems to be a bit of the Vulgar Boatmen's sweet, quiet pop in the mix as well. Jim shares many lead vocals with Kristina Castaneda throughout to create a rather fetching batch of harmonies. Couple that with his strong songwriting, and the result is one of the best discs I've heard in this young year
. - Things I'd Rather Be Doing

Just as I am struggling through EZArchive's obvious hatred for yours truly, an e-mail from Future Appletree Records has come to brighten my day. They sent along three tracks from the forthcoming release by Chicago-based Track a Tiger, titled Woke Up Early the Day I Died. It comes out this Tuesday, Feb. 28. Track a Tiger's mastermind of sorts is Jim Vallet (formerly of Head Candy), its primary songwriter and vocalist. If I had to categorize the band, I suppose I'd label it a sort of experimental folk/pop act along the lines of older Sufjan or Heypenny. Of the tracks they sent along, I certainly have favorites. The upbeat cadence of "Glad to Be Scattered" is right up my alley, although "Seashaken Heart" strikes me as a "better" song in terms of songwriting and musicianship. The slower "Sound as Ever" sounds like it could have been an outtake from last year's In the Reins. While the latter didn't retain my attention like the other two tracks, I'll fully admit that melancholy music rarely keeps me interested for very long. I have to say though, it's grabbing me more with each repeated listen. Your mileage may vary. I'd also like to note the variety of instrumentation that Vallet, et al., employ on this sampling of tracks -- on just those available here there are strings, banjo, keys, and female vox along with the Vallet's hushed lead vocal. - Cable and Tweed there an echo in here? Oh, wait, no...okay cool, I get it now, it's just every major music blog within the past month has written something about Track A Tiger's debut album. Fast forward now if you have had your fill, if not, press play and we'll continue.

Still here...okay, let's get to it. Chicago's Track A Tiger started out a few years ago as a solo project for vocalist/songwriter Jim Vallett. Things change. Now a full band, Track A Tiger's folky-pop takes on languid harmonies swimming among sparse string accents, acoustic guitars, banjos, etc. Think harmonies -- lots of male/female harmonies that converge to form the band's signature sound.

This album sits nicely alongside The Autumn Defense.
- An Aquarium Drunkard

I've been ambushed one too many times during my tenure here at Punknews.

Ambushed by terrible music hidden behind stellar album art. Ambushed by terrible music hidden behind the past reputation of a band's solid output. Ambushed by terrible music hidden behind those oh-so-tricky "recommended if you like" tags. I suppose, then, that it's all the sweeter when a relatively unknown, unheralded band comes in and surprises the hell out of me in the best way possible.

Track a Tiger have done just that with their junior effort, I Felt the Bullet Hit .

The Chicago quintet puts its best foot forward on the opener, "Don't Let the Nightlight Dance," as the back-and-forth vocals of Jim Vallet and Mary Jane Lee give off a warm, enveloping feel in coasting across the light distortion and gorgeous undercurrent provided by Vallet and guitarist Adam Smith. The whimsical song has just the right amount of strength, and when Lee's gorgeous falsetto comes over the top of Vallet's understated baritone, it's a perfect marriage of sounds. Voices like Lee's don't come around very often, and with the perfect amount of tact she's able to flesh every single song out into something truly beautiful.

What the band offers in beauty it matches in diversity. The light, down-south twang of "Always Untrue" follows "Don't Let the Nightlight Dance" flawlessly. The delicate pitter-patter coming from drummer Mike Roth's kit sets a perfect stage for Vallet's crooning in the two-and-a-half minute jaunt. Just two songs in and Track a Tiger have established their two greatest strengths: diversity and continuity. No matter the style or tempo, each of the album's 12 songs flow brilliantly into the next.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the keyboard-infused "Bullet" sounds so perfectly in place. Lee's fingers move up and down the keyboard, and the band is able to build from that with clean chord progressions and tactful drumming. And whereas the juxtaposition of Vallet and Lee is what carries most of the album, it's the instrumentation that tells Bullet's story. The short verses are followed up by upbeat, vocal-less rhythms in the chorus, a clever songwriting twist that upon hearing you'll wonder why more bands don't employ it. The short answer is that most bands aren't talented enough. Most bands aren't confident enough in each of its members to not lean so heavily on the vocalist(s) and most bands don't have the charm.

And that charm can make all the difference.

Ending on a high note, "Heart" is Track a Tiger in peak form. Led in by gradually loudening string work, Vallet and Lee combine for a beautiful, piano-assisted track ripe with imagery. As the pair sings "I felt the bullet hit my heart, and all at once it felt so calm / It's in too deep to cut it out, I just ran through another dream with you," the track takes on such a tranquil quality that the subsequent acoustic picking and piano strokes takes you completely away before a dazzling string arrangement finalizes the record.

To say Track a Tiger are without peers would be to put them on too lofty a pedestal, and to say they are fantastic would be to sell them short. Suffice to say that this is a band so comfortably in its niche that the comfort is transferred to the listener.

What a surprise indeed. - PUNKNEWS.ORG

Jim Vallet’s Track a Tiger aren’t resting on the laurels of their debut Woke Up Early the Day I Died one bit. No sir, hot on the heels of that 2006 effort is We Moved Like Ghosts, with more dreamy indie-pop for you and yours. The key influences haven’t changed much in a year (the fuzzed-out bliss of Yo La Tengo is a huge wellspring, as is mid-period Wilco), but the band has gained in confidence and ability to wield its predilections on even stronger material. The bleed from the standout “Light” into another standout “All These Accidents” is masterful. The former opens with a bit of spoken-word French courtesy of Nitya Viswanath, and is peppered liberally throughout with sparkling keyboard effects, and the odd bedfellow of a banjo’s gentle clucking. From the pedal steel, strings, and horns on the brief “Sometimes Love Runs Out” to the sunny, seductive groove of “With Stars Down”, Track a Tiger appears close to felling the elusive prey of wider acclaim. -

It’s time to unwind!

I believe calming music like We Moved Like Ghosts is healthier and more effective than most prescribed medication. I truly believe that. Track a Tiger spellbinds with comforting mellow gold sounds on their sophomore release…a release that will undoubtedly be stuck on nonstop rotations in your stereo.

Track a Tiger’s sound is lethargic, contemplative, and downright charming. Cool to the touch, the aptly titled We Moved Like Ghosts saunters through ten tracks of soul numbing sweetness. Much like Yo La Tengo, Ida, or Low, Track a Tiger plays cushiony melodies that you will easily cuddle up close to. Somber yes, but this Chicago based outfit plays a pace slightly faster than glacial. Low-key tracks like “Without Fail” and “Saint About to Fall” that contain the echoing sounds of the ebow emit a melancholic and reflective sound that will have you quickly reflecting on portraits of past.

We Moved Like Ghosts contains great male/female vocal chemistry. The collaboration between Jim Vallet and Kristina Castañeda’s hushed vocals are hypnotic and soothing, with lyrics that bite hard despite a soft delivery: “Pain is the only true thing you’ve ever shown me / You move like a ghost / Without fail this time.”*

Fragile indie-pop harmonies found on “All These Accidents” and “With Stars Down” will give you an aural buzz, while my favorite track, the Yo La Tengo-esque “Don’t Make a Weapon,” will find its way on every mix-tape I make from now on. For any fan of the aforementioned bands, Track a Tiger will be a new favorite. Their cool and collected approach is hard to turn down. -

The talented and capable Chicagoan indie band, Track a Tiger, have another hit on their hands with the delightful, if oddly named, "I Felt the Bullet Hit my Heart". A follow-up to their successful second album, "We Moved Like Ghosts", "I Felt the Bullet Hit my Heart" establishes Track a Tiger as a band going places and is well worth a listen.

If you haven’t heard of Track a Tiger to date, they are a five-piece outfit that produces gentle, almost dreamy, atmospheric sounds with great drums / guitars / keyboards and soft, luscious boy / girl vocals. Add to this mix intelligent lyrics, fab arrangements and sensational harmonies and you have it. Except they’re way better than that.

I’ve seen Track a Tiger described as ‘electro-folk rock’ but you really need to pin your ears back and hear the ‘dynamically spirited and sonically vibrant’ line-up deliver these twelve tracks of highly creative and very polished indie-rock.

Every track on this charming album is a perfect dream. A little like a sweetie with a soft chocolate exterior and surprise filling, "I Felt the Bullet Hit my Heart" is a delight that grows, from Sandy Kim’s sweet falsetto on the opening track, 'Don’t Let the Nightlight Dance', right the way through to the strings, piano and tambourine of the last track, 'Heart'.

Together with 'Don’t Let the Nightlight Dance' the other standout track is 'Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round', both of which have persuasive hooks.

My personal favourites are the sentimental 'King of Your Blue Eyes' with its touch of Beach Boys chorus, and the catchy, 'Fox Tries to Sing', despite not quite achieving its initial potential. I also like the Paul Simon-sounding instrumental, 'Where we Might Wonder', probably because, to me at least, it sums up the entirety of the album in a little-more-than-one-minute sound bite.

If there’s a downside to this chocolate box of delights it’s the debatable and very solemn cover artwork and the album title, both of which I’m still trying to get my head around. When I put the question to a young friend I learned it’s apparently ‘cool’ to be ‘depressed’. I’m not convinced. But beyond that this latest offering from Track a Tiger is a sweet sensation. - ALTSounds

Deep Elm’s shift to alt-country and folk influenced bands has been a really nice change. I’m sure it’s not been a conscious thing, but with 500 Miles To Memphis and now Track A Tiger, the label has moved on from the more intracite emo bands like Appleseed Cast, to the more obvious, mainstream bands, like Fightstar, to something a little more delicate, honest and real. It’s not like I want to break out the bourbon when I listen to Track A Tiger, but there’s a real honesty here that I really like. It’s a bit ethereal at times, jangly at others, but the two vocals juxtapose each other in such a sublime way it makes this record quite difficult not to like. It’s more dreamy than dreary – a very good thing indeed. -

Another day, another indie rock promo from Deep Elm Records. This time around it's an established one, Track A Tiger, who are passing their third album "I Felt The Bullet Hit My Heart" this way. A record that comes with an attached recommendation for people who like bands such as Iron & Wine, Belle & Sebastian and Fleetwood Mac - All acts that I unfortunately know little of beyond their names, so unfortunately, I won't be spending this review on telling you how accurate such comparisons are.

What we're dealing with is, like I've already revealed, pretty characteristic for the indie scene. The soundscape is a mellow one, adrift with electronic effects and effect-ladden guitars, yet still seeming as subtle as a strictly acoustic act. Lazy vocals float upon tempos that are up-beat, yet still feel very relaxed. The singing reminds me on one hand of bands like Animal Collective and MGMT, but the instrumentals are far from similar enough to justify direct comparison. In fact, I can't think of any one band to align Track A Tiger with, so I guess that could mean that the ones suggested by the promotional material are the closest bet? Regardless, I better leave that to be decided by those who are familiar with them.

As you might have figured from my description of the style, this album is a rather casual listen, which passes by you in no particular hurry, making you tap your feet, bop your head and sing along to the odd catchy bit. Such can be located in both opener "Don't Let The Nightlights Dance", closer "Where We Might Wonder" as well as other tracks along the way, like for instance "Fox Tries To Sing". Mostly there's a feeling of folk-music made modern to the beats and atmospheres, but one particular track stands out to me, namely "Push Through The Dark", as both the singing and the music here makes me think that there are actually quite a few similarities between this music and that of bands like Lydia or Mew, although Track A Tiger never reach for their levels of drama or ambition. Come to think of it, Jose Gonzales has actually also entered my train of thought as I've been spinning this record, so there's another point of comparison for you I suppose.

Anyway, overall I think "I Felt The Bullet Hit My Heart" is a solid and easily enjoyable record, the kind of which you might enjoy to leave buzzing in your earplugs as you navigate your days. Maybe you'll fall in love with a phrase or a song, but if you ask me, this is more of a homogeneous, atmospheric, chill-out record, than one full of stand-out tracks that you'll keep coming back for. So yeah, there you have it, it's not bad but not exactly hair-raising either. - ROCKFREAKS.NET

Known by day as the mild-mannered Roosevelt High School special education teacher “Mr. Vallet”, Jim Vallet lives a somewhat secretive double life as the equally mild-mannered frontman of Track a Tiger, one of Chicago’s more promising indie-pop outfits. Like many bands in the modern DIY era, Track a Tiger began with Vallet hammering out some lovely acoustic ruminations in 4-track solitude back in 2003. Eventually, he upgraded his technology and invited a few friends along, including several other members of Roosevelt’s musically-gifted faculty. The additional manpower led to the production of two lovely albums, 2006’s Woke Up Early the Day I Died and 2007’s We Moved Like Ghosts. Like any good teacher, Vallet understands how the past influences the present, but Track a Tiger’s reference points sometime emerge more in mood than in style: think Yo La Tengo’s Autumn Sweater, Whiskeytown’s Don’t Be Sad, or The Sea & Cake’s The Sporting Life. - Chicago Innerview


"Avenue of the Giants"
Released 04.21.15 on futureappletree records (FATCD040)

"A Southern Blue"
Released 11.01.11 on futureappletree records (FATCD038)

"Sewing By Numbers"
Released 01.01.11 on futureappletree records (FATCD036)

"I Felt the Bullet Bit My Heart"
Released 10.08.09 on Deep Elm Records (DER-480) and futureappletree records (FATCD032)

"We Moved Like Ghosts"
Released 05.01.07 on Deep Elm Records (DER-461)

"Woke up early the day I died"
Released 02.28.06 on futureappletree records (FATCD021) and Deep Elm Records (DER-486)

All licensing by Deep Elm Records



TRACK A TIGER began in August 2003 as a solo recording project of Jim Vallet. After sifting through some old 4-track tapes and a notebook with a few song ideas, recording began in his Chicago apartment (dubbed Coal to Cola Studio). The result, Woke up early the day I died, was released in October of 2006 on futureappletree records. A live act was to put together, a Daytrotter session recorded, and the band hit SXSW.

The band signed to Deep Elm Records in 2007 for their sophomore release, WE MOVED LIKE GHOSTS. Deep Elm then rereleased the first album and 2009’s I FELT THE BULLET HIT MY HEART, and continues to do all of the band’s licensing. Their music has been heard on the MTV shows 16 and PregnantTeen Mom 2, and The T.O. Show; Fox’s Party of Five DVD set; as well as various film trailers and web commercials.

In 2011, futureappletree released a remix EP, Sewing by Numbers, and the fourth full-length, A Southern Blue.

The Tiger returned in April 2015 with Avenue of the Giants. Released on vinyl, the title came from Jim’s driving trip through the Redwood National Forest on his way from San Francisco to mix the record at Portland’s Jackpot! Recording Studio with Larry Crane (of TapeOp Magazine and Elliot Smith fame). The album was completely written, produced, and engineered by Jim at his Coal to Cola Studio (and a few practice spaces).

Avenue of the Giants mixes acoustic guitars, spacey delays, and dreamy keys with lots of the Tiger's signature sweet male-female harmonies. Think Richard and Linda Thompson and the Sea and Cake having drinks in the living room while Low and The War on Drugs make dinner in the kitchen. Fleetwood Mac is out getting more ice. 

They perform as a full ensemble as well as a stripped-down acoustic three-piece.

Band Members