I’ve been sitting on this album for a little over a month now. It doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the music-I actually emailed as soon as they sent it over and told them I enjoyed what I had heard. Things just kept coming up that were more urgent for me. It’s probably a bit unfair to The Pipe Dreams, but they’ve been pretty understanding-much more so than I would be. I figured now would be a good time to review Take Chicago because they have a show coming up at the end of the month, and they’ve taken over Lilly’s (2515 N Lincoln, Chicago) Thirsty Thursdays for the time being.
The band is made up by two sets of brothers: Zach & Derek Simon and Jonah & Cody Shear. They blend classic and modern rock together with blasts of blues and funk when needed. When I listened to the first song on Take Chicago, I was immediately reminded of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (specifically the live album Pack Up The Plantation). There’s something about the singers voice on “Hush” that gives me that “Don’t Bring Me Down” vibe. Three of they guys sing on the record, and I have no idea which one is singing on “Hush,” but he’s my favorite.
The guitar work by Cody Shear and bass by Derek Simon work really well together, but sometimes it feels like they’re trying to do a little too much. On “Seperate Ways” they sound fantastic, with the drums and keyboards also getting some time to shine. But then on “Get Well” things get a little muddled. It’s mainly just the first thirty seconds or so where something, maybe the tone of the guitar, just sounds a bit off. They redeem themselves with the funky jam “Keep You Here,” though. Not only do the instruments sound great, but the vocals are outtasight!
Their songs are all pretty catchy and well-written. If you like Fountains of Wayne-type pop music, I think you’d probably dig The Pipe Dreams. Imagine FoW mixed with Free Energy, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the style on Take Chicago. The highlight of the album might be the one time they slow things down, “You Got Heart.” It’s perfectly arranged so every piece feels necessary and the raspy voice singing over it captures the longing that the instruments evoke.
As mentioned above, The Pipe Dreams are playing at House of Blues in Chicago on September 29th along with The Lucky Dutch, Farkus, Petibone, and Zaramela. They’re also playing sets every Thirsty Thursday night at Lilly’s Bar from 8-9:30. You can pick up a copy of Take Chicago on iTunes for $9.99. You can also check it out first on Spotify.