Emerging Chicago band Lifeguard play noisy, retro-leaning rock without getting stuck in the past | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Emerging Chicago band Lifeguard play noisy, retro-leaning rock without getting stuck in the past 

click to enlarge Lifeguard


Brian Case

Chicago band Lifeguard make the kind of noisy, brooding rock that’s been foundational to generations of punk and indie bands, all the way back to the dawn of hardcore and no wave. On their self-released debut album, Dive, Lifeguard dispense driving bass lines that could enliven even the dreariest postpunk tune, impassioned drumming that ratchets up tension to the boiling point, and feral guitars so saturated with distortion it’ll rub off all over your face. The band’s reference points—postrock pioneers Tortoise, posthardcore titans Unwound, the eclectic catalog of SST Records—all made their marks before the three Chicago teens who formed Lifeguard last year were even born. But the group combine and recombine these sounds with the playful ease of musicians who witnessed the rise of the American punk underground firsthand. At least one member could claim to have that knowledge encoded in his DNA: bassist and vocalist Asher Case is the son of veteran Chicago rocker Brian Case, currently of Facs, who talked to Explosions in the Sky multi-instrumentalist Munaf Rayani in a 2019 Talkhouse interview about Asher discovering music on his own and with his friends. Much of the joy of Dive comes from hearing these three musicians explore new paths their elders never considered—the nervy melody on “Thinking” recalls 2000s indie rock more than it does earlier eras—and from the clear sense that they’re better able to do that by putting their heads together.   v

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