His Name is Alive | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

His Name is Alive 

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HIS NAME IS ALIVE

Since their 1990 debut, His Name Is Alive, largely the outlet for Warren Defever's twisted imaginings, have morphed from effete goth mopes into channel-surfing pop raconteurs. On Mouth to Mouth (1993) Defever ditched the dopey ethereal crap and started writing pop tunes swaddled in unsettling production flourishes and pretty melody (sung woozily by Karin Oliver) that's continually offset by eerie feedback, dark synths, and the driving drumming of Trey Many. The group's new Stars on E.S.P. is a joyous, kaleidoscopic affair with few if any traces of pancake makeup. With a wink toward the hit medleys of Stars on 45, Defever and company practically illustrate the history of late 60s and 70s AM radio--but not without some postmodern filters. From the virtual rewrite of "Good Vibrations" on "Wall of Speed" to the strummy "Answer to Rainbow at Midnight," the album delivers a nonstop array of delirious hooks with multireferential barbs: surf guitar, clunky dub, white noise. Defever is operating at peak confidence, and reports of earlier shows on this tour suggest that the band's performances have been as wonderfully unpredictable as its history. HNIA will play an in-store at Reckless Records on Broadway a few hours before this show. Saturday, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 525-2508.

PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): image Werner Defever.

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