Promise Ring | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Promise Ring 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Last year Davey vonBohlen, lead singer and auteur of Milwaukee's Promise Ring, underwent surgery to remove a benign growth in his brain. Since then he's joked that the surgeon must have cut out all his fast songs along with the tumor, and the band's fourth full-length album, Wood/Water (Anti-), proves he was only half kidding. The Promise Ring's previous record, 1999's Very Emergency, had positioned them as emo's greatest hope, able to back up the heart-on-the-sleeve sentimentality of their lyrics with brisk, punky tunes. But on Wood/Water every song is midtempo or slower, and the whole album is far more contemplative than Emergency, moving toward classic, 60s-inflected pop and for the most part leaving the gnarly guitars behind. There were times that I couldn't believe I was actually listening to the Promise Ring. "My Life Is at Home" and "Letters to the Far Reaches" are acoustic-driven folk rock, and the lightly psychedelic "Suffer Never" features a keening synth part that winds upward like something from the Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin. The epic ballad "Say Goodbye Good" is even further out of character: like a latter-day "Hey Jude," it swells into an endlessly repeated chorus, replete with strings and a gospel choir. Only a few of the band's emo-inappropriate gestures would bother anybody but a purist, though--they hit the mark more often than not. "Size of Your Life" is a hard shuffle reminiscent of Creedence or the Stones, and in "Stop Playing Guitar" and "Become One Anything One Time" vonBohlen has written some of the strongest melodies of his career. Friday, May 17, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Stephen Carty.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Michaelangelo Matos

  • How the USA fell for EDM, chapter one

    How the USA fell for EDM, chapter one

    In these excerpts from his lively and meticulous new book, The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America, longtime Reader contributor Michaelangelo Matos chronicles the three-decade ascent of EDM.
    • Apr 29, 2015
  • How Chicago house got its groove back

    How Chicago house got its groove back

    Chicago house music is the sound of global pop today. In the 90s, though, it was on life support—until a new wave of producers, including Cajmere and DJ Sneak, got the city doing the Percolator.
    • May 3, 2012
  • Mixed messages

    Mixed messages

    Fabric mixes from Craig Richards and Goldie and a DJ-Kicks mix from Motor City Drum Ensemble
    • Aug 11, 2011
  • More »

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge
November 20
Galleries & Museums
September 24

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories