Sabers - Sic Semper Sabers
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: May 18, 2014
Leave it to Josh Chicoine to do something this inventive, this daring and this masterful. Sic Semper Sabers is the latest effort from Chicoine, former frontman of both The Ms and The Cloudbirds who currently serves as director of the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival (CIMMFest). Though the Ms are not currently active, Sabers certainly picks up where the psych-pop outfit left off.
Sic Semper opens with “Armchair Warriors,” a hypnotic blend of Radiohead-cum-Laurel Canyon that is equal parts dreamy, improvisational and enveloping. Buttressed by an 80-second instrumental intro, “Armchair Warrior” is the perfect introduction to the brilliant and expansive mind of one of Chicago’s most innovative musical minds. Hazy, languid and thick with summer heat, “Armchair Warriors” is very much a song geared towards summer evenings spent on a back porch with a cold drink in hand.
Sic Semper surges forward on “Money Eddie,” a kaleidoscopic and swirly effort that is arguably the best of the disc. Breezy, buttery and intoxicating, “Money Eddie” is a musical cocktail akin to days spent with copious amounts of soft drugs, suntan lotion and sangria. In an effort to take things even further, horns enter the frame on “Remedy,” a song that bobs along with more urgency than any of its predecessors. Though it does at times appear cluttered, the song weaves its way towards something promising and floats merrily along a bed of strings towards a satisfying conclusion.
The peculiarly titled “Ever Eyeing,” is acoustic, inward and supple, a respite from the dizzying dance of its predecessors. Ostensibly an exercise in restraint, control and rhythm, “Ever Eyeing” is another step forward from a disc that so far has yet to disappoint. That pattern is disrupted on the guitar-driven effort “Puppet,” a somewhat chaotic effort that is both cluttered and cacophonous. And yet for all its hiccups, “Puppet” is very much the kind of exercise one expects from the wholly unpredictable Chicoine.
Returning to the understated intimacy of “Ever Eyeing,” the gorgeously textured effort “Vultures” rightfully returns to the quintet back to their bread-and-butter. Very much rooted in texture and mood, the song woozily bobs along with nary a care in the world. Chicoine and Co. return to careless jamming on “Forget I,” a winsome stew of warbling, noodling and disappointment. Though “Forget I” probably should have closed the disc, the band thinks otherwise and concludes Sic Semper with “Big Fish,” easily the album’s most urgent, accessible and immediate effort. Why exactly a song this potent and appealing would appear at the very end of the disc remains uncertain but then again when has Chicoine ever made sense?
Granted, Sic Semper is not for everyone but for those that can find kinship with this record it is certainly one that will be rewarding on repeated listens. Even if Sic Semper ends up as a one-off, there’s more than enough reason to think Chicoine has more music still up his sleeve. And for that, we should all be thankful.