Philly Band The Chairman Dances Delivers Intelligent Pop-Rock

20 Jan

The Chairman Dances is a little-known, six-piece band from Philadelphia that describes its music as “bookish indie rock.” The bookish label alludes to the innate intelligence of the songwriting. These are not your typical love songs aimed at people with an 8th grade education (or aimed at actual 8th graders!). Rather, the songs have an intriguing depth, offering insight into the actual human condition and emotions we all experience, such as “fear, anxiety or moments of despair,” according to the band’s online bio.

On the band’s latest release, Time Without Measure, you’ll enjoy a real departure from traditional pop love songs. That’s because the ten-song set is dedicated to the lives of ten activists from throughout time who worked for meaningful change. The song titles include prominent historical figures — such as Cesar Chavez, St. Augustine, and even Jimmy Carter — as well as much less well-known individuals such as Fannie Lou Hamer (a black civil rights leader), and Dorothy Day (a Catholic anarchist).

This is all carried off with the help of extremely catchy melodies, spot-on arrangements and smart lyrics throughout. If you like indie pop-rock groups such as Belle & Sebastian, the Mountain Goats or Bishop Allen, you’ll love Time Without Measure from The Chairman Dances.

Track highlights: “Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin” (Jangly and scratchy guitar backed with a driving bass line — supporting rich male and female vocals, sometimes in counterpoint, sometimes in harmony); “Augustine” (Fuzz guitar and Mellotron-powered wall of sound…something about “Bob Dylan dreamed that he saw me…”); “Fanny Lou Hamer” (Fabulous road trip tune — the band on its way to Indianola); and “Dietrich Bonhoeffer” (Glistening synths building into an epic closing anthem — sounding a bit like the Canadian artist, Destroyer).

 

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