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Cheer-Accident - Fear Draws Misfortune CD (album) cover





3.89 | 51 ratings

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3 stars I've been listening to Cheer-Accident since 1999, and they continue to make good music. While "Fear Draws Misfortune" is not their best (check out "Introducing Lemon"), it is a solid record and cements their sound more in the RIO/avant progressive rock genre. As they have mentioned -- it was a record written for Cuneiform to fit that "sound". They have achieved this goal.

The vocals are the most impressive aspect of this record. Cheer-Accident have a new female voice that is clear, articulate, chromatic, and reminiscent of Deborah Perry from Thinking Plague. The Hammil-esque-cum-punk screams from Thymme are absent from this work, as well as the Henry Cow-like discordant group singing. You'll find those in Introducing Lemon and select earlier works. In fact, Introducing Lemon has Jamie Fillmore doing a Peter Gabriel impression that would make Nad Sylvan jealous.

Another appealing aspect is that there are less forays into the John Cage style experimental music. You really don't hear as much of the 10 minutes of smashing bottles or answering machine messages played back over guitar feedback. In my opinion -- good riddance. I often find myself embarking on a Cheer-Accident voyage, only to point my iPod toward more musical endeavors. For example, "Even Has A Half-Life", the opener on Not A Food, starts with an amazing (yet repetitive) counter punctual riff that slowly decays into an all-too-long noise collage of feedback and answering machine messages -- inside jokes that don't really do much for the listener. These are absent from FDM, for the good of the record.

I would have given this more stars, but there is something I feel needs to be addressed. Cheer-Accident are featured in a new documentary about progressive rock called "Romantic Warriors". In the trailer, they make the claim that it's not 1975 anymore (really? thanks for clearing that up) and progressive music should advance. Steve Feigenbaum also opines in favor of this notion. This seems to be critical of the other bands in the documentary, who have a more "traditional" symphonic sound.

The reality is that Cheer-Accident aren't all that original themselves. They seem to be trying to pull the wool over the progressive rock community's eyes a little bit, but I don't think people here are fooled by it. We can see comparisons to Thinking Plague in the band's bio. Let's be fair to Thinking Plague -- what they do is far more cerebral, calculated, and complex. I often bail on listening to Cheer-Ax to put in "In Extremis", which is the unchallenged avant-prog masterpiece of the past 20 years.

Cheer-Accident have evolved in a manner where they wax and wane between progressive influences and Chicago indie rock influences (largely math rock). Their early days consisted of home recordings with a strong This Heat influence. Their first real records were indeed progressive rock, peppered with many nods to Crimson, This Heat, The Art Bears, VDGG, and other influences. Then they became a math rock band, akin to Breadwinner, Don Caballero or Helmet, and part of the inbred Steve Albini led Chicago scene. Then they made a pop record (The Why Album). Introducing Lemon marked their return to progressive rock, and it remains their masterpiece. Then they made another pop record (What Sequel?). Now, with Cuneiform record's backing, they are back into avant-progressive rock. Well, sort of. Blue Cheedle sounds like it was pretty much lifted off of Shellac's (Steve Albini's current band) 1994 album "At Action Park". So much for the future and originality, eh?

I would have given this 4 stars, but I had to ding them for sanctimony. They claim they are the future of progressive rock, but they simply have different influences. I happen to love symphonic progressive music just as much as the RIO/avant sub-genre. Let's face it -- RIO/avant bands have influences. They're just different influences than symphonic bands. Also, claiming that symphonic bands are throwbacks to 1975 is intellectually dishonest. The reason they are called "symphonic" bands is because they make classically inspired music. I find it to actually be much more timeless than RIO/avant music. Genesis, Yes, and even Transatlantic are just as much dwelling in 1745 as they are in 1975 or modern rock.

Cheer-Accident did not come up with this music in a vacuum. Sometimes I think they are a bit dishonest. If you look at their myspace page, for example, they claim they are influenced by Herb Alpert and Led Zeppelin. Yes, it could be an attempt at humor, but it also obfuscates their real influences (that are obvious if you listen) -- the usual RIO/avant suspects plus 90's indie math rock. You can hear The Art Bears, Henry Cow, UZ, Peter Hammill/VdGG as well as Breadwinner, The Great Brain, Helmet, Don Caballero, Shellac, and other influences. I am fatigued with avant bands that claim they are better than "1970s sounding" symphonic bands. They just have different influences.

That said, this record is worth listening to and purchasing, but don't be fooled by the hype. They have their influences, from the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. They didn't come up with this sound in a vacuum. It's a mash-up of different influences. Everyone has influences, but some people don't admit it. Much like an infamous analog-recording zealot, or post-rock musicians that really make jazz fusion, there just seems to be a lot of this sort of intellectual dishonesty in the Chicago scene. It seems they learned the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but they haven't been able to eek out as much success as Albini or Tortoise with this hype-approach.

central_scrutinizer | 3/5 |


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