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Cheer-Accident Chicago XX album cover
3.93 | 8 ratings | 2 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Intijmacy (2:10)
2. Like Something to Resemble (4:39)
3. Diatoms (2:57)
4. Life Rings Hollow (5:38)
5. I Don't Believe (7:37)
6. Plea Bargain (4:09)
7. Things (5:50)
8. Slowly for Awhile (4:22)

Total time 38:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Thymme Jones / vocals, guitar, drums, trumpet, b-vox, synths, piano (7), autoharp (8), moog (8), glockenspiel (8)
- Carmen Armillas / vocals
- Dante Kester / bass, keyboards
- Amelie Morgan / oboes (1), b-vox (4), electric piano (6), bass (6)
- Jeff Libersher / guitar, bass, synthesizer, keyboards, ersatz cello (7)

- Greg Beemster / vocals (4)
- Todd Rittmann / ersatz mellotron (4)
- Sophia Uddin / viola (5)
- Mark Hagedorn / trombone (5)
- Maxx Katz / flutes (8)

Releases information

LP, US - Complacency (CPD2019) Released in 2019
CD, Digital - Cuneiform Records (Rune 476) Released in 2020

Thanks to TCat for the addition
and to TCat for the last updates
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CHEER-ACCIDENT Chicago XX ratings distribution

(8 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(62%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CHEER-ACCIDENT Chicago XX reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars If you haven't heard of this Chicago based band 'Cheer-Accident', it makes one wonder what you have been doing with your spare time. Surely, in you journey searching for something challenging, intriguing and different, their name has popped up somewhere, right? Well, after 19 albums released between the years 1981 until now, it only seems appropriate that their 20th album should be entitiled 'Chicago XX'. I mean they are from Chicago and it is their 20th album. It's probably only a fluke that the album cover that looks like a terry cloth towel and the logo is fashioned to look like another random band that happened to call themselves after the name of the city Cheer-Accident is from.

Its strange things like this that entice me to listen to their new album. And there should be a law that says you must listen to a band that has twenty albums under their belt. So, I'm going to get a jump on that law (soon to be passed somewhere I would think) and take a chance on 'Chicago XX'. Interestingly enough, the LP version of the album was released in 2019, but the digital and CD versions were released in February of 2020. There are 8 tracks and the run time is just below 40 minutes.

Right off the bat, 'Intimacy' will clue you in to the fact that this band sound nothing like the band called 'Chicago'. Yeah, there is some brass in there, what sounds like the dissonance blasting of a thousand oboes will quickly squash your hopes of hearing an imitation of that band. The only other instruments you'll notice here is a guitar, a persistent drum and some vocals. It sounds more like a busy intersection than it sounds intimate. 'Like Something to Resemble' has more of a commercial sound with less dissonance. There is a distinct and engaging beat with a guitar strumming on the back beat, some nice synth layers and good vocals. The synths start to add in brass effects and you almost detect a bit of the Chicago sound during the instrumental break, but the nice and almost retro sound is a definite class of its own. The vocals are shared evenly between Carmen Armillas and Thymme Jones making a nice sunshiny sound that just sits a bit left of center to normal.

'Diatoms' gets a bit more daring and avant sounding with a downpour of synths, and moves from an almost commercial sound to a complete wash-out of high pitched notes on the synth, and the real avant sound takes over again. The sound is a nice, clear almost art-poppy sound, but always swings way out into left field. 'Life Rings Hollow' features Greg Beemster on vocals on a song with a great beat and bass riff while his Bowie-like singing keeps things going with an alternative flair. Todd Rittmann adds what is credited as an ersatz mellotron. It's just off enough to almost make your hair stand on end, but it works.

'I Don't Believe' is the longest track at 7:37. Carmen Armillas comes back with vocals this time but is backed up by Thymme Jones and Jeff Libersher. It starts with a brass fanfare, real brass this time, and they contradict each other with a cheery dissonance which is made darker with an electric guitar moving along with the fanfare melody. A beat finally takes hold when the fanfare ends. Dark vocals finally come in after a while and the track has a very unsettling feel to it. The addition of the viola at 5 minutes only intensifies that feeling. The guitars get heavier as it continues and start stirring things up to a climactic ending. 'Plea Bargain' has a solid guitar and beat. Thymme's vocals seem to follow a meter not connected to the music, and then things suddenly kick into a faster and more direct speed when the wild keys come in. Meters and tempos continue to shift and some very interesting guitar starts to squawk along dissonantly to it all. A trumpet comes in echoing the vocal melody towards the end, but everything is just off kilter enough to satisfy your avant urges.

'Things' begins with a softly rolling guitar and multi-layered trumpets playing contrasting lines. Carmen begins to sing and the lack of percussion actually gives the track a tense and dark feeling. It's quite nice in a strange way, again far from typical. About half way though, there is a sudden outburst from the guitars and everything gets even darker while the guitars churn along with a cello (ersatz cello?). The trumpets begin to blare along with it as it all intensifies to a rousing finish. It all concludes with 'Slowly for Awhile' which features a slow beating rhythm and dissonant stings that could either be a harp or a glockenspiel. The moog sounds harsh and sinister and Thymme brings in his vocals, eking out a melody in all of the darkness generating by the contrasting instruments. The singers brings in a small off-center choral harmony in a few parts and at times these get layered into eerie harmonics. There is also a multi-layered array of flutes that come in to finish it all off very suddenly.

Though I love the odd and daring use of dissonance in this quasi-pop sound, it lacks just a bit in emotion, though there are times when it does come out. Some may find this makes things just a bit starchy. However, the album is still enjoyable and there are some really great moments of innovative songwriting and musicianship throughout the entirety of the album. Is it accessible? Well, kind of, but it is also very quirky and full of things that might not sit well with many people, and that is the reason why I really like this album, and the band for that matter. I can easily give this a four star mostly because of the ingenuity and the avant feel of it all. I would really like to give it 5 stars, but I think it just misses that mark, however, with more listens, that could change. Either way, it is worth checking out especially if you love your music on the innovative side. At least it is better than the other 'Chicago XX' album that came out several years ago. Thanks to Nogbad_The_Bad for bringing this album to my attention.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars It may have taken nearly forty years for this Chicago-based band to release their twentieth album, but one can only smile when seeing the title and the artwork. That it looks like it could be a release from another band from the same city is purely deliberate. The band have had a rather loose idea of membership over the years, with some people not playing on certain releases and musicians taking part never to appear anywhere else. The last album of theirs I heard was 2017's 'Putting Off Death', and the three core members of the band from then are still here in Thymme Jones (vocals, guitar, drums, trumpet, synths, piano, autoharp, moog, glockenspiel), Dante Kester (bass, keyboards) and Jeff Libersher (guitar, bass, synthesizer, keyboards, ersatz cello) along with singer Carmen Armillas who actually appeared on that album as well, while multi-instrumentalist Amelie Morgan is back along with some guests.

What we have here is a band who totally refuses to conform to anyone's idea of what music should be like and create something which is catchy and poppy while also being RIO and quite challenging. They mix instruments which should never be played at the same time, with strange time signatures and clear vocals to create something which takes tips from the likes of Zappa, Residents, Art Zoyd, Henry Cow and Wire yet is always very much their own. The band describe it as "Harmony and dissonance, love and hate, oboes and drums... they all help to form this delicious and strange bedfellowship.". This is all about accepting them on their own terms, as if the listener is prepared to do that then they will be richly rewarded as the band move in and out of rocky pop numbers with incredible hooks which just don't sound like what anyone would expect. It is incredibly melodic, in a RIO way, with vocals which have pleasant melodies and one can only wonder what is going in their heads when they conjure up majesty like this.

I love the story of one lat 90's show when the band used a pre-recorded tape to segue from their song "Small World" into a hellish multitracked version of the Disney tune "It's a Small World (After All)" (personally I think the song in its original form is hellish, as anyone who has taken their children on the ride will attest to) and during playback they simply left the stage and took seats at the bar. This is complex, complicated music with wonderful harmonies and hooks, and anyone who enjoys their music to be a little (ok, a lot) out of centre will find a great deal here to enjoy.

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