One of my favourite musical discoveries of 2015 has to be Chicago Loud 9. Their style is like nothing else I have heard in years, and when I reviewed the lead single from this EP Punk Soul (I’m Wrong)I fell in love. And a after a first impression like that I knew that if I got the chance to review any more of their music I was going to take it, and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve got some new music to talk about.
Released last month Just Once is the follow up to 2013’s The cLOUD9 LP and what a follow up it is. After loving that single I mentioned at the top so much I was a little bit worried that the EP wouldn’t quite hit those heights but with hindsight I really shouldn’t have been.
The brass which greets the arrival of opening track The Chi is a brilliant introduction to the group for the initiated and an equally awesome taster of what’s to come. The songs central beat is interspersed by the same kind of flashing guitar which you can hear right at the start of the Hendrix classic Voodoo Child, just funked up a notches. It’s only a pretty small touch but I love it. The sung sections of the hook from Aya Smith are as smooth as silk and the raps from Dhani D are straight on point.
In all honesty there isn’t a lot for me to say about Punk Soul (I’m Wrong) that I haven’t already said. I loved the track back in March, I loved it as I played it like crazy through the summer, and I still love it now. Its soul enthused up tempo bounce is the kind of thing which every party needs, the little bits of world play through the verses is great and that sax solo from Kennytime is the kind of thing that will bring a man to his knees.
Time (Is Of The Essence) sees things take on wholly more rocky slant. That is if rock bands had brass sections in them. I like how for a section the beat pretty much drops away putting the emphasis on the lyrics from Dhani D who in turn shows flashes of Mos Def in his delivery at this point. The only other thing I’d say about this track is that it sounds like an opener. I heard the hook and the outro and in my head I heard ‘Jay Z, Blueprint era album intro.’ Personally I’d have put this up at 1, The Chi at 2 and Punk Soul at 3. I’ve got no issue with the song I just think it’s in the wrong place.
The deep baseline and finger clicking beat which form the intro on Tear It Up leads into the funkiest piece of guitar work this side of Eddie Hazel. If you don’t know who that is, go and do a little bit of history. The track as a whole is slower and more deliberate as even the sax solo takes on a more menacing feel before a gritty guitar riff leads the song up to a crescendo. The acappella section at the end is also a nice touch.
LSD Sunrise is basically 40 seconds of atmosphere and a bridge into the next song. I like how it works as a little breather or palate cleanser but at the same time you wouldn’t really miss it if it wasn’t there.
However the band are straight back into the groove with title track Just Once which sees that gorgeous vocal from Smith take the lead over a stomping drum beat. This along with a great guitar solo gives the song a different dynamic to pretty much everything else on the record. I’m also an absolute sucker for strings, so this track is definitely a winner!
On the final track Success a slow guitar melody takes the lead before being shadowed by the trumpet and the sax on what is a quite slow and brooding effort. That happy go lucky bounce of the opening few tracks seems an absolute lifetime ago now as things take a far more serious turn. I’m definitely all for it though; the more sides a band can show of themselves the better in my view. Just after hearing the first couple of songs on the record you would have never imagined that it would wind to a close like this!
Just Once is a fantastic record, there’s no other way for me to describe it. There are more blends of different flavours on this EP than there are in your favourite cooking show. Rock, hip hop, soul, funk, jazz … it’s all in there. It’s insane. But all of the elements work together brilliantly, nothing sounds forced, if anything it all sounds effortless.
For as long as these guys are putting out music I’m going to be checking for it. It’s as simple as that. Great band. Great record.
You can get your copy of Just Once here: http://chicagoloud9.bandcamp.com/