One of the Chicago Tunes contributors, Jessica Smith, has already done a write-up on Project Film‘s debut album, Chicago. I won’t rehash all of that here, but go ahead and check it out. I agree with pretty much everything she says.
What I’ll try to do is put my own spin on the record. One thing that I always do when I listen to music is try to figure out where it came from. What was the band doing when recording, what were they listening to. Sometimes it’s very easy to pick up on, other times, quite difficult.
What I hear from Sam McAllister and Megan Frestedt is a musical history that parallels my own. Listening to Sam’s voice on a couple of the tracks makes me think of Elliott Smith in a lot of respects. He has a quiet vulnerability that comes through on the record and makes everything very easy for the listener to relate with.
Chicago has a some of it’s roots in 60’s pop as well. It features a lot of the boy-girl vocals that you’d recognize on a record by Lee Hazelwood and Dusty Springfield. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing when it’s done well (Isobell Campbell and Mark Lanegan, She and Him), but when it’s bad it can be excruciating. Sam and Megan have a nice chemistry together, and that can make all the difference in the world. They’re fantastic together.
I was scouring the internet looking up some info on the band that might inform me as I was listening to Chicago, and I noticed that a lot of folks seem to think the world of the song “Kapture.” This is a good song, no doubt. However, it’s VERY Iron & Wine. Too much so for me. The lyrics are good, but there’s something about the way it’s sung and plucked on the guitar that makes me think of a Sam that isn’t in Project Film.
For my money the best songs on the record are “Spent Chicago,” in which Sam’s singing of the refrain reminds me of Josh Ritter’s “Change of Time,” and the closing track “Sun.” Jessica quoted “Sun” in her review, but I want to take it a bit further here:
You are perfectly aware
of what I need to survive
these hands are so tattered and worn
from once moving dirt in the night
your silence is strong enough
to drive someone out of it’s way
i can’t feel a stranger here
and i’d rather picture you in the dark
so go, go into the sun
It’s a really beautiful song, and one that I could listen to all day and night.
A lot of times we here at Chicago Tunes are sent press releases and little write-ups from bands that talk about how they sing about broken hearts and searching for something and writing about the human condition. For the most part it’s a load of bull. It’s like Philip Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous when he tells Patrick Fugit to answer Ben Fong-Torres from Rolling Stone by saying his article on Stillwater (still unwritten) is a “think-piece about a mid-level band…struggling with their own limitations…in the, you know, harsh face of stardom.”
But with Project Film, I feel like all that mularkey about human condition, and telling stories about what it feels like to be alone, or in love, or both at the same time…Chicago gets all those feelings at once, and puts them to music. And for that, I thank them. I also suggest that you go out and get yourself a copy of Chicago from the Project Film website, or from iTunes.
- Tomorrow night, Tuesday the 1st of March, Project Film will be playing at Schubas with Audiences and Island of Misfit Toys. The show is 18+ and tickets are $8. Starts at 8pm.
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