It’s been a dynamic year for the folks in Outer Minds. They released their debut LP in the spring with what felt like a sold-out show at the Empty Bottle. Come to think they played no less than a thousand shows at the city’s capital rock bar this year.
Over the summer Outer Minds was one of a sprinkle of Chicago bands to play Pitchfork Music Festival. They opened the damn thing, in fact, with a lead-off set Friday afternoon.
I got into these guys prior to these milestones when I saw them open for Radar Eyes in February. That one — which did sell out — was a celebratory orgy for Radar Eyes’ self-titled record. Bare Mutants was on hand then, too, and the Bottle still had its Christmas lights up.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Outer Minds this year but I’m confident the number is greater than the tallies for any other Chicago band. Easy. They’ve become a must-see thing in a year that had me at my most selective.
It seems each time I see them their production values increase. At times dramatically so. They at their most fearless was Miles Raymer’s going away at, of course, the Empty Bottle. It was one of their first, if not their first, shows post-Pitchfork, and a month later they’d evidently not yet come down from the high. I admire that.
Outer Minds’ sprightly momentum continues with a second full-length album appropriately timed for dispersal on All Hallows’ Eve. Despite a show that night — see below — the album’s release party won’t be for another month and a half.
I’d heard some Behind the Mirror on the stage prior to finally listening to it on my own. From the shows I suspected Outer Minds was maturing into a kind of villainous psych troupe, and then maybe realizing it on the new record. I think that’s happened. Outer Minds is still wonderfully approachable, but they’ve been swept up in joyful madness and erupt now with calibrated belligerence.
I can’t seem to listen to Behind the Mirror without at least a default spin of “Those Machines.” It’s an absorbing Outer Minds assault. Two and a half minutes of fuzzy aggression. It makes “Always in My Head” — a favorite of mine off the spring album — sound like sweetened syrup.
I’m also gravitating towards “She Calls My Name,” which thrashes about restlessly with several tempo changes.
It and “Those Machines” highlight Outer Minds’ shift to a more balanced sound mix, which I laud. Intentioned or no, the spring album seemed to favor Zach’s vocals and guitar. It always seemed to me a confusing departure from the team effort Outer Minds emphasizes in its live shows.
The recommended ones:
- The Chicago-based Outer Minds is Zach Medearis, A-Ron Orlowski, Brian Costello, Mary McKane and Gina Lira. | Facebook
- Behind the Mirror is available for $7.99 on Bandcamp. Or pre-order the vinyl for $10.99. | Bandcamp (mp3s) | Resurrection Records (LP)
- Outer Minds play the Empty Bottle on Wednesday with The Blind Shake, Football and Paul Cary & the Small Scaries. Eight dollars. | Tickets
- Behind the Mirror’s record-release show will be back at the Bottle on Saturday, December 15. Eight dollars (free with rsvp). | Tickets
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