» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Imaginary Johnny
Only Chimneys
Unfinished Side

Rating: 7/10 ?

June 16, 2008
Every year on the first of January millions of people set goals for themselves, with hopes of becoming better people as a result. These resolutions range from the ultimately meaningless to the truly life altering. The degree of seriousness with which New Year's resolutions are taken is of individual discretion, but even for those who never reach their goals it is nonetheless an annual tradition. Six years ago my father made and kept a resolution to quit smoking, and while the accomplishment only changed a small part of his immediate life, he can speak at length about all the changes that have come from it over time. He's a different man. Congratulations to my father for making it stick. I love that guy.

The reason I bring up New Year's resolutions is to illustrate the importance of having goals, no matter how small they might initially seem. Small doesn't necessarily mean insignificant. Most humans live within some combination of rules, structure and goals; even if one's personal goal is to become an anarchist, there are still measured steps to be taken. Imaginary Johnny is a band of four individuals who, along with thousands of other similar-minded musicians, live in Brooklyn. As a group, the band members set a goal for themselves, to write and record an album completely on their own terms, and Only Chimneys is the fruit of their efforts to do so.

I'll get to the criticisms in a bit, but first I would like to congratulate the band for writing and recording a solid indie-rock album. While today's technology makes it relatively easy for anyone and everyone to record an album, Imaginary Johnny have the chops to deliver something worth recording. The album was mastered by one of my heroes, Beauty Pill's Chad Clark, which lends a further air of stability.

"A solid indie-rock album" might not sound wildly descriptive, but for Only Chimneys, which is well rounded without representing anything particularly groundbreaking, it is more than apt. Here the band takes the typical rock song blueprint, verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus, and fills in the blanks with the powerful tools they've learned to work with. Good guitar and piano melodies are all over this record. The only aspect that truly suffers from a lack of power is the lyrics, but that's almost par for the course these days.

Remember when the Get Up Kids went from a gritty, punk-inspired band to a more polished, less excited emo band with their album On A Wire? The sound of that band's pre-Internet explosion is close to what Only Chimneys sounds like. Seems to me these guys are not young and energetic hipsters, but more careful musical craftsmen. I only wish the same attention went into the wordplay; "Everything That I Write's On Paper And It'll Burn, It'll Gloriously Burn" - from the song cleverly titled "It'll Burn" - is about as poignant as the lyrics get.

Throughout the course of the album I can't help but be reminded of those Sundance Movie Channel original pictures. Like aspiring directors, Imaginary Johnny have the right equipment and they know how to use it yet, just as some filmmakers are much better cinematographers than storytellers, their mechanics lack a certain poetry. It takes the right combination of skill and style to make something artistically successful, and while Imaginary Johnny have a noticeable dramatic tendency, they would do well to spend a little more time finding more mature ways to relate their stories. This album has been made, that goal has been reached; now is the time to stretch a little further, to reach for that next step. If Imaginary Johnny continue to refine their style of music they'll certainly improve, so long as they toss the high school notebooks from which the lyrics of Only Chimneys seem to have been culled. Should they take the time to listen to the landscape they're creating with their instruments, something much more profound is bound to develop.

Reviewed by Bob Ladewig
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he\'s afraid of really growing up.

See other reviews by Bob Ladewig



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