With head-bopping grooves that anchor breezy vocals, infectious melodies, and bouncy beeps and bleeps, Save the Clocktower’s new album, Renaissance, is Chicago to the bone: chilled by harsh winters, burnt by scalding summers, propelled by a sense of urgency, yet relaxed and serene all at once. It’s a vibe that’s landed the band features from the likes of NPR’s World Café and MTV. They’ve also seen their fair share of playing live, supporting acts like Moon Taxi, White Rabbits, Vulfpeck, and Jr Jr.
Renaissance is a think-piece of sorts, set to music. Over the course of the album’s nine songs, the band explores self-actualization, relationships, and, in Renaissance’s most meta-moments, art. It’s easy to get lost in the grooves and almost miss the meaning, one that guitarist/vocalist Sean Paras defines as “Love in the shambles of the postmodern era.” And frankly, the grooves are so good that getting lost in them isn’t so bad.
With Renaissance, Save the Clocktower – consisting of Greg Newton (drums, vocals), Sean Paras (guitar, vocals), Jimmy Shenk (keyboards), and James Washington (bass), builds on the firm foundation they laid with their previous releases, 2011’s Carousel and 2012’s Through the Glass, which World Café described as “an infectious collection of indie-pop songs” and Turntable Kitchen hailed as “an altogether fantastic album.”
Reminding us to appreciate the past but embrace the beauty of the present (“Best to eat the fruit before it’s rotten”), leadoff track “Always” sets a deliberate, chill pace, comfortably ushering you along for a fun ride that, upon its conclusion, comes off like an electronic tub-thump in an EKG on LSD.
The band really hits its stride with the title track, which Paras describes as “a meditation on the human condition, timespace, and — dare I say — eternal recurrence.” Somewhat reminiscent of Phoenix-meets-Future Islands with a hint of TV on the Radio, the song sets a dreamy scene despite the omnipresence of conflict (“There’s always been a left and right”), embellished by swelling keys and a driving backbeat.
Whereas some musical outfits fall into a schedule, releasing an album every couple of years and on the road in between, Save the Clocktower took their time with Renaissance. It “needed time to ferment,” Paras explains. “We wanted to get it right, and we were willing to sacrifice time for quality. Beyond that, our band underwent marriages, births, divorces, career changes, and the usual 30-something accouterments — all of which continued to inform and meld the album as time went on.”
Recorded at the band’s Fort Knox Studio space in Chicago, Paras describes the process as “kind of a beautiful, sacred experience in the respect that we had just invested jointly in this studio space, and the ambiance, the aesthetic grew out of the music and vice versa.”
The album was meticulously engineered and mixed by drummer/vocalist Greg Newton, and displays a maturity realized from spending 10+ years as bandmates, while at the time embracing a youthful excitement that invites you to sing along, pump your fist in the air, and “close your eyes and feel,” as Newton sings on the album’s exquisite closer, “Spiral Staircase.” It’s a beautiful trip.
“An infectious collection of indie-pop songs.” – World Cafe: NPR
“Their Pheonix-y Shins-y Freelance Whales- indie-pop had me bopping from the off. They’re from Chicago, and weirdly have that Tortoise/Sea & Cake vibe drifting over the surface of their Cut Copy-ish grooves.” – Drowned In Sound
“Within the category “summer listening” there are a multitude of finer-grained classifications, including “driving in a car to the beach tunes,” “cookout tunes,” and “smoking a joint on a rooftop tunes,” each of which has its own specific requirements. For “so goddamn hot and gross that the thought of doing anything more physically exerting than floating in a pool of cold water tunes,” the main thing is that they should relax you, not excite you. Lowish BPMs, an unaggressive sound, and a general breeziness (in case there’s no actual breeze) are crucial here. “Like That” by local indie-pop band Save the Clocktower fulfills all of these prerequisites nicely.” – Chicago Reader
–“There is a guarantee that you can dance, prance, hop, frolic and even break it down while listening to Through The Glass.” – EARMILK.com
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“There’s also touches of electronic dance music in the mix resulting in a musical style that brings to mind a cross between Yeasayer and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. On paper, it sounds like an intra-generational musical train wreck; on record though, Save The Clocktower’s new album is an infectious collection of rhythmic indie-pop songs.” – WXPN The Key
Publicist: Rachel Hurley