The Ants | Ideabreaker (Sick Room)

cd_antsIt's like a rock fishing lure. You hear something in the music of the Ants that draws you in, and then once you're among it, you realize it isn't what you thought. Yet you can't let go. Subtle subversives crafting pieces of melodic and principled commentary, the Ants speak softly but carry big ideas with their third full-length release, Ideabreaker.




In the current scene where in-your-face offensiveness and soapbox pulpit manifestos reign at the forefront of revolutionary rock 'n' roll, four thoughtful musicians from Chicago play the theme music in the background where those of us who wish to think as well as listen find ourselves. To be totally frank, it's not for the faint of heart or the casual toe-tapper. Imagine The Presidents of the United States with a social agenda (and I do mean the band rather than the politicians), and you'll have an inkling of the sound of The Ants.

We are introduced to the CD with "Bootheel" which tells us to "listen to the nightbird sing." And what is it that we're listening to? The declaration that "plans are embarrassing" and the assurance that "the homespun live in the bootheel." This first track sounds as though it was recorded in someone's closet at home, which injects a note of honesty into it rather than detracting from its overall quality. This honesty of sound sets the curve for the rest of tracks, which all seem to follow suit. Our second message comes with the jazzy organ riffs of "Satisfaction," which posits the song's title as the common denominator of all of us. Some of us look for it in prayer, some of us in love, and the rest of us in a variety of other ways, but it's what all animals are looking for.

A collective feeling found in a common denominator is not enough to label them as touchy-feely though, as is apparent in the penultimate track "Spindle" with its refrain "Let us get into why I do not like you." It could be that frontman/songwriter Chad Bryan is speaking to an individual with this song, but it seems more as though he is directing it toward the listeners as a means of relating his own ideas about what makes a decent person. Whichever the case, his finger points to self-fulfilling ruin as a foible to be avoided, or "You believe in fear more than you believe in love/ and being found out is what you're most afraid of."

The diversity of The Ants' sound ranges from the ebb and flow of a strolling jazz sound, vis a vis "The Donkey Talking About Long Ears" to the folksy, almost country twang of "De La Mancha" and "Jesus." The eclectic sound lends itself to the notion that this is a CD for those who are really into music but is a difficult listen for those who have a nonchalant or extemporaneous interest. If nothing else, it does achieve what seems to be its primary aim: it will make you think. B | Jason Neubauer

RIYL: The Presidents of the United States of America, Cake, Swamp Zombies

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