The Upshot: The sound of rabid gitboxes yowling in a room, with no filter, simultaneously acknowledging the musicians’ past while cutting loose with amps turned to 11.
BY MIKE SHANLEY
At this very moment, there are likely hundreds of bands banging out a wall of power chords in the privacy of a practice space or somewhere in public. It’s also likely that very few of them will bring the same passion and fury to the proceedings as Eleventh Dream Day. These relentless Midwesterners continue to play one- or two-chord crunches which sound like they invented them. While they’re gifted in the lyric department (I was touched by the reference to my hometown Allegheny River), drummer Janet Beveridge Bean can make do with just two lines, as she does in “Vanishing Point.” And that’s only for starters.
Keyboardist Mark Greenberg officially joined the band prior to 2006’s Zeroes and Ones, and now Works for Tomorrow brings in a second guitarist for the first time in over a decade. James Elkington (Brokeback, Tweedy) serves as a strong foil to guitarist/vocalist Rick Rizzo. Greenberg recorded the album at the Loft (the studio owned by Wilco), and although his own playing gets pushed into the background occasionally, he captures the natural sound of two rabid gitboxes yowling in a room, with no filter. The thunder of “The People’s History” reveals up the interplay of Bean and bassist Douglas McCombs too, with its shifting rhythms.
Rizzo still sings with the urgency of someone who might slug you if you don’t believe him. Bean meets him on equal ground, not only in her songs but in a cover of “Snowblind,” the garage-stomp opener from Judy Henske and Jerry Yester’s unsung folk-psych classic Farewell Aldebaran. Anyone daring to tackle the Henske canon damn well better have the pipes. Bean does, and she makes it her own rather than simply trying to replicate the rock-splitting wail of the original.
On first blush, album closer “End With Me” sounded like a strange collision of Crazy Horse and Tom Petty covering Television’s “Torn Curtain” with the amps cranked up past 11. As ridiculous as that sounds, it also says a great deal about this band’s place among the legions of guitar-oriented rock legends and wanna-be legends. Eleventh Dream Day acknowledges its past and could fit in comfortably with the big dogs. But with those guitars cutting loose like that, there’s no time for comfort.
DOWNLOAD: “Go Tell It,” “The People’s History.”