By Maci Woody
Artist: Chill Russell
Album: …And Yet We’re Captivated
Release Date: November 12, 2016
Chill Russell is a four man Psychedelic/Alt-Rock group from Austin, Texas that has kept busy since their formation in the Summer of 2015. They have released a self titled EP, performed many shows, and festivals including SXSW and KTSW’s own MR Fest, made guest appearances on Fox 7 and Other Side Drive, and have now dropped their latest album, …And Yet We’re Captivated. This five song album brilliantly showcases the experimental nature of Chill Russell. Each song highlights how they draw from many different genres and influences to create their own unique sound within Austin’s alternative rock scene.
Chill Russell kicks off the album with their first song “Talk!”, a light-hearted, upbeat, pop-rock love song woven with elements of surf rock in it’s colorful use of the tambourine and backup vocals. The surf-rock theme continues in other songs such as “Working So Hard” and “Want You To Use Me”, but the light heartedness seems to taper off in favor of more intense instrumentals and a sense of need in the lyrics and subject matters. In “Working So Hard” the speaker is heartsick, lonely, and desperate for any form of attention or recognition from his love whom he can not even seem to get a word in with due to her “Working so Hard”. “Low” has strong lyrical and instrumental elements throughout the song that are reminiscent of The Rolling Stones. The use of playful accent vocals combined with the belting main vocals brings to mind the iconic “Woo Woos” and soulful lead vocals of Mick Jagger in “No Sympathy for the Devil” and “Gimme Shelter”. The whimsical and bouncy guitar riffs are comparable to those of “Jumping Jack Flash”. The same instruments and vocals that were in the other songs are still present, but are utilized in a completely new way to create an entirely different sound and feel. When the organ comes in, I am thrown straight back to the 60’s I never even lived through.
The final song, “No One”, really stands out from the others, but still has that same Chill Russell character to it. Whether it was intentional or not, Chill Russell saved the best for last on this album. “No One” immediately kicks of with an interesting guitar riff and the song progresses like a slow, forceful march. It’s intense, dire, and serious. It has a prominent bass line which I particularly love. The use of layered voices during the chorus added extra tension and harmony at the same time. The vocals and instruments suit each other perfectly and during the chorus, the slow march breaks into a bold run in desperation. Chill Russell ends both “No One,” and the album as a whole, on a climactic guitar solo that slowly fades out, leaving the resolution of the song up to interpretation. Was it a happy, determined ending for the speaker? Was it frantic and carefree? Or did he decide other people’s expectations of him did not matter after all? This was the perfect way to end the song and album.
At this point, Chill Russell’s members all have very different individual styles and certain tracks highlight the different members personal musical style. This is such a powerful tool for bands that is too often swept under the rug. They can each draw the best from themselves to put out some truly unique songs that each sound distinct from the last, and from the music scene in general. They certainly do not have any issue standing out from the crowd. I have been a fan since I saw them live at MR Fest, and I truly look forward to seeing what the future holds for Chill Russell.
Check out our Other Side Drive interview with Chill Russell!