At a SXSW this year, Neko Case finished a set by looking to the crowd and telling them to go across town and see one of her favorite bands: The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir. The gesture was one that got the band a packed house. When asked about if it was a Bloodshot Records alumnus reaching out to her old family, frontman Elia Einhorn said no. She’s just a fan.
And why the hell shouldn’t she be? The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir are one of Chicago’s best, albeit most underrated, indie rock bands. From the acid tongued lyrics and beautiful harmonies to the aggressive guitar playing, it’s great stuff. And they may be on Bloodshot Records, but they’re not banjo slingers. They’re just alt-country fans who make excellent rock ‘n’ roll.
The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir – “Stop” (from the upcoming …And The Horse You Rode In On)
…And The Horse You Rode In On is out on Bloodshot on Sept. 15. They’re playing the Bloodshot 15th Anniversary Beer-B-Q at The Hideout on Sept. 12, and they’re also playing a free, all ages show at the Reckless Records in Wicker Park on Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. Here’s their five, courtesy of Elia.
1) BBU – “Chi Don’t Dance” – “This is hands down Chicago’s Summer jam. The shouted group chorus is to juke what ‘Rock Around The Clock’ was to rock ‘n’ roll. Remember the riots that followed Bill Haley’s song? Roll your windows down, turn this track all the way up, and watch people get crazy.”
2) Jarvis Cocker – “Leftovers” (from Further Complications) – “Jarvis is back and, sonically, dirtier than ever. He can’t really top his earlier dirty lyrics from his tenure as Pulp’s frontman, but Jarvis is in top form here; cutting the other man down, wooing the woman, hating himself while striving for something better. The man’s wordplay here is spot-fucking-on, and his lyrical inversions keep me laughing as my heart goes out to him again and again. This track is a lovelorn, lustful, broken wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more!”
3) The Smiths – “Jeane” (from The Sound Of The Smiths Deluxe Edition) – “I am just loving the remastered version of this overlooked classic that begins disc two of the ‘Sound Of The Smiths’ deluxe edition. ‘Jeane / There’s ice on the sink where we bathe / So how can you call this a home / When you know it’s a grave?/ …We tried and we failed.’ Wow.”
4) Daniel Knox – “Be Afraid” (from H.P. Johnson Presents: Daniel Knox – Disaster) – “Dark-as-night cabaret pop crooner Daniel Knox is hands-down Chicago’s most overlooked gem. On ‘Be Afraid,’ Knox’s vocals alternately soar and come down to a conversational tone, all the while delivering a laundry list of things to fear in this life. He recently sang backing vocals on Jarvis Cocker’s new album, and Damon Albarn and Rufus Wainwright are fans. Take notice and fall in love with the boy who might cherish and love you forever or might chop you up and leave you, with the peas and corn mix, in the freezer.”
5) Camera Obscura – “The Sweetest Thing” (from My Maudlin Career) – “I’ve known this band since before they’d recorded an album, and I think they’re just fantastic. I got the chance to see them a couple of times recently, at South By Southwest and then on their tour stop here in Chicago, and I thought their new songs sounded great. But when I picked their new record up the other week, the breath was knocked out of me. This is the freshest Camera Obscura have sounded since Biggest Blue Hi-Fi. A gorgeous, Motown-style arrangement drenched in the reverb that’s been the hallmark of their work with Jari Haapalainen, ‘The Sweetest Thing’ is as heartbroken and massive and cathartic as the one sunny day in an endless frozen winter.”