How Danny "Legowelt" Wolfers finds time to collaborate given his current inhuman release schedule boggles the mind. But improbable as it may be, the Chicago Shags—his group with Brian Chinetti of Orgue Electronique fame—have four new jack tracks for us in the form of The Family Album. If Lost in a Blue Night, the Shags' Crème Organization-released EP from last fall, felt like it didn't bring much new to the table, then The Family Album is a step in the right direction.
Still, Chicago remains close to the pair's heart. "Ponderosa" moves quickly but lightly, with a drone of minor-key pads tempering a skittish rhythm section of Roland drum machines and inquisitive bassline. "Pancake Breakfast" ups the energy considerably, its nerdy synth work, celebratory snare rolls and off-pitch lasers suggesting a major breakthrough at an '80s arcade. The retro-futurist vibe continues through "Firetruck Sunday," where Trax A-sides and John Carpenter soundtracks fuse seamlessly. But the Shags have saved the best for last: "To the Westfield" may be the record's most original track. Its arrangement achieves commendable tightness, carefully playing morsels of rhythm and melody off each other.
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Tracklist: Chicago Shags - The Family Album A1 Ponderosa
A2 Pancake Breakfast
B1 Firetruck Sunday
B2 To The Westfield