There has been a notable absence of real rock and roll bands in recent years. It’s as if, in fear of sounding like bro rock (such as Nickelback), musicians have turned instead to strummy, quaint, acoustic folk or the soulless, thump-thumping of dubstep. This does not mean there are not good bands operating in the confines of these genres, it just leaves a sizable gap in the music world where there should be something that rocks. Jack White is off doing a million different things without the attention span long enough to make sure anything is good, The Strokes have handed us two steaming piles of crap for albums in the past three years, and Kings of Leon have imploded after trying to sound like U2 and unfortunately striking radio gold. On the local level, very little has stuck out. Where have all the garage bands gone?
Enter Ann Arbor’s Chit Chat. The easy comparison is legendary Ann Arbor garage rockers The Stooges. They both play a brash, loose form of rock with an affinity for very few lyrics. Compare Chit Chat’s “Communication” to The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”; both songs’ choruses do nothing but repeat their titles over and over, but to great effect. The Stooges had more crunch and clarity to their production, whereas Chit Chat wallows in surf-sounding, reverb-heavy guitar lines while vocalists/guitarists Izzy Johnson and Nick Melody wail and shout over the thumping of Kevin McKay’s drums and Joel Parkkila’s bass lines. The first song from their self-titled 7”, “Attitude,” sounds like a noisier “White Rabbit,” with Johnson’s vocals floating ethereally in and out of a melody over a descending chord progression and a noisy rolling backbeat, in the end leading to a scorching guitar solo. The second tune on their 7”, the aforementioned “Communication,” is a gut punch of a song, with its slithery treble-heavy guitar lead, pounding beat, and tersely shouted lyrics of Nick Melody.
Chit Chat’s existence has been relatively brief, having first releasing a demo cassette in November of 2011 and only following up recently on New Year’s 2013 with Chit Chat 7”. The band recently recorded in February and hopes to release a new EP in late summer. Despite such small output, the indie music online publication Pitchfork has taken notice, reviewing the band’s song “Attitude” in late January. Since then, the band has travelled east a few times for shows and plans on playing in Canada for the Ottawa Explosion Festival in June of this year.