Ayanami | Heliotrope
Ayanami | Heliotrope
"We wanted to do something that sounded huge."
A statement of intent from Jason Gallagher, the principal songwriter for Chicago-based alternative rock band Ayanami. To that end, when it came time to record their debut LP, "Heliotrope," the band enlisted Chicago mainstay producer Doug McBride (Walkmen, Fall Out Boy, Veruca Salt) and holed up in his Wicker Park-based Gravity Studios for a month. The result is a ten-song LP, drenched in fuzzy guitars, eminently singable choruses, and thundering drums.
According to the band, the record is as much a love letter to 70s guitar hero theatrics and the alternative rock of the 80s and 90s as it is a reaction to a perceived narrowing in the world of guitar-based music, where polar opposites dominate and divide music fans. "We don't want to be the precious indie rock band, or the angry-all-the-time metal band. We think there's underused space in-between the two," says Gallagher. Named for a Victorian color of mourning, the songs of "Heliotrope" are thematically linked by their inspiration from events of loss both large and small, literal and figurative - but with a hopeful bent that indicates light at the end of the tunnel.
Sonically, "Heliotrope" covers an ambitious amount of territory for a debut record. The quintessential track is "Still Here," a power-pop wall of sound with a hooky chorus, and a soaring guitar solo. "Panic (We Are Hanging Here…)" recalls vintage Black Sabbath, with a prog-rock psychedelic break reminiscent of Pink Floyd. "Green" is the heart of the record - starting as a sparse acoustic number, then swelling into epic territory, supported by Grammy nominated cellist Eric Remschneider (Smashing Pumpkins - "Disarm", Plain White T's - "Hey There, Delilah").
With thrilling peaks and gentle valleys, "Heliotrope" is a debut from a band determined to make a bold statement - there's still a place for music that sounds unapologetically huge.
Ayanami is currently planning live dates for the 2013 summer season.