Eleventh Dream Day: Riot Now!

Eleventh Dream Day: Riot Now!

B

Eleventh Dream Day

Album: Riot Now!
Label: Thrill Jockey

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Nearing 30 years of existence, Chicago’s Eleventh Dream Day has managed to sidestep every trend that might have made it popular. Grunge, post-rock, alt-country: All have come and peaked since the band’s self-titled 1987 debut, and all bear traces of Eleventh Dream Day’s influence. Since then, drummer-vocalist Janet Beveridge Bean formed the twangy Freakwater, and bassist Doug McCombs founded the experimental Tortoise, but EDD’s middle ground between these approaches—hinged upon the sinewy guitar heroics of frontman Rick Rizzo—hasn’t kept the band from slipping into footnote purgatory. The best thing about EDD’s 10th full-length, Riot Now!, is that Rizzo and company don’t seem to give a shit about any of this. “If you don’t try to tell it straight / The point will come too late,” Rizzo and Bean harmonize on “Divining For Water,” and that hook might as well be the album’s mantra. Drilling into its own bedrock, EDD’s alluvial Americana still owes plenty to Crazy Horse, and the group also dips into krautrock thrum on “Satellite” and cosmic balladry on “Away With Words.” But even when wallowing in the art-garage slop of “Tall Man”—hindered a bit by Mark Greenberg’s shoehorned keyboards—EDD hews to its plainspoken, straight-shooting ethic. In its prime, Eleventh Dream Day was a fingerbreadth away from becoming an epochal band. Riot Now! is a refinement, rather than a mere reminder, of that ragged glory.

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