Reissues can serve many purposes. They can make unheard outtakes and demos available to the public. They can also make your old versions obsolete, as you inevitably feel you need to replace the “bonus track” free disc with the one containing all the goodies. But a reissue’s primary function is to renew interest in a record that has since been forgotten or gone out of print. In the case of the latter, this can be particularly useful to fans, as paying outrageous prices on eBay can be burdensome to the bank account. In the former, economical reasons may or may not be the prime motive, but it can make new to virgin ears unheard artists.
This idea of renewed interest resonated with me personally when I heard Chin Up Chin Up’s reissue of their debut EP. Like a bridge between indie rock and post-rock, Chin Up Chin Up’s marriage of mathematical riffs and pristine pop melodies was a joy for me to hear. Chin Up Chin Up bring to mind many comparisons — Modest Mouse, Minus the Bear, Joan of Arc — but none of those bands quite puts together melody and Chicago-style post-rockisms as well as CUCU.
Each song is bound by shimmering, sparkling guitar riffs, distortion often present but never overwhelming, or even predominant. Chin Up Chin Up were clearly going for a less trodden path on their debut, doing away with the obvious hooks and subliminally feeding listeners irresistible melodies underneath a deceptively highbrow and technical façade.
Songs like “I’m Not Asking for a Tennis Bracelet,” “Fuck You, Elton John” and “For All the Tanning Salons in Texas” may have silly names, but they weren’t joking around with this album. Breathy vocals are present in every song, though they never take the focus too far away from the sublime instrumentation, often peppered with a bit of sci-fi keyboards.
Tragically, three years, after this recording was completed, bass player Chris Saathoff was killed by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run accident. The band didn’t play much for a while after that, but they recently regrouped and have been playing shows, which eventually led to the re-release of this EP. And thank God that they decided to do so, as it’s quite an enjoyable listen that many (like myself) might have missed out on. As I ponder why I hadn’t sought out this band’s music earlier (I had heard the name), it occurs to me that there must certainly be many more first-timers out there discovering Chin Up Chin Up. And it appears that this re-release has served its purpose well.
Minus the Bear – This is What I Know About Being Gigantic
Modest Mouse – Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks
Pinback – Offcell
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.