Heather Perry and the _______s may be relative newcomers to Chicago's music scene, but you'd never know it from listening to their new EP, These Appetites. Perry's unique, mature songwriting instantly creates an utterly distinctive mood. The title track's rolling piano lures the listener into her arena, guiding you towards the aural centerpiece of her one-of-a-kind voice- powerful but beautiful, sultry but understated, firm but gentle, emotive but analytical. A haunting guitar, chiming just underneath the surface, joins in. Then...a second voice in harmony, a steady drum line...and finally the song explodes dynamically into the chorus with a wash of guitar and soaring vocals, only to eventually recede again behind her supple tenor for another round. The real depth of the songwriting becomes even more apparent with the subsequent tracks. On the single-worthy pop nonchalance of 'Citysong', lyrical wit is matched with clever instrumental interplay, and Perry uses her incredible voice as an additional instrument, alternating pretty and tough with each verse and chorus while never sounding forced, while the band provides a brightly lit backdrop for her to strut on. 'Nuptial Flight' showcases a classical sense for melody and arrangement while retaining enough accessibility and grit to sound unmistakably rock and roll, until the incredible coda of the track spins into an entirely different direction with a trumpet and jarring tempo distortions. The playful shuffle of 'Old Friends in New Beds' perfectly brings the mood back to a simple acoustic singalong, infecting the listener like a warm cup of coffee on a sun-splashed morning. The dark, haunting vaudeville pastiche of 'Grenadine' supplies the perfect climax as the release's closer, leaving the listener wanting as the curtain is suddenly dropped. Perry's superb, hypnotic vocals would be enough to front any band, and her songwriting and lyrical wit would be enough to carry any solo performance, but what makes These Appetites a truly singular accomplishment is pairing both with the fluidity of her backing band, the ______s. The group, formed during the 2 years of live support of her second album, Doing It For You, provides the perfect backdrop for Perry to explore the very fringes of her ideas with her audience. Veteran drummer/producer Noah Samuels (Trakan, The Get, Ghost Pilot) provides a rock-solid foundation as the backbone of the rhythm section. Emily Wiedmeyer, Perry's musical foil going back to their formative years, provides an impressive counterpoint to Heather's voice, almost unconsciously supplementing Perry with plenty of tasteful, natural harmony in exactly the right spots. However, it's Ben Brown's virtuoso guitar-work and tasteful trumpet that anchors the band's signature sound, and sets the sonic stage for Perry and the entire band, as he ranges easily from emotive riffing and rhythm fragments to all-encompassing soundscapes. Together, the four create an utterly unique canvas for the listener to explore over each of the five songs. Elements of classical, pop, rock and post-rock seamlessly feel right at home together in this powerful blend. The band's understanding of dynamics cannot be underscored enough, and the sophisticated arrangements on each track are as uniquely multifaceted as Perry's songwriting suggests. However, perhaps the EP's greatest triumph is that the songs have astounding depth despite their relative brevity. They almost seem like short stories rather than chapters of a novel - each with it's own characters, each with it's own identity, each with it's own arc - yet nonetheless unmistakably part of the same source. And although the entire release clocks in at barely 17 minutes, These Appetites has as much depth as any full-length album and hopefully suggests even greater things to come from Heather Perry and the _____s. Matt Walters, Spade Kitty Records.
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