A few weeks ago, I saw this movie called Descent, about a bunch of adventure obsessed women who go into an undiscovered cave to go spelunking. They forget their map and end up dying at the mercy of the Gollum-like creatures that inhabit the cave. It was very much a scary movie, but not because of the blind little monsters that ate some of the women. The misery of the movie was watching the women go through tiny tunnel after tunnel in the pitch dark. Nothing but a flashlight and a microphone recording every breath could be heard or seen on the screen. In fact, the monsters saved the movie from being one of the most uncomfortable two hours I've ever spent in my life. It meant that the scenes of crawling through tiny tunnels were over.
The reason I'm telling you all about this is because I recently was given a copy of Bound Stem's new album, Appreciation Night, which reminds me of a emo version of cave spelunking. Didn't think there was such a thing? Well, you were wrong. The difference is that Bound Stems is not scary, not miserable, and not eaten by monsters. They make some beautiful electriconic-y emotional pop music that sometimes gives you flowers and sometimes wants to bite your head off. And hell, they're from Chicago, which makes them innately cool.
Bound Stems has two wonderful lead vocalists. Lead singer, Bobby, has many different voices. On lead off track, "At What Point Did You Stop Believing Me?", he sounds like Isaac Brock. On the wonderful loud and heavy yet still gentle track, "This Is Grand," he sounds like Conor Oberst. The other lead singer is Janie, who sounds like Amy Milan as your high school prom date (trust me, that's a good thing). She kills every breath she takes in "Excellent News, Colonel." The song is a dialogue about "falling in love with someone in New York. The band sounds like Stars, Radiohead, Dire Straits (on the drum intro in "This Is Grand"), Bright Eyes, Tortoise (on the drumbeat of "Pulling On Pigtails"), Modest Mouse, Weezer (the talking in "Book Of Baby Names" is TOTALLY the intro to "Sweater Song"). Everything works at each moment, and by the time of "55 Cross St.", the album's last track, you feel as though you've found your way out of the tunnel. You probably won't want to leave though. It's that good.