The six song collection In Itinere from New York City based five piece The Chordaes is the second studio recording resulting from the creative partnership of its first members drummer Ethan Glenn and lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Leo Sawikin. The talents of two-time Grammy winner producer/songwriter Marc Swersky behind the boards for the release further bolsters the chances that this powerful new release catapults the band to a whole new level of widespread notice. Sawikin’s songwriting is fully realized on the back of Swersky’s work and the contributions of Glenn, bassist Nick McFly and guests Charlton Pettus (Tears For Fears), Steve Holley (Paul McCartney and Wings), and Todd Caldwell (CSN). Sawikin’s writing shows a surprisingly wide frame of reference potent enough to invoke a sense of freshness handling recognizable subject matter and musical approaches. The songs wear their influences proudly and clearly while avoiding even a hint of the imitation torpedoing the long-term appeal of lesser bands. In Itinere is The Chordaes’ fully realized, at this point, and each of the songs contains at least a spark of their promising, unknown tomorrows to come.
“What Do You Want From Me?”, the EP’s first single, is an immediate testament to their creativity. This is a highly orchestrated track with complementary sections fluidly transitioning into one another and distinguished by subtle pacing on the drums as well as the percolating guitar work that, occasionally, comes close to a full on boil. Sawikin stands out thanks to the first of an EP’s worth of superior vocal performances. The second tune “Something New” is a less overtly dramatic tune, lacking in the same clear peaks and valleys we encounter with the opener, after a vulnerable duet between Sawikin’s vocal and the tasteful keyboard playing begins the song with a brief introduction. Once the song has begun in earnest, however, it’s a wildly successful indie rocker with pop inclinations and a strong sense of the individual. The multi-part vocal harmonies further sweeten the pot.
There’s some lightly skewed guitar beginning “The Last Time” before the song soon segues into what, essentially, constitutes The Chordaes’ stab at a post modern blues down to the deliberate tempo, melancholy guitar melodies, and light but important contributions from the keyboard playing. Bass opens “I’m Free” with an unusual bass line and the guitars soon come in over the top laying down some sparkling, if scattershot, fills. There’s a lot of space in the early moments of the song and it gives Sawikin’s singing a chance to shine unlike any of the earlier songs and the presence of vocal harmonies, once again, is a crucial factor in the song’s lasting success. The shimmering, steadily climbing guitar pop of “Run and Hide” flourishes to memorable effect at various points and really gains, more than any song before it, from the vocal harmonies that the band loves so much. In Itinere closes with the song “California”, a final nod to the band’s top notch vocal presentation, and the song’s embellishments courtesy of acoustic guitar are important parts of the song’s appeal. It establishes a solid groove at an assortment of points in the song’s second half after building from a more muted, pensive opening. Keyboard contributions to this song are critical and it makes for the ideal closer to this collection. The Chordaes are more than just
a talented young band; they sparkle with the sort of talent that’s, ultimately, transformative and aimed towards posterity.
Photo by Shervin Lainez
Review By Mike Yoder