If I told you that The Grackles sound like they follow logically through a line drawn from Point A: Mission of Burma to Point B: The Pixies to Point C: Nirvana, you would probably say, 'Asshole, you just described the last 15 years of indie rock. Thanks for all your help.' And you'd be right: that didn't help and I'm an asshole. So let's try a different route, a new way of looking at a modern-day band: the day job. John Huston, lead singer and guitarist, is a reporter in the Chicago suburbs, a beat that has him bump bellies with mobsters on frequent occasion, and has notched him national awards for his work exposing environmental racism and unconscionable crime levels. As the band's primary songwriter, there's no doubt the humanity John must document in his 9-to-5 shows up in his lyrics. And without getting all Oprah, there's an endearing element of the reporter's search for truth in his songs, as well. Brian Aleman, the band's bassist and other singer, changes jobs more than most people change the radio station. Last time I checked, the kid was either finding people jobs or getting kids interested in college. Truthfully, he could be selling Brats at Sox games and it wouldn't surprise me. It's a restless energy inside him that keeps him job-hopping, an energy he fluidly brings to the band. And let's be honest, we'd probably all change jobs a lot more often if we had the balls. Brian has the balls, and he may even show you them during one of his energetic performances. Nicole Roach, drummer, is an engineer. Jesus, this thing pretty much writes itself. If ever there was an analogy for a drummer's role in a band, it's that of an engineer. Her drumming style is both the blueprint and the life to The Grackles' oeuvre, an elastic thunderclap that pushes the songs along and gives them form. Forget your image of engineers as bespectacled guys with strange affections for protractors, Nicole's the type of drummer who smashes drumsticks to watch them fly. Is that enough? Is that more than enough to make you see this band live, buy this band's album, wear this band's T-shirt? If not, let me end with this: A dude opened his car door on me tonight as I rode past on my bicycle. Oddly, he obliterated my pinky finger. I spent nearly six hours in an emergency room, and wrote this when I got home, using the splint to hit Enter. That's the type of fanaticism The Grackles inspire. I wouldn't do that for any other band. It's becoming obvious they're getting to the point where music fans will have to start noticing them to avoid the eventual embarrassment later on. Listen to them, support them. Let them give up the day job. By Jonathan Messinger Chicago rock critic 06.16.04.
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