Cheer-Accident, Miracle Condition | Hideout | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Cheer-Accident, Miracle Condition Soundboard

When: Sat., June 25, 9 p.m. 2011

Buzz bands come and go in the blink of an eye; long-term survivors usually have much richer stories to tell. Chicago's Cheer-Accident celebrate their 30th anniversary this year, and for all that time, they've been as reliable as—and a good deal more enjoyable than—death and taxes. Unsurprisingly the band has undergone quite a few lineup changes over the years, and almost broke up in 1999 when guitarist and producer Phil Bonnet died, but Cheer-Accident's vital essence—anything-goes inventiveness combined with cheerful surrealism—has retained its distinctive character through every upheaval. On their 17th album, No Ifs, Ands or Dogs (Cuneiform), the core group is a five-piece, augmenting the trio of founding drummer Thymme Jones, guitarist Jeff Libersher, and bassist Alex Perkolup with keyboardist D Bayne and vocalist Carmen Armillas (whose presence makes this the first Cheer-Accident record to feature a regular lead singer). They're more of a joy to hear than ever—Armillas lends their intersection of pop and prog a smooth, earnest tenderness, and the band's harmonies (always sweeter than they had any right to be) do justice to their pop side, which has an idiosyncratic richness worthy of Van Dyke Parks. But their technical, hard-prog side comes out in force too, especially on the rigorous "This Is the New That." On No Ifs, Ands or Dogs they integrate these two personalities more thoroughly than ever, particularly on the diptych "Life in Pollyanna"/"Death by Pollyanna." I sometimes miss the way Cheer-Accident used to derail their live sets with a baffling segue into deadpan performance art—back in the 90s, it seemed like they barely spent half their time onstage playing songs—but I guess these days they've decided they've got too much great music to get to. —Monica Kendrick

Price: $10