Sounds: CHAD // Under the Firmament

Portland, Oregon-based band CHAD has just released their debut EP Under the Firmament about a week ago, and while this review was only going to be about the track “I Got Time,” the fact is I’m obsessed with their sound and have 15-20 minutes to spare.

The album starts with the tune “I Got Time” that I can’t get enough of. It’s an indie-rock meets psych track, that has deep roots in music made in the ’60’s and ’70’s. It’s nostalgic and groovy, without trying to be anything—or anywhere—than what they are; and where they are.

CHAD was formed in a basement in Portland, Oregon where four hopeless CHADs came together to write a modern day pop album. The band was started by frontwoman Sarah Lane and her partner Trevor Greely after both of their bands fell apart, and the four-piece became complete when Pacific NW native Zach Whiton (formerly of the band 1776), and Alex Widner from Sioux City, Iowa joined.

“I Got Time” is the first song the band wrote together. Sarah Lane weaves sweet slacker vocals between effortless layers of guitar, bass and keys while tight hip-hop drum beats make your head bump. 

The song is about having time (or maybe not?) to figure out your lover and yourself. The song also ponders how much time humans have left in the world.

I’ve experienced both of those things with such depth this past month: entering a relationship with someone who was struggling with a past breakup and former trauma. I also had a good friend and former colleague meet a tragic death a little earlier this season. Met with feelings of loss, sadness, and nihilism, I wondered how I could carry on positively and happily with so much negativity and pressure put on me. And then you meet a track like “I Got Time,” which helps you make a bit of sense about everything.

“Modern Age” follows the track “I Got Time” and brings a reprieve of sorts to the emotions and feelings of incompetence that “I Got Time” brings up. It’s a lullaby for the modern age; no pun intended.

“Come Find Me” is a ’60’s love (see: sex) track, made for lighting incense, smudging the home with Palo Santo, and then putting this album on the turntable. Sarah’s sweet soprano plays well with the chilled-out guitar and keys in this track. Everything seems simple, and slightly repetitive, in a way that becomes consoling. You know what to expect; you know what you’re getting from this track. You know how sexy and alive you’ll feel after the verse ends, and the guitars come back to pick you up.

“Leonard Nemoy” is another of their slower songs; the track starts and you can tell you’re either going to be slow dancing by yourself, or drinking wine on your floor and crying. CHAD has the ability to fuse layers of instruments and Sarah’s sweet vocals into an experience; it’s not just listening to a track. You aren’t just bopping your head to a tune. You’re in the studio with them, feeling what they felt when they wrote the track. You’re watching Sarah sway to the music, you feel it deep inside.

“I get lost when I’m with you”

Leonard Nemoy, CHAD

Not entirely ready to be on the last track, my player goes to “Tallboy,” the final track on their short, but sweet EP. As much as “I Got Time” belongs at the front of the show, pulling you in and preparing you for a wild ride, “Tallboy” belongs in the back. You’ve finished the ride, you’ve had your tears, you’ve waxed nostalgic on past relationships, and now CHAD is here to take you home.

CHAD just signed a deal with Marmoset Music and I genuinely look forward to seeing them blow up. They are worth following. Listen to the EP Under the Firmament below.

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