That moment when a veteran musician and producer making the magic happen for other artists steps out and forms a new band as an outlet to express years of burgeoning creativity is one to embrace and celebrate.
This is especially relevant when the musical vision is as compelling, insightful, eclectic and emotionally hard hitting as what Chicago based composer multi-instrumentalist Mike Pryzgoda and three of the city’s top rockers – Ausberto Acevedo (acoustic and electric bass), Stephanie Stahl (electric guitar, backing vocals) and Nick Gutierrez (acoustic and electric piano, organ backing vocals) – have created as The Przmatics on their debut full length album Always Stuck Here in Between.
Collaborating with these powerhouse musicians he trusts, and working with their dynamic, harmonic rich, often soaring, symphonic arrangements, the frontman is liberated to be more vulnerable than ever as a songwriter lyrically while showing a bit of multi-influence swagger musically. He leads them through a seamlessly flowing soundscape that includes everything from dream-pop, power pop and alt rock to soul, folk, gospel and the trippy blur of shoegaze.
Thematically, Pryzoda taps early on into the fear of impermanence (the blisterind, hard-driving “Footprints in the Snow”), the fruitlessness of reconciliation (via the the biting, 60’s jangle jam “Etc”), the spasms of an uncertain relationships (the production dense but vocally airy “My Invitation Must Be Lost”) and the hope that he and circumstances in general can improve with a bit of honest effort (the lighthearted, blues tinged pop tune “I’m Trying.”) With dreamy seductive British invasion flavored innocence, the oddly titled “Pereseids” is a heartfelt travelogue about the sense of not belonging and needing to be somewhere else – with the redemptive discovery coming in the last lines.
Another song with an unusual name and a similarly inviting retro-vibe is “Kaddish,” a wistful meditation about the passage of time that indeed reflects the melancholy of the Mourner’s Kaddish in the Jewish religion. Testament to this band’s chemistry, sharp arrangements and ethereal beauty of Pryzoda’s voice is the fact that the lone cover, of fellow Chicagoans the Smashing Pumpkins’ alt-rock classic “!979,” fits in perfectly among the originals. Dare I say that his vocals, combined with these engaging harmonies, are easier to digest emotionally than Billy Corgan’s?
The album title Always Stuck Here in Between makes it seem like The Przmatics are still in the midst of trying to figure things out. If this album is the struggle, I can’t wait to hear them when they break through and everything leads towards the smell of victory.