Sunday, February 17, 2008

SKYBOX - Arco Iris

Originally from Arizona, Skybox is a five-piece band still fairly new to Chicago. The band released its debut LP, Arco Iris, in 2006, and have been playing gigs and stirring up buzz around town ever since.

The first thing you'll likely notice about Arco Iris is its off-the-wall song titles. Actually, you'll probably first notice the cool cover art - which looks like marshmallow peeps chillin' on stilts - but the song titles will be the second thing. Some examples are Disco Duck, Superglued to My Spaceship, Various Kitchen Utensils and Don't Get Spin Spin. The titles make it clear that you're in for anything but straightforward and pedestrian. Sonically, the songs live up to their peculiar titles, taking many random, unexpected turns.

In fact, Arco Iris is like some kind of twisted, futuristic vaudeville act put to CD. It's ragtime, it's glam, it's spacey, and at times, a bit impenetrable. This could make it a frustrating listen to some, but for those with an open mind and an appreciation for musical genres across the map, it's very rewarding and lots of fun.

As much as the material on Arco Iris is "out there," it manages to avoid sounding overly pretentious or contrived. At certain points, Skybox sounds just as concerned with being accessible than they are with being different. The two best examples are album opener The Caravan Cabaret and Various Kitchen Utensils, which are both really catchy and brew up an unlikely-yet-likeable combination of ragtime and indie rock.

Elsewhere, the frantic The Lass, The Bitch and The Butcher sounds like some kind of drunken sailor song on speed (not a bad thing, by any means). Disco Duck sounds like it's name. Superglued to My Spaceship brings to mind David Bowie space rock. The slower numbers such as Infinity and Blue Skies and Cue Conversation represent the CD's more subtle spots, sometimes going on a bit too long. However, the nearly seven-minute Gravity Can't Keep Us Down (Unless We're on Earth) is a welcome addition for its mellow, almost shoegaze qualities.

Although it alternates between instantly likable and somewhat difficult, Arco Iris has plenty of charms and represents a truly unique band with great potential. Check out some of the tunes at the official Skybox MySpace and pick up a copy of the album on CD Baby or itunes.


- Tim Ellis
- Johnny Kenepaske
- Aurelio Damiani
- Christian Fields
- Anthony Hornyak

- Skybox official site
- Skybox on Wikipedia

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