The 1900s emerged in 2006 as one of Chicago's most promising bands, blending melodic, 60s-inspired folk pop with modern indie pop on their debut EP "Plume Delivery" and its following LP, "Cold & Kind." The band's new release, the seven-track "Medium High," is a self-described "purging" of leftover material as they work on their sophomore LP. Rather than sounding like a messy set of odds and ends, though, the mini album comes off as a surprisingly cohesive release that builds on the band's already solid foundation.
"Medium High" begins with "Collections," one of the finest - and oldest - 1900s tracks to date. In a previous life, the sweeping, bittersweet pop song was known as "Everybody's Got a Collection" and released as a vinyl single. Although it was one of the first songs the band wrote upon forming in 2005, this marks its album debut.
Also of note is "When I say Cohen," a Leonard Cohen inspired live take of another "Cold & Kind" song, the fantastic "When I Say Go." It's tough to compete with the original - arguably the band's strongest song yet - but this version plays up the warm, superb vocals of Jeanine O’Toole and Caroline Donovan to give the song an entirely new, equally intriguing personality.
Many of the additional tracks on the album have a darker, more psychedelic sound, which showed up periodically on past releases among the lighter, poppier vibes. Two examples are "Age of Metals," originally released as the B side to the "Everybody's Got a Collection" vinyl single and the group's deepest foray into darkness, and "A Face I Know," a more psychedelic version of "Supernatural" from "Cold & Kind." The band has suggested that they will be moving further away from this sound on their forthcoming album, so in a way the EP offers a sense of finality to make way for what's to come.
"Medium High" is now available through Parasol.com.