There’s a sound coming out of Chicago you may recognize. From a distance it could be mistaken for the Cure or Blur or The Clash, maybe even the Stone Roses. But as it gets closer, you realize it’s certainly not.
Rumbling out of Populist Recording Studios in Wheaton, Illinois is Ateliers: A four-piece band forged in the furnaces where alternative pop meets underground rock. Ateliers very nearly didn’t happen—but fate cannot be denied, and the winding machinations of time found Brian Doherty (drums), Mike Nesbitt (vocals), James Scott (bass), and Bill Acuña (guitar) together at Scott’s own Populist Recording Studios in April 2012.
It was a Friday night and they had the run of the place. They hit ‘record’ and let loose. The music uncoiled itself from their instruments, and Ateliers elevated a mountain of sound that is subtly complex and evokes a mood that is both heartbreaking and optimistic. It hurts to let go, their muse insisted, but you have to so you can move on.
Nesbitt and Scott had already won over Chicago via the Visitor, weaving their signature dark-rimmed edges of alternative rock into the music of Ateliers. In parallel, Acuña and Doherty combined their efforts in The JoyRyders, then brought with them the silver lining that saves Ateliers from being overcome by the darkness. The result may be too brooding for the fair-weather alternative, but it’s also too catchy and well-formed for the denizens of DIY garage studios and dad’s money.
That Friday night ended with four demos and an insatiable desire for more. Soon the four songs became ten, and now the self-titled debut album from Ateliers has been released. Ateliers is power and mystery and excess channeled through a low-end. It is nailed to the floor by a bass that winds through the melody like a caged animal, drums that signal the presence of a ritual no one expected you to see, and lush guitars with perfectly understated and carefully crafted leads. The vocals are designed to ease you into the dream—right until the nightmare emerges and the shouting begins. Look for it on January 18th via CDBaby and February 1st via iTunes.
Music like this is bigger than a studio, and Ateliers will be prowling through Chicago clubs in the coming months, forever changing Chicago’s musical landscape with a unique sound that could have been born nowhere else.