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The Ataris

Live in Chicago 2019

Review by Gary Hill

This live album captures the Ataris delivering a sound that is part alternative rock, part punk, part emo and more. It's largely effective, but not all that unique. It should be noted (and I addressed this directly in one song) that the performance draws on audience participation at times. That's a pretty standard thing in live sets, and generally works pretty well. The trouble here is that the audience was not captured on the recordings, so it leaves some gaps. All in all, though, this is energetic and effective performance captured well.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
In This Diary
Firing in with a classic alternative rocking groove, this is a great way to start the set with style. This isn't particularly unique in tone, but it's a strong number.
Unopened Letter to the World
I dig the energy and the hooks on this. It's not a huge change from the opener, but it's a strong tune.
The Hero Dies in This One
Energized and driving, there is a bit of a punk edge to this stomper.
The Saddest Song
There are some mean hooks on this number. It's not a big change from that which has come before, though. This gets pretty intense before it's over.
Boxcar
A shorter cut, this has some punk and power-pop in the mix. In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of the Chicago area band Off Broadway.
Summer '79
This come in fierce and punky. It works out to more of a mainstream alternative rock sound as it drives forward.
Car Song (Solo)

This guitar is all guitar and vocals. It feels like a driving, rather punky, singer-songwriter tune.

San Dimas (Solo)
This cut has the same format as the previous one did. I don't think it's as effective as that one, though. Still, it works reasonably well. The journey into spacey noise at the end seems a bit of a distraction, really.
Takeoffs and Landings
Now, this is positively sublime as hard-edged punky meets psychedelic jamming brings it in. The count up earns a parental advisory, and the tune again streams out from there. This evolves into more of a mainstream alterative rock tune, but it is one of the best examples of that format here. The noisy closing section works pretty well.
The Boys of Summer
The opening introduction on this earns a parental advisory. Yes, this is a cover of the Don Henley hit. I like how the grittier texture seems to change the piece a bit. This becomes a classy rocker here. This recording suffers a little because they do an audience participation part for the choruses, with the audience taking every other line. The problem is, the audience didn't get picked up by the mics (I'm guessing this is a soundboard recording). So, it means that a lot of lines are missing.
Radio #2
This is a punky, emo styled jam with some more hints of power-pop. It's an energetic number that works pretty well.
Eight of Nine
While not any kind of reinvention of sound, this smoking hot rocker works really well. The jam at the end is on fire.
Your Boyfriend Sucks (Solo)
Another song built on just guitar and vocals, this is solid rocker.
So Long, Astoria
No big changes, this is just another potent hard rocking. tune.
All Songs at Once
This is what it says it is - all the songs mixed together. It turns into a pretty crazed slab of weirdness that is oddly musical.
 
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