Success is a strange thing, isn't it? Since we were children, we've been told that success is pulling ourselves up from the briars and making Something Of Ourselves, that the American Dream of cars in garages and chickens in pots is the only possible definition of the word. As Christians, though, we should have a different idea of success – success is faithfulness to God, being and becoming the person that God has created us to be. Sometimes that means abandoning things that we've been taught.

See, the problem with the traditional concept of success is that it doesn't leave any room for art – at least, not honest art; it's hard to be yourself when your hands are bound by dollar bills. The American Dream can't accept artist collectives and a life spent trying to create meaningful art; it can't understand why people would eschew the traditional post-college entry into the Manhattan rat race, refusing to step on hands and grab hard at whatever we can get. The American Dream is terrified of Anathallo.

Originally from Mt. Pleasant, MI, but now based out of Chicago, Anathallo self-released four records and booked twelve national tours on their own before they ever entered the record label grind, selling their records only at shows and via select digital retailers. Their self-sufficiency, as well as their to-the-walls energy, may be reminiscent of punk rock's DIY ethos and a direct challenge to the status quo, but the group's pocket symphonies come across more like a marching band blitzing through a still-shelved snowglobe; the seven-piece features more horn players than guitarists and is just as likely to stomp through a jazzy interlude as they are to stomp on their distortion pedals. Nearly all of them sing, often chanting against one another while one clear voice sings the melody, and percussion pulls the songs along in the form of drums, dragging chains, and ripped Velcro, the resulting sound as ethereal as Sigur Rós and earthy as Animal Collective.

Anathallo will release Canopy Glow November 18 on Anticon, home to other adventurous acts like Son Lux and WHY?.

- Marty Garner


Calvin performances