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Haymarket Riot

For those of you who've forgotten your U.S. history, the Haymarket Riot was an 1886 debacle which occurred in Chicago's Haymarket Square when anarchists threw a bomb into a group of policemen who'd been called in to quell the protests of striking labor unionists. It was a major blow to the American anarchist and labor movements, and a pivotal moment in the history of the Windy City --

Oh, wait a second, though, this is a band we're talking about here. Sorry. Well, they're from the Chicago, as you might guess, but they're not labor agitators or anarchists (though there is an anarcho-punk band from Texas that goes by the same name). No, this Haymarket Riot is a gentle indie rock ride with a powerful sense of dynamics. The band has an almost tidal power, as delicate, unruffled verses give way to jazzy, firmly sung choruses whose bluster and angst will eventually yield once again to a more ominous calm. The band features Divot Records honcho and ex-Orwell member Fred Popolo on bass, Billy Smith (also ex-Orwell) on drums, the flayed-voiced Kevin Frank (ex-Gauge) singing and playing guitar, and newcomer Mike Bennett on second guitar. The Riot has a pair of EPs to its name, the first self-titled and featuring the gentle, rather melodious "Birthday Suit Holiday," the second entitled Wax.

Their first full-length, Bloodshot Eyes, came out on Chicago's Thick Records in 2001. The album's melodic, lightning-quick guitar phrases anchored by thick dub-meets-rock bass lines places it in the territory of latter-day Fugazi.