This post is written by Justin "J Co." Corp - engineer at Second Street LLC. Justin has worked at several recording studios in Chicago and has a Bachelor's Degree in Commercial Music from Millikin University.
The things I love most about being an adult are the things that I dreamed of most as a kid. Playing video games, watching cartoons, riding my bike, and hanging out with my friends are the things that remind me that adult life isn’t a drag. In fact, I’ve found that the things that I cherish most about my partner are the things that I loved about my early childhood. It’s the simple youthful activities that we do before and after work that keep me looking forward to each and every day. And – of course - music plays a huge role in this feeling of nostalgia too. Classic rock brings me back to listening to the radio in the car on my way to school. Punk reminds me of digging through my brother’s CD collection. Indie captures the feeling of the chaotic glory days of the late teens and early 20's. Today, I’ll be digging into a new release that embraces the many feelings of youthful beauty – the new release by Sick Day entitled Love is a State of Mind.
Sick Day is a group founded by Chicago singer, songwriter, and guitarist Olivia Wallace. From a young age, Olivia found a voice in cartooning, creative writing, and of course, music. Wallace founded the group back in the spring of 2019, and their first show was June 6 later that year. Since their conception as a group, the band has flaunted a unique artistic aesthetic: posters, album covers, and merch all feature creative drawings from Olivia.
With their first release (an EP titled Sleeping in the Dark), Sick Day had a set of polite love songs led by acoustic guitar. Since then, the acoustic intimate tracks have gotten more intimate and the proclamatory songs have gotten more triumphant. There have been subtle changes to instrumentation and songwriting along the way, all keying on the strengths of the group. Singable campfire indie rock anthems pop up over and over for the young Chicago group. And the newest release (preceded by two singles this summer) is no exception.
What Does It Sound Like?
As you can tell from the weekly nature of these blogs: there is no shortage of incredible, independent music being released every week in Chicago. Where Sick Day makes a name for themselves is taking a simple approach to quality composition. Every track on the album is a good song at its core, nonetheless a good production, mix, and record. A single from this summer ("Meet Me at the Park") is the first track of the project. There are no frills or flashy tricks here, just frivolous vocals over simple guitar strums. Throughout the childlike song, there are sprinklings of pan flute, strings, and other cute musical tidbits. Simplicity is a major theme through the project and the conductor of the train is the sparkling, clear guitar on the more acoustic tracks.
The first five minutes of the album would have you believe that Sick Day is taking a detour into the folk scene, but the drum entrance on "Stars Shining Over Me" culminates the song into an anthem. This track is also where we are introduced to some delicious bass lines,
powerful distortion, and neat background vocals. By the end of the track, it's hard to even recall the delicate, warm roots that began the album. And as soon as the track is over, we find ourselves back in the warm hug. "Meet Me at the Park" rotates between the exposed, nuanced acoustic thoughts of lead singer Olivia Wallace and the crunchy, powerful refrains that drill those messages home.
What Does It Feel Like?
The album changes tonally quite often, but the feeling always remains intact. This is an album about youth -- and the joy, fear, anxiety, and hope that come with it. From meeting at the park, to getting high and playing baseball, to becoming obsessed with a stranger at a party, there is something so charismatic about the unembellished ideas on the album. “Little Voice Inside” is the darkest song on the album, and yet it comes through the scope of a young person. The darkness and anger feel more like a tantrum than they do an adult reaction. The aggression of this track disappears as fast as it came with a pivot to C Major at the very last second.
The final track of the album feels like a transition back into adult life. It’s the sobering feeling of running out of energy, without losing interest. Crazy enough, this is also the title track of the project – “Love is a State of Mind.” The guitar introduction sets a sleepy, dreamlike scene. The vocals are coated in reverb, and the true star of this piece is the thick cloud of strings and synthesizers that lie between the two. “Love is a State of Mind” gives the feeling of walking back home from that park that we have grown to know.
Sick Day has been a key member of the Chicago indie rock scene since their first show back in 2019. They have been featured recently at Glam Slam, Golden Dagger, and Tone Deaf Records. Likewise, all of the artists in Sick Day are in high demand. Bassist Jen Ashley has been touring as a solo artist under the name Jen Fur. Drummer Robby Kuntz can also be heard in Chicago bands Red Scarves and Liska. Guitarist Ryan Donlin is also a member of Red Scarves, and his Instagram is full of sick guitar videos. If you enjoyed the album aesthetic as much as I did, take a look at the gallery of art below – all from the mind of Olivia Wallace.
Let us know when you finish your first listen through – I’d love to know what you think! Leave your thoughts in the comments below and don’t forget to follow Sick Day and all of your favorite artists wherever you can.
On The Block...
"bend&break" - Danny Schiller
Danny Schiller's music highlights romance and Latin soul through flamenco-kissed guitar lines and lush vocals. "bend&break" presents a new and seductive grip on listeners that gracefully blends together more than a handful of diverse influences.
"Kenzie" - the courts
"Kenzie's" juxtaposition - between its haunting vocals and distorted guitar squeals - suspends us in a dreamy glitch pop cloud, a feeling supported by the cover art. the courts' combination of audio and visual art makes their live shows a must-attend event!
"Marathon" - Disaster Kid
With beautifully painted pictures of nostalgia, Disaster Kid's newest release is a rock anthem we can all join in shouting to the world. "Marathon's" clean sound and driven melody begs listeners to follow through, engaged until the very last second.