Longface • Hillbilly Wit

L-R Dillon Kelley, Anthony Focareto, Kain Marzalado, Glenn Curran Photo by Natalie Escobedo

L-R Dillon Kelley, Anthony Focareto, Kain Marzalado, Glenn Curran
Photo by Natalie Escobedo

As a large city at the allegorical center of the country, Chicago’s lucky enough to be not only a whistle stop for artists from elsewhere, but even a blossoming point, a place where someone needed to be to figure out the root of their art. The focus of our story today is just such an artist. When asked to describe his connection to the scene here, Longface’s frontman Anthony Focareto had some words: "good, bad and ugly.” Reading the full description, however, reveals a more positive portrait. It’s not all people getting crowd surfed out windows; it’s DIY spaces and sweaty basement shows. It’s coming home to your dog and making some noise, plugging pizza rolls into a toaster oven.

The Chicago music community is like none other and people emotionally support each other here. That’s reason enough to keep creating.
— Anthony Focareto

He calls himself a horse boy, referring to his possessions as evidence. The jury’s out, but he hails from Danville, KY, so I guess I’ll take his word for it. Longface seems to be purely Anthony’s brainchild. When pressed, a particular band member defers to Anthony, saying something along the lines of “I’m just lucky enough to play the shit.” The modesty of guitarist Glenn Curran was refreshing, if not entirely true. Everyone in the band brings years of experience and a nicely appointed rig to the table on top of major songwriting  chops. If Longface is a kitchen, it’s got the right amount of cooks and a trio of talented sous. They all splash in a bit of their own flavor, but onstage the presence showcases Anthony.

[The name] comes from the the old joke. Dillon said Longface. None of us groaned, neigh.
— Anthony Focareto

Anthony's slight frame belies the vigor he puts into the show. While Dillon Kelley whistled in the background, Anthony sang a song called “Crescent Moon”, one of the hot tracks from their upcoming album. Though the composition is entirely unlike them, I feel it couldn’t be performed better by anyone else. The plaintive call Anthony lets out in the opening notes of the song open up to outright braying, wailing about the passage of time and stamping his feet. He keeps his eyes closed, strumming hard enough against the guitar strings that the pick goes flying into the crowd.

At its root, Longface feels like a pop group. In both a musical and lyrical sense they seem to follow the songwriting ideal of sad lyrics over bright instrumentation, or vice versa. On “Pace”, there’s a vague feeling of jumping down a slide at around 20 seconds into the song. Crooning, sounding reminiscent of Thom Yorke, Anthony pounds out major chords against a melancholy backdrop of sound from his hit squad. He noodles vocally during the hook and outro, separate recordings of his voice swirling around in harmony with each other, finishing abruptly as the tunnel ends and you exit to silence on the other side. It’s worth a few listens at least, to hear the intricacy of the band working together. “Howdy” (recently premiered by thefourohfive) shows us a different side of the band. The guitars rip into an off-time meter, the strings growling over Kain Marzalado’s bombastic drums. At its hook, the group resolves into sudden beautiful harmony, and just as quickly stride back into the rock rhythm. The album's eponymous track, “Hillbilly Wit” gave me the most amount of feels, and “Crime Jazz” just might make you want to shake your little groove thing.

Hear it all here with our Sooper Exclusive Stream. When Sooper Records releases “Hillbilly Wit” on October 27th, it'll be up for sale at www.sooperrecords.com. It features cover art by local painter Jennifer Cronin and has a few great videos that go along with it. Keep your eyes peeled for “Deep Fried American Dreams" (a glitch video produced by the immeasurable Ryan Gregory) which won my heart for best visuals.