A Smogged Out Bedroom Classic: Chicon Reinvigorate Old Influences on Sin Ti

by Nick Hanover

Chicon Sin Ti

If I’m honest, I never gave much of a shit about The Cure. By the time I started getting into music, The Cure had stopped churning out epic albums and had become an easy punchline in films like The Wedding Singer, where the band is unfortunately used as justification for an especially awkward original Adam Sandler song. The weird thing is that in the early aughts I had more than a few musical flings with bands that cribbed hard on The Cure, from the Raveonettes to Spiritualized to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. And now here I am, right back at it with Chicon’s Sin Ti.

Named after a street that pops up in pretty much every single fucking think piece on Austin’s evolution, Chicon are a four piece with a Burger City Rock and Roll connection and a look that has more in common with East Austin standard attire than your average Cure fan. But I know they’re Cure fans because they’ve taken all the right notes from Robert Smith’s musical seminars and filtered it through the Eastside aesthetic in a way that appeals to me more than Pornography ever will.

The album starts about as perfectly as it can with “Crush,” a song that sums up the band’s influences—dig the chiming dual guitar attack courtesy of a Rickenbacker and a Danelectro and an untold number of UK kids dreaming of Cali—while also lyrically making the deviations explicit. “I sang you Outcry Barrio/It was so goddamn awful” coo Jeremy Diaz and Lila Paillon in sweet, sad harmony, a break from the pale skinned romanticism of the suburban goth whose loneliness can never be intertwined with humor. This is a duo that leaves its tragic beauty up to the guitars so that they can lyrically focus on how being in a band isn’t always so glamorous, sometimes it’s all about “A house show in the hood” where the “PA is no good” and the fight for attention was lost to a Pacquaio vs. Marquez bout. There’s still love and loss and drunken mistakes, but they’re street level odes to the people you know instead of dingy gods up in pancake make-up towers.

 

 

Even in the band’s stormier moments of unrequited love, like the aptly named “Smogged Out Bedroom Classic,” the lyrical landmarkers skew south, with recollections of dreams of flying to Mexico interrupting hazy trips of a narcotic sort. When the band keeps the lyrics simpler, it’s to match a dancier, more New Order-derived brand of post-punk, as is the case with the simply named and executed “Time is  Killer.” Or the nearly six minute long “Ayahuasca Eyes,” which takes its hallucinogenic source material and marries it to some simple religious imagery and a Kills-esque desert stomp where Jason Evans’ drums reign supreme.

Not everything on Sin Ti is so epic and full, though. “Treacherous Game” is abstract and minimal, just Jen Tran’s strong bassline and a simple one string guitar riff, the dance punk drums up front in the mix alongside the dual vocal attack. Meanwhile “Nostalgia and Novelty” pairs an early rock beat with a punk vocal, setting two eras of peak nostalgia up against one another. Album closer “Apocalypse to Remember” goes the opposite direction, pushing a psych rock guitar lead into the red before stepping back again to let Jeremy Diaz’s vocal slide back into the spotlight. Like a quick jam session with the Black Angels and Screamadelica-era Primal Scream, “Apocalypse to Remember” is danceable but dirgy, the melody a drugged out mantra, the bass a nonstop thrust.

 

 

In a city full of bands who just offer sloppy Xeroxes of better, older, deader groups, Chicon stand out as a band that knows how to merge perma-hip influences with their own scenery and experiences to create something familiar and new in equal balance. That’s not an easy thing to do, especially not with influences that are as pillaged as Chicon’s, so it’s not small compliment to say they pulled it off with verve and swagger. I still don’t give much of a shit about the Cure, but I’ll gladly go zealous for Chicon.


Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics.  You can also flip through his archives at  Comics Bulletinwhich he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culturewhere he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with Dylan Garsee on twitter: @Nick_Hanover