by Hugo Reyes (@hvreyes5)
Posthumous releases always feel a little odd. You are happy to have new music in your life, but you know it’s all your getting. All that’s left is this final document for you to cull through for years to come. Yeesh, one of the most distinctive bands to come out of Chicago in recent memory have released their third and final record Saw You Up There. This comes nearly two years from their last show in 2017.
For the uninitiated, Yeesh courted comparisons from countless Dischord and Touch and Go bands. The highest compliment I can give is this: any discussion among fans of Yeesh turns into a friendly argument. Everyone’s comparison or example was different. One person would say a song sounded like Silkworm while another said it sounded like Fugazi. The guitar, bass, and drums didn't sound like they were aping a particular style, which made the discussions around the band particularly difficult. There wasn’t a template that was being followed. Yeesh’s “sound” was simply the three musicians - Alex Doyle, Pete Reale, and Greg Obis - making music together.
Within their noisy rock tendencies Yeesh was able to create catchy music that gets stuck and refuses to let go. I think of a song like “Slip,” off of their first LP No Problem. Bassist Greg Obis and Alex Doyle exchange quips about working in dead end jobs behind a rattling cymbal and a high pitched guitar. It’s in the little moments that you find your brain repeating certain sections back to you during idle moments of your day.
Similarly, in Saw You Up There, it's all of the details that stand out and makes certain songs endlessly re-playable. In “Just Shy,” the intro riff, which feels reminiscent of “Caustic Acrostic” by Fugazi draws you in. Or it might be bluntness that’s snuck in with a line such as “watch as your friends succeed as your still cutting your teeth” on “Victory Lap”.
Everything feels a little more forceful, trying to capture much more of that live experience, which was a large part of their appeal to Chicago locals. The singer Alex Doyle feels angry in “Shagogad,” his voice breaking against his guitar. Or in “Bled Out,” which begins with the guitar and drums in a conversation, with the drums inserting itself in tiny little gaps. Songs feel busy, shifting like restless morning commuters on the train.
Saw You Up There is a continuation, an update, a refinement of Yeesh’s previous work. There’s some tweaking here and there. But it doesn’t feel like a rehash, where certain bands repeat the same record over and over again.