Jim Ward’s Sleepercar Debuts in Chicago

June 19th, 2008: As seen on SPIN (PDF)

Post-hardcore fave Jim Ward always had a soft spot for his country forefathers, or so the sentiments went last night at Chicago’s Empty Bottle, where the Sparta frontman and At the Drive-In member swapped punk speed chops for lap steel and harp pulls. His screaming pipes, however, only stayed subdued for so long before exploding in hybrid proportions.

Supported by a cast of four Lonestar buddies, Ward actually kicked off into a cut from his solo EP, On My Way Back Home, a rather standard alt-country track dressed in belts of harmonies and chug-a-lug rhythms. But once the careening licks of the band’s debut single, “A Broken Promise,” took off, the singer’s neck veins surged with Cursive-like catharsis.

On the Sleepercar record, West Texas, Ward suppresses his fits down to a certain degree, but that was hardly the case last night. When the band let loose, it was like a runaway pick-up truck spewing dust at a blistering Texas sun. And even though the crowd was all slim-pickins and corner chatters, all the hopeful heartache tales of tracks like “Fences Down,” “Kings & Compromises,” and newbie B-side “Heart” never saw reprieves from rockness.

We Asked: In the world of cars, ‘sleepers’ are hot rods disguised as ordinary rides. Taking the metaphor to music, who’s your favorite unassuming rocker with an epic sound?

Tags: ,