Electric Hawk: Guitarist Michael Burns, drummer Noah Leger, and bassist Graham McLachlan
  • Electric Hawk: guitarist Michael Burns, drummer Noah Leger, and bassist Graham McLachlan

Tonight at the Hideout, local math-metal instrumentalists Electric Hawk play a headlining set that features material from Electric Hawk II, their forthcoming second album. They expect to see copies of the LP back from the pressing plant in March; the album officially drops April 14, and there ought to be a release party sometime that month. Opening tonight’s show are RLYR (Trevor de Brauw of Pelican, Steven Hess of Locrian, and Colin DeKuiper of Bloodiest) and Exit Verse (a newish power trio led by Geoff Farina of Karate). The bill is basically wall-to-wall with Chicago scene lifers who’ve been in more bands than most people have had hairstyles.

Guitarist Michael Burns, drummer Noah Leger, and bassist Graham McLachlan recorded Electric Hawk II at Electrical Audio with Andrew Schneider, who’s also worked with Pelican, Cave In, and Big Business. Consequently, the drums sound amazing. (Actually it all sounds pretty damn fine, but I’m a drummer, so the drums are what I notice first.) “We mostly tracked and mixed to tape,” says Burns. “We are really nice guys and love animals.”

Electric Hawk have already posted three songs from the new album to Soundcloud, including today’s 12 O’Clock Track, “Sex Embargo.” I especially like the sarcastic lead guitar that enters at about 3:50. It’s as though these guys realize that playing bombastic, gratuitously complicated instrumental rock at this point in history (and at this point in their lives) is a faintly absurd and almost certainly unnecessary undertaking, but they love it so much they can’t help themselves—and to get around their own ambivalence, they sneak up on the music sideways.

I know I’m projecting (I’m 43 years old and still trying to start my next gratuitously complicated band), but as is so often the case when I’m projecting, I don’t care. Whatever the truth is, the song sounds thoroughly great.

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.