On their melodic self-titled, full-length debut studio album, Chirp knows how to magically capture and beautifully deliver the sweet, groovy sounds of spring.
Today’s release of “Chirp” celebrates the Ann Arbor funk, prog rock and jazz fusion quartet’s creative migration from improvising on the stage to nesting in the studio.
“Those songs turned out how we really envisioned them because we were able to take a long time to plan everything out as well as record and mix,” said John Gorine, Chirp’s drummer. “When we play those songs live, we know what we want to do, but it’s different when we have a lot more time to plan certain things out and just get what we want out of those songs.”
As a follow-up to last year’s “Live at Ann Arbor Summer Festival” release, the new studio album’s nine genre-hopping tracks take listeners on fleeting sonic journey filled with upbeat, danceable mind trips to “Dickerville,” “Greener,” “Planet Groove,” “Cozy,” “Pig Beach” and other joyful auditory destinations.
Chirp does their share of genre-hopping by blending catching progressive rock, funk and jazz originals with majestic reinterpretations during their high-energy, dynamic shows. Though their music incorporates many technical, well-crafted elements, they’re committed to grooving with a solid, dedicated fan base.
For dedicated Chirp fans, the album is a direct sonic flight through their eclectic catalog without any layovers or turbulence. While hearing “Chirp,” listeners travel smoothly through a series of glistening grooves, riffs and beats eloquently condensed into a brilliant studio package.
“You want to trim the fat a little bit, even though most of the songs are on the longer side of what people are used to hearing. I’d say the average song length on the album is five and a half minutes while our average live song length is between eight and 10 minutes,” said Jay Frydenlund, Chirp’s guitarist and vocalist. “As a songwriter, for me, it’s always difficult figuring out what we want to cut down and how we want to cut down the length of a solo section or maybe take parts out.”
Along with bandmates Ken Ball (guitar, synth, vocals) and Brian Long (bass), Gorine and Frydenlund spent more than two years writing, recording and refining the nine tracks for “Chirp” at their home-based studio. For “Chirp,” Frydenlund brought the initial ideas to the studio while Gorine, Ball and Long added their musical interpretations to each song.
“I like to leave things open and let people utilize some creative freedom on how they’re going to play over something,” Frydenlund said. “Ken and I teamed up on one of the tunes on this album, and then Brian has his tune, ‘Cozy,’ it’s a combination of some ideas he’s had for a while and then just kind of riffing as he does and sounding amazing doing it.”
Last week, Chirp dropped the album’s first single, “Greener,” an upbeat, dancey track that celebrates the project’s arrival and features a funky horn section and arrangement from Detroit progressive soul-pop group Paddlebots. While writing the track, Frydenlund sought musical inspiration from Steely Dan, Michael Jackson and Vulfpeck.
“I think those sounds found their way into my songwriting, it’s mostly two chords, and something about that idea just stuck out to me,” Frydenlund said. “Within 20 minutes, I had the melody and chorus and bridge chords and the pure adrenaline of being excited about this dancey idea.”
Chirp also has released a new music video for “Greener,” which features footage of the band in Ann Arbor and Bowling Green, Ohio.
“We had a camera guy come along with us to a show in Bowling Green, and he filmed us doing everything we do to travel to the show,” Gorine said. “We also did some shots in Ann Arbor where we walked around, improvised and did comical things with people walking down the street.”
Tonight, Chirp will celebrate the release of their new album with a show at The Bling Pig in Ann Arbor featuring Biomassive, a Traverse City electronic rock sextet, and Hannah Rose and The GravesTones, a Grand Rapids funk-blues-rock-soul quintet.
It’s the group’s first show at The Blind Pig since playing a co-headlining New Year’s Eve 2018 celebration with Stormy Chromer and Biomassive.
“We’re going to play everything on the album in order, but we are going to be weaving different tunes and covers with some newer originals and some newer covers throughout it as well,” Frydenlund said. “It should be a good mix.”
Chirp Album Release Party with Biomassive and Hannah Rose and The GravesTones
Doors at 8 p.m. tonight
The Blind Pig, 208 First St. in Ann Arbor
Tickets: $7/$10 under 21