Bucks County musical institution Illinois is not always the easiest crew of dudes to keep tabs on. The twangy scruffy indie rock band first made waves in 2007 with its second EP What the Hell Do I Know, which yielded some TV placement and buzz around the song “Nosebleed.” The band appeared on XPN’s Free at Noon stage, released the creatively-conceived (if confusingly-executed) flash drive album The Adventures of Kid Catastrophe in 2009 and played a rousing set at that summer’s XPoNential Music Festival marina stage. Then the momentum sort of halted and the band fell into the ether for a little while, playing Philly rarely and instead tinkering away in their Churchville studio. Outside of their hometown base in lower Bucks, not too many people knew about Illinois’ 2011 album Lemonade Stand, and I’m pretty certain there was an outtakes / rarities comp in there as well at one point.
Earlier this year, the band ramped up activity in it’s social media zone, releasing regular teaser snippets of a new project, and today emerging with a free download of a finished track called “Queen Flea” (hat-tip to our brothers and sisters in Philly music coverage over at The Deli for alerting us to its existence). The song is a pumped-up anthem reminiscent of an era where polished production mixed well with a quirky sensibility – think Space, Cake, White Town, etc. The late 90s alt-radio rock aesthetic is huge on this song: singer Chris Archibald’s nervous, nervy vocals, the booming drums at a lackadasical tempo, the wikki-wikki turntable sound effects on the chorus. Illinois very much sticks true to their roots here, both in terms of sound and substance – Archibald’s lyrics are dark as ever as he contemplates faking his own death.
Get a free download of “Queen Flea” below; the band says it will be on its next album, but release date and title are still TBD.