Record Review - 3 June 24 2004

Though unlikely bedmates, Chicago's We Ragazzi and the Texas-based Paper Chase find common ground in pushing sleek indie/emo sensibilities through dark and psychologically twisted terrain. Both the Paper Chase's God Bless Your Black Heart and We Ragazzi's Wolves with Pretty Lips stem from the pain of failed relationships. We Ragazzi flows with a film-noir pace where heartbreak and deceit are fashionable motivators. In contrast, the Paper Chase's violent reactions embody the rage of emotions swimming around the head of a scorned and chemically imbalanced lover.

The tie that binds them is John Congleton, Paper Chase frontman and producer/engineer for both groups, who maintains the maniacal wobble of his own group while adding profundity to We Ragazzi's sultry strut.

God Bless is a stabilizing look at the Paper Chase's heady instability. Unrestrained sentimentality oozes from each song as it always has, reaching an early climax. Pop/industrial progressions ride close to the drop D-tuned ghetto of mainstream angst. But the unsettling and totally honest fervor lurking behind Congleton's bellow is too powerful to casually consume.

Likewise, Wolves stabs from a murkier part of the soul than the group's soulful crooning has previously displayed. Rhythmic brood takes the music to new heights. By polishing Wolves with just a touch of his own black heart, Congleton balances the Paper Chase while being the best thing that could have ever happened to We Ragazzi.

We Ragazzi and the Paper Chase play MJQ/Drunken Unicorn Tues., June 29, 9 p.m. $5.