Everyone has an origin story. For some we like to romanticize a Cinderella story, overcoming odds, achieving great things when the world seemed to not even consider throwing them a bone. But for most, it begins with coming from some middle-of-the-road upbringing to get to whatever day job keeps the lights on; pretty uneventful. And then there are the rare few that appear to be evidence that when the universe aligns, great things happen.
Looking into the Boise, Idaho music scene one can quickly find hill-rooted stomp, progressive rock, a bladed incarnation of something out of a Daft Punk video, and a plethora of singer/songwriters. But upon closer examination there is a name floating around town that defies logic and confidently swims against the current. They are modest, but on point, in name, humble in conversation, and unforgettable in sound. They are First Chair.
A little more than a year removed from their first live performance Lanae Alvis (vocals and keys) and Rase Littlefield (percussion) have compiled a humble yet explosive first EP titled Weights of the World.
Meant to convey an escape from the weights each of us carries with us on a daily basis, the title for the EP does little to portray the actual weight of three, seemingly, simple enough songs. With purposefully limited studio production, each track of Weights comes across slightly raw. While this may appear detracting, I assure you, it is anything but a drawback. See, the power and identity of First Chair is in the sound you will find at local venues on any given Saturday night, not in the fingertips of some producer in New York tweaking levels and applying programming to “sharpen things up”. The foresight, or perhaps chance, to do just this with this EP has resulted in a stunning array of honesty, workmanship, and passion.
Beginning to end, Weights of the World is as invigorating as it is addicting and thought provoking. Often drawing breathes from the well that spawned Fiona Apple’s “Criminal,” the sound of First Chair is captivating. “Past” draws you in lyrically, with hooks at all the right moments, and pumps you up with an invitation to clap along at the breakdown. “Oblivious,” being the lead single for not just the EP but the duo, plays its role perfectly. It is memorable, instantly familiar, and fresh all at once. And then there is “Sunshine;” over six and a half minutes of remarkable lyrical and instrumental pairing finely formed into an emotional assembly that is nothing short of beauty. I would be hard pressed to say this song isn’t reason enough to listen to these two. Hell, I’d be hard pressed to say you’d find a better single song in 2016.
While the origin story of First Chair is still being written, each track carries the torch illuminating their path, the duo of Alvis and Littlefield have painted an entry point into something, well, absolutely chock-full of potential if not foreseeably spectacular. Blazing through live shows with an unyielding energy Weights of the World is undeniably the beginning of something great.
Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor of Nanobot Rock.