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Wake Up Captain

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Album Review

Like Elliott Smith filtered through the moodier, cinematic portions of Radiohead's OK Computer, Chicago's Kevin Tihista's Red Terror offer up a lo-fi slice of indie pop with some surprisingly big ideas. Opening with an instrumental that sounds like a circus version of Angelo Badalamenti's Inside the Actor's Studio theme, it segues into a spinning filmstrip projector, cementing the songwriter's obvious love for theatrical melodrama. While most of the tunes are acoustic-based, the eclectic instrumentation feels rooted in the same murky, Beatlesque alleyway as works by the Auteurs or New Pornographer Dan Bejar's Destroyer. Lyrically, Tihista's boyish tenor seems fixated on a fairly stereotypical brand of heartache, and the numerous references to being "lost at sea" confirm the author's internal despair. He doesn't have much new to say about the subject, but there's no denying its effect on him. Standout cuts like the spooky "Ride" and the brooding "Real Life" — the latter does suffer from a truly horrible lead guitar sound — find Tihista in control of his sinking ship, and for the most part it's a pretty entertaining ride, but at 17 tracks, Wake Up Captain is a poor example of brevity, and listeners with short attention spans will snap about halfway through. However, those who value craft over instant gratification will revel in this talented artist's tormented — yet candy-coated — psyche.


Born: Walnut Creek, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Chicago popster Kevin Tihista was born in Walnut Creek, CA, picking up the guitar in the seventh grade after drawing his initial musical inspiration from childhood heroes Kiss. After high school, he worked a series of odd jobs before 1989, when a friend who had moved to the Chicago suburb of Naperville called Tihista to ask him to join the band he was forming; a week later, he relocated to the Midwest, arriving on his 21st birthday. Although the group, dubbed Maus, would prove short-lived, Tihista's...
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Wake Up Captain, Kevin Tihista
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