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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
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Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Pizza Cat Vol. 10
Pizza Cat Vol. 10
Deirdre Northrup-RiestererApril 23, 2024

Chit Chat channel Michigan’s musical lineage

At the head of a wall-to-wall, sold out crowd at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, the four members of local garage-rock outfit Chit Chat are meekly performing a last-minute level check while the house music winds down.

While the chatter of 400 twenty-somethings fills the room, Izzy Johnson, Nick Melody, Kevin McKay and Joel Parkkila are performing some sort of pre-show ritual (which I would see them re-enact at another show two days later) consisting of a locking their hands together in a polygonal shape — a scene not too dissimilar from a football huddle breaking before the first snap of the game.

As Johnson steps up to the mic and peeps an introduction, a couple rowdy audience members howl, “*&%$ yeah, Chit Chat!” and the band launches into “Attitude,” the first track off the band’s self-titled and self-released 7”.

The band’s steady but consistently satisfying style of gritty rock shows itself right off the bat: Stooges-style progressions backed up by Johnson’s half-shouted vocals and some truly wicked guitar work from Melody, who’s no slouch behind a Jazzmaster.

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Johnson’s voice swells during the song’s opening and the crowd responds accordingly: rigid forearms push sweaty bodies left and right while the outer rim looks on with $2 beers in hand and heads jerking up-and-down in spectatorial approval.

As the first of four bands to play that night and undeniably the best of the three openers, Chit Chat held the crowds attention without a break.

All songs from Chit Chat’s 7” were delivered as tightly as on record, but with a boosted intensity and a solid stage presence: everyone in the room was well-aware that the band was killin’ it and having a blast doing it.

A highlight from both the live set and 7” is “Communication,” on which Johnson hands over vocals to the gruff but even-keeled shouts of Melody. The two are able to trade-off duties without a hitch; when Johnson isn’t stealing commanding the room as a frontwoman, she’s filling whatever space is left with deliberate and tight guitar lines.

“Jelly” is a two-minute instrumental track that’s colorful enough to keep it out of filler territory, dotted with chords wrung out with tremolo. “Jelly” stands as a pretty good representation of the sounds and tones cultivated by Chit Chat: nothing ground-breaking, but for a listener with any sort of penchant for the punk, neo-psych sounds of bands like Jeff The Brotherhood or Ty Segall (whom Chit Chat was opening for that night), it does the body good.

The four-song 7” ends with “Undeath,” a slower-paced rocker that rides it’s own tom-and-snare beat to a smooth finish, with surfy licks abound. “Undeath” is a good reminder that even if you can count the chords in a song on one hand, the right combination of simple textures can still render it infinitely enjoyable.

Chit Chat, i.e. a righteous rock band, reinvigorates the notion that there exists a musical lineage in the Great Lakes State outside of Seger and Kid Rock. Once upon a time, the Stooges and MC5 tore open a vibrant and incredibly influential punk scene that all started in Michigan.

Chit Chat, although young, is taking all the right cues to joining those ranks.

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