California jazz group elevates psychedelic sound with ‘Chilland’


Courtesy of Creative Commons

The San Diego-based group focuses on songwriting and jazz.

Alex Dotson, Writer

Upon analyzing greatness, it’s important to not only see the end product, but everything that led up to it. Great accomplishments may seem larger than life, but greatness always begins as untapped potential.

In their latest album “Chilland,” dream pop outfit Shindigs glimmer with the potential for such greatness. Hailing from San Diego, Shindigs continue to unravel their distinct blend of upbeat dream pop, sultry smoothness and intoxicating psychedelia.

Since their inception, they have continually demonstrated the technical repertoire of jazz musicianship and a proficiency in songwriting. Many of their songs such as “Flower Plants” layer catchy riffs over colorful chord progressions, often blooming into pensive, instrumental breakdowns. Chilland is no exception to this musical structure.

Inspired by band leader Beejay’s travels in Asia and San Diego, their newest record maintains the style of sound they’ve built upon since their 2014 debut EP “Shindigs Abroad,” though with some exception. Throughout the album, especially in “Don’t Mind” and “Sd Kj”, Shindigs’s affinity for pocket– a musician’s sense of groove and rhythm– is evident.

But just like any other rising artist, small experimental strides can go awry. In “Julian,” the sharp jingling of the synth stands in unpleasant contrast to the smooth guitar backing, much like a glass full of oil and water. They’re technically sharing the same space, but don’t seem to meld together.

Perhaps if the notes of the keyboard were less staccato and given body with a bit more sustain, it would better suit the song. Nonetheless, it does have the alluring quality of a lullaby, and its shortcomings are far outweighed by the rest of the album’s greatness.

Shindigs are adept at building heady, reverb-drenched atmospheres and mesmerizing the listener with luminous sound. This is best seen in “Wake Space, Pt. 2.” It begins as an indistinct fog of reverberations melting into one another. As it progresses, a glowing synth, Beejay’s gentle voice, and the bright tones of his guitar shine through like the sun, guiding you to a chorus of glittering harmony.

Here, Shindigs demonstrate their ability to create otherworldly synthesizer patches that are new and unique, yet somehow nostalgic. They harken to many of the retro sound effects we know and love, like the sound of a Playstation 2 starting up.

Yet, it may be that one of Shindigs’ greatest strengths is their ability to build and release tension. They have a real talent for taking the listener on a journey, engaging them in a dynamic musical narrative, and nowhere on Chilland is this more evident than in “Flower Plants.”

The song swings effortlessly like a pendulum from high to low, verse to chorus,  suspense to resolution. Here, Shindigs exemplify their grasp of song structure, smoothly transitioning from one phase to another in a flurry of sonic goodness.

If you’re in the mood for a sentimental tune, look no further than “Aloveplices.” It’s somewhat of a ballad, where chords of heartfelt harmony combine with his synthesizer, sheik and crystalline. A bumping baseline walks you smoothly into the chorus, begging you to hold tight onto someone you love, and concludes with an explosion of shimmering sound.The notes of his synth burst with color, dispelling like fireworks.

Chilland is an exciting development in Shindigs’s ever-expanding discography, further solidifying their potential for a long and fruitful musical career.