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The Narrator

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  • Years Active: 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

With the careless charm of a shaggy dog and an apathetic but enthusiastic attitude, the Narrator embrace the raw aesthetics of great indie rockers; instead of trying to be revolutionary, they play reckless, straightforward rock. While their will and drive are sincere, their tone is dipped in irony -- as if they're giving it their best shot, but couldn't care less whether or not they succeed. The Narrator are comprised of lead singer/guitarist Sam Axelrod, drummer Kevin Vlack, bassist James Barron, and singer/guitarist Jesse Woghan. Heavily influenced by the stylings of Modest Mouse and Unwound, Axelrod founded the band in 2002, and it played its first show that Halloween Eve at a Chicago bar called The Mutiny. In 2003, after they had been playing together for only a year and a half, the group was beginning to find itself firmly planted in the local indie rock scene. With some cash he saved while working at a real estate firm, Wogham became a co-founder of the independent label Flame Shovel and released the Narrator's lo-fi, self-titled vinyl 7" and their subsequent five-song EP, Youth City Fire. This messy but sophisticated brand of thrift-store hipster rock recalled obvious touchstones Pavement and Hüsker Dü, but also updated that sound with an angular Trail of Dead-type chaos. The following year, in 2005, their urgent and disjointed first full-length, Such Triumph, hit the streets and its rough edges helped enforce their credibility as a refreshingly raw crew of talented slackers. In 2006, following the departure of their drummer, All That to the Wall was recorded with the inclusion of several guest musicians from their label (including members of Oxford Collapse, Russian Circles, and Sybris). More disciplined but continuing in their loose tradition, the album maintained a reckless indie sensibility and contained their self-proclaimed "hit" "Surfjew."