The Chordaes are going to achieve an entirely new level of success and positive notice with the release of their latest studio recording In Itinere. Despite the songs lacking the presence of two recently added members, In Itinere stands as the fullest invocation yet of Leo Sawikin’s songwriting skills and his longstanding creative partnership with drummer Ethan Glenn. The two, friends since seventh grade, recorded the band’s debut Touch the Ground with themselves flanked by an assortment of sessions musicians, but the new EP In Itinere presents an unified band statement for the first time in The Chordaes’ brief life and it’s mightily impressive in every respect. Sawikin entered the studio with six songs that are the purest expression yet of his aspirations for the band while award winning producer Marc Swersky, lead guitarist Kevin Foley, keyboard player Dan Cobert, and bassist Nick McFly added the finishing touches making this one of the more powerful releases we’ll hear in 2018. Not to negate the quality of Touch the Ground, but In Itinere is, in some ways, the band’s true debut and it leaves a mark on listeners.
“What Do You Want From Me?” is a real doozy to begin the album with. Listeners might find themselves a little disoriented initially with the contrast between what they expected from this band going in and the reality being a little jarring. The Chordaes sport obvious influences, but they express them in a truly fresh way that sounds quite different from the way lesser acts or bands might invoke those same sounds. The glistening thread that the band’s two guitar sound, keyboards, and drums weave dances lightly across listener’s consciousness on this first tune and Sawikin delivers a particularly heartfelt performance. His voice is ideally suited for the sort of material the band is turning out, an assertion clearly borne out on the second cut “Something New”. The Chordaes often like to indulge in a little “scene setting” before launching into the main body of a song and that penchant asserts itself here before the song transitions into a deceptively straight ahead pop rocker.
One of the undisputable highlights on In Itinere comes with the third song “The Last Time”. The influence of The Beatles comes through strong on this track, but there’s also a surprising riff on blues with this song that the guitars underscore in their own deeply idiosyncratic fashion. The EP’s final two songs, “Run and Hide” and “California”, are two of the most orchestral-minded tracks on In Itinere. Both songs, as well, are rife with strong melodies and while the first relies on electric guitar and keyboards for the bulk of its color, the concluding “California” adopts acoustic guitar to excellent effect. It’s a tastefully lavish one two punch to end the EP with and serves to place an emphatic exclamation point on the band’s most formidable musical statement yet. The Chordaes are a powerful recording act who has finally found their path as a full blooded musical unit and we can expect more great things from them to come based on the excellence of In Itinere.