"If the Velvet Underground and Uncle Tupelo joined forces in a Chicago garage band, you'd get close to the sound of Model N," guitarist Travis Rejman wrote in his pitch to this column. That's a big boast, but on its first full-length album, the recently released "Correspondence Battleship," the quartet comes close to fulfilling that kind of promise with a dynamic, emotional, sophisticated and multi-layered sound.
There's a bit of old-school Chicago nepotism in this band--Travis' brother Rob is on acoustic bass and his wife Gia Biagi is on vocals and guitar--and those family ties may account for the impressive maturity and focused cohesion of such an otherwise young and under-the-radar combo (it's only been playing with drummer Michael DiMaria since 2007, with one earlier EP to its credit). Simply put, it's as impressive a musical introduction as I've ever received from any bubbling-under Chicago band, and if the group is half as impressive onstage as it is in the studio, it deserves to rise to the top of the local scene.
Model N's debut album is streaming on its Web site at www.model-n.com, and the band performs at the Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln, on Thursday [Feb. 4] and at Subterranean, 2011 W. North, on Sunday, Feb. 21.