At their very first live performance, it’s not unbelievable that Chicago band Rocket Miner was mistaken by an attendee for Russian Circles, another bombastic instrumental outfit from the area. Both bands deliver devastating distortion and ear-ringing quakes of sound in a genre that didn’t have many heavyweights as of 20 years ago. But while Russian Circles take darker turns and incorporate metal-esque riffing, Rocket Miner’s songs tend to blossom in slow-motion, like flowers blooming, giving plenty of time to allow the sweeping grandeur to earn its reward.
Though writing material for a 2013 release, the band’s 2011 EP Songs for an October Sky is a tough song cycle to top: The auras that begin the delay-laden “It’s The End of the World (But This Is Just the Beginning)” and the album closing “Lotus” are tastefully restrained, moving with just enough vigor to keep the listener on their toes for what’s next. In the case of the former, it’s a shimmering cascade of expertly plucked guitars and hovering echoes over active, tom-heavy drums; on the latter, it’s the constantly expanding and contracting sound of menacing amplification. Elsewhere, the striking “Atoms On Friday” opens almost in reverse, with glacial noise starting things off before leading to cleaner, more nimble interwoven guitars. Best of all, these choices continually fit each song perfectly and don’t just appear for parlor tricks.
The band has performed with other sonically-minded Midwestern bands (Secret Colours, Cowboy Indian Bear) as well as those from overseas (Denmark’s The Foreign Resort; Brazil’s Labrinto), and have taken to simply giving away old merch at their shows – a gentlemanly offering for a band who, much like their own songs, are on the brink of something huge.