Original Writeup

HIGH PRAISE: Ugly Flannel Continue To Grow Their Underground Sound With “Life Is Chrome”

by Dean Tartaglia

“Life Is Chrome” is an optimistic does of truth and realism from a group of young musicians establishing themselves as a serious force.

Ugly Flannel is a band I somewhat randomly found on bandcamp a couple years ago who I’ve had the pleasure to watch grow musically and aesthetically during these crazy times. I give any band props enough for putting out music in the pandemic and still trying, still striving, and keeping their optimism. “Life Is Chrome” is exactly that kind of track for me, an optimistic does of truth and realism from a group of young musicians establishing themselves as a serious force.

These lyrics each stuck out to me so I wanted to make sure I featured them first to put you, the listener, in a proper headspace:

“I believe that I can kill the world”

I don’t know exactly what this means, but I know exactly how it feels.. it feels like something that’s crossed each of our isolated minds this past year. Great use of language to convey something nuanced and complex.

“Some days I scare myself”

One thing I love about music like this is the honesty in the lyrics, this is a perfect reminder of how vulnerability should come across in a young band’s sound.

“Where’s my cash, I’m leaving in the morning”

Just a cool sounding line haha.. but I do hear elements of self-determination and freedom throughout the track, this line best exemplifies it.

The sound on “Life Is Chrome” is almost somewhat rootsy, which is actually kind of refreshing for something coming from underground and punk culture. You could easily say this is “90’s influenced” (Guided By Voices, sure), but this would be much more honestly portrayed as “authenticity influenced”. And what I mean by that, is that while a lot of modern music seems to be built on fantasy, Ugly Flannel seem to really be digging into something more down to earth (isn’t earth a little too fantastical at the moment anyways?). There’s a real heart to this that defines “Life Is Chrome” outside of easy genre tags and more in the essence of what’s being communicated here.

I also wanted to make sure I mention Kate Zacharias’s vocals on this track, she has some pipes in the background of the second chorus that are really killer, a stand out moment in the track for me. I hope that this is something they showcase more often going forward, it calls back to a band I loved in the day called Petal, but without copping them entirely, it works so well.

I highly recommend giving “Life Is Chrome” a watch (I absolutely love the video and it’s color scheme btw!) and reading our exclusive interview with Ugly Flannel below!


What is “Life Is Chrome” about, go in a little more depth on the meaning.

“Life is Chrome” was mainly written about being free and the things that have to happen in order to be free (like quitting your job or moving somewhere else). It’s about me having a surge of confidence for the future and knowing for sure what I want to do with it, all for it to disappear again because life just doesn’t work like that. This song means so much to me because for a while I felt like I was being pulled in many different directions and I tried my best to manage it until I just snapped and quit my job and just gave up. I took a drive out to a church parking lot late at night to figure everything out and then I wrote this song. I realized doing life can seem so easy when you think big picture but then it can go to shit when you face it day to day. 

The track has some big mid/late 90’s indie rock vibes (Guided By Voices) comes to mind. Who were you most influenced by while you were writing this? 

I’ve always wanted to add some Americana elements to a song for a while and this song was where I could finally do it. So this song is kind of a mix of Americana with our usual sound, the band called it “Ranch Rock”. I don’t have any artist in particular when it comes to the inspiration for this song, but a lot of people told me it screamed Pavement (Rick Johnson said Crooked Rain era especially) and I’m not against that.

How did 2020 change the direction or the future of the band?

All of 2020, I have just been dreaming about what’s next for us. I literally would just jot down a bunch of ideas and inspirations in the middle of my college classes whenever I came up with anything and then slowly wrote songs and brought them to practice one by one. Though I was happy with how everything was turning out, my life was falling apart at the same time. School and work (and eventually covid) made everything so much harder and my health got very poor. Slowly, every Wednesday, I brought these songs to practice which were either super angry or the most depressing thing you’ve ever heard. It all depended on my mood. The result of all of that is an album very different from the other two we’ve written. Once things got a little easier on me and I quit my job for the sake of my mental health, we added my friend Luke to the band which was perfect because we’ve listened to the same music since high school and he understands exactly the kind of style we want. The four of us wrote and released “Life Is Chrome” and here we are now, planning for a new album!

This video looks like it was a lot of fun to make! What was the day of the shoot like?

Honestly, at first, I was very stressed about the shoot the day of. I was worried about so many things like if we had enough poster boards to fill the background or if we planned enough. It turned out that there was nothing I had to worry about. Ethan, who filmed/edited our video, had all these awesome ideas and brought proper lighting and everything. We just had a blast filming and Kate also brought a cake because it was my birthday the week before!

What are you most optimistic for in 2021?

I am most optimistic about being able to play shows again in 2021. There were so many shows we had to cancel in 2020 but it was okay because that just gave us time to work on our new album instead. I really want us to start booking our own shows and to have our friends play and have touring bands come through. I miss our little Grand Rapids music scene and how we all felt a little closer to each other every time a show ended. I want that back so bad and I’m hoping for even better shows whenever we can have them again. 

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