Noteworthy for creating an unhinged musical satire around its namesake character, Chicago’s Longface employs clever guitars and elegant vocals to form a unique blend of twang, discord, and pop. An absurd universe of characters draws heavily on the curious imaginings of Kentucky-born artist and songwriter, Anthony Focareto (vocals, guitar). Focareto is a veteran of Chicago DIY, having led acts including New Diet and Regular Fucked Up People. He has stomped around the city’s haunts for more than a decade, living the nomadic plebian lifestyle parodied in his newest creation. After years of more straightforward rock projects, Longface is a decidedly more experimental pursuit that freely associates Focareto’s country-inspired folk leanings with his penchant for grimy urban noise. He is supported by Glenn Curran on guitar (Man Without a Head, co-founder of Sooper Records), Dillon Kelley on bass (Coaster, New Diet), and Kain Marzalado on drums (House of Normandie).
Focareto broadcasts the ills of modern society through the Longface character in an attempt to divine his freedom from them. The end result is equal parts confession and satire; a world where beer-drinking bumpkins, urban hipsters, and starving artists melt unevenly into a monstrous sideshow of rock n’ roll Americana. In heavier moments, Longface confronts social isolation, substance abuse, and economic stagnation. In lighter moments, he radiates a folksy playfulness and embraces the role of whimsical storyteller. He is haunted by demons, yearning for a return to grace, and trying to catch a break.
The debut EP (“The Life and Death of Longface,” 2015) told the story of Longface’s adult years, and his sojourns between country and city. On its follow-up full length, “Hillbilly Wit” (Sooper Records), the band trades narrative for theme. They concentrate on embodying the sound of Longface more than they do articulating any specific tale. “Hillbilly Wit” is a musical tapestry where infectious vocals, noise rock, and dark comedy materialize into an album made for the jukebox of a cosmic roadhouse. It is, however, not completely devoid of an organizing principle. The final track, “hornswoggled,” contains a reveal: the album is a compilation of lost songs recorded by a now-missing Longface, found by his Pa-Paw and Uncle Jackie. The individual tracks are therefore experienced as a series of musical vignettes shedding light onto the contours of a greater Longface saga. Titles like “Candy Store Robbers,” “Deep Fried American Dreams,” and “Howdy” are emblematic of the album’s thematic nature.