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RLYR, 'Real Air'

There was a move at '90s emo and hardcore shows that could only be called "chest drumming" — air instrumentals that mimicked the musicians onstage in real time. The people doing it were almost always wearing too-tight black t-shirts of bands submerged below in the emo iceberg meme. Listening to RLYR's "Real Air," I suddenly found myself in some basement, subdividing beats with open palms, mopped hair in face.

RLYR is instrumental post-hardcore elevated. A trio of musicians from Chicago's experimental rock scene — including members of Pelican, Locrian and Bloodiest — operate at a high level of musicianship and composition. Three albums in, RLYR could easily take a turn for the brainy, but a heightened sense of rock euphoria accompanies every new track. "Real Air" contains, in parts, Foo Fighters' arena-sized emotionalism, epic headbanging riffage, dizzying time signature switch-ups, blast-beaten grace and brawny-but-swaying guitar twinkle. If I wasn't so sure the sprinklers in the basement of my imagination would go off, I'd flicker a lighter in response.

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