If there was a Columbus Music Hall of Fame, Jon Chinn would be a first-ballot lock, honored for both his songwriting contributions (Pretty Mighty Mighty, The Killionaires, Jon Chinn & The 1803) and the production and recording work he did as one of the founders of Workbook Studio. It’s little wonder that everything Chinn has touched, whether it be fronting a band or sitting behind a recording console, shines with high production value and quality, readymade for shrink wrap and shelf space wherever fine albums and CDs are sold.
Though Pretty Mighty Mighty predated the emergence of emo rock, I often thought, as I watched the band perform at venues like Bernie’s, Little Brothers, and Skully’s, that the kids listening to The Promise Ring and Hey Mercedes could easily find a common ground in emotionally-charged music Pretty Mighty Mighty was performing. Not sure how a major label record deal never fell into the band’s lap, but their influence could be heard in bands that emerged on the High Street scene in the late ’90s/early ’00s.
2017 brings us the debut release by Chinn’s latest project, Manager, a band whose sound doesn’t stray too far from the musician’s previous efforts though, this many years later, the songs arrive with more urgency than ever before. With a new-ish supporting cast (Ron Hester – guitars, Lori Cantu – bass, John Dorcas – drums), Chinn’s guitar-rock recalls the glory days of the mid-90s when alternative rock ruled the world – between the music and the falsetto-style vocals, bands like Sugar, Guided By Voices and the Ass Ponys spring to mind. Though now based in New York City, the band members share common midwest roots and strong working class aesthetic – roll up the sleeves, plug in, rock out, sweat on stage and drink a few beers while doing it.