The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir
Hometown: Chicago, IL
"A mini epic of bummed-out indie pop, filled with jangling guitars, rapturous string arrangements, horn fanfares, and morosely funny references to infidelity, betrayals, STDs, loneliness, and general disillusionment." —Chicago Magazine
Chicago-based chamber pop collective The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir aren’t your typical debauched rock stars reveling in a pastiche of self-destructive clichés. Leading a band that’s shared the stage with both the Arcade Fire and Ira Glass, Spoon and Dave Eggers, it’s clear that lead singer, guitarist, and keyboard player Elia and his scrappy group are comfortable straddling the divide between the debased rock ‘n’ roll world and the high-minded literati. As it turns out, both shoes fit. Not content with merely performing with some of the most notable names in independent music, the band has explored their connections with the literary and theatrical worlds, performing with Eggers, DeRogatis, This American Life’s Glass, author Joe Meno, and Saturday Night Live regular Fred Armisen.
With Welsh-born Elia as the ringleader, The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir is a free-spirited collective of musical visionaries who turn out exuberant and rough-hewn chamber pop. Among the talent that performs and/or records with the Choir includes core players like bassist and recording engineer Mark Yoshizumi, guitarist and vocalist Mary Ralph, drummer Jay Santana, violin player Ethan Adelsman, keyboardist Alison Hinderliter (Le Concorde), and a brass section made up of Sam Johnson (Mucca Pazza, Hawk & a Hacksaw) and Matt Priest (Canasta). The extended Scotland Yard family is comprised of a who’s-who of the Chicago underground music community, boasting the likes of cellist / vocalist Ellen O’Hayer (Bright Eyes); Sally Timms, Nora O'Connor and Kelly Hogan, who sing backup on the self-titled album; and Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley).
In short order, The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir became one of the Chicago indie music scene’s best-kept secrets, with Chicago Sun-Times critic Jim DeRogatis opining upon "Jennie That Cries," the single from the band’s debut i bet you say that to all the boys, "[is] a beautiful, lulling single, with special emphasis on the gorgeous vocals.” The band's music has served as a backdrop to many television shows, including The OC, What About Brian and the movie Special, and their self-released debut received attention from Time Out NY, Billboard, and Popmatters.