Rich Crook is not new to this whole rock ‘n’ roll thing. As a member of Reatards, Lost Sounds and Viva L’American Death Ray Music, Rich was kicking around Memphis, Tennessee in the late 90s and early aughts making sleazy garage, punk and no-wave that helped launch the entire garage rock revival we’ve been witnessing since. That’s a hell of a career for any musician, but he didn’t stop there. When Rich moved to Chicago a few years back he brought his new project, Lover! along for the trip.

Essentially Rich’s personal creative vehicle, Lover! is both a far cry from -- and a close cousin to -- his early work. While Lover! lacks the sleaze and snarl that Jay Reatard brought to those earlier bands, it certainly maintains punk ethos and energy, albeit in a much brighter, friendlier way. In Lover!, Rich presents barn-burning power pop that makes you stomp your feet and pump your fist. Rich’s southern heritage certainly plays a part here as well. It’s not uncommon to find a little countrified twang under all that lo-fi fuzz on tracks like “Foxhole Madness”, an anti-war rally song that showcases Rich’s songwriting expertise. It tells the tale of young Ronny, sent off to mindlessly wreak havoc in a fictional World War III. It’s Rich’s ability to channel the power of his rich musical past into these songs that further sets Lover! apart from the garage-pop masses.

When Rich joined us for an Epitonic saki Session back in mid-August, he showed up with a completely self-contained setup featuring an acoustic guitar, Orange practice amp, drum machine and his own personal fuzzed-out vocal rig. After explaining that he was “going to try something new today,” he set up his bedroom-style gear and ripped into an eleven-song solo set of Lover! tunes that had the whole store bopping along, including his buddies in Tyler Jon Tyler who played at saki the same day. Lover! is normally a full band, but it’s a testament to Rich’s abilities that he pulled off this show so well all on his own. It was pretty special to see, and we hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we did!