As frontman of Chicago's ill-fated indie rockers Troubled Hubble, Chris Otepka garnered a reputation as a wordy songsmith whose wry delivery landed somewhere between the Dismemberment Plan's Travis Morrison and They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh. He emerged from Hubble's wreckage with the Heligoats, a folk-tinged solo project whose sparse instrumentation unearths a voice that once struggled to squeeze clever words between the gaps of maximalist rock band arrangements. Otepka is intimate and earnest on the Heligoats' Greyday Records full length, Goodness Gracious. He sounds like the Weakerthans' John K Sampson (minus the similarities to Kermit the Frog) or Ben Gibbard without the forced vulnerability. Or perhaps most precisely, Otepka reveals himself as a brainy songwriter and sincere singer searching for confidence — who paradoxically finds it by sounding less confident.
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