West suburban alternative rock band The Giving Moon crashed from filling venues to a year without stage time.
Building off its buzz as one of the four Chicago-area finalists in Cumulus Media’s Next2Rock contest in late 2018, the band was picking up steam and popularity around the local music scene. Band members capped off 2019 playing to a full house at Chicago’s Subterranean.
“We packed the place. It was really exciting to see, like all right what are the next shows?” said Sean Seales, who mans guitar and lead mic for the band. “And then boom! The unexpected just hits. It was crazy.”
The trio — Seales, Adam Suto and Nathan Melville, who all grew up around the St. Charles, West Chicago and Elburn areas — was driven into lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many Chicago-area musicians were. But The Giving Moon is emerging the better for it, with its first new full-length album since 2017 out Friday, Dec. 11.
The majority of the 13-song collection, “Bloom,” written primarily by Seales — a senior music major at Columbia College — during the lockdowns, will be new to most fans of the young band since live performances weren’t an option.
“We had one song (‘Velvet Smile‘) we released as a single,” Seales explained, “and it did pretty well for us. It had 100,000 streams in less than a month, and it’s just shy of 400,000 for the year, so I’m thinking that brought in some new fans hopefully in Chicago and other places, too.”
The title track, “Bloom,” had been kicking around in Seales’ head for a little over a year, he said. But it wasn’t until the band looked at all the songs he had written this year that they decided they should explore the theme for a full album.
“‘Bloom’ for me is like how we all go through stages in our life that can be hard or difficult times,” he explained. “But through it all, we push and we kind of bloom into who we were meant to be. And I think that that’s what this album represents for me in my personal life — growing into something and blooming into something that’s just authentic to my own life.”
The alternative rock genre is broad and not always well-defined, and the songs on “Bloom” take advantage of that fact. The album taps into a wide range of vibes: from the fiery rock of the lead song “Embers” to “Hero’s Journey,” which rides a spacey, atmospheric vibe. And listeners familiar with mid-’90s MTV-era music will find some favorite influences dancing across “City Life,” “Never Looking Back” and “Velvet Smile.”
The desire to explore the boundaries of their sound, but in a cohesive way, shows how much members of The Giving Moon have grown together since they started playing in 2012, first as a duo, then adding Melville in 2014.
And signing a deal with San Francisco’s Empire Distribution in 2018 only pushed them harder to forge ahead.
“I’m 23 now, and I feel like we’re doing this for real with managers behind us,” Seales said. “I’m ready to take a more mature approach and actually try and make this happen.”
• “Bloom” is available for purchase and on most major streaming services.