Like New Zealand's the Bats, which recently emerged from a lengthy hiatus with their best disc in well over a decade, Chicago's superb Eleventh Dream Day has awakened from a nearly six-year slumber with one of its finest albums ever -- the soon-to-be-released Zeroes and Ones. In the late '80s, EDD's disheveled Crazy-Horse-meets-Dream-Syndicate guitar bombs and the fervid harmonies of frontman Rick Rizzo and drummer Janet Beveridge Bean were favorites of Pixies/ Dinosaur Jr./Sonic Youth-loving college-radio DJs; after signing with Atlantic Records, the band seemed poised to benefit from the early '90s alt-rock explosion.
Not surprisingly, EDD's major-label stay became a nightmare, and after being dropped in 1993, the trio recorded and toured only sporadically (gradually smoothing out its sound). Meanwhile its members focused on other projects: Bean, with Freakwater; bassist Doug McCombs, with Tortoise; and Rizzo, with his career as a public-school teacher. Given Eleventh Dream Day's apparent ride into the sunset, few expected Zeroes and Ones to even exist, let alone to be so damn great. It marks a triumphant return to the raucous, noisy, go-for-broke sonics that characterized 1988's Prairie School Freakout.