Upon launching in 2007, Tin Armor took off like a fist-pumping, hair-raising power-pop bottle rocket. They had their first practice the day bassist Matt Golightly and drummer Matt O'Conke moved from Cleveland. Their first cross-country tour followed soon after. Their first album, "A Better Place Than I Have Been," was out within a year.

Upon launching in 2007, Tin Armor took off like a fist-pumping, hair-raising power-pop bottle rocket. They had their first practice the day bassist Matt Golightly and drummer Matt O'Conke moved from Cleveland. Their first cross-country tour followed soon after. Their first album, "A Better Place Than I Have Been," was out within a year.

"We just dove right in," singer-guitarist Matt Umland said.

Tin Armor kept picking up steam as Umland's brother John joined as a second guitarist and songwriter. They won fans outside the DIY scene, nabbing opening slots for major national shows and garnering Bands to Watch honors from this publication.

The band had every intention of taking things to the next level, but in order to step up, first they needed to step back. They cut down on the touring, honed their sound - band practice twice a week, every week - and camped out in their friend's new recording studio to record their long-awaited sophomore LP, "Life of Abundance."

After helping Eric Cronstein finish constructing his South Side studio The Tone Shoppe, the band crashed there in July 2010 for three weeks of recording, sleeping on couches and air mattresses and dining at Waffle House.

"It was like a vacation, kind of," Matt Umland said.

They emerged with an album that exhibits true evolution, bearing the marks of increased tightness, a mutual admiration for The Band and the inevitable progression from youth to maturity. It's not always as exhilarating as some of their rafter-shaking early material, but it's infectious music that stays with you.

The band shopped the album for a few months, but when they began to worry it wouldn't be out in time for summer touring, they decided to release it themselves, a decision that has left them free to pursue whatever dreams they can afford.

"We don't owe anybody any money," Matt Umland said. "We can do whatever we want."