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Transmission
Really Quick Record Review: Rhymefest »

Pitchfork Music Festival Wed Jul 26 2006

Pitchfork Music Festival: Recommended Listening

This weekend's Pitchfork Music Festival brings the bundled joy of indie rock back to Chicago for what hopes to be a hot two days of shake your booty music. The best part is at $20 a day, you just can't beat the value of rock for your dollar. Here at Gapers Block Transmission, we want to make sure you don't miss something worth hearing because you chose that half hour to go get a funnel cake. While we all have our highpoints for Pitchfork, there really shouldn't be any low points. Below are just some of our top picks:

Saturday, July 29

Chin Up Chin Up (1:30pm)
The tragedy that befell Chicago band Chin Up Chin Up two years ago was heartbreaking, but there was some sense of closure this spring when the man who was driving drunk and struck and killed bassist Chris Saathoff in 2004 was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. The amazing thing is that this group of friends was able to pull together demos and new studio tracks to create a great album, and a great tribute with We Should Have Never Lived Like We Were Skyscrapers (Flameshovel, 2004). They're self professed math rock turned pop, and what they've attained really is something that you can both sing along with and sink your teeth into. Currently, they're hard at work on their latest album due out this fall, but while we hopefully will get a taste of something new, we can also nod out to their previous tunes "I'll Be Your Avalanche" and "Virginia Don't'Drown".
-Anne Holub

Chicago Underground Duo (2:30pm)
As the core of the Chicago Underground, cornetist Rob Mazurek and percussionist Chad Taylor (funny enough, neither member no longer lives in Chicago) effortlessly bring together post-bop to flirt with electronics and other worldly influences, and in doing so, have created a catalog of innovative, sonic adventures. The duo's ninth outing, In Praise of Shadows, was released earlier this year on Thrill Jockey Records. Catch them on the Biz 3 Stage.
-JP Pfafflin

The Mountain Goats (3:30pm)
John Darnielle's lyrics are so vivid that he made me wonder if I had once tried Bartles and Jaymes with baby aspirin in a lame excuse to get drunk, but the reason behind that concoction in the song "You Or Your Memory" is only the result of a lonely convenience store grocery run. That song, from The Mountain Goats' last album The Sunset Tree (4AD, 2005) along with "This Year" and others like "Dance Music", have a subtle darkness underneath their catchy pop coating that make you want to put them on a mix tape for a friend, but then you catch yourself wondering what that friend might think you're going through. Darnielle has moved from an aggressively low-tech recording strategy in his early work (check out All Hail West Texas [Emperor Jones, 2002]) to performing as a quartet, and, most recently, as a duo with multi-instrumentalist Peter Hughes. The Mountain Goats tend to come back to similar themes in each of their albums: lonesome heartache brought on by unavoidable interactions with people who alternately love us and hurt us and now really, what's more rock and roll than that?
-Anne

Art Brut (5:10pm)
The band Art Brut is led by Eddie Argos, whose straight, no nonsense approach is more like spoken word with a rhythm section. You feel like you're getting insight to little snippets of their life, with all information being gathered from songs off their album Modern Art. With their Brit-mod demeanor meeting their punk ideals, Art Brut is sure to please whether he's singing about the strains of stardom in "Moving to LA" or about what it's like to be a teen flung head first into the jaws a music scene while being looked out for by your family, in "My Little Brother".
-Catherine Rigod

Spank Rock (5:25pm)
The only problem with Spank Rock's recent trips to Chicago is that they keep on playing late-night gigs at the Empty Bottle and I keep on being a sucker and missing them. Now we can all enjoy their amazing raw, sexy, glitchy rap stylings at a very comfortable weekend hour (that is, if you can tear yourself away from the other music going on and head to the Biz3 Stage to hear them). You can dance, you can nod your head, you can even shake that thang to this amazing duo originally from Baltimore. Spank Rock is (singly) MC Naeem Juwan (and collectively) producer XXXchange (Alex Epton) and most recently they've added the talents of DJ Alex Rockswell to their full-length debut YoYoYoYoYo which is so fresh you can smell it. Spank Rock's full of sweat and dirt and music, and I can't wait.
-Anne

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists (6:10pm)
This year's Pitchfork line-up is giving Chicago a golden boy from the early years of indie and post-punk and I finally get to see him! Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, are a guitar-laden outfit, comprised of former band members from The Sin Eaters and a few too many side projects along the way to name here. Ted Leo's last album Shake the Sheets, released on Lookout Records!, is a stripped down, politically and socially charged album that gets the message across without beating it into you. The record does all this with melody and jangly guitars that just make you just want to sing along. A powerful performer and song writer, Ted Leo is one not to miss!
-Catherine

Matmos (6:45pm)
Matmos's latest album, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast, starts with a tribute to none other than Wittgenstein, proving its work is more tied up with philosophy and critical theory than that of just about any band since Scritti Politti. Indeed, so esoteric are some of the record's references that the experimental duo offers an online primer to this parade of personal heroes like feminist Valerie Solanas and novelist Patricia Highsmith. Drew Daniel and partner MC Schmidt have spent the last few years backing Bjork on tour, so they've had plenty of opportunities to hone their craft as a live act. Still, considering that the pair have used recordings of rhinoplasty and chewing cows in the past, it will be interesting to see how songs like "l.a.s.i.k." translate from studio to stage. Take a listen to "Roses and Teeth for Ludwig Wittgenstein" before you go check them out at the Biz 3 stage.
-Matt Peck

The Walkmen (7:10pm)
Pitchfork Media didn't really care for A Hundred Miles Off, the third and most recent album from New York's The Walkmen, criticizing it as relatively dull and lifeless when compared to 2004's Bows + Arrows; the key word being relatively. It's definitely a weirder album: the organ/guitar/drum foundation is here supplemented with things like mariachi horns. Singer Hamilton Leithauser sounds more like a punch-drunk Bob Dylan as the years go by. The Walkmen are famously energetic performers; I'm expecting this to be this year's Arcade-Fire-concert-of-last-year.
-Nathaniel Grotte

Silver Jews (9:10pm)
A longtime outlet for poet David Berman, the Silver Jews were exclusively a studio outfit until this spring when Berman hit the road on his first-ever tour, including an April stop at the Double Door. Even without long-time collaborator Stephen Malkmus of Pavement, the Jews turned in a solid performance. Berman is first and foremost a wordsmith, and his lyrics are smarter than most these days. The influence of Berman's Pavement collaborators can be heard in the Silver Jews music, though it turns toward a simpler, more country sound, perhaps influenced by Berman's Tennessee home.
-Dan Snedigar


Sunday, July 30

Jeff Parker / Nels Cline Quartet (1:00pm)
As members of two of Chicago's biggest musical exports (Tortoise and Wilco, respectively), Jeff Parker and Nels Cline would have probably bumped into each other eventually, but it was a mutual friend in San Francisco who brought the two guitarists together to collaborate about five years ago. It's an interesting pair — While Parker's knack for a captivating approach to melody has long been a fixture on Tortoise records as well as his solo outings, Cline is an exciting deconstructionist. It takes a lot of balls to reinterpret one of jazz's most legendary moments, as he and percussionist Gregg Bendian did on Interstellar Space Revisited (Atavistic, 1999), but they pulled it off beautifully — seek it out and turn it up to 12. Expect other local talent to round out Sunday's early afternoon meeting between the two at the Biz 3 stage.
-JP

Tapes n' Tapes (1:00pm)
Minneapolis indie rockers Tapes 'n Tapes have been in Chicago a lot this year, playing out with such bands as the Wrens and Chin Up Chin Up. They've been through a number of line-up changes since forming in 2003, but frontman Josh Grier provides the constant thread though this group's sound, classic college rock in the vein of Pavement and the Pixies. 2006 appears to mark a turning point for the band: their originally self-distributed The Loon has recently seen re-release by XL Recordings, and their intense live gigs have met with much acclaim. They kick off the second day's performances, so you'll have to show up early, but you wanted a suntan, anyway. A track to catch: "Insistor".
-Matt

Jens Lekman (2:00pm)
Jens Lekman is nothing if not a crooner, and we mean that in only the nicest of ways: his chamber pop sounds like the marriage of the Magnetic Fields and the Divine Comedy. Oh You're So Silent Jens makes for a catchy album title, but nothing could be further from the truth. Rather, the prolific Lekman has released a number of EPs in the past several years, three of which are available for download at his website. Song titles like "Love is Still a Mystery" and "I Saw Her at the Anti-War Demonstration" might appear overly earnest on paper, but their charming and poignant delivery are enough to warm the heart of even the most jaded listener. So long as the heat doesn't melt this Swede, Lekman promises to be one of Sunday's early highlights. Take a listen to "I Don't Know if She's Worth 900KR".
-Matt

The National (2:35pm)
When I first heard this band, it was cold, snowing and gray outside — perfectly epitomizing what I later learned was the band's rock classification as "sadcore". Now, it's hot, sunny, and I'm ready to rock. The National are some boys from Ohio who found their way to the gritty streets of New York only to pour handfuls of that gravel down their throats and into their music. The National's dark take on alt-country songs will tear you up inside and leave you begging for another twist. Their show almost a year ago at Schubas sold out in record time partly due to their opening act Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, but those who stayed for the main show were in for a particular late-night treat. I can only hope they'll be in true form on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
-Anne

Mission of Burma (5:10pm)
This Boston band was incredibly influential given its short lifespan and the fact that they only released one full-length album (1982's Vs.) in their original iteration. Interest in the band was renewed in the early 2000s, partially after appearing in Michael Azzerad's 2001 punk paean Our Band Could Be Your Life. Unlike most rock reunions, MoB has picked up right where they left off, creating insistent post-punk that manages to be both arty and grounded at the same time. Lead man Roger Miller delivers sheets and squalls of sound that makes Sonic Youth look refined, while tape loops and samples add a slightly spacey vibe. Mission of Burma has now released two critically acclaimed albums in four short years (2004's Onoffon and 2006's The Obliterati) and their shows are by all reports as vital as they were in the early '80s.
-Dan

Yo La Tengo (7:10pm)
"Yo La Tengo" is such an indie-rock punch line that one can forget or simply fail to realize just how good they really are. This set will be the wild card: YLT has 20 years' worth of oeuvre to pick from, and just one waning sun-filled hour to fill. Expect a taste of their upcoming album, Sugarcube (it is an outdoor festival), and more breezy, atmospheric rock.
-Nathaniel

Spoon (8:10pm)
Chicago loves Spoon, and Spoon almost certainly loves Chicago, albeit in a devastatingly aloof way. This can lead to uneven concerts. Spoon always seem to be having equipment difficulties, even in relatively controlled environments, which ruffles Britt Daniel's feathers. All of these quirks are likely to be magnified outdoors, but hey, y'never know. 2005's Gimme Fiction contains some of the best examples of the band's terse, understated rock. They will play "Chicago At Night" ; everyone will go apeshit.
-Nathaniel

Os Mutantes (9:10pm)
Part of the mid-1960s Tropicalia movement, this Brazilian group returned to the stage in London this May after last performing in 1978. Formed in 1966 by brothers Arnaldo and Sergio Baptista and singer Rita Lee, Os Mutantes played very experimental psychedelic rock incorporating the standard studio tricks of the day with bouncy Brazilian pop. Although they were really not heard outside of Brazil in the '60s and '70s, they managed to become a major influence for other bands. Kurt Cobain tried to get them to come out of retirement in the early '90s, and artists such as Beck and David Byrne are among their acolytes. The reunited lineup replaces original singer Rita Lee with Zelia Duncan. If nothing else, this show promises to be a unique, if not once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this influential band.
-Dan

Pitchfork Music Festival 2006, Union Park, Chicago

Saturday, July 29 Line-up
1:00 - Hot Machines(A)
1:00 - 8 Bold Souls (B)
1:30 - Chin Up Chin Up(C)
1:50 - Flosstradamus (B)
2:00 - Man Man(A)
2:35 - Band of Horses(C)
2:50 - Chicago Underground Duo (B)
3:30 - Mountain Goats(A)
3:45 - Tyondai Braxton (B)
4:20 - Destroyer(C)
4:30 - Ghislain Poirier (B)
5:10 - Art Brut(A)
5:25 - Spank Rock (B)
6:10 - Ted Leo & Rx(C)
6:45 - Matmos (B)
7:10 - The Walkmen(A)
7:40 - Matthew Dear (B)
8:10 - The Futureheads(C)
8:40 - A-Trak (B)
9:10 - Silver Jews(A)

Sunday, July 30 Line-up
1:00 - Tapes 'n Tapes(A)
1:00 - Jeff Parker / Nels Cline Quartet (B)
1:30 - Danielson(C)
1:55 - Bonde Do Role (B)
2:00 - Jens Lekman(A)
2:35 - The National(C)
2:50 - CSS (B)
3:30 - Liars(A)
3:40 - Cage (B)
4:20 - Aesop Rock/Mr. Lif(C)
4:30 - Tarantula A.D. (B)
5:10 - Mission of Burma(A)
5:20 - Ada (B)
6:10 - Devendra Banhart(C)
6:10 - Glenn Kotche (B)
7:10 - Yo La Tengo(A)
7:10 - Dominik Eulberg (B)
8:10 - Spoon(C)
8:10 - Diplo (B)
9:10 - Os Mutantes(A)

Key:
(A) - Aluminum Stage
(B) - Biz 3 Stage
(C) - Connector Stage

 
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