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Thursday, December 14

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Transmission
« ALO Drop Funky Dance Sound At Double Door Nada Surf Sells Out Chicago »

Feature Thu Oct 18 2007

Because You Like To Listen To Stuff...

Both praises and curses be to the internets. Yes, it's a tool. It's the greatest innovation since Gutenberg gave the world movable type. And it's a marvelous series of tubes that yields no end of enlightenment, amusement and (perhaps) onanistic diversions. But let's face it: there are many out there who still harbor mixed feelings about the thing. Big Media hates the Tyranny of the Cascading Style Sheet because it has unleashed a poisonous over-democratization of information culture and eroded the foundations of editorial gatekeeping, rigorous fact-checking and all other things traditionally journalistic. Major record companies and the RIAA hate file sharing because it may mean that they'll have to charge less for CDs. And your boss hates the internet and private e-mail because of lost productivity in the workplace.

We here at Gapers Block, on the other hand, have a tendency to savor all of the forbidden fruits listed above — and many of us do so fully, frequently, wantonly. And we suspect that you do, too. (Otherwise you probably wouldn't be reading this.) So with that in mind, and in keeping with our ever-continuing endeavor to corrupt the cultural Leviathan, we bring you another round-up of some favorite Chicago-related music blogs of note. Some are the results of a collective labor by groups of individuals, while others — like most of those listed below — are the work of a sole, passionate individual. What follows is a selection of a few local music blogs and websites worth bookmarking.

Theft Liable To Prosecution is the effort of Bill Valenta, a local DJ and regular contributor to Metroblogging Chicago. He covers what you might call the "mainstream-alternative" end of the pop/rock universe. That means a lot of bands and artists that plenty of people love and support: Spoon, Radiohead, Okkervil River, the 1900s, and the like. Valenta's swift with relaying music news, heads-up and tip-offs as to where to find what, and YouTube musical clips of the day. His posts are usually quick, simple, and compact; with Bill tossing it all out in a casual first-person manner, and on any given day he serves up a baggage of whats-what info and links. Try to keep up.

The statement of purpose for What To Wear During An Orange Alert? is "To Introduce, Inform, Interact, and Instigate Ideas." As such, it's an cultural catchbasket that focuses not only on music, but also books, visual art, film and TV. Given the wealth of content to be found here, it's amazing that it's largely the work of Jason Behrends, who's blogging from parts westward over in St. Charles. The site, he tells me, "was originally intended to house the interests, theories, essays and rants of myself and two of my co-workers." Jason keeps a regimented and concise format, sporting such regular entries as Band Of The Week, Artist Of The Week and Writer's Corner, as well as a weekly Watch List devoted to scattered items of interest. The Monday Morning Mix and New Release Tuesday serve as a nice way to ease into the week, as well. "Growing up the son of a local (very local) radio personality," Behrends tell me, "my interest in music runs deep. I consistently struggle to balance all of the arts, but I do acknowledge the stronger musical presence on the site."

One notch up the alert/color spectrum, we have the fledgling blog of the batch, Red Threat. When Nicko Andrews started the site just a few months ago, it was way of saying his howdy-doo upon arriving in the Windy City from Arizona. Red Threat keeps the local dance scene covered pretty handsomely. Andrews' fast and on-point with live reviews and writes-ups about (pulling at random from recent posts) such artists as Thieves Like Us, Matt & Kim, Office, Ulrich Schnauss, Tokyo Police Club and Yelle. Andrews is really diligent about ringing the alarm about which big-name DJs are currently hitting town, plus he's way generous with serving up tracks. Admittedly, Red Threat shoulders its share of the usual hot-shit "urban hipster" stuff (Riot In Belgium, The Klaxons, Digitalism, Feist, etc.), but Andrews' perspective on the thumpity-thump biz extends well beyond the past 12 flavors of the month. Direct and off-the-cuff and enthusiastic with his comments, he's also not above the occasional bit of freestyling commentary, such as his recent aside about Facebook:

"What used to be an interesting user-platform ... has now, thanks to program developers, been turned into a nightmare. ... No, I don't care what football team you like, where I am on your hotness-meter, or if you buy me a digital shot of tequila. How about buying me a real shot of tequila? At a bar."

Woo-hah!

There are countless dance music blogs out there that offer a concerted saturation-bombing of the usual blog-house fare: the latest on artists on Ed Banger and Vice Records, artists associated with artists on Ed Banger and Vice Records, artists who will appeal to those who slavishly follow Ed Banger and... I think you get the picture. Little White Earbuds, however, offers a more diversified tack on club music — one that covers the broad spectrum that falls between conventional floor-friendly fare and the the more adventurous fringes of electronic music — with, it seems, a slight bias favoring those of the left-field Teutonic techno stripe. The site is the work of New City Chicago and Resident Advisor contributor Steve Mizek, who possesses a good ear for such stuff. Mizek not only aims to give greater exposure to more interesting and (too often) overlooked artists, but he also makes an admirable effort at steering readers and listeners to the places where they can acquire more of the musical goods for themselves.

The crew over at Victim of Time go in for heavier, grittier, more energetic fare. That being garage, punk, medulla-crushing psych — the sort of stuff that heaves hefty rawks and grunts with conviction and effort while doing so. With contributors posting about shows, labels and bands from a number of other cities, it's not exclusively local in focus. But the content largely finds its axis in Chicago, mainly because VOT founders Todd Killings and Brett Cross (former publishers of the music fanzine Horizontal Action) started the thing right here back in mid-2006. They've built it up to its current state by networking with other like-minded folks in the U.S. and abroad. Respect is definitely in order for the menu on the upper right of the page. Set that thing for Chi-specific content, and watch it totally kick some serious kiester. The results feature a thorough listing of venues and upcoming shows around town — especially for smaller venues like Cal's, The Fireside Bowl, Ronny's and the AV-Aerie. Unlike most other sites in the city, VOT recognizes that the cultural map of the city alt-rock/punk life extends south of Grand Avenue, giving much-needed attention to what's going on in nightspots, art spaces and off-road venues in Pilsen, Bridgeport, etc. Some recent featured artists: The Busy Signals, Headache City, Pissed Jeans, Indian Jewelry, Deerhunter, Jay Reatard and A-Frames. Check out the recently added "Radio" app to hear featured tracks.

And then there's Midwestern Goodness, a regional site that — it would appear — ranks in the Blogs You Might've Missed/R.I.P. category. The site aimed to cover the midwest music scene from Cleveland to St. Louis, logging a good many entries about Chi-connected operatives (including an interview of Threadless founder, Jake Nickell). Sadly, Midwestern Goodness went silent shortly after the new year, with the contributors stating that they were taking a much-needed hiatus, but that they'd be back in action come Spring of '07. But nothing doing, as the blog still lies inert all these many months later. Contacted for comment and a status report, MWG contributor Jay Bobo responded: "Yeah... We've been thinking about coming back. The funny thing is that the site still gets quite a bit of traffic, about 600 unique visitors a week." He also admits that perhaps a little prompting might help get them going again. So, hey — if you haven't encountered it before, check the backlog of archives. If you like the site, give them a holler, show them a little love, and see if they can't maybe be nudged back into motion.

So there you have it. Now get back to work!

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

Blogroll

  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
BackStage
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
ChicagoMusic.org
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
CHIRP
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
Daytrotter
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Do312
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
Gridface
The Hood Internet
Innerview
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pitchfork
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Songs:Illinois
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock

  Venues:

Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
B.L.U.E.S
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Constellation
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
FitzGerald's
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Martyrs'
Mayne Stage
Metro
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Rosa's
Schubas
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Smartbar
Subterranean
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Township
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Atavistic
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Hozac
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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About Transmission

Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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Editor: Sarah Brooks, sarah@gapersblock.com
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