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Album Mon Mar 03 2014

Clearance EP Brings Joyful Slacker Rock Back to Life

Clearance.jpgA quarter of an hour isn't very much time at all -- enough maybe to empty and load the dishwasher, take an insufficient power nap, or to enjoy one Sigur Rós song. An exercise in brevity, Chicago-based Clearance's second EP,Greensleeve clocks in at a terse 14 minutes, but thankfully, each second is worth its weight in golden guitar riffs and loping choruses.

"She's a Peach" is 100 seconds of garage pop joy, "Drive Out" is the obvious hit, and the duo guitar solos in the last minute of "Face the Frontier" are a perfect splice of Dinosaur Jr. and Wilco. I found myself playing "Frontier" on repeat just for those guitars, which got me thinking: When was the last time a guitar solo was the highlight of a new EP? That's reason alone to be charmed by Clearance, a band that channels the heart of the slacker rock of '90s yore with a finger on the pulse of the present.

Greensleeve is Clearance's second 7" EP -- their first was last year, entitled Dixie Motel Two-Step, the title of which is surely a nod to another (extremely iconic) record by a Chicago band. Lead singer and Chicago native (and Gapers Block Transmission writer!) Mike Bellis also plays guitar and bass on the record, while Arthur Velez is on the drums. Bellis sings in couplets that have an easy, casual cadence ("Tell me when you taste it/ You're sitting here so wasted") that are nonchalant without sounding sloppy.

Yes, Clearance sounds more than similar to Pavement, but to classify them as a derivative band would be reductive (and not to mention bad music criticism). More specifically, Clearance has recorded an EP that embodies the spirit of slacker rock — a spirit that Pavement didn't own, just capitalized on first, thus ennobling the awkward teen years of thousands. Also: the lack of the now-omnipresent synths and reverb on Greensleeve is almost as welcome as above-freezing temperatures in Chicago.

The good news is we won't have to wait long for more. Clearance is recording a digital single for Public House Recordings that is slated to come out this month. Greensleeve was officially released in January, but a vinyl copy has recently been produced for all the analogue-philes out there. I'm hoping they'll play around town soon — they've headlined the Empty Bottle twice in the past.

Clearance songs sound the way 20-somethings exist. Part non-committal, part bitingly sarcastic, and part vulnerable and partly joyful. Homegrown? Perhaps. Sincere? Absolutely, and it is that sincerity that catapults Clearance out of the blind Pavement-worshiping sect (and even so, no shame in that!) and into fresh relevance. And who doesn't need more of earnest garage rock in this day and age where "Achy Breaky Heart" is repurposed into a viral rap song?


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Classical Wed Aug 06 2014

Pulling Strings: For classical music in Chicago, you got a guy - August 2014

By Transmission

Before the main classical season kicks into gear in the next month or two, take advantage of these local artists and ensembles playing throughout the city.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
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


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

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
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


Wed Aug 27 2014
The Dutchess and the Duke @ Empty Bottle

Thu Aug 28 2014
Chris Saathoff Benefit @ Empty Bottle

Thu Aug 28 2014
Sun Ra Discussion @ Roosevelt University

Thu Aug 28 2014
Chicago Jazz Festival

Fri Aug 29 2014
The Bad Examples @ Mayne Stage

Fri Aug 29 2014
Chicago Jazz Festival

Sat Aug 30 2014
J. Davis Trio @ Metro

Sat Aug 30 2014
Chicago Jazz Festival

Sun Aug 31 2014
What's Happening? Block Party @ Longman & Eagle

Sun Aug 31 2014
Chicago Jazz Festival

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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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