Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, May 18

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Interview Thu Nov 19 2015

Get to Know Anthony Pavel

You may not know Anthony Pavel's name just yet, but soon it will be everywhere. An accomplished producer and musician, Pavel is about to release his original EP, Windows, and just dropped a unique take on Justin Bieber's coveted new R&B pop hit, "Sorry." I chatted with Pavel regarding his artistry, his upcoming release, and what called him to cover a song by the Biebs.

What pulled you to cover this top pop and R&B ballad, "Sorry," just following its release? Does this song reflect future qualities of your upcoming album, or did it strike a chord as personally meaningful to you?

Bieber has been on a tear lately, making some really great music. It usually takes a bit for a song to really latch on to me and get stuck in my head but this particular song hit me right at first listen. I couldn't stop listening to it and singing along. The song is actually right in my vocal range and it feels really natural to sing the song. I'm a huge fan of taking any good song and flipping it into a cover of my own, and I feel that this cover really does a good job of showcasing my vocal abilities and style!

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Sarah Brooks

Interview Thu Jul 09 2015

Taking Things to the Next Level: An Interview with Lili K


Lili K is on a train on her way back to her hometown of Milwaukee when I call her on her cell. It's a humbling mode of transportation for someone whose star is rising so quickly. In fact, I imagine Lili K is one of the few people on Roc Nation's radar who travels by Amtrak. But Lili is low-key like that. As we talk, I'm struck by how sophisticated yet sincere she is. Her lack of pretension despite some serious musical chops is refreshing and rare for a city whose stars sometimes have personalities as big as Chicago's shoulders (cough, Kanye, cough).

Soaring high off of the release of her debut LP, Ruby, Lili K was most recently tapped as TIDAL's first "Tidal Rising" artist, an experience which we talk about among other things like her love for interludes, paying the bills, and growing up singing gospel music.

Talk to me about your experience with TIDAL.

We were thinking of different ways we could premier Ruby and we didn't want to go a super traditional route as far as blogs go. We threw out different ideas and my manager suggested we reach out to TIDAL. I didn't think that they'd reply, but they replied to us the next day and told us they loved the album and wanted to put something together. We didn't know what it was going to be at the time, but it turned into them doing a whole article on me as well as offering to pre-stream the album for a week before it came out. From there it just snowballed. They brought me out to New York and we did a video shoot. They're good people and it's cool because they actually make an effort to get to know the artists they spotlight.

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Abigail Covington / Comments (2)

Concert Tue Jul 07 2015

See Cameron McGill Off Tonight at Schubas

Singer-songwriter Cameron McGill is heading off to Idaho for grad school, where he'll work on his poetry and probably teach a class or two of undergrads. Tonight at Schubas, McGill says goodbye (for now) to Chicago the only way he knows how -- in music.

The opening act is Coins, the latest group from singer Angela Mullenhour. McGill and Mullenhour are good friends and collaborators, and they showcased the energy and emotion of their songwriting at the April edition of our Stars Align music series. Below is a recording of that show.

Tickets for tonight's farewell show at Schubas are $10, and doors open at 8pm. It's 21 and over.

Andrew Huff

Artist Fri Apr 24 2015

Bluegrass for Your Friday

Banjoist (banjoer? banjo guy? whatever, he's good) Charlie Parr did a live performance of Devil in the Woodpile's "Manifold" at an impromptu jam at the Bloodshot Records HQ recently. Want a copy to play for your friends? Parr's cover can be obtained for at-home listening on Bloodshot's 20th Anniversary album While No One Was Looking: 20 Years of Bloodshot Records.

Catch Devil in the Woodpile on April 29 at Simon's Tavern or April 30 as they resume their standing Thursday night gigs at The Hideout.

Nice share via The Bluegrass Situation.

Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Mon Mar 23 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 6 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our final SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano answers the age-old question: Was it worth it?

The end is near.

In many past years, SX Sunday was a day to get some last minute face time with out of town friends and industry folk. We generally didn't have any gigs on Sunday and often were flying home that day. But the schedule seems to get more packed each year. This year, I've got four sets and a brief late night appearance at the Continental Gallery. It would not surprise me if I'm writing about our Monday gigs next year.

At about 11:30, Ice Cold Singles arrive at the Hole In The Wall for our noon set. The club is just getting ready to open. The bartender who unlocks the front door proceeds to have some sort of manic episode. Some issue with his keys is enough to send him over the edge. After the craziness of the weekend, staff at these joints are on edge. ICS plays a nice bloody mary set to about 15 people. Note to self- next year, no sets before 2pm on Sunday. If the fans can't get outta bed, we'll sleep too.

From there, it's off to Lucy's Fried Chicken for another Ice Cold Singles set, followed by a set backing Jon Langford as the Far Forlorn. The Lucy's party is a sprawling, mellow, family friendly affair. Kids and dogs running everywhere. We gorge on the provided fried chicken and set up on the tiny stage. Soundcheck mostly consists of trying to get singer Jo Walston to stop swearing into the mic. Family show. The crowd is great and both sets are a blast.

The scene at Lucy's Fried Chicken.

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Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Sun Mar 22 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 5 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our fifth SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano lays out the what went down on Saturday. He also might be in need of a salad.

This day and night were all about Jon Langford and Buck Hogarth. The Waco Brothers had no Saturday sets. Backing up Jon's sets of solo and Mekons material would be the order of the day. A set with the legendary Buck would end the evening.

My only intake of fruits and vegetables this week has consisted of lime juice and salsa. Though I'm exhausted, sleep is difficult. I get up at 9am, put some caffeine in my bloodstream, hose myself down and head out to run some errands. Then, it's back to the office at Guero's. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Happy Yard Doggers, showing us some love!

In the early years we came to SX, I searched out and saw a lot of great shows. These days, with 15 shows of my own to do, about the only music I catch are the bands that play right before or right after us. On Friday, I saw a terrific end of a set by new Bloodshot signees Banditos. One of the singers has the tone of Janis. Lots of people try to imitate the wailing Joplin but I've never heard someone with that tone before. I'm impressed. Yesterday, I caught great closing moments of local legend Jon Dee Graham and Chuck Prophet. Langford jokes about having to play immediately after Chuck, "As he was leaving the stage, Chuck said, "Follow that, fat boy!"".

Follow we do. The Far Forlorn is now in full seven piece mode, with the addition of Yard Dog owner Randy Franklin on mandolin. The songs are coming together and the band is becoming a formidable unit. It's a shame we don't do this more than once per year!

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Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Sat Mar 21 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 4 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our fourth SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano talks Bloodshot celebrations and SX traditions (of which he is a part of both.)

I'm just tryin' to get me some SLEEP! But my neighbors, apparently feeling the SX vibe, decide to crank Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons "December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)". Not only is this a crap song but it's of a creepy genre. Why people ever wanted to hear the "I look back fondly on finally convincing a girl to let me lose my virginity" song is beyond me. But I digress....

March weather in Austin is reliably about as picture perfect as can be. When you overhear someone yelling, "I'm TOTALLY moving here!" into their cellphone, it's always in March, never in the midst of 60 straight days of triple digit temperatures. Coming here from Chicago at the end of a long winter was always a treat. In 20 years, I can remember only one SX with cold (by Austin standards) weather. It was 2000. Here's footage of a younger, sexier Waco Brothers playing at Scholtz Beer Garden that year. Note that I am wearing a jean jacket. You cannot find any other year where outerwear in use at SX! Note that Alan is still stripped down to a wifebeater. Because he is Alan.

But yesterday, the rains came. This is bad news for the day parties. If you do not have some corporate entity handing you a big check, that is. These parties cost tens of thousands of dollars to put on. If no one's there to buy beer, there's nothing to offset the cost of renting tents, stages, PA equipment, etc. Most of the little guys who do this, like Yard Dog, lose a little money each year but consider it a worthwhile investment in raising their business' profile. Yesterday, that advertising just got a lot more expensive.

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Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Sat Mar 21 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 3 Tour Diary from In Tall Buildings

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In Tall Buildings' Erik Hall wraps up his time at SXSW with (what else) seeing some excellent live acts.

On our last day in Austin we venture out as festival goers. After enjoying some of Mi Madre's tacos we're walking four-deep into downtown, each bearing a cold Topo Chico and half-joking about the sparkling water endorsement of our dreams. (This is not an uncommon aspiration for a band to hold, I've found.)

We head to Red Eyed Fly to meet some friends and hear some bands. We're pleased to happen upon our pal Michael Libramento chill-ly holding down the bass for a should-to-shoulder Natalie Prass set. Afterwards I'm finally able to catch fellow Chicago jammers Twin Peaks and am glad to affirm that those dudes put on a seriously rocking and aptly composed show.

Next we try our luck at the Fader Fort, the ominously imposing makeshift festival-within-a-festival east of the highway. At this point it's officially cold and raining, and folks are crammed underneath the shelter of the main stage tent. We're lucky to score some fancy wristbands and are watching Viet Cong pound out their set from the side of the stage. Their drummer seems unimpeded by the cast on one of his arms, and I give the band much respect for their super heavy, super minimal arrangements. The crowd is equal parts wide-eyed and dumbfounded.

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Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Fri Mar 20 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 3 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our third SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano talks side projects, art projects, and why not to judge a band by their name.

With barely enough time to wipe the sleep out of my eyes, the first stop for me and my throbbing headache is Broken Spoke. There, the Waco Brothers will play the noon set at the day party for Twangfest, the St. Louis roots music festival. The Twangfest folks have been very kind to us over the years.

If you've never experienced a true honky tonk, the Spoke would be a good place to start. This is the real deal, folks. Any other time of year, this place is all about classic, old school country and two steppin'. If not for the fact that they rent the place out for SX, we would not be allowed to grace this stage. When we played here for the first time last year, the owner's wife was overheard grousing, "There hasn't been any real goddamn country played here all day!" She probably had a point. It's certainly true in our case!

The Wacos have a tradition of leaping at the end many songs. It's part of our schtick to make rock star moves in a supposedly ironic way, all the while firmly believing that we actually are rock stars. The Spoke's ceiling is about three inches above our heads. That bit of choreographed comedy gold is out the window. Though at the rate our vertical leaps are declining, in a few years we may be able to incorporate them into the routine anywhere.

Joe, Tracey and Jon plotting the Wacos plans for world domination.

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Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Thu Mar 19 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 2 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

In our second SXSW Tour Diary update from The Waco Brothers, guitarist Deano climbs up out of his hangover to give us a pretty remarkably lucid recounting of the first night's events.

At five o'clock, the whistle blows, I am freed from the salt mines and my SX weekend officially begins. I step out onto West Sixth Street and I'm greeted by Austin's most perfect weather. I'm also greeted by sensory overload. Aurally, it's a mash-up of 15 bands playing simultaneously within about a three block radius. Visually, it's a parade of music players and fans, along with spring breakers (SX has become a popular spring break destination over the years). Most are doing their best to look crazy, sexy, cool. I'm trying my best not to look like a fossil. SX usually gives me the rare inspiration to actually purchase some new clothes. I'm sporting a newly acquired thrift store shirt and a spankin' new pair of PF Flyers. I'm still just as rockin' as these kids, dammit!

toronto party.jpg
Are we in Toronto yet? Jon & I hobnobbing with the power brokers of Toronto.

Facebook posts inform me that my Waco Brothers have arrived. They have checked in at Polvo's and taking in some Tex-Mex rock fuel. Me, I'm making my way through the madness to eventually meet up with Jon at an annual party for Canadian industry folk. It's put on by Jeff Cohen of the Horseshoe Tavern and Lee's Palace in Toronto. Jeff saw the Wacos at Yard Dog during SX many years ago. He became a super fan and our Canadian ambassador. Over the years, this has developed to the point where we feel like we have a Toronto family. The opportunity to eat free smoked meat, drink Shiner Bock and rub elbows with the Toronto music elite proves irresistible and Jon meets me there. The now traditional Rob Ford jokes are exchanged. Consumption and storytelling begins in earnest. This is the definition of SX. Folks seem obsessed with some newcomer/old timer, Buck Hogarth, who has a Saturday night set at ABGB. This years' buzz I guess.

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Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Thu Mar 19 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 1 Tour Diary from In Tall Buildings

Chicago at SXSW 2015

Erik Hall is In Tall Buildings. He's also a SXSW vet. Deciding to keep things simple this time around, he's keeping things pretty Zen. Catch him tonight if you're in Austin!

March, 2006 - Ann Arbor, MI: Young members of the band NOMO are gathering to load up the van and embark on the 20-hour drive from Ann Arbor to Austin, TX for our first-ever trip to South By Southwest. We've decided to depart in the early evening and drive straight through the night. We've heard tales of the mayhem and sheer magnitude of the event at our destination, and spirits and expectations are high as we roll out of town and turn on to I-94 West.

(hours later...)

It's dark. The hours are long. Some brave band member is piloting the van through some part of the middle of the U.S.A., and the road drones along under us. No one has spoken for a while. At some point we discovered that if one bench-mate opts to take the floor then both can stretch out their legs and attempt to get some actual sleep. Dan Piccolo (drums) is stirring while trying his best to stay comfortable. He rolls over onto his other side, and through the darkness he can make out the face of one Justin Walter (trumpet). Justin is staring back at him, wide awake, and in his usual, darkly-comical monotone he utters two words: "Maximum pain."

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Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Wed Mar 18 2015

SXSW 2015: Day 1 Tour Diary from The Waco Brothers

Chicago at SXSW 2015

The Waco Brothers are SXSW veterans and it says something that the descent on Austin still gets at least one member of the band excited. In our first SXSW Tour Diary update from Dean Schlabowske (aka Deano), the guitarist/singer/songwriter waxes a bit nostalgic.

As this past year marked Bloodshot Records' 20th Anniversary, it's great to see him recount the good ole days of SXSW way back in 1996, when, as he puts it : "Bloodshot was more of a hobby than a career for the principals involved. And the band was more of a gentleman's tippling club than a proper group. Come to think of it, it still is!"

I start getting giddy about SXSW at the beginning of March each year. Yes, I realize this makes me hopelessly uncool. Any legit rocker adopts a stock photo sneer and rants about corporations, hipsters, unpaid gigs, blah, blah, blah. But I'm here to preach magic, good people!

My first SX was 1990. I played in a noisy guitar band called Wreck. Although we played in the same Chicago circles as Jesus Lizard, Tar and the like, the fact that our records were released on industrial dance label Wax Trax! meant that we were never quite accepted in that world, despite our Albini-produced records. But Wax Trax! was quite a big label by indie standards. That meant we were expected to be a "national act". Which meant playing the big industry events like SX and CMJ in New York.

Wax Trax! secured us an official showcase gig. We drove down in two vehicles: my Ford Escort and bassist Kurt Moore's small pick up. The Escort broke down along the way. Somehow (credit cards), we made it 1,000 miles with all of our gear. We only had the one set to play. If there were day parties in 1990, we didn't know about them and certainly weren't invited! We had nowhere to stay. We slept on the lawn of the City of Austin Power building. We ate at Taco Cabana. The only thing else I can remember is that I knew I had to come back to Austin.

We did, the next year. Our showcase gig was at Emo's. After loading in our gear, drummer Bart Flores and I wandered around the corner and stumbled upon a Flaco Jimenez and Freddy Fender set on a big outdoor stage. On the bill with us at Emo's were the Bad Livers. We found better Mexican food. We had floors to sleep on. Things were looking up.

Despite our obvious genius, Wreck did not rocket to stardom and we broke up a couple years later. But during a Wreck recording session that we had asked Jon Langford to produce, Jon & I discovered our mutual love of classic country. Drunk story short, the Waco Brothers were formed and a 20 year tradition at SX was born shortly thereafter.

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Anne Holub

sxsw2015 Tue Mar 17 2015

SXSW 2015 Tour Diaries: Let's Meet the Bands

Chicago at SXSW 2015Once again, a lucky gang of Chicago musicians are headed to Austin, TX for the annual music crush, South by Southwest. This year, as in years past, we'll be living vicariously through two awesome local acts: The Waco Brothers and In Tall Buildings.


Bloodshot Records artists Waco Brothers would be right at home in Austin any day of the year, with their tried and true alt-country heart and rugged punk edges. Helmed by Jon Langford, they're loud enough to drown out a crowd and sweet enough to charm your momma, and ultimately they're a force to be reckoned with on stage or off. Their most recent release was 2012's Great Chicago Fire.

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Anne Holub

Video Mon Mar 16 2015

Thaw Out with Exclusive Video from JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
Core members: Kevin Marks (far left, drums), JC Brooks (center in red, vocals)
and Billy Bungeroth (far right, guitar). (photo by Marisa Klug-Morataya)

Today it's going to hit 70 freaking degrees here in Chicago, and it goes without saying that we're a bit psyched. Not only is it the perfect weather for ice cream and "sick days," but we also have a rocking exclusive video debut to share from our friends, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. The band's latest single, "You Can't Break Me," was just released in time for SXSW. The video (directed by Chris Hershman) is a rollicking anthem perfect for rewarding yourself for surviving the Chicago winter. Let's face it, we have a lot to celebrate today, right?

As JC says "It ain't too cold in the city I love/ You can't break me." Roll those windows down, and sing along.

Catch the band at SXSW or elsewhere on tour.

Anne Holub

Artist Fri Feb 27 2015

Kicking Against the Pricks: A Recap of Kim Gordon at the Music Box Theatre

"What happens when you go into this space that's so dominated by men?" Alison Cuddy asked her guest, Kim Gordon, in front of a packed house at the Music Box Theatre Thursday night.

No doubt Gordon has heard variations on the question throughout her career: the constant, nagging prod of "What's it like to be a girl in a band?" was enough of a jumping-off point to become the title of her new memoir, the excellent Girl In A Band (Dey Street Books). Still, Cuddy seemed careful to rephrase the question in a way that offered real curiosity at Gordon's outsider status, and without the attendant sexist baggage these kinds of questions inevitably imply. How did Gordon so deeply infiltrate the boys' club of indie rock and manage to tilt the balance of power, however fleetingly or slightly, in her power?

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Mike Bellis

Artist Mon Feb 23 2015

Greil Marcus: Legends in Words and Music at the Old Town School

Marcus, Langford and Timms.

Greil Marcus is a legend among music writers. He's one of the world's first rock and pop critics and author of more than a dozen books on music themes and musicians such as Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and The Doors. Thursday night he sat on stage at the Old Town School's comfy Maurer Hall to talk about his new book and listen to the music of two more legends, Chicagoans Jon Langford and Sally Timms, formerly of punk band The Mekons.

On a national book tour for his latest work, The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs (Yale University Press 2014), the evening was filled with Marcus' reading and reminiscences of our shared history in music, as well as live performances.

The 10 songs that Marcus uses to bind together our musical history are not the 10 you might think. No "Blue Suede Shoes," no "Purple Rain," no "Born to Run." Instead, Marcus writes about "songs that have traveled through time," gaining meaning as they are performed in different versions by many musicians.

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Nancy Bishop

Artist Thu Jan 08 2015

Disappears Head into 2015

Sometimes you listen to an album that creates an atmosphere that you can't pull yourself out of until the music's over, no matter what you might try. Disappears' Irreal sounds like one of those albums. The moody post-punk that they've churned out over the years is minimal, deliberate and intoxicating. After closing out last year with a wonderful rendition of David Bowie's Low at the MCA, they'll start off 2015 with the release of Irreal on January 19. And in February they'll play Garfield Park Conservatory.

Disappears headlines Garfield Park Conservatory on February 20. Suuns, Bitchin' Bajas and Mouth Captain will also be appearing. The show starts at 7PM and is $23. Garfield Park Conservatory is at 300 N. Central Park Ave.

James Ziegenfus

Interview Wed Nov 05 2014

Interview: The Dirty Dirty Dollars

Interesting startup story: The Dirty Dirty Dollars began as a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band. Finding that they enjoyed bringing an energized, high-octane rock sound to their audience, they began composing music of their own, and will be showcasing their talents at the beloved venue Martyrs' this Friday evening, where they will also release their latest singles, "An' When I Die" and "Pushin'."


Originally vowing to only create music that revolved around the subjects of "sex, death, beer and our fathers," the Dollars traveled across the United States to gain the inspiration they craved. They spent time at Memphis's revered Ardent Studios, which hosted the recordings of notable rock greats, from ZZ Top, to Big Star and The White Stripes. The group's raunchy personality is what attracts to their sound like a moth to a flame, as their upcoming live show promises to be one full of spontaneity and a bit of notoriety, too.

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Sarah Brooks

Interview Mon Sep 01 2014

Beyond and Back with John Doe

Doe1 - photo credit Autumn De WIlde.jpeg
John Doe. Photo credit: Autumn De Wilde.

This week the band X, who rose to punk rock fame in LA in the late '70s, will be performing their first four records (Los Angeles, Wild Gift, More Fun in the New World, and Under the Big Black Sun) at the City Winery. I spoke to X co-founder John Doe as he and his fellow band members wrapped up the New York leg of their tour.

X was influenced by country and blues from the '40s. The amount of time that's passed between the era of the music that influenced X and when X began performing is about the same amount of time that's passed between when X started and now. Is there a detachment from playing your own work over time, or do you feel more connected to it?

Well, you lose the immediate connection, but it becomes so engrained to how you play and the way you play, and it's always evolving.

Does it ever feel like you're playing a cover of your own song?

Hah, on a really bad night maybe.

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J.H. Palmer

Artist Thu Jul 24 2014

Get Your Tweedy On

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy got rained out of the Taste of Chicago earlier this month, but that doesn't mean you don't get a sample of his forthcoming album, Sukierae (due Sept. 23). He'll be releasing this one as the band Tweedy, along with his son, Spencer. Check out "Fake Fur Coat" streaming online as of this morning:

Get More: Jeff Tweedy,
Jeff Tweedy videos

Want more? Check out "Wait for Love," "I'll Sing It" or "Diamond Light Pt. 1" at Soundcloud for Tweedy's dBpm Records.

Anne Holub

Preview Wed May 14 2014

Nate Wooley's Coarse-Grain Trumpet Meditations @ Lampo

Nate Wooley. Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Nate Wooley's trumpet playing, with its long lines and grainy textures, combines equally well with musical/tonal playing, free improvisation, and abstract composition. Unlike many modern improv players (brass-based or otherwise), Wooley's first mark on the canvas is a line, not a point. His lush, strange, visceral sound (one reviewer called his work "exquisitely hostile") cuts a path through the overgrown forest of free improv seemingly perpendicular to all other travelers. Like a hand-ground audio pigment, Wooley's sound mixes well on a variety of canvases, capable of providing abstract shadows on large landscapes (including work in Anthony Braxton's Tri-Centric Orchestra and also his trumpet quintet) or streaking across a stark white paper, trailing rough chunks and feathery dust (in solo improvisation works like [8] Syllables).

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Chris Sienko / Comments (1)

Artist Tue May 06 2014

Chicago Rappers on the XXL Freshman List


Yesterday afternoon, the annual XXL Freshmen list was announced, and Chicago was highly represented on it. For all of y'all that don't know, XXL is an influential rap magazine that's been around since the late 90's. Once a year they curate a list of 12 "freshmen," emerging artists of whom they consider to be the most promising. Of these 12 selections, Chicago is home to four of them; Chance the Rapper, Lil Durk, Vic Mensa and Lil Bibby.

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Justin Freeman

Artist Mon May 05 2014

El-P and Killer Mike = Run The Jewels

If Goose Island knows anything, it's that Chicago loves its hip-hop. And if you're a leading beer brand trying to win over the hearts and minds of Chicago's pumped up youth, you throw a kickass party in Pilsen co-sponsored by The FADER and invite the freshest duo coming out of the hip-hop scene — Run the Jewels, to the party.

As part of a three city tour, Analog Migration stopped by Chicago last week for the kick-off, bringing with it El-P and Killer Mike's Run The Jewels, Los Angeles-based punk band Tijuana Panthers and Chicago's DJ Timbuck2.

The last time I waxed poetic on hip-hop was when I got a backstage pass at a Roots show at a street festival a couple of summers ago, so I was out of my league on this one. So out of my league, that I forgot to leave my Ann Taylor blazer at home. Upon arrival, I immediately learned one thing: when you throw punk and hip-hop fans in one room, you get a lot of hoodies.

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Brandy Gonsoulin

Artist Mon Apr 28 2014

DJ Rashad Found Dead at 34


This has been an entirely unpleasant month for fans of electronic music. It was barely a couple weeks ago when it was discovered that Chicago's iconic house producer, Frankie Knuckles, had passed away. People around the world were devastated. They had barely enough time to mourn his passing when they found themselves stricken with more tragic news, that over the weekend, DJ Rashad had been found dead in his apartment in the West Side at the age of 34.

DJ Rashad was best known as one of the principal architects of Chicago's thriving footwork scene as well as his status as one of the core members of the Teklife crew, which is locally based but a worldwide collective of DJs and producers who are the authoritative force of the footworking scene.

DJ Rashad was going through an unrivaled creative streak, last year releasing what may end up being considered his masterpiece, the critically acclaimed album Double Cup. He found himself traveling around the world, spreading the gospel of the music he loved so much with his hypnotic sets. I last saw him opening for Chance the Rapper at the Riv back in November. He was scheduled to perform at Pitchfork this summer.

According to the Sun-Times, the autopsy report came back and the cause of death was "inconclusive." The Sun-Times also report that the CPD believes this was a drug overdose "and drug paraphernalia were found near the body."

Representatives of DJ Rashad released a statement which ended with the line, "His music will live on eternally." Agreed. His suddenly now posthumous EP We On 1 is scheduled to be released today on vinyl for Southern Belle Records.

Check out streams of his singles, "Feelin" and "Show U How," both from the album Double Cup, below.

Justin Freeman

Event Fri Apr 25 2014

Musicians, Global Citizens Make a Difference at The Vic


Photo by Ryan Gall, courtesy of The Global Poverty Project

Recording artists and activism aligned at The Vic, 3145 N Sheffield Ave, last night, for Global Citizen Nights; an event driven by the efforts of the Global Poverty Project to raise awareness of, and end extreme poverty by 2030. Neo-soul singer/songwriter, Aloe Blacc, was headliner to the evening, led by performances from Johnnyswim and The Main Squeeze.

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Ricardo Villarreal

Interview Mon Apr 07 2014

Interview: Briar Rabbit Shares His Soulful Wisdom

briar rabbit
Photo via Facebook

Philip-Michael Scales, performing under the stage name Briar Rabbit, has been making quite a statement for himself in the world of music. Born into the family of musical legend B.B. King, his uncle, then attending the prestigious Berklee School of Music, and now, touring the country in support of his recent release, From Your Bones, Scales has set himself apart with his unique musical style of wisdom-infused folk music.

Each of his songs are punctuated with lyrical ingenuity, all telling stories of raw and relatable emotions and situations that occur as part of human nature and the beauty of life itself, heartbreak, despair, and all. The vulnerability present within his musical catalog promotes his songs to include a quality of sheer honesty and also exquisite candor. He will be gracing Chicago with his musical presence for a show at the Hideout this Thursday, April 10. I was grateful to get a chance to speak with him about his dynamic music, his songwriting processes, and his extremely soulful views on creativity, authentic living, and following your dreams.

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Sarah Brooks

Artist Tue Apr 01 2014

RIP Frankie Knuckles, Godfather of House Music

frankieknuckles.jpgFrankie Knuckles, the "Godfather of Chicago House," passed away Monday night. He was 59.

Knuckles was born in the Bronx, NY, and moved to Chicago in 1977. He is credited with creating Chicago house during his residency at the Warehouse, a black gay nightclub, in the early 1980s. His remixes of disco records filled the dance floor and sent fans to record stores asking for "house" records.

In 1983, Knuckles moved on from the Warehouse to open his own club, the Power Plant, and put out his first record, a 12" remix of First Choice's "Let No Man Put Asunder." He went on to produce many more classic remixes and singles, including "Your Love" and "The Whistle Song."

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Andrew Huff

Artist Fri Oct 11 2013

Erase the Word...and the Song: Ben Vida at Lampo

BenVida.jpgFormer Chicagoan (now ensconced in Brooklyn) Ben Vida presents several works of sound poetry, abstract electronics, and atmomized speech particles as part of Lampo's Fall 2013 series. The event is free (with RSVP), and takes place at the Graham Foundation's Madlener House, 4 W. Burton Pl., this Saturday, Oct. 12 at 8pm.

Vida presents several works as part of the program. In "Tztztztzt Î Í Í...", several performers (including Tyondai Braxton, Sara Magenheimer and Vida himself) were filmed performing a sound-poem by Vida, accompanied by synthesized approximations of their vocalizations, thus dislocating sound from action in peculiar ways. As Vida writes, "This attention to shifting relationships of inputs and outputs, cause and effect, was created with the intention of recalibrating the viewer's awareness of their own senses. The possibility of a recalibration and the desire to remind the viewer of how well they are able to receive and decode discordant information acts to reveal the brain's ability to create order out of multi-sensory distortions." Loosely translated, this means "take a deep breath and count back from 10, ace -- you can figure this out without mommy."

Also on the program is "Damaged Particulates," a piece composed for four-channel stereo with "fixed and live electronics" (pre-records and johnny-on-the-spot, friend) with an emphasis on single and dual deployments of stark sounds in fascinating contrast to one another. The use of such naked, visceral sonic artifacts prevents the ease of simply drifting along in the sonic stream, with layers rising and falling in the morass, in favor of discrete events that pop up out of nowhere, announce themselves, and then pop out of existence again -- sometimes one at a time, sometimes two in opposition, and occasionally a chorus of four just to keep you off your guard.

This is the second concert in Lampo's Fall series. Future events will include electronic composer Mark Fell (Nov. 2), percussionist Eli Keszler (Nov. 16) and former Emeralds synth guy Steve Hauschildt (Dec. 7).

Chris Sienko

Blog Mon Sep 09 2013

Alex on the Runway


You might know Alex White as the talented ginger half of the amazing band White Mystery. Now, after singer, guitarist and rock star, she can add "high fashion model" to her resume. Alex recently modeled some fancy fashions for local online shop, E Drop-Off's The Closet blog.

Anne Holub

News Thu Aug 15 2013

Local Act Wins John Lennon Songwriting Contest

Jonas Friddle & the Majority won the 2013 John Lennon Songwriting Contest with their song "Belle of Louisville," earning $20,000 in cash as well as prizes from Avid, Mackie and Digital Media Academy. Friddle teaches banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin and children's classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus will arrive at the Old Town School on Sept. 18 to deliver the band's prizes and conduct tours for students.

"It's more than just an honor to be chosen for this award," said Friddle. "It's a rare moment of encouragement that has given a great breath of support to the music we make. I'm grateful to the JLSC for that encouragement and so happy that they are bringing the tour bus to the Old Town School. So much of our music is wrapped up in the community that surrounds the school, and a visit from the Lennon Bus will the perfect way to celebrate with our friends."

Jonas Friddle & the Majority will perform a concert at the Old Town School on Dec. 1, with Ann Arbor's Orpheum Bell opening. Tickets are $15, or $13 for school members.

Andrew Huff

News Wed Oct 10 2012

ICE's Claire Chase recipient of 2012 MacArthur Fellowship grant

Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

On October 2, the MacArthur Foundation announced its 2012 Fellowship recipients, and for Chicago fans of contemporary classical music, one name in particular jumped out. Claire Chase, no stranger to the pages of Transmission, was among the roster of recipients.

Chase is the CEO and Artistic Director of the International Contemporary Ensemble, better known as ICE. Rooted in both Chicago and New York, ICE has presented programs of modern classical and experimental music ("new music," as it's often called) throughout Chicago, from the stages at the MCA and the Art Institute to small coffeehouses and galleries across the city. She is also a flutist with two solo CDs to her credit (Aliento, 2009, and Terrestre, 2012), interpreting both the classics and works by up-and-coming musicians. Passionate about her craft and the great works since childhood, Chase recounted a story during her January 2012 recital at the Art Institute of Chicago in which she asked permission to perform Edgard Varese's solo flute composition, "Density 21.5," for a middle school recital. She was denied the chance as a teen (a "Rite of Spring"-like riot might have ensued), but she blazed through the classic piece from memory at the Art Institute performance, making what could sound in lesser hands like a museum relic into a vital piece of living music. Chase's work with community outreach, new artist commissions, and interdisciplinary events were among the many accomplishments cited by the MacArthur Foundation.

Here is Ms. Chase speaking about her history with ICE, her love of new music, and her thoughts on winning this prestigious fellowship.

Congratulations to Claire Chase on this monumental achievement!

Chris Sienko

Artist Mon Oct 01 2012

Stream Andrew Bird, Get Gezelligheid Tix

Andrew Bird is streaming "Three White Horses," the first single off his upcoming album Hands of Glory, on Soundcloud.

Bird also announced the latest in his annual Gezelligheid series, with two dates in New York and two here in Chicago at the Fourth Presbyterian Church. The dates are Dec. 19 and 20, and pre-sale began today. The 20th sold out of pre-sale immediately, so jump on those tickets for the 19th or else wait for the general release.

Andrew Huff

Album Mon Sep 10 2012

Hear Sonic Youth Play Smartbar in 1985

sonic youth live at smartbar chicago 1985On Aug. 11, 1985, Sonic Youth played a show at Smart Bar, back when it was on the top floor of the Cabaret Metro, in support of their album Bad Moon Rising. There was a four-track tape recorder hooked into the soundboard, and it picked up plenty of songs from Bad Moon Rising as well as "Secret Girl," "Expressway to Yr Skull" and "Kat 'N' Hat."

This incomplete concert recording has been floating around in bootleg circles (where it's known as Anarchy On/At St. Mary's Place) for some time, but the band announced today that it has mixed and mastered this blast from the past that most fans have never heard, and will release it as a double-LP, CD and digital download on Nov. 14.

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Andrew Huff

Concert Wed Sep 05 2012

The Hood Internet Hits Metro with Feat

the hood internet featThe Hood Internet made its name creating masterful mashups of hip hop and indie rock for a few years now, regularly releasing free mixtapes filled with their best tracks. But now they're ready with something completely their own. Feat will be released Oct. 2 on Decon Records, and is all original -- no samples, no covers, lots of collaborations with artists, ranging from AC Newman to BBU to Kid Static.

On Thursday, Sept. 20 [Update: the show has been rescheduled for November 2, 2012. All original tickets will be honored.], The Hood Internet returns to its ancestral home, The Metro, for an 18-and-over record release show. Body Language, My Gold Mask and Oscillator Bug will open, with doors open at 8pm. Tickets are $16 in advance or at the door.

Andrew Huff

Video Tue Aug 21 2012

The Grid: LAMPO

"LAMPO" is the ninth installment of our short film series, The Grid. These documentaries are posted throughout Gapers Block and compiled in their own multimedia feature section.

Since 1997, LAMPO has presented experimental music and intermedia events to adventurous Chicago audiences. Find out about upcoming shows at, and hear more about LAMPO from Director Andrew Fenchel on WBEZ.

About The Grid

This video is part of a series profiling Chicago businesses, subcultures and landscapes. These short, lyrical documentaries aspire to be art cinema, ethnographies, and experiments in form. Producer Ben Kolak's directorial debut, Scrappers,, won Best Documentary at the Chicago Underground Film Festival and made Roger Ebert's list of top documentaries for 2010. Sound recordist and editor Alex Inglizian does sound for LAMPO and is chief engineer at Experimental Sound Studio. Graphic Designer Akemi Hong is a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's graduate program in Visual Communication Design.

The Grid is funded in part by the Chicago Instructional Technology Foundation Digital Media Production Fund.


Artist Wed Jul 25 2012

The Hood Internet Remixes Sleep Out & Lasers and Fast and Shit

hoodinternetremixes.jpgThe Hood Internet is releasing FEAT, an album of all-original material, on Decon Records Sept. 18, but that doesn't mean they've given up doing mashups and remixes. The duo dropped remixes of songs by two local bands today, the day before they leave for an eight-date West Coast tour with Psalm One and Tanya Morgan.

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Andrew Huff

Artist Thu Jun 28 2012

The Congregation Release "Right Now Everything" Right Now

The Congregation right now everything
Chicago soul band The Congregation, who played at the Gapers Block BBQ Bowl and will open for Wilco and Andrew Bird -- as well as the Flaming Lips and Garbage -- later this summer, have released the title track off their forthcoming album, Right Now Everything.

The full album won't be out until September, but "Right Now Everything" should give you a nice taste of what's to come. And if you're not able to make it to Fifth Third Field or up to Madison, you can catch The Congregation July 1 at Fitzgerald's American Music Festival, July 21 at the Sheffield Garden Walk or July 29 at the Taste of Lincoln Avenue.

Andrew Huff

Artist Fri Jun 22 2012

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound Are True "Up and Comers"

Last night, while they kicked off this year's Gospel Fest in Millennium Park, neo Soul rockers JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound (Bloodshot Records) were being honored by eMusic and the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) at their inaugural A2IM Libera Awards ceremony. The awards (dubbed the "Libbies" for short), "recognize the growing support and market share for independent artists by celebrating the accomplishments of independent musicians and the independent labels and services that support them." eMusic's community of members honored the band by overwhelmingly voting for them as their choice for the "Up and Comer" award.

In a press release, eMusic Editor-in-chief J. Edward Keyes said, "We're excited to be able to give eMusic Members a voice through the Libbies. It's not surprising that JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound were the artists to win this award. We've long been known for our active community of jazz fans and blues enthusiasts. While the competition was stiff, this group is truly an up and comer to be celebrated."

Congrats, fellas!

JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound play Fitzgerald's in Berwyn on June 30 for the 32nd Annual American Music Festival, before embarking on a national summer tour. They return to Chicago to perform at Lollapalooza on August 4, 2012.

Anne Holub

Preview Mon May 07 2012

Preview: Mayer Hawthorne & The County @ Park West, 5/17


Motown soul meets retro funk flavor and epitomizes the problem with labels and genre, in a sound that can only be best described as Mayer Hawthorne. The singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist will be taking the stage at the Park West on May 17, sharing some of the revamped vintage goodness that his latest album, How Do You Do, is filled with.

Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, not far from the Motor City, it isn't hard to tell where a great deal of his influence stems from. Influence aside, there's no doubt he's been doing something fresh from the vine since his debut album, A Strange Arrangement, released back in 2009. There's an air of confidence in his latest tracks from How Do You Do, however, that sounds like the perfect balance between the music of the good ol' days and a sound, style, and presentation of something not yet explored.

Tickets are sold out, but a limited quantity can be found at The Park West is located at 322 W. Armitage Ave. Music begins at 7:30pm with The Stepkids. 18+.

Ricardo Villarreal

Artist Wed Feb 29 2012

Preview: Truckfighters @ Ultra Lounge 3/5

[This post comes to us from writer Brian Kutanovski.]

Although desert rock originates from the valleys of California, Truckfighters bring the desert all the way from Sweden on March 5th at Chicago's Ultra Lounge. Their sound can mirage an early '90s psychedelic-fueled grunge with fuzz driven guitar solo's akin to bands such as Kyuss and Fu Manchu. But the band itself goes through a sort of evolution. Starting in 2001, their early EP's/splits bear a more low-end punk-rockish quality, then in 2005 and 2007, they released two full length albums, Gravity X and Phi, which radiate a more polished fuzz, with grittier anthem like vocals, and straight forward driven snare beats, expanding to a stoner metal crowd. Their latest release in 2011 Mania resembles a more progressive, modern rock sound. Though one thing remains constant: fuzz. As far as hype goes, Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age describes them as "the best band that has ever existed" in the Fuzzomentary trailer (below). They've toured extensively throughout Europe, but this March they'll find themselves in Chicago.

"Beatles Shmeatles, Rolling Stones? Rolling Bones! Truckfighters are here."

Truckfighters headline Ultra Lounge on Monday, March 5th. Buffalo's The Midnight Ghost Train (replacing Karma to Burn) are finishing the tour with Truckfighters and Chicago's very own sludge band Hunters opens the show at 9pm. The show's 21 + and tickets are $10. Ultra Lounge is in Logan Square at 2169 N. Milwaukee Ave. (north of the Congress Theater).

- Brian Kutanovski


Interview Fri Feb 17 2012

Da Brat Returns to Chicago with the Legends of Hip Hop Tour, Saturday


For 20 years now, Da Brat has cemented her status as one of the most noted women in hip hop; as the first female rapper to ever go platinum (1994's Funkdafied), this Grammy-nominated artist has definitely earned a place in music history. After riding in the fast lane with three follow-up albums, along with several television and movie roles, Da Brat (aka Shawntae Harris) hit a speed bump in 2007 with a prison term that threatened to end it all. Now, the Chicago native, part of the Legends of Hip Hop tour, is back in the driver's seat; here, she talks about her life, lessons learned, and of course, loving hip hop.

Gapers Block: You've been in the game for a while now. Take us back to the girl growing up on Chicago's west side — when did you know you could rap?

Da Brat: I knew when I was in junior high school when I was battling all the guys and was just wearing them out. And then when I started to see MC Lyte, [Queen] Latifah and Monie Love, I said to myself, "Oh — this is what I'm going to do."

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LaShawn Williams / Comments (2)

Artist Sun Feb 12 2012

Tour Diary: Canasta in Mongolia - Day 5 - Drums

Canasta's drummer, Brian Palmieri, offered up the final tour diary entry from Mongolia before the band headed for the plane yesterday. If you're wondering what in the world this Chicago band is doing in chilly Mongolia, see the previous tour diary entries.

"The final hour is now upon us. In these last hours of our Mongolian adventure, I'd like to take a moment to reflect and reminisce.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you. . .


The Mongolian language has around ten different words for drum or drums (noun).

The one most commonly used is pronounced Boom-Berrr (rolled 'r'). When I finally realized what the word meant, I was delighted. What a fun, onomatopoeic, word for drums! Try saying it. BOOOM-BERRR. Fun, right?

Well, unfortunately, the word that brought me such joy, if for a brief time, would eventually become the source of great disappointment and anxiety.

In preparing for the trip to Mongolia, the band coordinated the gear situation over dozens of emails. There was a lot of back and forth over what would be available, what we could or should bring, and what we could possibly live without. As the drummer, I knew I wouldn't be shipping my own drums overseas. That would be madness (it's my only kit and it's over 50 years old.). As the emailing with our embassy contacts concluded, I felt pretty confident that I would have at least a halfway decent set of drums to play on throughout our visit/tour. After playing our first workshop at the school for the blind in UB, I felt confident that everything would work out just fine. The school (which seemed rather modest and probably not well-funded) provided a totally decent beginner/ intermediate level set for me to play. I assumed that this would be the set I would play throughout the trip.

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Anne Holub

Artist Fri Feb 10 2012

Tour Diary: Canasta in Mongolia - Day 4 - Dining Options

The latest update comes from Canasta keyboardist/pianist Ryan Tracy. I've included an earlier trip photo from their Facebook account, and will have more images to share related to Ryan's post Swhen I next connect with the band [Update! New photos added!]. For now, enjoy Ryan's tales of Mongolian cuisine. PS: How cute is it they now have Facebook fans from Mongolia! [Read all about why Canasta is touring in Mongolia, and the previous three posts.]

Canasta's Elizabeth Lindau enjoying a bowl of "milk tea" which consists of 90% milk,
9% tea, and 1% salt with a little butter for added richness.

"If you're like me, the best part of traveling to new places is sampling a bit of the local cuisine, and trying things that you might never find at home. My concept of Mongolian food was fairly limited based on the "Mongolian BBQ" chain of restaurants and an episode of "Bizarre Foods" discussed in a previous blog.

[Editor's note: Enjoy another segment from the show, below]

Based on our time here thus far, the Mongolian diet consists of two major meats: mutton and beef; and five major vegetables: potatoes, onions, cherry tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage. The good news is that you organic food lovers could not have it any better here. The menus at restaurants are more like a history of the food the restaurant has had, and it's not unlikely for a place to only have 4 or 5 of the things on a 20-item menu. Since the meat and vegetables are so fresh, what they have is what you get. There are no food suppliers or trucks showing up twice a week to stock the restaurant like back at home...the food is simply whatever the town has handy and can sell to the restaurant. Evidence of this can be seen at one rural restaurant in which the cook/waitress/hostess stepped out after we ordered and came back two minutes later with a fresh set of supplies from the store two buildings down. In the major city of Ulaanbaatar the situation is a little different, but the taste of the actual food remains the same.

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Anne Holub

Artist Thu Feb 09 2012

Tour Diary: Canasta in Mongolia - Day 3, Tsetserleg

This next update comes from Canasta pianist Megan O'Connor (subbing in for Sarah Kneebone who couldn't make this trip) after a brief lag where the band was without internet access. Now back in the capital, wifi is plentiful and so are the posts. [Read all about why this indie Chicago band is touring in Mongolia, and the previous posts.]

Canasta's tour van: Mongolian style (photos courtesy of the band)

"Not sure how long we were in the van after leaving Ulaan Bataar, but at least twenty horse herds, one batch of camels and a few yaks later, we pulled in to the small town of Tsetserleg. (I want to get our driver a bumper sticker that says "I brake for cashmere goats." He was truly amazing.) We decided to throw on an extra layer of long underwear and take a walk around town. Pretty empty outside, all we saw were a few stray dogs, some dance music blasting from a doorway, and a couple of men walking around in deels, the traditional Mongolian coat. (More on deels later. Wow, Mongolians know how to stay warm.) We spotted a small Buddhist monastery, about halfway up the side of a small mountain foothill and decided to climb to it. The cold air and the high altitude made it hard for us to catch our breath on the way up the long staircase. The air was cold. Very cold. But really, "very cold" is a woefully inadequate description. This air felt like something alive and aggressive trying to invade us. Like Dementors. Still, the view from the monastery of the village and surrounding mountains made the climb worthwhile. We said very little, just looked out and took many pictures. The sun was slipping behind the mountains, and so we rushed back down the hill to the hotel, red-cheeked and shivering.

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Anne Holub

Artist Tue Feb 07 2012

Tour Diary: Canasta in Mongolia - Day 2

Subtitle: Megan and Elizabeth get lost in UlaanBaatar, or CAMELS!!! Camels everyone!!

This latest tour blog comes via Canasta's violinist Elizabeth Lindau. Read all about why in the world they're in Mongolia, and the previous post.

"Going in order...After performing a set for a local TV show, Canasta headed over to a gallery/bar called Xanadu with some Mongolians from the UB art/music scene. We loaded up into our van, along with Lauren, an American who is in Mongolia on a Fulbright scholarship. After a short drive, we pulled over and all exited the van. Megan spotted some great street art, so I (Elizabeth) pulled out my camera to take a picture. After a few shots, we looked around for our group, and spotted a bunch of folks in puffy coats about a block or so away. We were surprised that they hadn't waited for us, but we scampered over to catch up with them. As we got closer, we began to wasn't our group. And...we were now lost and alone. Being lost in a foreign city isn't a huge deal, but when the temperature is around minus thirty Fahrenheit...well...we knew we wouldn't last too long without getting inside. Some Mongolian girls stopped and tried to help us, but they hadn't heard of Xanadu. We were two little baby birds, fallen from the nest, chirping "Xanadu"! Xanadu!" and getting colder by the minute.

Pianist Sarah Kneebone (correction) Megan O'Connor meets a new friend on the streets of Ulaan Bataar
(photos courtesy of Canasta)

Continue reading this entry »

Anne Holub

Artist Mon Feb 06 2012

Tour Diary: Canasta in Mongolia - Day 1

As we'd hoped, the band members of Canasta have made it safely to Mongolia for their whirlwind tour [see previous], and they even found a brief pocket of internet connectivity in order to send in this quick update, and a photo.

The following comes from guitarist, Jeremy Beckford:

"I dont think any of us were quite sure of what to expect before arriving in Mongolia, other than ball shrinking subzero temperatures. Arriving at midnight after a 17 hour trek across the north pole and through China didn't exactly prepare us either, but the warm greetings of U.S. embassy staff definitely helped with the -38 air temp outside. The first thing that surprised me was the number of expatriates here, catered to by businesses striving to provide American culture all over Ulaan Bataar, the capital city. Our first orders as Team Canasta were to report to the nation's only school for the blind for a performance and Q&A. It quickly became clear the people of Mongolia have a love of music that knows no boundaries. Clapping along has become passé in Chicago indie rock circles, but these guys are full blown 7-100 members of canasta. Their focus and appreciation of created the warmest environment for a concert I've ever experienced. The highlight was 1 boy who asked to sing a song with us and came up to shyly stand in front of his peers and hold the mic for a couple of minutes. The crowd cheered him until be belted out the most heartfelt rendition of his school song, later joined by the rest of the student body. Pretty much the most touching moment on stage I've experienced.
To be continued....."


Read Day 2! -->

Anne Holub / Comments (1)

Video Wed Jan 25 2012

Blah Blah Blah to the Rescue

Local, self-described "Ballroom Rock" dreamboats Blah Blah Blah released a new music video this week, and it's SO DAMN CHICAGO! Look! The Bloomingdale Trail! The Flat Iron! Reckless Records! Union Station! If January's got you hating Chicago, watch this video. It'll fix you right up.

Kelly Reaves

Artist Fri Jan 13 2012

Disappears' "Replicate"

A full house at the Empty Bottle on New Year's Eve was treated to a special set of covers from Disappears. Their Krauty garage rock spins on David Bowie, the Cure, Joy Division, the Kinks, New Order, the Ramones, the Stooges, Suicide, Television, and Wire thrilled the crowd at first out of giddy surprise ("Oh, I love this song!") and then out of pure admiration ("Damn, this is a stone-cold classic and they're owning it."). As an encore, the foursome played a few of their own songs, including a handful from the upcoming Pre Language, that enraptured a few people. Below's the album's opening track, "Replicate." Pre Language will be released on Kranky in March.

disappears 'replicate' by kranky

James Ziegenfus

Random Thu Jan 05 2012

Donda Esta Kanye?

kanyetwitter.pngKanye West returned to Twitter last night, and in an early morning fit of insomnia (he is in London, where it was 5am when he got started) posted a stream of conscious description of a "design company" he has supposedly started, called DONDA.

"DONDA is a design company which will galvanize amazing thinkers and put them in a creative space to bounce there dreams and ideas..." West tweeted, going on to say he was looking for creative people of all types to staff "over 22 divisions with a goal to make products and experiences that people want and can afford."

The full stream of tweets is posted below for posterity, via Storify. If you're interested in learning more, West shared the email address -- contact as a way of getting in touch.

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Andrew Huff

Artist Mon Nov 21 2011

Andrew Bird's and Ian Schneller's Sonic Arboretum

From Dec. 6 through Dec. 31, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago will exhibit Sonic Arboretum, a collaborative music installation by Andrew Bird and sculptor/luthier Ian Schneller. The physical aspect of the work is a "sound garden" of 72 of Schneller's audio horn speakers scattered around the MCA's second floor atrium. The horns, which are hand made from dryer lint, newsprint, and shellac, vary in size from three to over nine feet tall. Bird will record new site-specific compositions at the museum; musical information will be sent to different groups of horns, allowing visitors to hear varied soundscapes as they move through the installation.

The musical aspect comes fully into play on Dec. 21 and 22, when Bird will perform live, surrounded by the audience, all immersed in the installation. Sonic Arboretum debuted for a one-night only concert at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2010. According to the MCA press release, the Chicago presentation is much larger in scope and duration.

Tickets to the live performances are sold out, but you could get in line for the waitlist if you're particularly intrepid.

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Artist Mon Oct 24 2011

Tom Waits and Chicago

As you may have heard, the first track on Tom Waits' new album, Bad as Me, is titled "Chicago." The song features Keith Richards (yes, that Keith Richards) and the hopeful refrain, "Maybe things will be better in Chicago."

It's not the first time Chicago has appeared in one of Waits' songs, nor is it the only connection he has to the city. The city makes an appearance in "Potter's Field" off 1977's Foreign Affairs and "$29.00" from 1978's Blue Valentine. And around that time he began working on a screenplay that may have evolved into Frank's Wild Years, a play written by Waits and his wife and writing partner Kathleen Brennan that made its debut in June of 1986 performed by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

And speaking of old Tom Waits, Aquarium Drunkard recently posted a bootleg of a concert he did at the old Ivanhoe Theater in 1976, broadcast on WXRT.

Andrew Huff

Artist Wed Oct 12 2011

Primus Still Sucks, Friday @ The Congress

It's all too easy to fall into the habit of comparing bands to other bands in order to describe their genre or sound. Even the most articulate critics usually reduce a new act to the sum of their influences or peers. Now entering their third decade as a band, Primus is one of the rare groups that defies a ready comparison with anyone, or for that matter, anything else.

A unique product of Bay Area synergy, it's clear that Primus was the product of a broad palette. Claypool's slappy, tappy bass style adds funk elements which weave with Larry LaLonde's technical guitar playing, which runs the gamut from jam-band noodling to heavy metal crunch, often within the same song. This tour features the return of early Primus drummer Jay Lane, who after a brief stint with the band in the late 1980s, enjoyed a diverse career beating the skins for bands such as Bob Wier's Rat Dog and an early incarnation of recent Grateful Dead alumni super-group Further. Primus continues to inhabit an interesting space as a band with a huge appeal across a broad spectrum.

Primus, touring in support of their latest release Green Naugahyde, will play two full sets this Friday, October 14 at 7:30 at The Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets are available at

Dan Snedigar

Video Thu Sep 08 2011

Wilco is Born Alone

Overshadowed by Jeff Tweedy's Black Eyed Peas covers at the @MayorEmanuel book release party, Wilco released a video this week for the new song "Born Alone" from the band's forthcoming album, The Whole Love. It was directed by Mark Greenberg, proprietor of Mayfair Workshop and a member of The Coctails. GB contributor Dave Elfving interviewed Greenberg in 2005 about music-making and odd instruments. Greenberg is credited as an assistant producer on the album, so it's possible some of those instruments are woven into the background.

The Whole Love is due out Sept. 27 on their own dBpm Records. NPR will stream the album at 1pm Chicago time on Sept. 19, and will have members of the band on afterward to answer your questions.

Andrew Huff

News Mon Aug 08 2011

Portugal. The Man's Van, Trailer & Equipment Stolen After Lollapalooza

In an unfortunate postscript to Lollapalooza, Portugal. The Man's tour van and trailer -- containing all of their equipment -- were stolen from an attended parking lot near Grant Park sometime after 7am today. The band sent out a plea for assistance via Twitter this afternoon:


Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

Artist Mon Jul 04 2011

Michael McDermott at Uncommon Ground

Singer-songwriter Michael McDermott is celebrating a lot of anniversaries this summer. Last week, he performed 620 W. Surf in its entirety at Lincoln Hall to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the album that launched his career. This week, he heads to Uncommon Ground to perform as part of the venerable venue's 20th anniversary celebration. McDermott performs July 8th at 10 p.m., and his show is day eight of 20 nights of celebration for Uncommon Ground.

There is a $10 suggested donation. Read more about upcoming shows to celebrate Uncommon Ground's anniversary here.

McDermott is also the subject of this week's Transmission feature story.

Sheila Burt

Lollapalooza Tue Jun 28 2011

Lollapalooza Artist Preview: Death From Above 1979

Breakups are hard. The end of any relationship, romantic or not, has similar rituals. Tension mounts, you stop talking, you finish up projects and obligations before you cut ties. Sometimes there is something (or someone else). All situations are applicable even for a band, and especially for the short lived Death From Above 1979.

But just like some relationships, bands also get back together. Just like the breakup the reasoning can be the same; it can be for money, because you miss each other, love, or because you don't even remember why you broke up in the first place. Sometimes it takes stepping away to realize that you've got something really good, and I can assure you the electro dance-punk that DFA1979 churns out is something incredibly good.

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Lisa White / Comments (1)

Artist Fri Jun 24 2011

The Ballad of Michael McDermott

(Photo by Niva Bringas, courtesy of

I first met Michael McDermott, a local singer-songwriter with a dedicated fan base across the country, at a photo shoot in a Chicago graveyard six years ago. For a college magazine class assignment, I wanted to follow around two bands and/or musicians — one more established, but still trying to break through, the other just beginning its journey.

After a few weeks of searching, I received separate e-mails from McDermott and the Mannequin Men, a spirited Chicago punk band still making great music, saying that I could follow them around if I wanted.

I spent the next two months at gigs and occasionally in bars with McDermott, talking about music and listening to his stories.

I found McDermott charming, talkative and very open. I wrote my piece and decided to separate Mannequin Men's and McDermott's story, because they were unique in their own way. I held on to each story, waiting for the right moment to pitch it to a publication. It just never felt complete.

Until now.

McDermott will be performing his first album, 1991's 620 W. Surf, and its follow-up Gethsemane, in their entirety at Lincoln Hall on Saturday. This year marks the 20th anniversary of 620 W. Surf, which referred to McDermott's Lakeview address at the time. The album brought McDermott some fame 20 years ago, but the lifestyle that followed the newly-found fame also introduced him to the darker sides of life. Mark Caro also profiled him recently in a great piece for the Tribune.

Continue reading this entry »

Sheila Burt

Video Fri Mar 11 2011

The Grid: Congress Conducts El at Cal's

"Congress Conducts El at Cal's" is the second short film in our new series, The Grid. These documentaries are posted throughout Gapers Block and compiled in their own multimedia feature section.

The Congress Parkway congestion is meditated upon at nearby Cal's Liquors/Bar, where astromusicologists El is a Sound of Joy take cinematic cues from traffic conductors.

About The Grid

The Grid is a series profiling Chicago businesses, subcultures and landscapes. These short, lyrical documentaries aspire to be art cinema, ethnographies and experiments in form. Ben Kolak and Brian Ashby's directorial debut, Scrappers, won Best Documentary at the 2010 Chicago Underground Film Festival and made Roger Ebert's top 10 list of documentary films in 2010. Editor Dave Nagel is a recent University of Chicago graduate.

David Schalliol

Artist Thu Mar 03 2011

Introducing Skysaw


Besides this, we haven't heard all that much out of Jimmy Chamberlin since his departure from Billy Corgan & Co. back in 2009. After talk of a second Jimmy Chamberlin Complex album became seemingly an empty rumor, any concrete news of a new JC project is certainly welcome. Enter Skysaw, the new band featuring Chamberlin, singer Mike Rein and guitarist Anthony Pirog. So far they've just got one song available to download on their official site, but if you're itching to hear more from one of the greatest drummers of our time, they've got an upcoming album release in May on Dangerbird Records and are heading out on tour this spring.

Stephanie Griffin

Artist Mon Feb 07 2011

Kill Hannah Wakes Up with a Promise

Kill Hannah debuted the first single from their upcoming latest album, Wake Up the Sleepers, on Bandcamp today. "Promise Me" is available as a four-track digital album, with the album version and three alternate versions, for $1.99. The band promises "other goodies" later in the week. [via]

Kill Hanna, "Promise Me" official music video (v1) on Vimeo.

UPDATE: As Marijn notes in the comments, Wake Up the Sleepers came out last year. Apologies for the error.

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Artist Thu Jan 06 2011

B-Boy Be Clownin'

Meet Nick Demeris, self-styled MC/clown. Now, that particular hybrid probably brings up an unlikely beast along the lines of the Faygo-shilling Insane Clown Posse or perhaps a 2-legit-2-quit Bozo. But no. Instead, based on his Internet videos, Demeris seems to be a rapper who seems to be simply, well, goofy. Check out Demeris' ode to our fair city in "Chicago," or see how he flips a Janelle Monáe track.

Kara Luger

Concert Tue Dec 28 2010

Monotonix is (not?) Coming


Photo by Giles Smith

There is a little band from Tel-Aviv called Monotonix, and if you haven't seen them live yet you're really doing yourself a disservice. This spirited trio embodies the unbridled raucousness and vigor that rock and roll music was spawned from. They never fail to put on a hell of a show, climbing across ceilings, dangling from plumbing, drumming whilst crowd surfing-- behaving like (and looking like) possessed cavemen-- all the while skillfully hammering out some truly inspired garage rock with an eastern twist.

Monotonix are reputed to have inspired audience members to set themselves on fire and/or start canoodling during live shows, therefore being banned by half the venues in Israel they've played at. They may be from The Promised Land in the biblical sense, but some would argue that they are also from The Promised Land in the punkrockian sense.

Do the party animal in yourself a favor and go see them at the Empty Bottle on February 11. UPDATE: Due to the illness of a family member of one of the Monotonix guys, the show has been cancelled. We will let you know if it is rescheduled. Jeff the Brotherhood, Rabble Rabble, and Call Me Lightning open. The show starts at 9:30pm; tickets are $12.

Kelly Reaves

Artist Wed Dec 22 2010

Sam Prekop Casts A Silhouette

Sam Prekop leads the famed Chicago band The Sea & Cake--who recently played a special one-off concert at Lincoln Hall--but he's also well known for his cool solo work. This fall he released his first solo album in five years titled Old Punch Card. While the record is an unexpected departure from anything we've heard from him, falling more into the avant garde category, "The Silhouettes" makes a perfect soundtrack for this charming cartoon directed by Jordan Kim (of Yo Gabba Gabba and Adult Swim's Tom Goes to the Mayor animation fame). It's a wonderful lighthearted diversion if you're stuck in a quiet office counting down the days until Christmas vacation.

If you enjoy the song, download it here.

Michelle Meywes

Artist Mon Dec 06 2010

See Buke & Gass Tonight For Free

BG_byGrantCornett2.jpgBrooklyn duo Buke and Gass are truly a DIY band, having essentially created their own musical instruments. Aron plays what they've dubbed the "gass", a guitar/bass hybrid, while his female counterpart Arone is on the "buke", a modified baritone ukulele. Their music is as unique as their makeup; they teeter the line between mainstream and avant garde, sometimes with so much going on, you'd expect it to be overwhelming, instead finding it intriguing. It's near impossible to assign a single genre--sometimes folk, mostly rock with experimental and pop injections (especially on songs like "Your Face Left Before You" and "Medulla Oblongata" (free download), which would be the closest things they have to singles). One thing they always have is a big sound, whether epic or just plain loud.

See the pair in person tonight as they headline a free Monday at the Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western). Show starts at 9:30pm. Talk Normal and the local J+J+J play first.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Review Mon Nov 15 2010

Afterthoughts on The Blow at Empty Bottle, 11/13

Do I look like a pop star, Khaela Maricich asks, posing with a chin up, a back arched, a leg forward. She flips her new long hair over her shoulder. She is on stage all by herself, like, she just gets up there without a band or anything--just Melissa Dyne running the music offstage--and the performance is entirely minimalistic yet engaging. Do I look like a world famous lesbian, Khaela asks. To signal a comeback, Khaela throws up flame arms in one of her anecdotes between songs. I wish I had a capture of her repeating this gesture. It's great. She is great.

Khaela Maricich faces a blow of indoor wind and hot light.

The narrative told by The Blow on Saturday night is a love story, as always it is about love, and when you listen to songs about love being a fortress and couples making a pair of parentheses and Khaela dedicating a brand new song to her girlfriend in the back of the room somewhere, what else can you in the audience feel but this impatience to fall in love, if you are not already experiencing it at the moment.

Continue reading this entry »

Vicky Lim / Comments (1)

Artist Wed Sep 29 2010

Blue Water White Death

blue-water-white-death1.jpgA few months ago if I was to say "Blue Water, White Death" it may have brought images of sharks in the deep waters of Australia as in the 1971 documentary. However, Shearwater's lead singer Jonathan Meiburg and Xiu Xiu's frontman Jamie Stewart are about to redefine how we look at that phrase. On October 12th Chicago's Graveface Records will be releasing the new album from this surprisingly well-matched duo. What you get when you combine these two musicians is the pleasant and near-angelic delivery of Meiburg mixed with harsh experimentation of Stewart. You can hear this blend in the eight-track albums first single "Song for the Greater Jihad".

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Jason Behrends

Concert Thu Sep 23 2010

Walter Meego On The Cusp Of "Wonder"

waltermeegohauck350.jpgWhat a better way to spend a Friday night than with some old friends. Walter Meego may spend their days in LA now, but the pop group is originally from Chicago, and tomorrow they return home to the Empty Bottle for their "FIRST SHOW WITH THE NEW ALBUM. SO EXCITED ABOUT IT. EXCLAMATION POINT!"

It's been a couple of years since we heard much of anything from the band, but this summer they completed work on their second album, Wondervalley. No word yet on when it will be released, but judging by the rough demos on their blog, it's sure to be filled with the same dizzying dream pop as their '08 debut Voyager that keeps dancefloors busy. The group is also boasting a new 5 person lineup.

It sounds like the Walter Meego crew is on the cusp of some exciting times; a great time to see them at an intimate venue like the Bottle. Show starts at $10pm. Local electroacoustic group The Single Helix opens. Tickets are $8. 1035 N. Western. 21 & up.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Review Wed Sep 22 2010

Notes on Shonen Knife's performance @ Schubas, 9/21

1. I like Shonen Knife as a band name a lot. They are a trio of women from Osaka, Japan who walked on stage by 11pm, waving at the crowd, then for like an hour, they directed genuine fun rock toward us, which the positivity was necessary for me personally, having traveled toward Schubas under a light drizzle and white-purple lightning flashes in the sky, which gave me anxiety. Plus I was alone last night.

2. Naoko Yamano, lead guitarist and vocals, is the only original member of the band left. I'm estimating that she might be in her 50s right now since the band started in the early 80s. My mother is nearly 50, but I would never be able to imagine my mother onstage with the smiles and energy of Yamano, who was playing this glitter blue electric guitar, rocking her long black hair up and down like I would do in my bedroom to get dizzy and drop down. It was great, too, because Yamano and Ritsuko Taneda, the glitter pink bass player, would synchronize their hair rocking to conclude some of the songs.

Continue reading this entry »

Vicky Lim

Hip Hop Wed Sep 15 2010

One More Drink with Ludacris

Photos by Stephanie Griffin

The back stock room at Binny's may be the last place you'd expect to find Ludacris, but nevertheless that's where I found myself chatting with this famed rapper and actor this past Saturday afternoon. Luda had stopped by the liquor store to promote Conjure, his new brand of cognac, before his show at Park West that night. Sadly, samples of the cognac were not offered.

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Stephanie Griffin / Comments (1)

Preview Tue Sep 14 2010

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band: not just another rock out rock band


Seattle's Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band is made up of four members who made their debut last year with a self-titled release (Dead Oceans). This year, they have followed it up with Where the Messengers Meet: twelve songs layered with assertive guitars and enthusiastic percussion that build up and up but shifts directions often enough to create a zig-zag narrative of anthems for the winter.

This sophomore album moves us song by song without falling into an exhausting repetition of rock out rock songs. While there is still repetition, which leads into a predictability at the rise of each song, the songs are still engaging because the lyrics tightly correspond to the music, like the hook of A fire only burns in your eyes at night in the opening track, "At Night," which hammers us into listening further or something.

Sometimes Benjamin Verdoes (guitar, vocals) harmonizes with a choir while his wife, Traci Eggleston-Verdoes, plays multiple instruments, and everyone likes to note that their adopted brother, Marshall Verdoes, is quite young, like fifteen, and owns the drums. Jared Price, a friend, plays bass. The snatches of images in the songs they write stir up a night time meditation that is reminiscent, to me, of qualities in a band like Land of Talk with a hint of similarity to groups that hide in the forest, like Fleet Foxes.

The live energy of MSHVB sounds promising. Tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 16, the band will perform at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., at 9:30pm. Tickets are only $5. 21+

Vicky Lim / Comments (1)

Artist Mon Sep 13 2010

The Maybenauts Put On A Free Show

Local group The Maybenauts put a punchy, spunky spin on glam rock and power pop. The face of the band isn't namesake bassist Ellie Maybe or lead singer Leilani Frey, but the audacious, tenacious guitar playing panda, Vee Sonnets. He wreaks all kinds of havoc during their live shows, just as he creates confusion for the group in their new video for the song "Not Aware" (directed by Jesse Irwin). The single itself, off their recently released EP, Big Bang, is a playful blend of 90's alt-girl rock and sex appeal that will have you shouting out the chorus with the same brazenness as we did with Shirley Manson.

Catch the group tomorrow night as part of a free show at Double Door. Show starts at 8:30pm and The Maybenauts play first. 1572 N. Milwaukee. They also play the Cubby Bear on September 25th as they open for Spacehog. Listen to Q101 or visit their website for free tickets. 9:30pm. 1059 W. Addison. Both shows are 21 & up.

Michelle Meywes

Artist Thu Jul 29 2010

Flosstradamus: A Quintessential Chicago DJ Duo

[This post was originally published on the Lollapalooza news blog.]

When it comes to hometown heroes and proving that the Midwest is the best bet, Flosstradamus is one of the strongest examples for Chicago. The DJ duo of Autobot (Curt Cameruci) and J2K (Josh Young) first popped up on the Chicago music radar in 2005, when the duo formed and hosted the "Get Outta' the Hood" parties at local joint Town Hall Pub. The event was a huge success, a no frills affair where the one guarantee was the night would end in a massive dance party. The Town Hall Pub days might be long gone, but Flosstradamus has kept Chicago moving with their FlosstraPROMus, a yearly event, and the long running Oldies Night that just wrapped up after two successful years. Besides throwing party after party, the duo found time to tour all over the globe with the likes of Chromeo and Kid Sister (J2K's sister), release a slew of mixtapes and singles, and play massive festivals including Coachella, South by Southwest, Pitchfork Festival, and Lollapalooza, where they'll return to the stage this year to keep Grant Park moving Lolla 2010 weekend.

Flosstradamus (Photo by Clayton Hauck)

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Lisa White

Artist Wed Jul 21 2010

Get To Know Local Artist Clip Art

clipart andy.jpgAndy Rosenstein is a busy guy these days. Skipping out on film school in LA to stay in Chicago and concentrate on music, he now splits his time between Bumpus, Terrible Spaceship and has even contributed to JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. Clip Art, however, is all his own pet project, and tonight is the group's EP release show at Empty Bottle.

I've been raving quite a bit lately about a certain band that's been described as 70's glam rock, but now it's time to turn our attention to this local band that falls in a similar arena, but is still rooted in pop. You'll hear quite a bit of piano, as on the ballad-esque tune "I Was Gone" (one you'll probably find yourself singing along to by the end), along with Elton-John-worthy belt-outs on "Better." Tonight, expect to hear some new material, see some feet tapping, some swaying--especially on the EP's title track, "Broken By Design"--and maybe, just maybe, some falsetto.

YellowFever and Mittens on Strings also play tonight, but get there early, because Clip Art takes the stage promptly at 9:30pm. Plus, Rosenstein tells us that "if you tell the man at the front that you're there to see Clip Art, you'll get a free prize!" Tickets are $8. 1035 N. Western. 21 & up.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Artist Mon Jun 28 2010

Fred Anderson - Wake Information

As reported last week, saxophonist, bandleader, and owner/operator of the Velvet Lounge, Fred Anderson, passed away at the age of 81. Mr. Anderson's wake will be held at Leak and Sons Funeral Chapel, 7838 S. Cottage Grove, on Tuesday, June 29, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., followed by Mr. Anderson's Going Home service. There is expected to be a large turnout due to Mr. Anderson's revered standing in the jazz community.

A number of people and newspapers have published remembrances to Mr. Anderson, including the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Tribune, Crain's, the LA Times, the New York Times, NPR, and fellow saxophonist Ken Vandermark.

Please enjoy this footage of Fred Anderson in a trio with Hamid Drake (drums) and Peter Kowald (bass).

Chris Sienko

Concert Fri May 28 2010

Brent Puls Goes It Alone

Pulschair.jpgBrent Puls, the brains behind his former band Grammar, has decided to go it alone and branch out as a solo artist. But don't fret, familiar faces will be in the audience and on stage, as will those same cheery melodies that Puls is known for creating.

Lighthearted pop is this man's strength; no matter what the subject matter, Puls' delivery will bring a smile to your face and a sway to your hips. Tonight you can see his songs come to life first hand at his first headlining show at The Hideout. A great start to your 3-day weekend, this is one local artist you don't want to miss.

Also appearing tonight are Coupleskate and Machine Shop. Tickets are $7. 1354 W. Wabansia. 10pm.

Michelle Meywes

Feature Thu May 20 2010

Homeless Together: Chicago's Blooming Shoegazer Scene

[Editor's note: This article was submitted by freelance writer Jon Graef.]

If one could close their eyes during Chicago-based dance-pop shoegazers Panda Riot's set at the Empty Bottle one late Sunday night in April, they'd swear that they heard the second coming. Not of the Stone Roses, or the King of Kings himself, but of a wave of British psychedelic music that saw its artistic zenith in the late 1980s and early '90s. Slowly, but surely, a shoegazer revival has come to dominate national critical discourse, with widely known groups like Serena-Maneesh, The Big Pink and A Place To Bury Strangers all recently releasing new material and playing Chicago shows. What isn't so known is that, based on a wealth of new material from several local up-and-comers, a revival of the aesthetic is occurring locally as well.

But it's not necessarily a scene, per se. In fact, many Chicago-based participants question the premise of a shoegazer revival in the first place. As they explain it, they simply aren't interested. Sitting in the Bottle's basement lounge before their show, Brian Cook, Panda Riot's guitarist makes a key distinction. "I mean, I'm definitely a fan of shoegaze and dreampop bands. I wouldn't say that I'm a fan of the genre. But I think traditional shoegaze is kind of...stagnant. Is that too negative?"

For a beat, Cook thinks about the answer to his own question before saying in a matter-of-fact, yet cautiously self-deprecating tone that "I think loud guitars and buried voice is just dead in the water. I mean, it is. [Laughs]."

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Transmission / Comments (7)

Event Tue May 18 2010

The Secret History of Chicago Music Comes To Life

vermette200.jpgSteve Krakow (aka Plastic Crimewave) publishes a bi-weekly info strip in the Chicago Reader highlighting obscure but important blues, jazz, rock, funk, soul, folk, R&B and punk musicians that according to Krakow, "somehow have not gotten their just dues."

Right now at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow's The Secret History of Chicago Music comes to life as a selection of the strip is on display in the UBS 12 x 12 gallery along with live performances from some of the featured artists in a short Tuesday night music series. While we missed ONO last week, tonight you can catch "soul/jazz" pioneer Kelan Phil Cohran who started the Chicago Affro-Arts Theater. The exhibition is on display until May 30, but the musical portion concludes next week with Chet Nichols, known for his loner-folk record, Time Loop. Both performances begin at 7pm, and don't forget, admission to the museum is always free on Tuesdays. 220 E. Chicago Ave.

Michelle Meywes

Concert Wed May 05 2010

Max Weinberg and The Max Weinberg...Big Band?

max-weinberg.jpgThat's right. Since Conan got the boot from the Tonight Show, it seems like the whole cast is looking for a way to fill the void. Conan went on tour. Max Weinberg started a Big Band. Being touted as the "third act of an already celebrated career," the famed E-Street Band drummer brings his new incarnation to SPACE in Evanston on June 21. Tickets go on sale this Saturday ($30 - $62).

We already know that Weinberg won't be reprising his role as Coco's bandleader on his new show this Fall on TBS, but Max, we'll just pretend that little bit about you wanting to take over for Kevin Eubanks is just a rumor.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

News Tue May 04 2010

The Dead Weather Is Coming


The Dead Weather yesterday announced a string of summer tour dates, including a July 30 date at the Congress Theater. Tickets go on sale this Saturday, May 8. The Dead Weather's new album, Sea of Cowards, comes out next Tuesday, May 11. Video of the band performing the album in its entirety can be viewed on their MySpace page. A full list of tour dates, after the jump.

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Brian Leli

Artist Wed Apr 21 2010

Get Stuck On Free Energy

free energy.jpgFree Energy is a band you're gonna want to dance to. You're gonna see them live, and you're gonna want to buy a t-shirt. You're gonna want to take one of those free stickers home and put it on your notebook or planner or trash bin (or where ever it is that you put band stickers). Free Energy is one band you're gonna want to see at Pitchfork in July, but before all that happens, you're gonna to make your way to Beauty Bar this Friday night to see them perform at Spandexxx.

The first time I heard Free Energy, I actually thought I was hearing the new Strokes album (since I had just heard they were releasing, or at least working on a new one). They've got that super catchy, kinda glammy 70's rock vibe, plus they've got the power of James Murphy's (LCD Soundsystem) DFA records behind their debut, Stuck On Nothing. The Empty Bottle could barely contain the energy in their live show there last month, so I don't know how Beauty Bar will be able to hold them, but one thing is for sure, you should be there to find out.

Tickets are $5 at the door. The party starts at 10pm with DJs Moneypenny and Team Bayside High. 1444 W. Chicago. 21 & up.

Michelle Meywes

Artist Tue Apr 20 2010

The Record Low's New Album and Benefit Show Tomorrow

Local indie rockers The Record Low recently came out with a new album, Away From Us, and I got a copy of it today! I've listened to it about five times in a row here and I'm not sick of it yet so that's gotta say something. It's smooth and dreamy, pretty shoegazey, super chill-- something I imagine would go splendidly with your morning coffee or on a road trip through the Midwest. This album has been getting some good reviews so if you're a fan of nice, pretty music (and who isn't?) you should check them out.

The Record Low is playing a benefit show tomorrow night at The Empty Bottle with Follows and Amalea Tshilds.

Kelly Reaves

Artist Thu Apr 15 2010

The Booze Know What's Cool

the booze bw.jpgWith a name like The Booze, you'd think they'd be a kitschy bar band singing about getting drunk with your buds down at the local watering hole, but this Atlanta group has a completely different kind of kitsch going on. Sounding like they fell straight out of the 1960's, they've got some super catchy, sunny mod pop with a touch of bluesy grit that will elicit visions somewhere between Animal House frat parties and Enchantment Under the Sea dances. With "No Big Thing" falling in the former category and "Lonely Lowdown Blues" in the latter, the tune "Queensborough Blues" has the perfect mix of both, including some guitar riffs that will make even fans of The Black Keys take notice. While their earlier stuff could be called a little more Chuck Berry, their newest album, Rebirth of the Cool, has been said to lean more Yardbirds.

If you missed The Booze earlier in the month when they played Angels & Kings and SubT, you're in luck because they open for OK Go this Saturday at Metro (3730 N. Clark St.). Hopefully you've already got your hands on tickets though, because as of this morning, it's sold out. The show is an all ages one, so it starts early--we're talking doors at 6, show at 6:30--but the short answer to whether you should bother getting there on time for those openers is yes.

Michelle Meywes

Artist Thu Apr 08 2010

Come ((un))done With Dan Black Tomorrow Night

danblack26.jpgHailing from the other side of the pond, Dan Black first received attention for his curious mashup "HYPNTZ" which took drums from Rihanna's "Umbrella" and strings from John Carpenter's "Starman" soundtrack, adding lyrics from Nororious BIG's "Hypnotize". But with the recent release of his debut album, ((un)), this electronica artist proves he's more than just a one hit wonder, and deserving of more than simply the "electro" label.

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Michelle Meywes

Album Thu Apr 08 2010

Free Vinyl from Mr. Russia

Chicago natives Mr. Russia were nice enough to send us some vinyl recently, a 7" tribute to Bowie with a nice little cover of "Boys Keep Swinging" on it-- a version which is quite loyal to the original but slightly less Bowie-sparkly and a bit rougher around the edges.

In case you're not familiar with these guys, all you need to know is that they are proponents of simple, no-nonsense garage punk and I don't think they ever use guitars (except those of the bass variety.) Fans of stripped down rock and roll will surely dig their jams. I, personally, gravitate toward their demonic renditions of Nick Cave songs. Mr. Russia sure has a knack for injecting a little 21st century angst into 20th century staples.

To get your own free copy of the "Boys Keep Swinging" 7" stop by the Reckless Records at 1532 N. Milwaukee on April 17. Check them out live that night at Beat Kitchen and, while you're at it, download their free new EP from their website.

Kelly Reaves

Artist Mon Mar 15 2010

Cloud Nothings Want To Turn You On

cloud-nothings.jpgI love the innocence and earnestness of lo-fi sound, which is why I was excited to hear the debut album from Cloud Nothings. The buzz and fuzz creates that feeling of camaraderie of hanging in your friend's basement bedroom as a teenager, messing around with your new amp or guitar--which is very likely how Turning On may have developed considering Dylan Baldi, the (young) man behind the music, is only 18 years old.

Throughout Turning On, Baldi does a great job of capturing the dazed melancholy and apathy of life trapped as a teen, but never loses the upbeat pop appeal. All the songs are short, harking back to a simpler time when pop songs clocked in at under two minutes. I was instantly drawn to the single "Hey Cool Kid" which has received all kinds positive recognition noting the infectious pop potential thinly veiled behind all that fuzz. "Ooh You" is another track that I was equally drawn to that was released on a Bathetic Records split tape (split with Chicago's Campfires). It's grungier in comparison, but unfortunately doesn't appear on the album.

While I sing the praises of lo-fi, after an entire album it can get a little old. After a while it feels like the whole album hangs under those fuzzy effects and you start to wonder if the artist is hiding behind them. Here's hoping that Baldi can eventually break out from behind that wall. Considering his age and the pop promise I've heard though, this is one band you'll want to keep your eye on.

Cloud Nothings play at Empty Bottle tonight opening for My Gold Mask and Common Loon. Campfires also play. Show starts at 9pm. Free. 1035 N. Western.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (2)

Album Wed Mar 03 2010

The Blacks In Sickness and Health


The Blacks (photo courtesy of their Myspace page)
In Sickness and Health is The Blacks' first album since their breakup a decade ago and their subsequent reunion after a performance at the Hideout's Block Party last fall. It is a six song EP, and is being released in digital format only on March 9, with an accompanying record-release show this Saturday, March 6 at Schubas.

Much tamer than their previous work, In Sickness and Health reflects the wisdom (and perhaps exhaustion) of mature musicians. Many of the punk rock riffs have been replaced by steady Americana strums, but the freshness is still there. This is music for people who don't want anything fancy--who love the blues and "real" country music but wish they weren't quite so darn sad. Make sure to check out the show this weekend and then let us know if they've still got the raw energy they used to.

Kelly Reaves

Artist Mon Feb 22 2010

Sonic Weapon Fence: Chicago's "Lost" Band


About two years ago, when Chicago resident Patrick Ehlers was watching Trekkies, a 1997 documentary about die-hard Star Trek fans, he learned about Star Trek-themed novelty bands such as The No Kill I and Warp 11. At the time, Ehlers was getting into the show Lost, and he was soon inspired to form his own Lost-themed band.

Born in March 2008, Sonic Weapon Fence is the only Lost-themed band that Ehlers and his bandmates know of in the Chicago area, joining other Lost-inspired bands such as the New-York-based Previously on Lost and LA-based The Oceanic 6. Sonic Weapon Fence was recently profiled in the Sun-Times, and referenced in The Guardian and The A.V. Club. With the final season of Lost on air, the band is currently promoting its debut self-titled album, which was released in November and is available on iTunes.

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Sheila Burt

Artist Fri Feb 19 2010

Submit Your Spoon Questions

spoon.jpgSpoon is coming to Chicago on April Fools Day (and that's no joke) on the heels of the release of their newest album Transference. The album was self produced by the band and has so far turned out to be a love-it or hate-it album since it's such a departure from the pop-centric quality of their last full length, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

Have something you'd like to ask the band about the album? Blurt Magazine is requesting questions from fans an upcoming feature on the Austin group. To get in on the action, just submit your question to

They've also got a new video out for the first single off the new record (and frankly the most radio-friendly cut) "Written In Reverse" you can view here.

Spoon, Deerhunter and Micachu & the Shapes play at The Aragon on April 1. Tickets are $24.75. 1106 W. Lawrence.

Michelle Meywes

Feature Thu Feb 11 2010

Observing Change: Sam Cooke and the Civil Rights Movement

Observation: Over and over again, Sam Cooke would attribute his success to the art of observation. He wrote of what he saw and heard. He listened to it and spoke to it. Effortlessly and instinctively, he turned it into music. He sang the songs that brought relief to the civil rights movement. He sang the songs that formed a bridge. He sang the songs that healed. His furious will and feral tenor brought people to their knees, and lifted them to their feet. Then, at the height of his success, he was shot and killed. It was 1964. He was only 32.

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Brian Leli / Comments (12)

Concert Wed Feb 10 2010

Spandex and Bad Attitudes

2008-02-27_LL.jpgAbout a year ago, I flew down to Florida to visit my mom, who was dating a man my boyfriend's age. We were looking for something to do, and her boyfriend suggested we go to a club in Ybor City to see his friend's band play. Well, he got his dates mixed up, and as it turned out, we were accidentally in store for a treat. That treat was Leslie and the Ly's-- a colorful, overstated, and wildly entertaining dance act employing such accessories as sassy attitudes, lame', and, of course, bedazzled sweaters. Leslie emphatically danced around the stage, singing about Dairy Queen and stretchy pants, glaring at the audience through her giant plastic glasses. Her sidekicks, playing keytars and wearing dark sunglasses, managed to never crack a smile, which totally worked for them.

Over the years, Leslie has become wildly popular in niche markets-- particularly with budding hipsters and gay guys-- and I haven't been able to get that performance out of my head. It's hard not to have a good time at a Leslie and the Ly's show. Even my mom came up with some new moves.

Check her out this Friday at The Subterranean with Christopher the Conquered and Locks. The show starts at 10pm and admission is $12.

Kelly Reaves

Artist Mon Feb 08 2010

Gia Margaret: A Local Musician To Watch

gia1.jpgI had been steering away from singer songwriter and folk music lately, opting to listen to more rock and electronic since that is just what has been speaking to me, but good music is good music and Gia Margaret is just that.

Her song "Distorted Boots of Spanish Leather" immediately tugged on my heartstrings, the distorted effects making her longing vocals even more sorrowful, yet still endearing. This classically trained 22 year old is an eager songwriter with a hankering to share everything she creates, which has led to her giving out raw bedroom piano sessions (including songs like "Onofrio", a bright melody that will make you forget you're not sitting in a French cafe smoking a cigarette).

Margaret is also among the few local musicians making the trip to SXSW, appearing at Paradise on March 17th. If you want catch her before she takes off for Austin though, make your way to Schubas tonight where she'll be playing as part of the 2010 New York Songwriters Circle's Chicago Showcase. Tickets are $10 and the show gets started at 8pm. Other NY Songwriters performing include: Dave Cavalier, Shelley Miller, Josh Kim, Nick Deustch, plus a surprise guest band. 3159 N. Southport. 18+

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Interview Sat Jan 23 2010

Goatwhore Interview & Photos: 1/20/10

All photos by Brian Leli

On the road, Goatwhore vocalist Ben Falgoust acts as tour manager, merch guy and occasional van driver. When not enthralling the crowd, he can likely be found loading in equipment or selling t-shirts. It's only one example of the fortified work ethic and resolve that has kept the band moving for over a decade.

I met up with Falgoust and Goatwhore guitarist Sammy Duet after their HOB show on January 20. We sat in a small corner of their dressing room to talk about the New Orleans band's turbulent history: how it affected their music, the drive that kept them going, and how Chicago played a role in much of it.


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Brian Leli

Artist Fri Jan 15 2010

Free Music (a lot of free music)

travis.jpgTravis Lee Wiggins is beyond prolific, and over the course of his career with Essex Chanel he has released 249 songs. Yes he has other projects like The Salts, but this morning we are celebrating a new year for Essex Chanel. Yesterday, Travis announced that he would be giving away the entire back catalog, all 249 songs/11 albums, for free this year to anyone who is interested.

In addition to that huge giveaway the band will be releasing Love is Proximity Sessions, Disk 2 on January 26th. The first disc was released last year and further highlighted Travis' ability to craft high quality, catchy as hell, indie pop.

For more information on how to download this massive catalog visit Essex Chanel's website. The band will be playing at Uncommon Ground on March 4th.

Jason Behrends

Artist Tue Jan 12 2010

Herbie Hancock at TED

Legendary Chicago jazz musician Herbie Hancock gave a talk and performance at TED last year. The video was just posted:

Andrew Huff

News Thu Jan 07 2010

Slayer Cancels Tour Plans

Slayer vocalist/bassist Tom Araya's recently scheduled back surgery has forced the California metal legends to cancel their tour plans through April. This includes the cancellation of the American and Canadian Carnage Tour dates with Megadeth and Testament, which of course also includes the cancellation of the tour's February 5 stop at Chicago's UIC Pavillion.

According to a press release issued today:

"Tom gave various medical treatments more than a fair shot," said Slayer's manager Rick Sales, "but they just haven't handled the problem, so he's biting the bullet and is scheduled for back surgery at the end of this month."

The headbanging Araya, known for aggressively swinging his long mane of hair while performing, began experiencing back problems while on the band's Australian/New Zealand/Japanese tour last October. In spite of his rapidly increasing pain and discomfort, he carried on with the tour, but immediately upon returning home saw an orthopedic specialist who diagnosed a Cervical Radiculopathy. The rocker initially did not want to take the major surgery route, so the specialist recommended a series of minimally-invasive procedures. While those procedures have resulted in some improvement, Araya continues to deal with intermittent bouts of severe pain, numbness and muscle spasms. The surgical procedure that Araya will undergo, called an Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion, is a relatively routine practice and the recovery rate is excellent.

Booking agents for both Slayer and Megadeth are already hard at work rescheduling the tour dates; tickets already purchased for these shows will be honored at the rescheduled dates.

Brian Leli / Comments (2)

Concert Sat Dec 26 2009

Emily Wells Puts Her Own Touch On A Classic

Emily Wells - Drew Reynolds.jpgThe presents have all been opened and hopefully you've slept off yesterday's Christmas feast, and after those awkward conversations with relatives (distant or not), you're probably ready to get out of the house. If you're lucky enough to be in sweet home Chicago and not still out of town with the fam, grab some friends and head to Lincoln Hall to see Emily Wells tonight.

We first heard and saw Wells over the summer at Pritzker's Edible Audible lunchtime picnic series where she blew us away with her beautiful melodies and multi-instrumental prowess. She's another of today's artists using looping equipment to solely build their songs on stage, joining in the company of musicians like Andrew Bird and Jamie Lidell.

A young female classically trained violinist, fan of hip-hop who decided to merge the two genres? While it sounds ridiculous, the result is a beautiful, free flowing, sometimes saucy new sound, as evidenced in her cover version of Biggie Smalls' "Juicy." She essentially creates what sound like modern symphonies--her last LP (which came out in 2008) was aptly titled The Symphonies: Dreams Memories and Parties. On the record she recorded up to 21 separate violin tracks per song to create a virtual sonic orchestra.

Besides being a joy to listen to, she's a delight to watch on stage. You can bet you'll hear some tunes from her most recent EP, Dirty, as well as some new pieces--if you're lucky, her new track "Passenger" will find it's way into the setlist.

Emily Wells plays Lincoln Hall tonight. Show starts at 10pm. Azita opens. Tickets are $12. 21 & up. 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.

Michelle Meywes

Video Tue Dec 08 2009

New Rhymefest Video: "Give It to Me"

Producer Konee Rok mines the cartoon archive for this new video for "Give It to Me" of Rhymefest's upcoming album, El Che, supposedly now due out next spring.

Andrew Huff

Concert Sat Dec 05 2009

volcano! Erupts at The Hideout Tonight

volcano.jpgvolcano! is pretty much my favorite band. Their music is performed with such intensity that it wavers like a skateboard going down a hill that is too steep, too quickly. It oscillates between tension and release in a way that makes me feel like cheese being pushed through a cheese-grater. In a good way.

Aaron With bellows and coos while he vigorously strums his guitar. His voice is twisty and operatic. He sings about work, pop culture, and sex, among other things. In one of volcano!'s many gems, "Slow Jam," from 2008's Paperwork, he sounds just like Prince, belting out: "Oooooh, you like it early, and I like it late 'n you don't like it when I take the bate, got me hidin' the cookies. Oh let's poke a hole in this balloon animal. It's the elephant trunk in the room."

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Kelly Reaves

Artist Mon Nov 30 2009

Hey Mixtape Champ

hey champ -  winner's circle.jpgHey Champ just released Winner's Circle, a remix album featuring tracks remixed by the band, including "Little Secrets" by Passion Pit and Cool Kids' "(We Are) Champions," as well as their own hit "Cold Dust Woman." Best of all, it's available as a free download. You can take a listen below.

Hey Champ will be performing live at Lincoln Hall Dec. 17 with French Horn Rebellion, and on Dec. 19 at the Metro with Kill Hannah and 1997. Tickets are still available for both shows.

Andrew Huff

Concert Mon Nov 23 2009

Last Chance to See Galactic Inmate Tear it Up

arman.jpgGalactic Inmate is a rowdy, slighty twangy, metal/rock band from Chicago with a loyal following. The three members-- Keith Herzik on guitar, Brett Whitacre on drums, and Arman Mabry on bass, started playing together in 2004. Now, they don't play live very often, but when they do, it's loud as hell. I saw them at Quenchers the night before Halloween (they were dressed up as ZZ Top) and was blown away by their awesomeness-- they kicked ass even with Herzik's yarn beard perpetually tangled in his guitar strings-- so I set up an interview. I met Mabry at The Green Eye on a rainy November night. He jovially sipped PBR and whiskey, the diet of champions.

How do you all know each other?

Keith and I are both from Austin. I knew of him when I lived there but I never met him. It just so happened that when I moved up here with my old band, The Hamicks, I met him. Because eventually, in Chicago, you meet all the Texas people. We didn't really play together initially but we were down the hall from each other at a practice space. One day he and I started messing around, playing old Austin band songs like Scratch Acid and Ed Hall. We were having a great time doing that, so he said "Hey, man, our drummer Bret would like to play..." and that's how it happened.

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Kelly Reaves

Video Wed Nov 18 2009


I was just wondering the other day: What ever happened to OK Go? Turns out they've just been hiding out in a studio somewhere, recording their new album, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, out Dec. 1. Here's the psychedelidonkeykong video by Tim Nackashi for their first single, "WTF?"

Pretty damn cool, no? Wondering HTF OKGO WTFed? Here's Damien and Tim to explain:

Andrew Huff

Artist Fri Nov 13 2009

Get Familiar With Dirty Projectors

dirtyprojectors.jpgThe Dirty Projectors are an interesting sonic experience, that's for sure, and you may or may not be able to get into their latest album, Bitte Orca, depending on your palate. I for one find it endlessly pleasing ear candy. "Stillness is the Move" is probably the most viable single on the record and was incredibly popular this year--Amber Coffman's vocals are swirling and entrancing--but the rest of the album is filled with heavier exploration and experimentation. A lot of the tracks play around with offbeat rhythms, and it's that unexpectedness that makes it so intriguing. Sometimes your ear thinks it wants one thing, but it can be a delight when it gets something completely different.

Like our own Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, Dirty Projectors took a tumble in their van over the summer, but luckily they all walked away from the accident unscathed and are still on the road, tonight making a stop at Bottom Lounge. Tonight's show with Tune-Yards is sold out, but be sure to pick up a copy of Bitte Orca if you aren't familiar.

9pm. Bottom Lounge. 1375 W. Lake. Sold Out.

Michelle Meywes

Concert Thu Nov 12 2009

Stewing Around with Percolator

Percolator is an energetic post-punk four-piece from Chicago with a heavy dose of power pop. They've got a new double album coming out soon, an EP that you can buy for $3, and a show tomorrow at Ronny's.

Upon listening to the sample CDs they sent us along with a nice hand-written note, I immediately picked up on some Mike Watt/Minutemen sounds, the singing called to mind Violent Femmes, and the guitar, Weezer (though they switch around instruments, so the sounds vary a bit.) They also claim to be playing around with influences ranging from Busta Rhymes to Sonic Youth, but I'm not quite hearing it. The sound is a little too clean and consistent for that, but there's nothing wrong with that. The guitar is playful and experimental-- mimicking the lyrics, doing a good job at not being boring. The drums are clean yet hyperactive, the drummer is obviously not afraid of fills, and it works. The recordings are a little iffy-- maybe because they were self-recorded, but I have a feeling this is a pretty fun band to see live. Check them out tomorrow night (Friday, Nov. 13) at Ronny's: 2101 N. California. Bird Ate My Donut, Faggy Pussy, and The Armor Class play that show, too. The show starts at 9pm, ages 21 and up.

Kelly Reaves

Concert Thu Nov 12 2009

Lissie's New EP and Live Performance Tonight

Promo.jpgLissie is a pop/indie/country band with a pretty blond front-woman, Lissie Maurus, who hails from Rock Island but now lives in Ojai, CA. Why You Runnin' is her new EP, fresh off the presses from Fat Possum Records.

Why You Runnin' is good, probably best when it's knee-slappin' indie-country, like in the single, "Little Lovin'," which kicks off the EP with delicate picking on an acoustic guitar and crescendos into greatness with the help of a tambourine and an electric guitar, among other things. Then there is the melancholy country cover, "Wedding Bells," with heavily layered vocals, reminiscent of those of My Morning Jacket, and "Oh, Mississippi," the hymn-like tune that I could have sworn was Mississippi's state anthem, but it's not-- it's just a homesick tune Lissie wrote in London. The EP ends with "Everywhere I Go," which is a little too sappy, and "Here Before," the poppy ballad in which her voice really shines; all twisty and soulful.

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Kelly Reaves

Artist Tue Nov 10 2009

White Rabbits Aren't Frightened

whiterabbits.jpgEvery once in a while a band will lay on your radar for a while, popping up here and there on music sites and local venue bookings, and maybe a friend tells you you should check them out, but then suddenly you realize why they haven't faded away, why they weren't just a blip on the blog circuit. Having even seen White Rabbits this summer at Do Division street fest, I knew they were a great band with incredible energy on stage; even the intense light show in the video for "Percussion Gun" had me stunned, but it wasn't until I heard their newest album, It's Frightening, that it was clear that this band stands head and shoulders above most everything else around right now.

The group originally hails from Columbia, Missouri, Stephen Patterson and Gregory Roberts having met there at The University of Missouri. They moved on to Brooklyn in 2005 with high ambitions that so far appear to be paying off. Spoon's Britt Daniel obviously saw something special in them too, as he came on to produce the followup to their Fort Nightly debut. The Spoon-pop influence is hard to hide on It's Frightening, but White Rabbits take it in their own dark direction with an aptly named album. Although you can characterize their brand of indie-pop as dark, that doesn't mean that verses and chorus wont hook you and draw you in. From intense drum thumping on "Percussion Gun" to endearing guitar strumming on "Company I Keep," this is one album you can bet you'll see popping up on those 'best of '09' lists in the coming months.

White Rabbits are in town this week with The Walkmen for two shows--at Schubas on the 11th and at Lincoln Hall on the 12th. The Lincoln Hall show is already sold out, but a few tickets still remain for the Schubas show. (Both shows are now sold out.) You can also download free tracks from sessions they did for Daytrotter and MySpace Transmissions to hold you off in the mean time.

Wednesday, November 11 @ Schubas. 3159 N. Southport. Show starts at 9pm. 21 &up. Tickets are $20.

Thursday, November 12 @ Lincoln Hall. 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. Show starts at 9pm. 21 & up. Sold Out.

Michelle Meywes

Album Mon Nov 09 2009

Hood Internet Drops Mixtape No.4


Download info here.

Andrew Huff

Video Mon Nov 02 2009

Billy Corgan on DLF.TV

dlftvcorgan.pngThe David Lynch Foundation's DLF.TV interviews Billy Corgan about his music past and present, sits in on drummer auditions, and uncovers the story behind Corgan's song "Eye" from the Lost Highway soundtrack. Check out the video here.

Andrew Huff

Concert Fri Oct 30 2009

Review: Leonard Cohen @ Rosemont Theatre

Listening to Leonard Cohen's music is like listening to your own conscience; seeing him live makes you realize that your conscience is a 74 year-old man in a dark suit and fedora. For over three hours last night, Leonard Cohen kept the rapt attention of an adoring audience as he performed songs that have been so deeply etched into the memories of his fans that its hard to think of a time we didn't know them. He frequently began songs in a kneeling position, as if the weight of his own voice were too much to bear, then rose to a standing position with his body curved into a question mark, for who asks deeper questions than the troubadour from Quebec?

Mr. Cohen received numerous standing ovations, recited the lyrics to 1,000 Kisses Deep as a poem, and received applause from the audience upon hearing key lyrics throughout the evening, such as: you told me again you preferred handsome men but in my case you'd make an exception; and I was born like this I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice. After what seemed like the last song, he came back for an encore that went four songs long. He sang Closing Time, a sure sign that he was finished, only to come back with I Tried To Leave You, getting a big laugh from the audience.

Between now and November 13th Leonard Cohen will be appearing in North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Nevada and California. Catch him if you can, this is one concert you'll never forget. For more information visit Leonard Cohen.

J.H. Palmer / Comments (2)

Artist Mon Oct 26 2009

An 8-Bit Halloween with Bit Shifter

One of the premiere Game Boy-wielding 8bit electronic musicians in the world is Josh Davis, aka Bit Shifter, and subVariant and Front 312 are excited to have him perform at Ai Lounge on Halloween. Having played over 100 live shows armed with only two Nintendo Game Boys and two home-brew aftermarket music programs, he has a dedicated following and has been known to ignite dance floors with his high energy live performances.

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Liz McLean Knight

News Wed Oct 21 2009

Fake Fictions Fading Out


The Fake Fictions' studio rules (courtesy band Flickr page)

We got word yesterday that, sadly, Chicago fuzz pop band the Fake Fictions are calling it quits as of next month. We interviewed Nick and Sarah Ammerman of the band a couple of years ago when their very cool album Krakatoa came out and they had just performed on Chic-a-Go-Go. The band lasted for five years, though a studio fire, DIY experimentation with tape hiss, and attempts to make a little pop music art. It's sad to see them go. The band's last show will be Nov. 20 at Ronny's with The Laureates.

Anne Holub

Concert Fri Oct 09 2009

Drug Rug Bring Sunny Folk to Schubas

Drug Rug.jpgI'm not really a fan of country music (at all) but i can get down with some folk twang, especially when it hangs on to a rock root. On first listen, Drug Rug reminded me of The White Stripes, specifically "Well It's True That We Love One Another" from Elephant because of its 50's low-fi radio sound and charming vocals. As much as their songs fall into a folk and country vein, their style doesn't stick boldly in one genre. Their latest LP, Paint The Fence Invisible is more structured than their psychedelic-heavy debut, but the vibe remains and spells out fun on dazey doo-wop numbers like "Don't Be Frightened By The Devil" and the 60's girl-punk-y "Hannah, Please."

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Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

News Mon Sep 28 2009

Tortoise To Perform @ Reckless Records

Influential Chicago group Tortoise has announced that they will be playing an in-store performance this Sunday at Reckless Records in Wicker Park in support of their new album Beacons of Ancestorship. The album is their first in five years and this will be only their third in-store appearance. They play at 5pm sharp, but since it's FREE, we recommend arriving early as they are sure to draw a big crowd to the small shop. 1532 N. Milwaukee.

In other Tortoise news, they are opening for Wilco at their two UIC Pavilion shows on October 18th and 19th. Tickets are $39.50. Show starts at 7:30pm.

Michelle Meywes

Concert Mon Sep 28 2009

Concert: Down @ The Fuel Room

View the full entry for photos and a setlist from Down's September 26 show.
All photos by Brian Leli


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Brian Leli / Comments (1)

Preview Sat Sep 26 2009

Preview: Down @ The Fuel Room


Growing up very much a part of the metal and hardcore scene, New Orleans, LA has served as one of the most integral and inspiring sources of music for me. Bands like Down, Acid Bath, Soilent Green and Eyehategod — to name only a few — were and are oceans beyond most other bands in this genre. I have a hard time even pairing them together in any way that makes sense. They created their own genre and community. Where one band ends several hybrids have already begun; each adding their own unique piece to the instantly-identifiable whole. While this is representative of artists in New Orleans in general, it's all too apparent in the musical community. They play the music of New Orleans and its inhabitants. They tell the story, good and bad. The beauty that emanates from the city also moves through the music. The devastation, anger and horrible truths that Katrina brought with it will forever be heard in the songs. So will the will to overcome it all. If there is a band that embodies NOLA and this sentiment more than any other, it is Down.

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Brian Leli

Preview Wed Sep 23 2009

Scout Niblett @ Subterranean Contest


I first saw Scout Niblett perform on June 22, 2008. Whatever else I did that day is long gone, but the performance I saw that night will always stick with me. It was a Sunday night and the show was at Schubas. I was there mostly to see Dax Riggs, but Niblett was opening. She began with "Hot to Death" from her album Kidnapped by Neptune, and she got my attention fast. Intense is not a strong enough word for what happened in that room, on that night. I was only slightly familiar with her before she started that first song. By the end of it I was enamored. I knew I was in for a binge. I bought (yes, bought) all her albums that night.

For those unfamiliar with Niblett, allow me a moment to proselytize: She is from Staffordshire, England, but currently lives in Portland, OR. Her music is very minimal, and consists primarily of vocals accompanied by guitar, drums and the occasional piano. Often, only one of these instruments can be heard at a time. She plays them all.

Niblett's singing is unconventional but fervent. She's cited grunge music and astrology as being major influences. She's worked with Chicago's own Steve Albini on multiple albums; her most recent, This Fool Can Die Now, features a hefty four duets with Bonnie "Prince" Billy. On April 14, 2009 she released the 7" single, It's Time My Beloved through Chicago-based indie label, Drag City. Her current tour comes to a close this Friday, Sep 25 at Subterranean: 2011 W North Ave. 9:30pm. 17 & over. Tickets are $12.

But why pay when you could go for free? That would be ridiculous, not to mention wasteful. We're giving away a pair of tickets. Be the first to email us at with your full name and "Niblett" in the subject line, and they're all yours. UPDATE We have a winner! Congrats to Dan B.

Brian Leli

Preview Fri Aug 28 2009

Migrashun presents Lucy [Berlin], Saturday August 29 at Tropico


Luca Mortellaro -- "Lucy" -- of Palermo Italy released his first EP, "Open House" on Qoki Records which immediately drew the attention of renowned artist James Holden who introduced Lucy's work to Raphael Ripperton, founder of Perspectiv Records, who immediately decided to release a second maxi "Glass Computer" on his label. "Glass Computer" is the result of collaboration with Rone (a creative partnership that also led to "Continuity Theory (for Adri)" on Curle). Lucy has recently been warmly welcomed aboard the label Meerestief, a relationship that has allowed him to continue to pursue his musical interests, and build on his commercial success with several releases currently in the pipeline. Constantly searching for innovative sounds, Lucy's DJ sets and live acts combine techno, minimal, neo-trance and electro, to create a vibe that is simultaneously energetic and gliding.


This is Lucy's US debut, so come out and welcome him at Tropico, 3933 N. Sheridan Rd., from 9pm to 3am. Presale tickets are $10, available here.

Liz McLean Knight

Artist Wed Aug 26 2009

Find Yourself on Holiday Shores

HSpromo.jpgLast night four cute boys from Florida took the stage at Empty Bottle for a short opening set that charmed the audience trickling in for local headliners. Named after the street that leader Nathan Pemberton grew up on, Holiday Shores played beachy laid-back indie-rock that could make you feel like you're on the shores of Florida yourself. All four of them were decked out in shorts and sneakers, bringing a bit of that leisurely attitude with them.

The group of friends and roommates recently released their first full-length album, Columbus'd The Whim, filled with charming melodies, distant vocals and catchy hooks. It's a shame that this band is just coming up on our radar now because this album could have easily soundtracked our summer. But hey, since we didn't get much of a summer this year in Chicago anyway, they can soundtrack the fall and winter and we can envision ourselves on sandy beaches in warmer climates.

Watch their video for "Phones Don't Fued" after the jump:

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Michelle Meywes

Artist Fri Aug 21 2009

Emily Wells Delightfully Suprises

emilywells.jpgEmily Wells played a beautiful set at Millennium Park on Monday as part of the city's Edible Audible Picnic series, but if you couldn't get out of the office for lunch that day, you have another opportunity to see her tomorrow night at Schubas.

Wells is a multi-instrumentalist (and by multi I mean everything from violin to toy piano to sampler) whose music I can only seem to describe with that one word: beautiful. You might think merging two genres as different as classical and hip-hop would be bizarre, but she somehow makes it just that--beautiful--but with edge. She is talented enough to have turned her nose up at a lucrative major label deal at the age of 17, opting instead to hold on to the creative control that we as listeners are lucky that she did.

On Monday she ruled the equipment switching from instrument to instrument, accompanied only by her drummer, Sam Halterman. Songs started off slow, with her building up the backing tracks that they would explode into as they formed. Her symphonies were sometimes dark and always dramatic, her quivery voice making them all the more haunting, but at the end of the show she switched gears into lighter, more upbeat songs like "Passenger" and "Take It Easy San Francisco."

One interesting thing I read about Wells was that on her last full length album, The Symphonies: Dreams Memories & Parties, she didn't simply play one single violin track over and over to create depth; she actually recorded up to 21 separate tracks to craft her very own symphony. Right now she is touring on the heels of her new EP Dirty, which if you're wise you'll pick up at the show, and if we're lucky, maybe her next album will have "Passenger" on it.

Emily Wells plays at Schubas Saturday, August 22. Tickets are $8 ($10 door). Show starts at 10pm. Horse's Ha and Leroy Bach open. 21 & up. 3159 N. Southport.

Photo by Anne Carmack.

Michelle Meywes

News Mon Aug 17 2009

Anticipating Pearl Jam's Backspacer Release?

pjam dclinch.jpgPearl Jam's new album, Backspacer, doesn't come out until next month (September 20th to be exact), but right now you can watch a documentary on the making of the new record on MySpace Music. The ten minute short was directed by Danny Clinch and produced by Three on the Tree. You can preview the band's current single, "The Fixer," on MySpace as well. Also, don't forget they roll through town next week with two shows at the United Center on August 23 and 24. Tickets are $66.

(Photo by Danny Clinch)

Michelle Meywes

Artist Mon Aug 03 2009

Saviours to Rock (Plus a Contest)


A few years ago an old friend of mine called me out of the blue and said, "You have to see this band. They're called Saviours." He went on to tell me that they were a metal band from Oakland that had ties to Drunk Horse and Yaphet Kotto. He was completely blown away with their riffs reminiscent of early 80s British metal (NWOBHM), gruff vocals, breakneck speed, and complex arrangements. Their music has a little Iron Maiden, some Melvins, a bit of Motörhead, etc. And with song titles like "Circle of Servants Bodies" and "Holy Slaughter", you know they're paying homage to the occult-obsessed metal bands that preceded them. Tours with Earthless and Mastodon have done much to elevate their status in modern metal circles.

Saviours are road warriors. They've been to Chicago numerous times over the last few years and visit again tonight at Subterranean with Sourvein and Raise the Red Lantern. The show is 21+ at 9PM and runs $10. However, the first to email with "CRUCIFIRE" in the subject line gets a pair of tickets to the show. Update! We have a winner! Congrats to David!

James Ziegenfus

Artist Fri Jul 24 2009

A Quick Q&A With The Octopus Project

theop_img01.jpgThe Octopus Project are self-described "collectors of sounds" and their new EP, Golden Beds, is a collection of five songs, each experimenting in different genres. With a couple of tracks coming from their debut album and a subscription-only 7" from last year, Golden Beds begins with the shoegaze tune, "Wet Gold" and immediately switches into rockin guitar and drums on "Moon Boil." The EP conludes with "Half a Nice Day," a lo-fi twee instrumental with cutsey keyboards, but the most compelling song is "Rorol," a streamy avant-garde play with a Siren's call. They utilize the fascinating theremin (an electronic instrument played by without contact from the player, just moving the hands near its two antennas) to create the eerie sound. You can stream the entire EP at Peek-A-Boo Records' website.

MP3: "Wet Gold"

The Octopus Project plays tomorrow night at Bottom Lounge, but I had a chance to catch up with band member Josh Lambert for a quick Q&A beforehand:

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Michelle Meywes

Concert Thu Jul 23 2009

White Mystery Celebrate 7" Release at Permanent Records Tomorrow


Everyone's favorite redheaded button making rock 'n' roll power duo, White Mystery, are keeping it busy this summer. The brother/sister duo of Francis and Alex White just teamed up with HoZac Record's Hookup Klub, where subscribers get ten 7" singles of 500 limited edition pressings from various artists. Sadly you snooze and you loose, because the Hookup Klub is already sold out. But there is hope. Fifty copies will be available at live White Mystery shows, so you've got to hustle if you want to purchase your own little vinyl slice of noisy blues soaked garage rock.

Do not panic though, because you can pick up a copy tomorrow (Friday July 24th) at Permanent Records, where the band will be playing and celebrating the release of their 7". The show starts at 6pm, and is free.

6pm too early for your rock 'n' roll blood? Then check out White Mystery later that night at the Q4 Art show, located at 2716 W. North Ave. The cost is $5 before 11pm, $7 after, 21+, and includes a laundry list of bands, live art, a puppet show, a trumpet, and face painting. Because you know it's a good night when you get to pogo up and down to garage rock while being painted up like a lion.

Lisa White / Comments (1)

Feature Thu Jul 23 2009

The Dead Weather

Attitude: whatever your feelings about the music of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Kills and Queens of the Stone Age; their members are covered in it. It is gritty and will not wash off. When holed-up in a room together, the resulting mixture becomes that much more abrasive, that much more piercing, that much grittier. Over three weeks in early-2009, a musical gathering took place in Nashville; what emerged was The Dead Weather. With their still-warm debut album, Horehound, released through Jack White's Third Man Records on July 14, The Dead Weather are set to move through a two-night offering at the Vic Theatre next week. Prior to their arrival, a closer look is in order.

Continue reading this entry »

Brian Leli / Comments (2)

News Mon Jul 20 2009

Adam Yauch has Cancer: Beastie Boys Cancel Shows

Beastie Boy Adam Yauch announced today that he has parotid gland cancer, and the band will be canceling or postponing all upcoming concert dates -- including Lollapalooza and the show at the Congress Theater. Their upcoming album, Hot Sauce, has been pushed back as well. Here's his announcement, posted this morning on

Andrew Huff

Interview Sun Jul 19 2009

Conversations at Pitchfork Festival: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart

the pains of being pure at heart

Call it twee, call it shoegazer, or call it whatever you like, but make no mistake about the fact that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart make bright and cheery pop music. Their sunny music matches the bands sweet and friendly disposition perfectly, as I caught up with the band backstage after the brief downpour of rain Saturday afternoon. The band spoke about still being in the honeymoon stage of success, dished the dirt on a pop-punk Warp Tour past, and Peggy disclosed her rebellious ways of sneaking backstage at the first Pitchfork Festival.

Keep checking back for more conversations with artists all weekend at Pitchfork.

Lisa White

Interview Sun Jul 19 2009

Conversations at Pitchfork Festival: Cymbals Eat Guitars

cymbals eat guitars

Next up I spoke to Cymbals Eat Guitars, one of my picks from our feature of bands to check out this year at the festival. Earlier the band kicked off Saturday with their brand of fuzzed out '90s style indie rock. Their laid-back music was the perfect soundtrack to a breezy early Saturday afternoon. The guys discussed the extremes of playing both venues and festivals, their favorite memories from early Lollapalooza festivals (including Neil's memory of Cyprus Hill and an inflatable bong), the surreal moments of their success this past year, and their guilty admittance of loving dance rock. And to fully explain their photo, the guys really needed a bathroom break. I was more than happy to oblige their need to express this frustration. Even indie rockers have to cave and use the port-a-potty.

Keep checking back for more conversations with artists all weekend at Pitchfork.

Lisa White / Comments (1)

Interview Sun Jul 19 2009

Conversations at Pitchfork Festival: Matt and Kim

matt and kim

This weekend Gapers Block is sitting down with some of the artists at Pitchfork to talk about the festival itself, their favorite festival memories, and much more. Keep checking back all weekend for more conversations at Pitchfork Festival.

Before you take a listen, I have to disclose I'm a writer, not a sound engineer, so I apologize for the rough around the edges audio. You'll hear background noise, the occasional siren, and even the cheering crowd of DOOM during one interview. What else would you expect though from a live music festival? Have no fear if you're not a fan of audio, though. I'll be transcribing and posting the transcripts of each conversation throughout the week. Until then, turn up your speakers, and check out what some of the bands play Pitchfork Festival had to say.

I started off my Saturday chatting with the happiest indie pop duo in the world, Matt and Kim. I can say without a doubt, they are two of the sweetest people around, and a ridiculously dedicated band, constantly touring and even sometimes playing multiple shows a day. They shared with us a favorite a festival story of Matt jumping into the most contaminated lake in Norway, expressed their love of top 40 hip-hop, and clued us in on the perks of no longer having to rough it on the road.

Keep checking back for more conversations with artists all weekend at Pitchfork.

Lisa White

Artist Thu Jul 16 2009

Cheap Trick Returning to Relevancy?

cheaptrick_thelatest.jpgCheap Trick, the best band ever to come out of Rockford, seems to be everywhere lately. That's at least partly thanks to their decision to release their latest album, The Latest, as a limted edition 8-track tape -- simultaneously one-upping all the hipsters on the obscure media tip and making '77 Monte Carlo owners really happy.

But that's just part of the picture. Cheap Trick wrote the theme music for "The Colbert Report." The band is on tour with Def Leppard and Poison this summer (playing tomorrow night at whatever they call that amphitheater in Tinley Park these days -- tickets still available!) and drummer Bun E. Carlos is part of the unlikely supergroup Tinted Windows. And Cheap Trick will be performing The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band live in Las Vegas this September. Possibly with Barry Manilow. Barry Freaking Manilow.

What are we to make of this resurgence? Is Cheap Trick back, or just cashing in on late Boomer/early Gen-Xer nostalgia? If their interview on Chicago Public Radio's "Eight Forty-Eight" is any indication, it's a little of both. And they're fine with that, if it means continuing to be able to play.

Andrew Huff / Comments (3)

Hip Hop Tue Jul 14 2009

North Side There's No Juke

BBU (aka either Bin Laden Blowin' Up or Black, Brown and Ugly) have a hit on their hands with "Chi Don't Dance." Check it out:

BBU is performing with Hood Internet and the Life During Wartime DJs at UR Magazine's Dickfork night at Darkroom, 2210 W. Chicago Ave. The show starts at 9pm and is free before 11pm with RSVP or all night if you have a Pitchfork ticket or wristband (it's $5 after 11 if you don't). 21+

Andrew Huff

Artist Tue Jul 07 2009

Be My Girl

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for swLPsmall.jpgFor all of the much deserved attention being paid to the new album from Wilco, the most popular song around the blogshere from Chicago has to "Be My Girl" by The Smith Westerns . The track recently received an 8 from Pitchfork, it was featured by Fader, Gorilla vs. Bear, The Reader, and many more. The bands self-titled debut was recently released by HoZac Records, and features a noisy lo-fi brand of garage/surf rock. My theory is if Wavves can find a large audience, Smith Westerns should not be far behind.

{MP3} Smith Westerns - Be My Girl

Smith Westerns will be performing at The Bottom Lounge as part of the Offical Pitchfork Music Festival After Party on July 17th.

Jason Behrends

Radio Wed Jul 01 2009

Which Wilco Came First?

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy sat down with WBEZ's Alison Cuddy to talk about the band's newly released album Wilco (the album), Jay Bennett and the order of things.

Anne Holub

Artist Mon Jun 29 2009

Pictured: Steve Albini


Photographer Ian Merritt caught up with producer and musician Steve Albini after his band Shellac played an unusual Saturday night/Sunday afternoon double gig at the Bottom Lounge this weekend. Check out the rest of the resulting portraits here.

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Concert Fri Jun 26 2009

Find Love in October

loveoctober.jpgLove in October, who recorded and produced their own new self-titled EP, could be described as rock and power-pop. There is a young innocence in their sound, not surprising since two members are brothers originally from Sweden. Love in October has that Swedish pop feel, with a definite American 90's alternative influence--a hint of Weezer in the guitar on "Permutations" and Blink 182 in the quick paced vocals on "Like Nothing Ever Happened." The album has a reflective, melodic ending on "27-08-08" with a distant voice singing in Swedish (reminding me a bit of Foo Fighters on "Doll").

Join them tomorrow at the Record Release Show for Love in October at Martyrs (3855 N. Lincoln Ave.). The Right Now and Jenny Gillespie will also play. Show starts at 10pm. Tickets are $8. 21 & up. (For your chance to win guest passes to the show, email your name and email address to by noon TODAY.)

Download a free mp3 of "Like Nothing Ever Happened" at their website.

Michelle Meywes

Artist Thu Jun 25 2009

Brad Peterson Finds Ductape Can Fix Almost Anything

BP.jpgFew stories begin with quite this much drama: "Against odds, Chicago musician wakes from coma." That was the headline in the Chicago Tribune on December 21, 2004 when Brad Peterson woke from a 39-week coma after being struck by lightening. But this story ends up less a tragedy and more fortunate beginning. Within six days of waking from the coma, Peterson had written an entire album from his hospital bed called The Red Album, named after the red-tinted vision he claims to have had when regaining consciousness.

After the crisis passed, Peterson returned to the normal struggles of life, as is evidenced in his new record, The Ductape Album (because as we all know, duct tape fixes everything, right?). "On the surface, a humorous antithesis to the King Midas touch, The Ductape Album is the collection of songs about love, struggle, spirituality, failure and beauty with words and tones -straight my heart." He will no doubt draw comparisons to The Beatles on the tracks like "More" and "Serenity Prayer," but the album is mostly singer/songwriter alternative rock.

Brad Peterson plays tonight at Double Door for the Record Release Party for The Ductape Album. Nicolas Tremulis opens. Stick around after the show for live band karaoke. Show starts at 9pm. Tickets are $10. Double Door is located at 1572 N. Milwaukee. 21 & up.

Photo by Thomas Steiner.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (2)

Concert Thu Jun 25 2009

An Evening With Jeff Tweedy


Photo by Paul Golm, Creative Commons

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy must really love the Emanuel Congregation in Edgewater (the Tweedy family's synagogue). He played two shows at the Vic to benefit the synagogue last February, and this August he'll be playing yet another benefit show, this time in the synagogue itself (though you don't have to be a member to attend). It's a perfect opportunity to enjoy a relaxing evening of music for those not interested in that little music festival going on the same weekend. Peter Grosz, who is a Second City alum and is currently a writer for "The Colbert Report", will be opening the show.

The charity event is taking place August 8th at the Emanuel Congregation, 5959 N Sheridan. If you've got a bit of extra dough, a $200 VIP ticket will get you front section seating, a meet and greet with Tweedy and Grosz, an on-site parking spot and a drink ticket. Mid-section seating is available at $75 per ticket and third-section seating for $54 per ticket, with off-site parking available for $10. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased here. Doors are at 7 pm, show at 8.

Stephanie Griffin / Comments (1)

Artist Fri Jun 19 2009

Can Music Relieve a Hangover?

exeption flyer.jpg

Hangovers are the annoying, productivity-inhibiting result of a night spent drinking quite a bit, and yet we still put up with them because it's fun to loosen up, be social, and dance. Sure, it's easy to pop some aspirin, rehydrate and muddle through the morning, but wouldn't it be cool if music could relieve your hangover?

That's the concept behind Exception AM, a free digital compilation from subVariant that aims to present a collection of electronic music to help you feel better in the morning after a night of drinking. To celebrate the release on June 20, the release party will be held at Ai lounge in River North as the first in a series of concept parties called "Artificial Intelligence." Liz Revision will mix the mostly-ambient and downtempo tracks from the compilation together at the beginning of the night and will then hand over the decks to local DJs Silentcorp, Andrew Kevins, Dirtybird, and Droopy to finish out the night with techno and house. The party will be free all night from 10pm-3am.

Continue reading this entry »

Liz McLean Knight

Artist Thu Jun 18 2009

MS Won't Stop Exene Cervenka

Guest post by Jeremy Henderson

x_@_masque_publicity_2009_-_photo_%c2%a9_1979_by_fra(2).jpgThis is what she told me 10 days before she found out: "Career wise, if you were to ask me what I'm most proud of, it's that my career has lasted so long, for sure. It's like, OK, I was on American Bandstand, that was nice. But that I'm still playing music -- that's nicer."

Then the news broke, halfway through the tour: X's Exene Cervenka diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

The L.A. Times had it, Rolling Stone, Perez Hilton... it was the hypertext hit of the day.

In response, one well-intentioned entertainment blogger plugged the band's upcoming show in Knoxville ("likely... their final Tennessee appearance ever") with all the chin-up optimism of an obituary.

But the reason her diagnosis with MS was newsworthy, the reason we even know who she is at all, is because 53-year-old Exene Cervenka -- punkabilly's primordial poetess, the Lipsticked Snarl of "Losss Angelesss!" -- has always, always, always said "yes" to life.

Continue reading this entry »

Andrew Huff

Artist Mon Jun 15 2009

On June 18 Fashion :: Sex :: Music Series Brings in Godsgirls, Drops the Beat

kelsey.jpgFashion :: Sex :: Music is a multi-disciplinary event series hosted by [NSFW] -- a Suicide Girls-type site that takes things a bit further -- that aims to showcase and cross promote fashion, sex, music, and art in a single night. With attractive girls in lingerie, a photo-installation from the site, a mixed media and fashion installation by My Broken Heart Mafia, and a diverse, dance-oriented sound from an all-girl DJ lineup, FSM delivers more than just another hipster dance music night.

The night also encourages community building and intra-industry networking by concurrently billing itself as a meetup for The Chicago Fashion Industry on, a group that has amassed more than 1,000 members. Judging by the comments and introductions on the site, the group is filled with ambitious and dedicated amateurs and professionals alike who work within or on the periphery of the fashion industry in Chicago. Combined with the increasing focus on Chicago as a fashion hub (with the relatively recent Chicago Fashion Week, for instance), grass-roots efforts like FSM that reach out to build a thriving network may help bolster Chicago's image as a fashion resource as well as a thriving and innovative music community.

The event starts at 9pm on Thursday, June 18 at Sonotheque, 1444 W Chicago Ave, and features an-all girl DJ lineup that includes Liz Revision, Fathom, Avi Sic, and Hilary Rawk.

Continue reading this entry »

Liz McLean Knight

Artist Fri Jun 12 2009

Nylon Music Tour Brings Living Things to Town

Living Things.jpgLiving Things (not to be confused with Peter, Bjorn and John's new album of the same name) are a band with a message, political and social, told through straight ahead rock and roll. Their latest, sophomore album, Habeus Corpus, is fueled by rage from the Bush era, in fact, these guys used to burn posters of the former President on stage. But, don't think we're dealing with a heavy-metal Rage Against the Machine copy-cat here, these guys have drawn more comparisons to the likes of The Ramones and Johnny Rotten punk.

Three brothers from St. Louis comprise the band--lead Lilian Berlin, drummer Bosh and bassist Eve, with Cory Becker on guitar. You might recognize the catchy chorus form the first single from their debut album, "Bom Bom Bom," which was featured in an Apple commercial. The singles released so far from Habeus Corpus, "Let It Rain" and "Oxygen," are more melodic and poppy, but the group shines on grittier tracks like "Brass Knuckles" and "Cost of Living" which are more representative of the album as a whole.

Living Things are slated to play Lollapalooza in August, but you can see them at Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake St.) on Monday, June 15 as part of the Nylon Summer Music Tour. They will open for Patrick Wolf, along with Plasticines and Jaguar Love. The show starts at 7pm. Tickets are $ 15. 18 and up.

Michelle Meywes

Album Tue Jun 09 2009

Hot Streaming Tortoise

tortoise_beacons.pngTortoise's latest album, Beacons of Ancestorship, isn't out until June 22, but it's streaming on the band's website right now.

You can preorder Beacons of Ancestorship as either a CD or 180g vinyl LP with mp3 download directly from Thrill Jockey, or on Amazon. (Preorders through Thrill Jockey will also receive a 17"x24" poster.)

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Artist Tue Jun 09 2009

Not Too Insecure to Win

insecurities.jpgAs if Stubhy Pandav hadn't found enough success as the lead of Lucky Boys Confusion and Shock Stars, he's created another band by the name of The Insecurities who debuted to a sold out crowd at Elbo Room last June. What started as "an outlet for my songs that I loved but, for one reason or another, never made the cut in previous projects," Pandav says, can now boast that they will be opening for 311 and Ziggy Marley as the winners of an online Q101 contest.

With a familiar Stubhy power-sound, The Insecurities are piano-infused rock taking influences from Ryan Adams, The Counting Crows and Bright Eyes. They have an EP out now called Ban The Kiss Hello: A Social Commentary, and are currently writing songs a full-length album due out in August.

The annual Q101 Block Party will be held at Charter One Pavilion at Northerly Island on Sunday, June 14. The show starts at 7pm and tickets are $37.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Artist Mon Jun 08 2009

"The Wikipedia Files" with St. Vincent

WBEZ's Justin Kauffman interviews multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Annie Clark -- aka St. Vincent -- to clear up some of the details on her Wikipedia entry.

St. Vincent will be performing a free concert tonight in Millennium Park in the Pritzker Pavilion, with Allá opening. The show starts at 6:30pm.

Andrew Huff

Album Fri May 29 2009

Devine is Divine on Brother's Blood

Kevin Devine.jpgI'll be honest, most of the time I find solo singer/songwriters kind of boring. But, then I heard Kevin Devine. Devine is an artist that can cross many different genres and put his stamp on each one. His new LP, Brother's Blood, is in a word, outstanding. He excels with energetic indie-rock jams like "I Could Be With Anyone" and several tracks -- including "All Of Everything, Erased" and "It's Only Your Life" -- that sound like they could have been on the Garden State soundtrack. He also has a talent for creating powerful swelling songs like "Carnival" and title track, "Brother's Blood."

In listening to the album, I found myself associating him with artists from Ben Gibbard to Ryan Adams to Albert Hammond Jr. to Sam Beam to Jeff Tweedy, but even those comparisons don't capture his wide range. There is "Fever Moon" -- a sexy Latin croon that you wouldn't expect, but it works. Then there is the deceivingly cheery ukulele tune "Murphy's Song" about a pup with a Marley & Me ending. The album hits its peak at the middle with epic desperation in the nearly eight-minute "Brother's Blood" followed by the steamy "Fever Moon."

Devine has worked and toured largely under the radar and was almost lost after his dismissal from Capital Records during their merger with Virgin, but he came out unscathed, and frankly, better off than he went in. This fifth album, released on the Favorite Gentleman label, is a self proclaimed "sprawling, confident mission statement about conscience, culture, and personality."

Kevin Devine and his Goddamn Band play tonight at Schubas, but if you miss him tonight, he'll be back in August as part of Lollapalooza's line-up. Tonight they will be joined by Miniature Tigers and Brian Bonz & the Dot Hongs. Schubas is located at 3159 N. Southport. Show starts at 9pm. Tickets are $11 ($13 at the door). 18 & up.

(Photo by Andreas Hornoff)

Michelle Meywes

Album Fri May 15 2009

Top Sellers: DEADWAX Records

This week's list comes from Wilbur Sutphin, owner of DEADWAX Records over at 3819 N. Lincoln Ave. There's no website for the store, but we can link to this excellent Newcity article on all the indie record stores in Chicago, where the writers say this about DEADWAX: "Owner Wilbur Sutphin offers the quintessential music collection at Deadwax and keeps it in immaculate order. It's like going through your friend's cool dad's music collection that he would never let you touch, but here you finally can." The locals are bolded.

Bill Callahan, Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle (Drag City)
Serge Gainsbourg, Historie de Melody Nelson (Light in The Attic)
Flipper, Gone Fishin (4 Men with Beards)
Rats, Intermittent Signals (Mississippi Records)
The Wipers, Over the Edge (Jackpot Records)
Boscoe, Kingdom of Chad (Asterisk)
Tim Hecker, An Imaginary Country (Kranky)
Andrew Bird, Mysterious Production of Eggs (Grimsey Records)
Handsome Family, Honey Moon (Carrot Top)
Nothing People, Late Night (S.S. Records)

Sheila Burt

Artist Tue May 12 2009

The Story of Blane Fonda

BlanePhoto3_7LoRes.jpgAs we sit just days away from the final concert of a band like Chin Up Chin Up, we are reminded how fleeting the life a band can be. Bands can part ways for a variety of reason, but what is typically sited is "creative differences". Such is the case for a band that was named one of 10 new Chicago acts that should be heard from in 2008 by Jim DeRogatis just 18 months ago, The Sapiens. Despite their snappy suits and well defined indie pop melodies, The Sapiens were not meshing the way each member had hoped. They had even taken a retreat of sorts last December to try to strengthen the bond of the band, but it was to no avail. In January the band parted ways with its lead singer and began a search for a new frontman.

Mark Wetzel (formerly of Technicolour Stallion) was who they found and now The Sapiens have regrouped as Blane Fonda. As you might image this is a major adjustment for a band, but it gives them an opportunity experiment and discover a sound that truly represents them as a band. The band made their debut at The Beat Kitchen last month, and as they continue play and practice Blane Fonda may soon become one of the 10 bands to watch in 2009.

Jason Behrends / Comments (1)

Video Tue May 12 2009

New Video for Rhymefest's "Chicago"

Konee Rok directs the video for Rhymefest's single "Chicago" off the upcoming album, El Che. See if you can count how many superheroes and villains our Che Smith turns into.

Andrew Huff

Album Sat May 09 2009

Top Sellers: Vintage Vinyl in Evanston

This week's list comes from Steven Kay over at Vintage Vinyl Records at 925 Davis Street in Evanston. This list, Kay says, is "the music that is making our clientele happy at this moment" and is "in order of them spilling from my brain."

nick nicely, Psychotropia (LP and CD)
The Dukes of Stratosphear, 25 O'Clock (Expanded CD)
Smoke, My Friend Jack (LP and CD)
Magic Mixture, This is the Magic Mixture (LP and CD)
Bat for Lashes, Two Suns (LP and CD)
Halloween, Alaska, Champagne Downtown (LP and CD)
Tommy James and the Shondells, Crystal Blue Symphonies: The Psychedelic Years (CD)
Coloured Balls, Ball Power (CD)
Kevin Ayers, What More Can I Say (CD)
Jeff Beck, Shapes Of Things: '60's Groups and Sessions (CD)

Sheila Burt

Artist Tue May 05 2009

Tortoise: New Tracks, Upcoming Album Preview

As we head toward summer, local post-rock pioneers Tortoise are preparing to ramp-up their activity. The band's got a new full-length CD on the way and they're also scheduled to play an all-request set on the opening night of the Pitchfork Music Festival. Over at his music blog Pampelmoose, Gang of Four bassist Dave Allen offers a preview for the new album -- two tracks from the band's upcoming album Beacons Of Ancestorship, which is set to arrive via Thrill Jockey on June 23.

The two preview tracks also recently popped up on the the band's Myspace page. Allen, however, throws in a special bonus -- Tortoise's previously unreleased remix of Gang of Four's "Paralyzed" that wasn't included on the U.K. edition of Return The Gift, the Gang's double-disc live/remix collection from a few years ago.

You can check all three of 'em out here.

Graham Sanford

mp3 Mon May 04 2009

Who's Got Good Bait?

Now that the weather is finally starting to shift to the warmer side of t'ings, the trees starting to bud and the idea of summer starting to seem like more like a reality, that means mixtape season is upon us. With that in mind, The Cool Kids have fired the opening salvo today with the release of their new 18-track, downloadable mix-CD Gone Fishing. The mix also arrives as a something of a run-up to their debut full-length, When Fish Ride Bicycles, which is (reputedly) due to drop at some unspecified date in the coming months. You can download Gone Fishing for free from the Kids' website.

Graham Sanford

Album Fri May 01 2009

Top Sellers: Hyde Park Records

This week's list comes from Joe Wroblewski, manager of Hyde Park Records, 1377 E. 53rd St. On top of listing these sellers, Wroblewski also mentioned that, unfortunately, Neil Young's new one "has not sold at all."

Bob Dylan, Together Through Life (Columbia)
K'jon, Ballroom Xplosion (Up&Up Records)
Jadakiss, The Last Kiss (Ruff Ryders/ Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)
Bonnie Prince Billy, Beware (Drag City)
Depeche Mode, Sounds of the Universe (Mute/EMI)

Sheila Burt / Comments (1)

Album Thu Apr 23 2009

Top Sellers: Permanent Records

This week's list of unofficial top sellers comes from Lance Barresi, owner of Permanent Records, 1914 W. Chicago Ave. Per the usual, Chicago artists are bolded.

Wavves, Wavvves
Kurt Vile, Constant Hitmaker
Lazer Crystal, EP 1
Flipper, Generic
V/A, World's Lousy With Ideas Vol. 8
Wooden Shjips, Dos
Psychedelic Horseshit, Golden Oldies
Sneakers, Children Into People EP
Serge Gainsbourg, Histoire De Melody Nelson
Monks, Black Monk Time

Sheila Burt / Comments (4)

Artist Fri Apr 03 2009

They Started Something...

tingtings.jpgEvery time I see pop duo The Ting Tings (Katie White and Jules De Martino), all I can think is that Katie is basically what every little girl wanted to be when they "grew up" after watching Jem and the Holograms. She bounces all over the stage with her fluffy blonde hair, Technicolor outfits (clothes which she designs herself) and sugary voice chanting cheerleader-style or serenading a sweet little melody.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Meywes

Artist Wed Apr 01 2009

Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten Returns to Chicago

ingebrit.jpgFree jazz can be a little hard to get into if you didn't get your degree in music composition, but you probably don't realize that it influences a lot of the indie and rock music you listen to. You also may not have known that The Hideout hosts an improvised music night once a week. The Immediate Sound series, a part of Umbrella Music, (read about their annual festival here) takes place there every Wednesday.

Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten lived in Chicago for two years from '06 to '08 and in that time formed friendships and bands with some of the city's most renowned improvised jazz musicians. He has returned from his home in Oslo to play five shows in as many days, beginning tonight at The Hideout with trombonist Jeb Bishop, trumpeter Jacob Wick and Frank Rosaly on drums. Peter Margasak over at The Reader has written a nice piece about Haaker Flaten where you can read more about his collaborations and recent album releases.

Info on Haaker Flaten's other gigs this weekend after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Meywes / Comments (2)

mp3 Tue Mar 31 2009

Hoodtronics 2009

photo by Clayton Hauck

Here's a couple of recent tracks flipped to us by hometown leftfield hip-hop artist Vyle, who's back in town after a stint at SXSW. This past year saw the beneath-the-radar releases of his Flosstradamus-produced Oh I Think Dey Like Hoodtronics, Vol. 2 mixtape and the Neonstrider Bit Rate collab with Eliot Lipp.

According to a recent post on his blog, Vyle's resuming work on his next album (which wouldmake for his first solo full-length release since 2003's Post-Paleaeonlogist). In the meantime, he guests on a track from the new EP by French bloghouse producer Dangers on the Ekleroshock label.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Album Sat Mar 28 2009

Top sellers: Reckless Records in the Loop

Transmission checked in with Jeff Johns from Reckless Records in the Loop at 26 E. Madison St. to find out what the top sellers were this week. The list isn't scientific but is based on what records managers have noticed are selling a lot. We're hoping to make this a regular feature by checking in with indie record stores across the Chicagoland. For our first segment, here's Jeff's list, which he titled "Reckless Records' (un)lucky top 13 sellers in alphabetical order." Chicago-based artists are bolded.

-Animal Collective, "Merriweather Post Pavillion" (Domino)
-Azita, "How Will You?" (Drag City)
-Bonnie Prince Billy, "Beware" (Drag City)
-Neko Case, "Middle Cyclone" (Anti)
-Death, "For The Whole World To See" (Drag City)
-Duress, 2009 demo cassette (Self)
-Harms Way, "Reality Approaches" LP (Organized Crime)
-Abner Jay, "The Story Of Abner Jay" LP (Mississippi)
-Lotus Plaza, "Floodlight Collective" (Kranky)
-Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, "s/t" (Slumberland)
-Wolves In The Throne Room, "Malevolent Grain" 12" (Southern Lord)
-Yearling, "No More White Horses" 12" (Bronx Cheer)
-Various Artists, "Dark Was The Night" (4ad)

Sheila Burt / Comments (2)

sxsw09 Thu Mar 19 2009

The Hood Internet, Live at SXSW 2009

sxsw 2009 music chicago
The Hood Internet will be live-blogging (well, live-tweeting mostly) their 2009 SXSW experience for us all weekend long, starting tonight. DJ STV SLV and ABX aren't on the official list this year, but they've got four gigs lined up anyway. Follow along as they broadcast their antics from down in Austin. Oh, and if you're in Austin and want to give a shout out, or you're in Chicago and just want to add your $.02 to the live-tweeting, just mark your entry #gbsxsw.

Here's the Hood Internet's schedule as it stands now, but you know they'll be playing more shows on the fly as well!

Thursday, March 19 — at Canvas (105 E. 5th St.) for The Lose Control Party, 10pm.

Friday, March 20 — at Hi-Lo (301 W. 6th St) w/ ninjasonik, death set, and more for THE FMLY AUSTIN BLOWOUT, on and off from 9pm on.

Saturday, March 21Red-Eyed Fly (715 Red River St.) w/ Chairlift, Titus Andronicus, Loney Dear and more for the COFFEE NO PANTS party -- hosted by Eugene Mirman 3-6pm then
Saturday night — at The Lodge (411 E. 6th St.) w/ Bald Eagle, Kid Color, Black Holes and Vyle for the IT'S CHICAGO party — they're on at 1am.

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

Artist Wed Mar 18 2009

Back In The OFFICE

Worried you were never going to get to see OFFICE perform any of their new stand-out album, Mecca, live? Or that their catchy pop tunes were going to be sadly missed at all the street festivals since they had reportedly split up? Well, if Scott Masson was taking a break from the scene, it wasn't for long, because the band has listed some local performances coming up on their MySpace page including Rib Fest and a benefit at Double Door (benefiting Inspiration Corporation). There is also a new lineup listed--Scott, Erika, and Justin are still there, but there's a whole slew of newbies added. The crew is "well into the recording of a new album" after signing a two-album deal with Quack!Media.

Visit the band's MySpace page for dates and to download Mecca for free!

Michelle Meywes

Concert Fri Mar 06 2009

Chicago International Movie and Music Festival After Party Saturday at Double Door


Two recent topics of posting in Transmission collide this weekend at the Double Door for the after party of the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival. We first mentioned the festival last week in a spotlight feature piece of some of the screenings to check out. We also recently reviewed the stellar new album from Bloodshot Records own Dex Romweber Duo. You're in luck this Saturday as Romweber and a slew of talented acts take the stage to celebrate the inaugural CIMM festival.

One of the bands to make sure you check out on the bill is fellow Carolinians (the homeland of Dex Romweber Duo) The Old Ceremony. Their new album, Walk On Thin Air, has a sultry soulful vibe yet still rocks the house with their jangly piano driven southern tinged rock 'n' roll. The bands played with the likes of CAKE, Chuck Berry, and The Avett Brothers, so combine those sounds and you've got a good idea of what The Old Ceremony sounds like. Which if you weren't paying attention, they sound like a good time. Expect a rollicking good night from start to finish Saturday.

The CIMMF after party is Saturday night at Double Door, located at the intersection of Milwaukee, Damen, and North. The show starts at 9pm, and is $12 or $9 if you show your CIMMF badge (even more the reason to go check out a screening our two).

Lisa White

DJ / Dance Thu Mar 05 2009

The Heaven Seventies' Remixes Vol.2 available for free download

Chicago-based electroni-rock-pop outfit The Heaven Seventies have released a second volume of remixes of their tracks available as a free download on their site. Remixers include Slava of the local MomentSound collective and DJ/producer/promoter Quantazelle (er, me).

Liz McLean Knight

Video Tue Mar 03 2009

Bird & Band

Andrew Bird gets a little help from Mucca Pazza in this new video for "Fitz and the Dizzy Spells," recorded live at the Hideout Dec. 14 and 15, presumably either before or after his recent two-night stand there.

Andrew Bird with Mucca Pazza - "Fitz & The Dizzyspells"

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

Album Fri Feb 27 2009

Neko Case Is All Over The Place

case.jpgIn addition to having AWESOME album art, Neko Case's latest album Middle Cyclone is also an awesome piece of work. A collection of love songs (which she swore to herself that she would never write again...) Middle Cyclone is a beautiful follow up to Fox Confessor Brings The Flood.

The first time I heard a Neko Case song (it was "Star Witness" for good measure) I was completely struck by her entrancing voice and Fox Confessor became one of my favorite albums. Sometimes I wonder if an artist can match themselves after putting out such a great album, but I would say she's one-upped herself with this one. Middle Cyclone is typical Neko in all the right ways, yet new and different in all the right ways. The opening track "This Tornado Loves You" is an energizing, powerful entry into the album, while "People Got a Lotta Nerve" is the catchiest tune that will most likely get the most airplay.

The Sound Opinions boys talk with Neko about the new album in this week's episode available today via podcast and airing on Chicago Public Radio tonight at 8pm (and again tomorrow at 11am). She's joined by guitarist Paul Rigby and backing vocalist Kelly Hogan for a couple of live songs, too.

Middle Cyclone doesn't come out 'til next Tuesday, but until then, NPR is streaming the album in its entirety as part of their Exclusive First Listen series. Also, if you pre-order on iTunes, there are a couple of bonus live tracks recorded at her old stomping ground, The Hideout.

In case this wasn't enough NekoNews for you, she is also embarking on a tour this spring, and makes her stop in Chicago April 24th at Chicago Theatre. Tickets are $30 but are also available at the Chicago Theater box office with no service fees (take that Ticketmaster).

(Photo by Jason Creps)

Michelle Meywes

Artist Mon Feb 23 2009

Tinted Windows Update


Last week we reported the formation of an unusual new 'supergroup' featuring James Iha, Adam Schlesinger, Taylor Hanson and Bun E. Carlos by the name of Tinted Windows. Since then, the band has launched a website, MySpace, and Twitter, and announced that their self-titled debut will be released on April 21st via S-Curve Records. The band is scheduled to make an appearance on Letterman April 20th, and will be touring in select clubs around the country starting in the spring. I'm still not quite certain that this is meant as a serious musical endeavor, although I will admit that it's great to finally see James Iha behind a guitar again.

Check out their "Rock After Dark" promo and let me know what you think. Performance art? The next big thing?

An MP3 of the track "Kind of a Girl" is available to download now via Rolling Stone. It's catchy as hell, I'll give them that.

Stephanie Griffin / Comments (3)

Artist Thu Feb 19 2009

Wilco To Debut New Film In Chicago


Today must be my lucky day, being able to post two Wilco stories in the same day. Last week, the band debuted the trailer for their new tour documentary, Ashes of American Flags, and now we have a Chicago release date for the movie.

Ashes of American Flags will debut at the Chicago International Movies and Music Festival next month. Monday, March 9 at the famous Music Box Theater. Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. and tickets are only $10 on the CIMM website. [Update: Wilco film event ticketing on CIMM site coming soon, we're told. Ticketing is now live.] The director of the film, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, will be on hand for a Q&A session following the show, too. Not too shabby, not too shabby at all.

Gavin Robinson / Comments (5)

Artist Thu Feb 19 2009

Wilco Announces Tour, Doesn't Mention Chicago


If I remember correctly, Wilco didn't play the Chicago show on the Neil Young tour because they felt that we'd simply seen enough of the band lately. Let's see if I can dig up that quote....ah yes, here's Wilco publicist Deb Bernadini talking to the Sun-Times, "They just felt it was time for a break." It seems that break isn't over yet, either. Wilco announced their Spring 2009 tour and we've been left out in the cold again. Sure, you can head out to Milwaukee or Athens, OH but there won't be any Chicago on this leg. Their site also has a group of festival dates in the summer announced and it's worth mentioning that August 7-9 (the dates of this year's Lollapalooza) are still open.

Gavin Robinson

Artist Wed Feb 18 2009

Bizarre New Supergroup


Photo via is reporting Rockford native and Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, Elk Grove native and former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha, Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger and Hanson's Taylor Hanson have formed a new supergroup by the name of Tinted Windows. The group has reportedly finished recording their debut album, due out in the spring, and will be playing Billboard's showcase at SXSW as well as the Bamboozle festival in New Jersey.

Iha and Schlesinger founded Chicago's Scratchie Records and are long-time friends, and The Smashing Pumpkins have always had a tight relationship with Cheap Trick, but the addition of Taylor Hanson seems a bit out of left field. Here's to hoping they'll play a show in Chicago - should be interesting to say the least.

Stephanie Griffin / Comments (5)

Album Tue Feb 17 2009

Kicking Against the Pricks with Kaspar Hauser

Some month ago, our GB editors allowed a pair of aspiring contributors to participate in a CD-review session for our Transmission page on a trial basis. The experiment was -- in our opinions -- not entirely successful and barely suitable for print. But in recent weeks, one of the involved parties came knocking on our door again, petitioning to join the Transmission team as a contributor with the claim that he'd "redeemed" himself. Being gracious sorts, we decided to give him another chance; this time putting the prospective reviewer (PR) under the supervision of one of our Transmission staff members (TS). What follows is a transcript of the resulting listening-party session.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

PR: ...And so that's why they call it a "whoop tube."

TS: Fascinating. At any rate, we've got to get to the matter at hand. We're supposed to review this new CD by a local artist. It's called The Sons, by the local artist Kaspar Hauser.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Random Thu Feb 12 2009

Chicago Bands on Twitter

twitter_logo_125x29.pngWe're putting together a list of Chicago bands on Twitter, as a companion to this list of 406 international acts who use it. We most likely missed one or two; add more in the comments, or by DMing us on Twitter.

Andrew Bird
Animate Objects
Big Sky Stringband
Chicago Opera Theater
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
DJ Heather
Eighth Blackbird
The Fold
The Frantic
Hood Internet
Kid Sister
Lost Cartographers
Loyal Divide
Morris Mills
Post Honeymoon
The Right Now
Snows Era
The Sweeps
Treaty of Paris

Andrew Huff / Comments (10)

Album Wed Feb 11 2009

Dan Auerbach Keeps It Real

Keep_It_Hid.jpgYou may know Dan Auerbach better as the front half of rock power duo The Black Keys, but yesterday Auerbach released his first solo album, Keep It Hid on Nonesuch Records. Self-produced and recorded with a full backing band, Keep It Hid is dripping with the gritty guitar and vocals The Black Keys are known for, especially on tracks like "I Want Some More" and "The Prowl." Yet, the bluegrass twang and weary blues that peeked out on The Keys' Attack & Release take on a life of their own in his solo work. "Trouble Weighs A Ton" and "Whispered Words" are notably turned down and different. There is heavy desperation in "Real Desire" and "When the Night Comes," while "Mean Monsoon" has a heavy 60's psychedelia influence. Lyrically and in mood, the album is has an overall dark tone making it a haunting, yet appealing piece of work.

Auerbach, a self-confessed workaholic "obsessed with making music" recorded songs for Keep It Hid between tours at his home studio in Akron, Ohio. Auerbach's obsession is a family affair, too. His uncle James Quine, who taught him how to sing and play guitar, also plays guitar on the album. Auerbach's dad, besides encouraging his musical aspirations at a young age, also contributed to Hid by writing "Whispered Words."

Dan Auerbach's solo tour begins in DC on Feb 28th, and makes its stop in Chicago March 6th at Metro with special guests Hacienda and Those Darlins. Tickets are on sale now at Metro's website for $20. Show starts at 9pm. 18 & over. 3630 N. Clark St.

You can stream Keep It Hid in its entirety on Nonesuch Radio and Auerbach's MySpace page.

Michelle Meywes

Concert Tue Feb 10 2009

D. Rider: Foxhole Prayers & Maternal Hexations

The presskit that accompanies Mother of Curses, the debut album by Todd Rittmann's new outfit D. Rider, goes out of its way to emphasize that this is not an art-rock record, but rather a record that rocks. Considering that D. Rider is the latest musical outfit headed by Todd Rittman -- former guitarist for the '90s avant-rockers U.S. Maple, and more recently involved in the bands Singer and Cheer-Accident -- the distinction might be warranted. Because let's face it, if what you're wanting is something linear and un-ironic in the way of a conventional rock "song," then Rittmann's probably the last guy in town who's gonna give it to you.

But D. Rider does indeed rock. Joining Rittmann in the band are Andrea Faught on keyboards and cornet, Mucca Pazza saxophonist Noah Tabakin, and Theo Katsounis (lately of A Tundra) stepping in to take the drummer's seat. And Mother Of Curses finds Rittmann checking much of his affinity for musical abstraction and disjointedness at the door. Over the course of eight tracks, he and his associates doling out a batch of tunes spooled on skulking basslines, some fractured Crazy Horse riffage, and heavy rhythms that lurch and lunge against the moorings. Musically, it's very reminiscent of a certain breed of indie rock animal that used to stalk the expanse of the Midwestern plains back in the early-'90s (specifically that pig-poking subgenus that once made up the bulk of the Touch & Go roster). On the vocals, Rittmann's often in trademark form -- sometimes singing as if he had developed an entire book of style from the fragmented, schizoid narrative that Bowie laid down on "Breaking Glass," at others yammering about who-knows-what like David Yow on an amyl nitrate bender.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Concert Tue Feb 03 2009

Tweedy Adds More Solo Dates

Andrew already clued you in to Jeff Tweedy's upcoming shows at the Vic to raise money for Emanuel Congregation in Edgewater, Near North Montessori, and Kawasaki disease that are coming up on February 13 and 14. What he didn't know at the time (none of us did, really) was that these won't be the only shows that Tweedy is going to be doing for a good cause.

The Wilco frontman will be hitting the Northeast with shows March 26 in Burlington, VT, March 27 in Northampton, MA, and March 28 in Beacon, NY. Remember, this is a charity show so tickets probably won't be cheap once they go on sale. You can pick them up here. Here's hoping that there are people reading this outside of Chicago that can make use of that info.

Gavin Robinson

Album Tue Feb 03 2009

Review: Dex Romweber Duo - Ruins of Berlin


Dex Romweber's new album, Ruins of Berlin, fills a niche that I never knew needed filling in my musical library. Somewhere in between the old Billie Holliday records and the much more recent Squirrel Nut Zippers records lies the Dex Romweber Duo. There's good reason for them to sound like the Squirrel Nut Zippers, too. John Plymale (also of Corrosion of Conformity & Meat Puppits) produced the album.

The album features stellar appearances from Cat Power, Neko Case, Exene Cervenka, and Rick Miller of Southern Culture on the Skids. Miller makes a staggering first impression along with Dex (and his sister, Sara Romweber on the drums) right out of the gate. The first track on the album, "Lookout," is nothing less than explosive. It's a guitar duet that will make you need to listen to the rest of the album. Let's embed it, shall we.

[audio]: Dex Romweber Duo - Lookout"

Continue reading this entry »

Gavin Robinson / Comments (2)

Concert Mon Feb 02 2009

Peachcake Bring Sunshine and Happiness to SubT

peachcake.jpgThe album art for their latest album, What Year Will You Have the World? looks more like and ad for a children's television program with its bright colors and cartoon images, but it's fitting upon listening to the happiness inside. Peachcake reminds me a lot of the first time I heard Aqueduct back in 2003, with an electronic sound reminiscent of fantasy video games of the 80's. But, their fun, playful music takes on a whole new meaning when you consider what the band has been through in the last few years.

When the band was flying high selling out shows and getting press, they were confronted with a number of obstacles including the death of singer Stefan Pruett's brother (and Peachcake keyboardist) Alex in September 2007. At this point, John O'Keefe (DJ JohnO) and Stefan (aka Space Panda) decided to press on and use their experiences as fuel. Their mission became to spread positivity and hope and make the world a safer, better, happier place through music and art. They bought themselves out of their record contract so they could self-release What Year Will You Have the World?, and then implemented a series of community events, youth outreach programs, and teen hotlines.

Tonight Peachcake bring their lively stage show to Subterranean with A Lull and The Wiitala Brothers opening. The show is all ages and starts at 7pm. Tickets are $10. 2011 North Ave. 773-278-6600.

MP3: "Stop acting like you know more about the Internet Café than me."

Michelle Meywes

mp3 Thu Jan 29 2009

Four Fictions for Free

Here's another batch of free tunes from a local artist, this time courtesy of our friends The Fake Fictions. The band has just posted their latest EP to their website. Entitled Laugh Tracks EP, it's a package of four new songs that the band is offering as a free digital download. You can get a taste below, or head straight over to the mp3 page at the band's website and grab it for yourself.

We also hear from the band that they'll be playing a show at the Whistler on Thursday, March 5; where they'll be sharing a bill with Coltrane Motion (about whom, see Monday's post below).

[audio]: The Fake Fictions - "Snappy Answers To Stupid Questions"

Related: GB Transmission interview with The Fake Fictions (April, 2008).

Graham Sanford

News Tue Jan 27 2009

R.I.P. Charlie Cooper of Telefon Tel Aviv

News has been circulating today concerning the death of Charles Cooper, member of the Chicago-based electronic music outfit Telefon Tel Aviv. Cooper's body was found yesterday, with the date of his death reported as having occurred on Thursday, January 22. As of this morning, the cause of death has yet to be officially declared, pending an autopsy.

The duo of Charles Cooper and Joshua Eustis first began working together as Telefon Tel Aviv in New Orleans during the late 1990s. They released their debut album, Fahrenheit Fair Enough, via Chicago's Hefty Records in 2001 -- an album of lush, jazz-tinged downtempo electronica that caught the attention of listeners and fit perfectly alongside the work of such contemporaries as Prefuse 73 and DJ Shadow. They relocated to the Windy City later that same year, and a second album followed in 2004. Having earned an international fan base, the duo recently signed to Ellen Allien's Berlin-based BPitch Control, and released their third LP exactly one week ago today.

On the eve of the release of TTV's new album, music critic Miles Raymer just recently profiled the band in the January 15 edition of the Chicago Reader; and today he writes about Cooper's passing on the publication's "Crickets" blog.

Graham Sanford

Concert Mon Jan 26 2009

Coltrane Motion Takes It Up with The Boss

In recent days, the local duo Coltrane Motion leaked a pair of free new tunes via their own website. More specifically, they leaked a pair of cover versions by which band members Michael Bond and Matt Dennewitz offer their own reworkings of the Bruce Springsteen songs "I'm On Fire" and "I'm Going Down."

Those familiar with CoMotion's fuzzed-out electronic psych-pop might find the choice of cover material a little surprising. As the band explains on their website:

"After hearing Bruce's cover of a Suicide song ('Dream Baby Dream'), Michael attempted to invert the formula, drowning two of his favorite Springsteen songs in the droning keyboards and mechanical beats that Messrs. Vega and Rev pioneered. But the result doesn't sound much like Suicide or Springsteen..."

As it so happens, the arrival of these tracks coincides with (1) the release of The Boss' new album, which hits in stores on Tuesday; and (2) Coltrane Motion's performance this Friday evening at Reggie's Music Joint in the south Loop.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Concert Mon Jan 26 2009

Andrew Bird Adds Another Date At Civic Opera House

bird_01.jpgYou may remember when I complained that Mr. Bird wasn't showing much hometown love, so consider me speechless after two surprise Hideout shows and then a tour date announced for Chicago's Civic Opera House (which sold out in 2 and a half hours). Now a second show has been added at the Opera House for April 9th. Pre-sale tickets go on sale today at 11am. Once those are gone, they will be available online starting January 31st, or at the Civic Opera House Box office on January 30th.

Andrew's latest album, Noble Beast, is now available on Fat Possum Records.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Concert Sat Jan 24 2009

The Beat Kings


Hailing from Queens, The Beatnuts originally got introduced to the music industry by Afrika Bambaata in the early 90s. The duo, composed of JuJu and Psycho Les, immediately garnered attention as producers. Working with such artists as Common, Fat Joe, and MC Lyte, it was only a matter of time until JuJu and Psycho Les decided to try their hand at rapping. 16 years and several albums later, The Beatnuts have cemented their reputation as hip-hop royalty and don't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Considering the genre has seen super popular acts like Ja Rule, DMX, and Ma$e fade away, it's pretty impressive The Beatnuts have been at it this long.

This Sunday, Scion is sponsoring a free Beatnuts show at Metro. Doors open at 9pm and attendance is not guaranteed, so don't be late. Also, remember to RSVP on the Scion website. 21+

Raf Miastkowski

Artist Thu Jan 22 2009

An interview with The Jakes


It's a hard life being an up and coming band. Endless shows, lots of time making new fans on the internet, and much hard work to prove yourself. Thankfully there are some good people out there to help you make the right connections and hook up with other acts that will garner you exposure in this day and age. Indie rockers The Jakes took this last suggestion to heart, entering a contest on Sonicbids to open for Kings of Leon at their Chicago House of Blues benefit show this upcoming weekend (which Gapers Block will be spotlighting later today). They'll be flying out from sunny California this weekend to open the sold out show Saturday night, but before they head to the Midwest we spoke to lead singer Sameer Gadhia about their trek to our fair city, what the band is listening to these days, and winning their pretty swank weekend gig.

Continue reading this entry »

Lisa White / Comments (2)

Artist Thu Jan 15 2009

Still going and going and...


After a very successful 2008, The Hood Internet are continuing to churn out impressive remixes. It seems like these guys just aren't slowing down anytime soon. Recently, they have been basking in end-of-year accolades and debuting tracks on Q101's weekly "local 101" show. Here are two to hold you over for now:

[mp3]: The Hood Internet - Bot Control (Yea Big+Kid Static vs Hey Champ)

[mp3]: The Prarie Cartel - Crackdown (Hood Internet remix feat. Qualo)

Mark off January 29th on your calendars, because the duo will be ripping it up at Sonotheque (1444 W. Chicago Ave.) with the Hey Champ DJs. The show kicks off at 9pm and costs $5 in advance and $8 at the door. 21+

Raf Miastkowski

Artist Tue Jan 13 2009

Company of Thieves are the free download on iTunes this week

Chicago indie rock darlings Company of Thieves are getting along very nicely these days. They are getting ready to head out on a cross country tour with the band Thriving Ivory, and have re-released their stellar album Ordinary Riches with new artwork, packaging, and added unreleased tracks.

The cherry on top is the fact that Company of Thieves is one of the free discovery downloads this week on the iTunes store. Which means if you haven't had the time to check out this Chicago act, you can head over to iTunes and download the song "Oscar Wilde" for free, and then pick up the full album for the special price of just $5.99.

Lisa White

Concert Wed Jan 07 2009

Lambchop Before or After Dinner on January 24th


Lambchop is a band that seems to, somehow, fly under everybody's radar until they're pointed out by somebody from Nashville. It's a shame, too, because the very large group has some extremely talented members and some incredibly wonderful music. Led by Kurt Wagner's often unexplainable lyrics, the band has a knack for finding their way into my musical rotation often. Being that they're from Nashville, your first thought might be to lump them in the country or folk music category, but their sound is ever-expanding and difficult to define. Their latest album, OH (ohio) is a whimsy tale that goes from interested, to unhappy, to excited, and back to interested. That doesn't make much sense, but if you'd like to see them and attempt to give a better description to their sound, may I invite you to see Lambchop at the Old Town School of Folk Music on January 24th at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $20 and still available.

Gavin Robinson

Video Tue Dec 16 2008

Booze and Bootlegs


Check out former Cash Money Records member Mikkey Halsted in this very cool Liquor Store video. Mikkey originally came up with Kanye and has even been called an inspiration by Lil Wayne. The song itself was inspired by a liquor store on 71st and Halsted, and Mikkey makes it pretty clear what he thinks of these establishments. The desertification of low-income neighborhoods has long been a problem in Chicago, leaving many communities with corner shops and fast food joints instead of grocery stores and restaurants. Even before the video came out, the song was already stirring up trouble. Many of these corner liquor stores sell mixtapes of local artists, and their owners had taken offense to Mikkey's criticism. For some time Mikkey, and anyone associated with him, were banned from selling their CDs at a number of stores on the south side. Controversy ensued, but it has mostly blown over by now. Anyways, enjoy the video.

Continue reading this entry »

Raf Miastkowski / Comments (1)

Event Wed Dec 10 2008

Less Cowbell.

Chances are you're familiar with the work of local visual artist Cody Hudson by now; either by way of his silkscreened posters for various events and venues, his public art installations, or perhaps even his work as in-house designer (under the moniker Struggle Inc.) for the Chocolate Industries record label. Or you might know him -- along with Mike Genovese and Juan Angel Chávez -- as one of a core cluster of this city's most notable street artists.

This weekend, Hudson will be trotting out a new batch of work at a show that opens this Friday evening at the Andrew Rafacz Gallery in the West Loop. Entitled "Tambourine Solo: Take One," the exhibition will also feature musical accompaniment -- a musical score crafted by local musician Zachary Mastoon. In recent years Mastoon's released albums of shoegazey, downtempo tunes under the name Caural. The score for "Tambourine Solo," incidently, was originally done in collaboration with Hudson for a show that took place at New Image Art in L.A. this past August. So peep the work, hear the soundtrack, maybe even buy a print of something. 835 W. Washington, 5-8 PM. 312-404-9188 for info. The exhibition is scheduled to run until January 24.

Graham Sanford

Album Tue Dec 09 2008

Mash The Beat, Wob The Bass & Run T'ings Proper

South American soundbwoy: Cardopusher

Since relocating his base of operations from Boston to Chicago a couple of years ago, DJ C (aka Jake Trussell) has kept his MashIt label going; issuing a steady stream of digital tracks and mixtapes, serving up a lot of bouncement and nu-skool ragga-jungle rollers on top of frequently teaming up local dancehall artist MC Zulu. This week finds C using the label to spotlight some recent work by a pair of emerging artists on the international dubstep scene -- specifically a pair of Venzuelan DJ/producers by the names of Cardopusher and Pacheko.

Both hailing from the city of Caracas, Cardopusher and Pacheko have been dropping tracks via various labels over the past two years, and -- despite Cardopusher's recent move to Barcelona -- they often collaborate on rocking spots as cornerstone members of the Caracas-based Wob This! network of dubstep DJs.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Concert Fri Dec 05 2008

The Loneliest Monk Haunts and Enchants

theloneliestmonk.jpgIf you're looking for something to do tonight, think about heading over to Bottom Lounge for a concert that's a little different than the usual rock show. He is a member of local indie rock band All Things Lucid and runs Kilo Records. She is a master cellist who has played with Phillip Glass, Kanye West, and even the Foo Fighters in their 2008 Grammy Awards performance. Together, Miles Benjamin and Michelle Morales form the experimental duo The Loneliest Monk. Their cool, ambient music is a nice departure from the standard 4-piece rock or jazz group. It's little bit rock, a little bit classical, a little jazz infused, and all intriguing. They open up for The Loyal Divide (Album Release). Shapes And Sounds and Gaberdine also open. Show begins at 8pm. 1375 W. Lake. 21 & up. Tickets are $6.

*The Loneliest Monk will be handing out "Magic Buttons" at the show that you can bring to the Empty Bottle on December 21st (their first headlining show) for a handmade Loneliest Monk Christmas gift. The buttons were designed by Aaron Albarran, and will reveal their new logo.

Michelle Meywes

Concert Wed Dec 03 2008

ohGr @ the Double Door, 11-30-08


Sunday night, I headed out to the Double Door for a good dose of metal, and I got what I had hoped for. It was a unique night, though, beginning with a cab driven by the one and only Ray St. Ray, the Singing Cab Driver. Knowing that I was going to a concert for an artist whose work I am only marginally familiar with, I was a bit skeptical of the whole night. Of course, that seems to be how I look at every concert these days. Ray's songs got me in the mood, though. Honestly, if you're on your way to see ohGr, it's always best to start your night out with a cab driver who sings a large collection of songs that range in about "Love! Sex! Social Significance! Dreams!" (Or "Other!" as the case may be).

Continue reading this entry »

Gavin Robinson / Comments (1)

Concert Mon Dec 01 2008

Nada Surf @ The Metro, 11-29-08

nada surf

I always get a little nervous when going to an 18+ show at the Metro. You simply never know what you're getting yourself into. Such was the case Saturday night when I ventured out to see Nada Surf. I had concers about what I would find what I would find inside, as I honestly had no clue what kind of audience even goes to a Nada Surf concert. All I know about this band is their new album and the fact that I used to sing "Popular" all throughout high school. Would the rest of the audience be my age or would they all be 18 and 19?

Continue reading this entry »

Gavin Robinson / Comments (2)

Artist Sun Nov 30 2008

FINISH HIM! Local DJ and Producer Hernan Sanchez voices key Mortal Kombat phrases


Interestingly enough, his hidden celebrity has brought him admiration from his own heros in the world of electronic music. Hernan says,

I meet people on the dancefloor throughout the world; they'll introduce me as the "Mortal Kombat voice guy" and you can see their eyes get as big as plates. These are people that I respect within the industry, that I'm a fan of, and they'll look back at me and say, "I'm am so glad to meet you!" Then the conversation eventually comes around to, "Hey can you please do 'Finish Him!'" or something like that, and it becomes an exchange of fandom from one world to another.

Hernan performs locally under his own name and as Bastard with Brian Franzen.[via]

Liz McLean Knight

Concert Sat Nov 29 2008

Let Loose and Dance With OBDBI

OBDBI.jpgOccidental Brothers Dance Band International is just what their name suggests... a band that will make you want to get up and dance with their West African grooves. Even if you don't know how to dance the meringue, you'll pretend like you do. The different members have backgrounds in jazz, rock and African music, and they all bring something to the table.

This summer they performed at Pitchfork Music Festival and Chicago's Summerdance series. They also opened for Andrew Bird at his Pritzker performance in September. They have a lot more to come including free downloads you can get at the news section of their website. Catch them tonight at Schubas where friend W.W. Loman opens. 3159 N. Southport. 10:30pm. 21 & up. Tickets are $10.

Michelle Meywes

Artist Wed Nov 26 2008

Jesus Lizard Returns


Considering today's relatively paltry options in the rock music category, you may have been seriously in need of some really good (maybe old?) music. So much so that you may have even resorted to listening to old albums like, say, the Jesus Lizard's classic, Shot. Now, it's been announced that the classic band from Chicago is, in fact, being resurrected. For the first time since 1999, the original line-up of David Yow, Duane Denison, David Wm. Sims and Mac McNeilly will reunite for a handful of shows. They've announced that the tour will include Chicago at some point, but will begin in England at the All Tomorrow's Parties Fans Strike Back festival in May of next year. The dates and prices of any of the shows on the tour (including the festival) are still unannounced, but we'll keep you posted.

Not content to make things happen simply by performing live again, their record label, Touch and Go, will be remastering and re-issuing their albums; Head, Goat, Liar, and Down. Color me excited.

Gavin Robinson

Artist Wed Nov 26 2008

The Thin Man: Wants to Go to the Dentist


Let's just start off by saying that in case you haven't heard it yet, The Thin Man's music is certainly not for children. I wonder if they ever manage to sneak an all ages gig in? One of their classics An Undertaker Muses rattles off a nice list to fend off even the least conscientious parents. "This one's for the junkies. This one is for the tweakers. This one is for the unsafe sex practitioners. And oh, here come the good old days."

Over the years and albums the themes of The Thin Man's songs haven't changed much. Fueled by whiskey, disappointment and sudden death every song is an ode to the fallibility of the human race. Good thing people are so creative with their self destruction or this might have gotten old by now. Instead each new song is like another fix for the listener.

Continue reading this entry »

Alexis Finch

Album Tue Nov 25 2008

Jay Bennett Releases Solo Album

whia.jpgYesterday former Wilco member, Jay Bennett, released an acoustic solo album, Whatever Happened I Apologize. Having read the liner notes on the website first about a former relationship with a girl in school, I was already put in the mindset that it was going to be a diary of sorts. The raw, stripped down recording is appropriate as it really captures the rawness of young love. You can't help but think, though, that revisiting these emotions as a more experienced adult brings with it some regret and a realization of naivety. This theme is prevalent throughout the album but was especially evident on "I Don't Have the Time," where he basically says he's too busy to show his love for the girl.

All I previously knew of Bennett was what I saw in I am Trying to Break Your Heart, a documentary about the making of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, where he quits/is fired from the band. While he is made out to be the bad guy in the documentary, it still shows that he can be a whiner, and this highly personal album affirms that. But, an album you'd want to have on repeat through a break-up, or while reminiscing about lost love, is the perfect mode for him to express himself.

You can download the album for free on rock, a Chicago based website that distributes album-length downloads for free (with legal consent of their creators, of course).

Michelle Meywes / Comments (4)

Concert Fri Nov 21 2008

Kid Sister Gets Fresh

Kid Sisterx.jpg

Female rappers have always received a lot of flak. Despite the effort of many artists to reform the hip hop scene, misogyny and aspersion still remain commonplace. Perhaps that's one of the reasons Chicago rapper Melisa Young is such a breath of fresh air. Instead of grumbling about beefs, she'd rather have everyone going wild on the dance floor. Known as Kid Sister, she blew up on the radar almost overnight after the release of her single "Pro Nails". Also featured in the single is Chicago's own Kanye West, whom you may have heard of. Since then, she's been busy popping up on magazine covers, getting interviewed, and working on Dream Date, her debut album.

Getting your fingernails done, telephones, and beepers--these are just some of the finer things in life that Kid Sister focuses her rhymes on. They help define Kid Sister as a carefree party starter rather than just another female rapper people compare to Missy Elliot. Fans love her upbeat personality, hip fashion sense, and catchy beats. To an extent, Kid Sister is a throwback to old school hip hop acts that focused on having fun as opposed to east coast-west coast rivalries. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince immediately come to mind.

Continue reading this entry »

Raf Miastkowski

Artist Wed Nov 19 2008

Andrew Bird Announces US Tour Dates

Bird.jpgAt his show at Pritzker in September, violin-playing-loverboy Andrew Bird told us that he had just finished recording a new album. Today he announced new dates for a US tour early next year, presumably in support of this new album, Noble Beast (out in January). One question though--how could he not play in hometown Chicago? And where the heck is Murray? (okay that was two questions...)

Tour dates after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Meywes / Comments (2)

Album Wed Nov 19 2008

Golden Birthday - Infinite Leagues


I have to admit something. I've lived in Chicago for nearly three years now, and I still haven't listened to any local music. I usually arrive late to concerts when I know a local band is warming up. I would even go so far as to say that I have avoided the local scene here. That all changes now.

I've been listening to Golden Birthday's "Infinite Leagues" pretty steadily ever since Andrew handed it to me at our Meet-Up last week at Billy Goat Tavern. I knew absolutely nothing about the band when he handed it to me, and now (due to their major lack of web presence) still feel as if I know very little. But, the music. The music is simple, yet highly engaging. There is an honesty involved that many musicians try to stray away from that Golden Birthday gleefully embraces. Blending together drum loops and guitar hooks that aren't much more advanced than a high schooler with a 4-track, the music somehow finds a way to work. Synthesizers help. As do Ryan Sullivan's lyrics.

Continue reading this entry »

Gavin Robinson / Comments (2)

Artist Tue Nov 18 2008

There is more to Glenn Kotche than Wilco

glennkotche.jpgGlenn Kotche is the drummer for a little Chicago rock band you might have heard of called Wilco. What you may not know, is that Wilco is just one of Kotche's many projects.

Kotche joined Wilco in 2001, right before the band went rogue (sound-wise and label-wise) with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. Its no surprise that Wilco took an innovative turn at that time, when you consider Kotche's background and other projects. He was in the experimental rock trio Loose Fur with Jeff Tweedy and Jim O'Rourke when Tweedy asked him to join Wilco. Currently, he makes up half of the jazz experimental duo On Fillmore with Darin Gray. He also recently collaborated with fellow local Andrew Bird for one of Bird's upcoming albums. And on top of all this, right now he is busy recording a new album with Wilco.

As if that wasn't enough to keep your plate full, Kotche has a burgeoning solo career of his own. In 2006 he released his third solo album, Moblie (Nonesuch Records). His creative exploration of rhythm and the space between is nothing you would expect and incredibly intriguing. It's also diverse, from the ambient title track "Mobile Parts 1 & 2" to the intense jam beats on "Projections of (what) Might."

Tonight he appears with indie classical group eighth blackbird at Harris Theater (205 E. Randolph Dr.), where they will perform works from Mobile, and Kotche himself will perform a solo set. What can you expect? Lots of unorthodox percussion instruments and a departure from rhythm you're used to hearing.

The concert starts at 7:30pm and tickets are $30.

Michelle Meywes / Comments (1)

Artist Mon Nov 17 2008

Stick With It, Champ


Two-thirds of Hey Champ originated from Rockford, therefore dooming the trio to a lifetime of Cheap Trick comparisons. Perhaps that's a small price to pay when considering their newfound success. Hey Champ was recently signed to Lupe Fiasco's 1st and 15th label, instantly catapulting them to "up-and-comer" status. They've also been touring with Lupe and blogging about the difficulty and excitement of it all.

So what's the big deal about these guys, anyways? For one, their music is a refreshingly catchy mélange of indie pop, rock, and dreamy synth sounds. Hey Champ manages to capture the "I just want to boogie" synthesizer sound and fuses it with a sleek guitar and drums that get your head bobbing. The end result will get just about anyone dancing in no time, including your grandma. Additionally, Hey Champ continues to work on their DJ skills. It's a safe bet to assume that their experience with banging dance anthems contributes to their musical versatility. Expect for these guys to remain cutting edge for a while.

Continue reading this entry »

Raf Miastkowski / Comments (1)

Concert Thu Nov 13 2008

Tom Schraeder wears His Ego on his sleeve

Tom Schraeder is 24 years old, but sings with the sorrow of a man twice his age. Upon first listening to his new EP, Lying Through Dinner, I found it a nice little Americana album, but it wasn't until a few more listens that I was really gripped by the heart in his songwriting. There is some real emotion in this album. There is heartache, a couple of foot-stomping singalong moments, and some passages that can make you feel the lost hope of someone drinking alone in an empty bar at closing time. Tom has a talent for evoking the feeling you've been there before, even if you haven't. He is such an excellent songwriter, that while you feel the hurt and yearning in his songs, he is still a joy to listen to. And somehow, with all the pain experienced in his lyrics and acclaim he's received, he still manages to keep a cool head.

Tom Schraeder & His Ego are back in Chicago for one show this Saturday at Schubas before heading out on tour. It's a record release show and everyone will receive a free copy of Lying Through Dinner with the purchase of advance tickets. Watch the promo video after the jump to get a little preview of the first song on the album, "Needle Will Bite."

The show starts at 10pm. Mark Pickerel opens and Pretty Good Dance Moves DJ. 3159 N. Southport. Tickets are $10. 21 & up.

(Photo from Tom's MySpace page--Amber Meairs Photography)

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Meywes

Artist Wed Nov 12 2008

Ahoy, mate (from Humboldt Park)

Frigates, recently out of Humboldt Park, like the words "compact" and "staccato" to describe their style of bass/drums/clean guitar punch; those are about as good as any adjectives in my bag. Evidently, they've been in the studio recently. There's only one track on the MySpace site with a little studio polish, the catchy "Damage and Liability", which has an undeniably likable Talking Heads thing going on. (Eno, Bowie and David Fripp all get shoutouts in their Influences section, but no Heads. Hrmph.) The other two tracks sound an awful lot like rehearsal takes - boxy acoustics and no audible vocals to speak of - but they're good rehearsal takes, and suggest some serious live show promise. There's plenty of energy here, and it's hard to go wrong with catchy guitars and smashing drums. Frigates plays Ronny's, Thursday 11/13 at 9pm with Story of the Sea and Mako Sica; Edie Sedgwick (Dischord) headlines. Frigates will also appear live in the WHPK studios on Pure Hype, Friday at 9pm.

Erik Cameron / Comments (1)

Review Mon Nov 10 2008

Girl Talk @ Congress Theater, 11/8/08

Imagine the biggest house party you've even been to, and the best DJ you've ever heard is playing every single one of your favorite songs and guilty pleasures. Now multiply that by a gazillion. That might come close to matching the excitement at Congress Theater on Saturday night.

Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis) is not a DJ, he's an artist, a master at mixing together snippets of songs that already exist, and that you've already heard into a new, completely different animal. His latest album, Feed The Animals, is a mashup of samples running into and over each other from Nirvana to Roy Orbison (?!?!) along with over 300 others.

It was a party from the moment you walked in. There was a DJ set up in the lobby blasting you in the face with music and stage smoke right as you entered. It was a bit of a shock at first, coming in from 30-degree temperatures outside, but it quickly wore off once you got into the theater. I noticed once inside, that all the seats on the floor level had been removed making for maximum dance-floor. A couple of minutes after Gillis took the stage and introduced himself, the confetti popped and ridiculousness ensued. A mass of party-goers rushed on to the stage, and there were guys running across the stage shooting toilet paper streamers into the audience. Gillis mixes his shows live in the midst of fans dancing almost on top of him, this time playing a lot of familiar clips from Feed the Animals, with a lot of new, impromptu mashup material as well.

Continue reading this entry »

Michelle Meywes

DVD & Video Wed Oct 15 2008

This is Thriller

A nicely produced video of Rhymefest and Robbie Fulks' Thriller cover at the Hideout Block Party last month, put together by KoneeROK.

Andrew Huff

Album Wed Oct 15 2008

Going off, getting High with Pit Er Pat

Local trio and thrill Jockey recording artists Pit Er Pat aren't averse to playing home-town gigs, so chances are you might've caught them playing at the Hideout or elsewhere lately. In case you haven't, the word on the streets for a while has been that they've altered their sound recently -- specifically that frontwoman and vocalist Fay Davis-Jeffers has largely set her keyboard aside in favor of a guitar, and that the band's moved into territory that bears a "dub reggae influence." Judging from the band's new High Time CD, which releases on Thrill Jockey this week, there's more than a little truth to the rumor.

Yes, Pit Er Pat has largely abandoned their prior post-rock/fusion cocktail lounge sound; the one so richly crafted and fleshed-out via John McEntire's production of the band's last LP, 2006's Pyramids. What chiefly remains, however, are the band's frail, elusive melodies -- except now they're intertwined with some roots-rocker grooves that give drummer Butchy Fuego and bassist Rob Doran something meatier to tuck into. And the pair seems to enjoy themselves on tunes like "Evacuation Day" and "Copper Pennies" as they tie and untie various rhythmic knots and guide the tunes through unexpected and crafty transitions.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Tue Oct 14 2008

Mahjongg release protest song. Sort of.

Now in the midst of a new European tour, Chicago's electro-tribal "irritainment" pioneers Mahjongg are releasing a new single via the K Records label. The a-side, "Free Grooverider," features a different sound from that of their recent album; with the group serving up some a dose of bouncy, Kraftwerkian synth-pop. The track's title, however, is intended as a topical protest and homage devoted to one of techno's leading innovators, DJ Grooverider.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

mp3 Mon Oct 13 2008

Mashit "Mas" mix-up

Back some 8 years ago, DJ C (aka Jake Trussell) was runnin' t'ings on the experimental fringe of the Boston dance scene -- recording under the moniker Electro Organic Sound System and being a prime mover in Beantown's network of junglists, trip-hoppers, and leftfield turntablists via his affiliation with the Toneburst Collective.

More recently, C relocated to Chicago about 18 months ago. He frequently spins around town at clubs like Lava and Subterranean, hosts a radio show on WLUW -- all the while continuing to run his own Mashit label from his new home base. Now via the Mashit label site, Trussell's serving up the free downloadable "Mas Hits" collection; a selection of assorted remixes, mashup antics, and a few assorted web-only remixes that's he's leaked through various sites over the past year or so.

As a seasoned junglist, C has an expert sensibility for craftily chopped beats and depth-charge bass, making a good portion of the tracks far more serviceable for dancefloor purposes that the standard mashup fare. And while there's a fair amount of prankish whimsy and silliness throughout, Trussell manages to bring some top-notch bouncement on some of the selections; especially with the bhangra/jungle/Timbaland bump of "Ooh Wadda Doo Dadda" and the Bmore/dancehall jawn "Prerogatives Change." The download also features a few bonus tracks that includes a couple of full-on jungle rollers, as well as his remix for MIA's "U.R.A.Q.T."

To get a sample or to download the whole of "Mas Hits" for free, go to the Mashit website (or just go here).

Graham Sanford / Comments (1)

Album Thu Oct 09 2008

Brilliant Corners

Make no mistake, the Chicago quartet Chandeliers are enamored with keyboards and tricky beats in a big way; but thankfully they don't have much truck with the sort of electro or that chincey, flat blog-house fare that's so glutted the indie market these past two years or so. Comprised of various members of local outfits like Icy Demons, Bronze, and Bablicon, they're one of many local projects that's spiraled out of the South Loop-based Shape Shoppe network. After numerous appearances about town and putting out a 3-song EP, Chandeliers have made their full-fledged recording debut with the recent stateside arrival of their debut LP, The Thrush.

With the opening track "Mr. Electric," Chandeliers lay their aces on the table, giving the listener a strong sense of what's in store. The music glides on a spacey shimmer inspired by vintage Italo-disco, with slight electro and synth-pop nuances billowing to the fore every now and again. The more crafty and complex underpinnings of the band's em-oh, however, reveal a deeper debt to early 70s jazz-fusion and astro-funk (a la Headhunters-era Herbie Hancock). Beneath all the sheen and shimmer, Chandeliers delight in the interplay of contrasts and balances -- the interplay of playing warm tones off versus cold, luster over grit, hefty riding shotgun with lite, and often floating crafty rhythmic shifts and sleights-of-hand against stark drones and subtle modulations.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Music & Film Tue Oct 07 2008

Undiminished echoes: The life & music of Arthur Russell

At the time of his death in 1992, the 40-year-old cellist, composer and experimental dance-music auteur Arthur Russell left behind an enigmatic musical legacy -- one that included a few (largely overlooked) albums of songs and compositions, a string of quirky disco tracks, and a backlog of some 1000 tapes of unreleased and unfinished recordings. Having connected the dots between American minimalist composition and disco's dancefloor permutations, Russell created music that rode on chromatic shifts and dislocated rhythms -- a music that seemed at the same time both insular and expansive in mood, that existed like a lover's whisper that fills your head, like the melodies of a man singing softly to himself as he drifts across an ocean of sound on a boat of his own making.

It would take much of the rest of the music world a decade or more to catch up. Thanks to the recent efforts of the Audika label, more of Russell's work has become available in the past five years. Still, so long after the fact, Russell's music continues to amaze and baffle listeners; influencing a new generation of songwriters, while leaving fans and critics alike wrestling with descriptives.

And now comes Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, the new documentary by filmmaker Matt Wolf that arrives in Chicago this weekend for a limited run. The film offers an overview of Russell's life and work, featuring rarely-seen archival footage and interviews with various friends, family, and collaborators who knew and worked with Russell throughout the years. Also among the interviewees are Jens Lekman, composer Philip Glass, as well as author and sound artist David Toop.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Wed Sep 24 2008

The Sea and Cake Announces New Album, Tour Dates

It seems that the guys in The Sea and Cake have made a big turnaround in productivity. After sporadic recording and the four-year lull in activity that preceded the release of 2007's Everybody, the band has hit a newfound stride and already has a new album on the way. On returning from a tour of Australia this past spring, they immediately set to recording new material, reportedly polishing off an album's-worth of tracks in a scant three months.

The band has announced that the resulting album, Car Alarm, will be released on Thrill Jockey on October 21. The Sea and Cake will also be embarking on a national tour in early November; a circuit that'll feature two shows (an early and a late set) at the Empty Bottle on November 15. The list of tour dates can be found via a recent blog post on the band's Myspace page.

Graham Sanford / Comments (1)

Artist Tue Sep 16 2008

New Rachel Yamagata Video

Rachel Yamagata, formerly of Chicago's Bumpus, just released this video for her song "Elephants."

Andrew Huff

Artist Thu Sep 04 2008

Liz Phair vs. the Matrix

I don't know what pills ex-Chicagoan Liz Phair is on, but maybe she should change the dosage. This is a video she made about deciding to stop working with power-pop producers The Matrix. [via]

Andrew Huff / Comments (3)

Benefit Fri Aug 29 2008

Bid and Win a Meet n' Greet with the Bird

Sure, you could sit out all in the Millennium Park glory that is the Pritzker Pavillion on Wednesday, September 3rd along with every other indie music lover in the midwest and wait for Andrew Bird to take the stage for a free show, or, you could put your money where your mouth is, and do some good for the children at the same time. Rock For Kids, the same awesome non-profit organization that helps at-risk youth in Chicago through a variety of music-oriented programs is auctioning off not one but two chances to meet Mr. Bird and sit your butts in some cushy premium seating at his upcoming event downtown. Bid here or here, but do it soon — the auction ends on Monday, September 1.

Anne Holub

Album Thu Aug 28 2008

Slow Gun Shogun's Red-Dirt Delilah Blues -- A Review (of Sorts)

We here at Gapers Block Transmission aim to cover the local music scene and emerging Chicago artists as much as our resources permit. What follows is the transcript for a proposed review of the new CD Eve, Adam & the Apple by Chicago-based artist Slow Gun Shogun. The editors fanned the CD out to a potential contributor (PC) and an unaffiliated party (UP) in a focus-group styled experiment. What follows is a transcript of the results. Believe it or not, the transcript that follows was heavily edited and abridged in order to remove the more pedantic, digressive, and profanity-strewn passages. Needless to say, we will not be hiring either party for any future assignments.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

PC: You want another beer?

UP: Yeah, but I don't feeling like getting up to get it just yet. What have we got?

PC: Some new CD by an artist who calls himself Slow Gun Shogun.

UP: Can't say I'm familiar.

PC: Local guy, apparently. It's a seven-song EP called Eve, Adam and the Apple. Judging from this, he plays a lot of the instruments himself -- one-man band style -- with the help of one "Miss Palanti" on drums. Appears to be self-released, on a label called Devil's Bedpost.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Wed Aug 20 2008

An Ode to the Suburbs ...Sort of

Emo Philips performs "Downers Grove."

Andrew Huff

Artist Thu Aug 14 2008

Follow-up: Rhymefest Releases "Stolen" Video

As we told you about last week, Chicago indie hip-hop emcee Rhymefest issued a pretty bold statement when he was prepping listeners for the release of his new video. The video, which is for his new track "Stolen," stated officially circulating this past Tuesday, and here it is:

Civil war...genocide...refugees...blood diamonds. Yep, Rhymefest definitely isn't treading lightly with the narrative this time around.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Sun Aug 10 2008

Taking You There: Anti- Records Announces Release Date for Mavis Live @ The Hideout CD

Location can be everything, indeed. The best live recordings come from such circumstances, occasions where an artist finds herself at home with a warm, and responsive crowd, and the result is a friendly and intimate interaction between performer and audience. Live albums like Etta James Rocks The House and Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison and Roland Kirk's Kirk In Copenhagen leap to mind, but there are plenty of others in the history of recorded music that serve as evidence to this effect.

Better yet, there's nothing like returning to a welcoming fold of friends after a long journey. Such was the case when Mavis Staples played a homecoming show at the Hideout this past June. Alighting from an extensive tour, Staples and her band played a 14-song, career-spanning set to a sold-out house. Given the Hideout's modest digs, the crowd topped out at about 200 attendees, making for a cozy and up-close show. Reviews and reports of the performance were radiant across the board, and the Anti- label was on hand to document the whole thing.

And now from the Hideout and the artist's website comes word that the resulting disc, Mavis Staples Live: Hope at the Hideout, is scheduled for an official release date of November 4th. Check the Hideout's website for the full tracklisting, links to reviews, and photos.

Graham Sanford

Artist Fri Aug 08 2008

Recent Chi Hip-Hop Roundup

Via the community aggregations over at Fake Shore Drive comes word of recent drops and flips from the local hip-hop scene. In recent days, the diligent and indefatigable FSD crew has passed along the following...

  • Rhymefest delivers a advance caveat to listeners before the release of the video for his new track "Stolen":
    "First of all, dumb ass n******s that can't think past the club, the block, or fat booty b******s, DO NOT WATCH THIS! Your brain will explode. Second, self-righteous hip-hop nerds who expect to hear me go line for line in a metaphorical circus, DO NOT WATCH THIS! You will be sorely disappointed."

    It gets deeper from there. Read the whole statement here. Also, catch the new leaked 'Fest tracks "In Between" and "Forces of Nature" over there.

  • Elsewhere, Lupe Fiasco leaks the rare track, "Gangsta (Up In Here)." Check it.

  • From the "Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza" Department of Misheard Lyrics comes a live clip of The Cool Kids kickin' it on the Rock The Bells tour. At first it seems everyone was reporting the new track as bearing the title "The Sound of Panties Hitting The Ground." It turns out the track is actually called "Pennies." That's p-e-n-n-i-e-s hitting the ground. But here's to wishful thinking, right.

  • In case you hadn't glanced over the magazine racks in the past month, Kid Sis Melisa's one of URB magazine's "Girls of Summer."

  • And hey, just as we might've guessed: Kanye sure is one cla$$y dude.

Graham Sanford

Artist Wed Aug 06 2008

Catching Some Static

Yea Big & Kid Static's first music video, "The Life Here," hit the front page of YouTube, resulting in 250,000 views in two days. Along with those views came a whole lot of negative, often racially charged comments. The duo talk about it on Current.TV.

Andrew Huff

Venue Tue Jul 15 2008

Mahjongg, HEALTH, others play Hideout Pfork after-parties this weekend

Drums and wires: Mahjongg

The guys in the L.A.-based noise-rock outfit HEALTH haven’t exactly made things easy for anybody, least of all themselves. First there’s their choice of a Google-that-again name, and the fact that their debut album of last year threw the trend jockeys for a loop with all of its abrasive jolts, asymmetrical arrangements, and spectral vocals. Throwing another curveball into the mix, the band managed to somewhat placate pop-minded listeners when they recently released the follow-up HEALTH//DISCO -- a bubble-wrap remix affair in which artists like Crystal Castles, Acid Girls, and Drop The Lime gave the band’s debut a club-oriented workover.

HEALTH will be playing this Friday night at the Hideout. Better yet -- in an act of astute matchmaking for the evening’s billing, they’ll be appearing alongside Chicago’s own electro Afro-funk experimentalists Mahjongg. Both groups will be performing early on the Sunday schedule for Pfork Fest; but if you’d rather experience both groups in the more cozy and conducive confines of a club, Friday’s show makes for an ideal opportunity. Alex & the Drummer are also slated to play. Doors open at 10 PM and tickets are $10.

For Saturday night’s post-Pfork soiree, the Hideout will be hosting a special edition of their Saturday night dance party event. To celebrate being named “Best Dance Party” by the Chicago Reader, the Hideout’s throwing a big eight deejay pile-up of a throwdown. Scheduled to spin for the evening (in order of appearance) are: DJ Treetop Lover, the East of Edens Soul Express DJs, Gutterbutter DJ Logan Bay, Bald Eagle and Mother Hubbard of the Life During Wartime DJs, and Smashing Time DJs Mary Nisi and Carrie Weston. It all gets underway starting at 9 PM and admission is free.

For further details, see the Hideout’s website, and our own feature run-down of this year’s Pitchfork lineup.

[video]: HEALTH - live (via Pitchfork TV)
[video]: Mahjongg - "Teardrops"

Graham Sanford

Concert Thu Jul 10 2008

The Power of Three

American Ghost Dance: These Are Powers

The hometown three-piece Pit Er Pat will be poking their heads up to play a headlining set at the Hideout this Sunday evening. No doubt that they'll be treating everyone to some selection from their forthcoming album High Time, which is due out on Thrill Jockey in October. Word has it that the band has (once again) been exploring new territory with the music lately, gravitating to a more guitar-oriented, dub-inflected sound. Here's your chance to get a preview dose.

Another great reason to catch the show, however, would be the self-described "ghost punk" trio These Are Powers, who'll be playing a supporting set on the billi. For the second summer in a row, These Are Powers are taking a summer off from their usual Brooklyn haunts to hiatus in Chicago. After last year's summer stint, they took Brenmar Someday drummer Bill Salas into their ranks before heading back to home base. Judging from their new Taro Tarot EP, Salas was the ideal candidate the position. Bassist Pat Noecker and guitarist Anna Barie have crafted a bewilderingly intense and inexplicable sound -- filled with spark-spewing noizoid fret-firings and harrowing caterwaul -- that made their freshman album Terrific Seasons one of the most impressive (if not slightly amazing) underground debuts of 2007.

All of this'll be happening at the Hideout this Sunday evening. Pit Er Pat are headlining, with These Are Powers playing just beforehand. Waterbabies opens. Admission is $10 and the doors open at 9 PM. 1354 W. Wabansia.

[video]: These Are Powers - "Chipping Ice" (video shoot)
[video]: These Are Powers - "You Come With Nothing" (live)

Graham Sanford

Artist Tue Jul 01 2008

Let's Get Stupid

Even though it's only been a matter of weeks since they dropped the hardcopy of their debut EP The Bake Sale, Chicago's indie-rap sensations The Cool Kids aren't taking a breather or kicking back on their laurels. The duo's just released a new downloadable summer jawn mixtape EP entitled That's Stupid. Six tracks deep, the mixtape shows that the Kids are keeping it moving. On cuts like "Oscar The Grouch" and "That'll Work," they're flexing in a slightly different mode from what we've been hearing from them over the past year or so. (And if I'm not mistaken, Chuck's flow is sounding a little bit more like that of Gift of Gab from Blackalicious.)

Download That's Stupid here. And then bump that.

Graham Sanford

News Sat Jun 21 2008

Girl Talk Feeds Fans, Critters

Between his quickly sold-out 2007 New Years Eve appearance at the Empty Bottle and the overwhelming crowds that swamped his third-stage appearance at the Pitchfork Festival last summer, it's fair to say that Pittsburgh-based mashup maestro Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis) has a solid fanbase in this town. And in case you were too busy to catch the news as it spread across the web yesterday, he's now making his forthcoming album, Feed The Animals, available in advance by way of a pay-what-you-want download via his own website and label, Illegal Art.

As far the download is concerned, Gillis is giving his fans three options. For the interested, any price will get you high-quality mp3s of the album, five bucks will get you the same plus one additional continuous-track version of the entire album (which is how Gillis claims he'd prefer people listen to it), and ten dollars gets you the downloads plus a physical copy of Feed The Animals when it's officially released in September.

Since the Illegal Art site was inaccessible at the time of this writing, it appears that traffic might be heavier than the site can handle. Whatever the case, it looks like there's now a mirror link for the download here.

Girl Talk hits the road later this summer and will be making his appearance in Chicago at Lollapalooza on August 3. Feed The Animals will see hardcopy release on September 23.

Graham Sanford

Artist Thu Jun 19 2008

The Black Angels Deliver Neo-Psychedelic Rock to the Masses


I first learned the word chiaroscuro in a poem written by an architect. It has to do with a notable use of light and shadow, and I think it's a lovely way to describe the album built by Austin-born Black Angels, Directions to See a Ghost. Yes, they've got the guitar drone thing going on, but it's delivered in that appropriate ethereal way that comes along with the moniker of neo-psychedelic rock. Even their name, derived from the Velvet Underground's "The Black Angel's Death Song" is appropriate, given their dreamy, far-away lyrical delivery, and the way their songs conjure up of some Warhol Factory-esque room with too many pillows and not enough ashtrays.

The Black Angels psychedelic voice is stronger and more developed than their cousin — the indie shoe-gaze band. They've played Lollapalooza ('07) and SXSW ('08) to critical acclaim, and they're just perched (absolutely perched) on the verge of something big here. You're not likely to catch them on the radio, as most of their tracks span well over four minutes, but you get the feeling from the album that this band is just not all that into radio play. This is the album you're going to break out at 2am and groove to on your futon. It's the one you're going to play while you drift off to sleep (and likely have some pretty amazing dreams with this as your soundtrack). The album itself, plays like a oil wheel light show, infused with sitar ragas and some really interesting percussion work. The Black Angels are delivering psychedelic rock that not only honors its roots, but provides listeners with a cleaner, more delicious sugar cube.

[mp3]: The Black Angels – "Doves" (from Directions to See a Ghost)

[mp3]: The Black Angels – "The First Vietnamese War" (from Passover)

The Black Angels play Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Ave., Friday, June 20. The Warlocks open at 9pm. Tickets are $15.

Anne Holub

Artist Mon Jun 02 2008

Sybris Releases Second Album, New Video

It's been nearly three years since Chicago indie-rockers Sybris put out their debut album. In the interim they've toured, played a lot around town, and taken their time crafting new material to their own satisfaction. Apparenly it was all time well spent, because in the past year, the group's managed to earn a reputation as a local Artist To Watch for 2008.

Sybris's sophomore album Into The Trees was just released on the Absolutely Kosher label. The video for the album's lead single, "Oh Man!", started circulating a few days ago and is now up on Youtube (or just see above). Currently, they're taking the new album on the road on a coast-to-coast tour. The bad will be winding returning to home turf in late June, just in time to play a set at the Belmont Arts Festival on June 28th.

[mp3]: Sybris - "The Best Day In History In Ever" (2005)

Graham Sanford

mp3 Tue May 27 2008

Chi-town Mixdown

And what were we just saying about summer mixes?

Come hell or hot weather (whenever that might be), it looks like it's time to just call it -- break out the grill, take the winter coats to the dry cleaners, and just get on with business.

And here here we have a little something to help soundtrack the transition. Local mash-up misfits The Hood Internet keep busy when it comes to crafting and cranking out tracks and mixes, and this week they've added yet a new mixtape to the stack. Entitled "The Hood Internet vs. Chicago," it's a 24-track fat sack of downloadable "bastard pop," sporting an exclusively hometown theme. As in: Juice vs. Liz Phair, Cool Kids vs. Frankie Knuckles, Twista vs The Sea and Cake, R. Kelly vs. Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, and a bunch of other such business (one of which manages to slip in a bit of the "Superbowl Shuffle").

So go and get it via download from The Hood Internet's website. Get a peep of the tracklisting on the other side of the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford / Comments (1)

Event Thu May 15 2008

Between Descartes and That "Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog"

It's been said that those artists who possess the highest degree of creative genius are often those who carry within them the greatest unresolved paradoxes. Kris Kristofferson might've had something similar in mind when he said of his friend and fellow artist Johnny Cash, "He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction."

Truth, of course, is the end concern of philosophical inquiry – getting at the brass tacks of life, human knowledge and experience, the nature of the world. As the latest in a series of titles from their Popular Culture and Philosophy line, Chicago-based scholarly imprint Open Court Publishing has just published Johnny Cash and Philosophy: The Burning Ring of Truth. In a collection of academically-inclined essays, eighteen deep thinkers and die-hard Cash fans offer a variety of perspectives on the metaphysical, social, and spiritual aspects of the Cash's music – the whys and what-fors of how Cash's lyrics connect with the singer's own life and speak to a large and varied audience on so many levels. The contributing authors examine the man's music from a range of perspectives. You get Cash on crime and the American penal system, Cash on sin and redemption and the many pitfalls of human nature, Cash on the value of honest labor and making what you can of what you've been given, Cash on the matter of love as examined in light of his relationship with June Carter, and a number of other topics.

The volume of essays was co-edited (along with David Werther) by former Chicago musician and current philosophy professor John Huss, who contributed the chapter "Johnny Cash and Justice." Before he vacated town to pursue his career in academia, Huss used to play around the Windy City as the frontman for the John Huss Moderate Combo back in the 1990s. Next weekend, the Moderate Combo will be reuniting to play a couple of shows in town to celebrate the book's publication and to pay tribute to the Man in Black.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Concert Wed May 07 2008

"Station" Identification: Russian Circles Release New Album, Take It On The Road

Considering that they've only been active for just over three years, the Chicago-based trio Russian Circles has managed to rack up a high ratio of praise throughout the webzine community in a short period of time. It seems there's something unique about the group's music that resonates with those who've heard it. The band's 2006 debut album, Enter, met with enthused accolades across the board, and quickly the landed them a slot on the top of the bill at Drowned In Sound's End-of-Summer festival in London last August. With the pending arrival of their sophomore LP, Station, Russian Circles are set to kick off another tour, beginning with a record-release party and a headlining set at Subterranean this Saturday evening.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Sat May 03 2008

Wake & Bake, Yo: The Cool Kids Announce Release Dates for Debut EP

"Kickin' it like kickstands": Cool Kids emcees Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish

Those who've caught local hip-hop duo The Cool Kids at their shows around town in the past year will be quite familiar with a number of their signature tracks already; especially "Gold and a Pager," "Mikey Rocks," and "Black Mags." It appears that now -- many, many months after the announcement of it's pending release -- the Kids' debut EP The Bake Sale is finally slated to hit the streets. Running ten tracks deep, the EP will see an exclusive electronic release via iTunes on May 20, with the hardcopy version properly dropping on June 10.

From the looks of their schedule, The Cool Kids will be keeping busy for the summer. As of this writing, they're going out on the road, kicking off a tour that'll include the U.S., Europe, an appearance at Lollapalooza, and dates on this year's Rock The Bells roster.

As far as local, non-Lolla dates are concerned, The Cool Kids will be playing at the University of Chicago's outdoor Summer Breeze festival on May 17, as well as sharing the bill with All Natural for the Darfur Now benefit show at The Abbey on May 21.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Random Thu Apr 17 2008

R. Kelly (allegedly) wants to see what you've got...

Not only that, he wants to know how tight it is.

In a promotional campaign for his new single "Hair Braider," Chicago R&B crooner R. Kelly is propositioning fans to send him pictures of themselves. Pictures of themselves sporting their braids, that is. Zig-zags, cornrows, dookies, whatever -- he wants you to show them off by uploading your snapshots his site.

The song is the advance single off of Kelly's forthcoming album, 12 Play: Fourth Quarter, which is slated to be released this summer. Since the contest is being hosted via a Song BMG/Jive's webpage, we're assuming that the promo campaign cleared the label's legal department before going live.

Fans and visitors to the site are invited to vote on the entrees' photos. The contest's judges, however, may have a tough row to how, as it appears (after Gapers Block hit refresh about 20-something times) that people are randomly uploading pictures of their bald, buzz-cutted, be-hatted, coiffed, and mostly non-braided selves to site -- perhaps having mistaken it for just another internet social network opportunity. So, as expected, the jury might be out on this one for a while.

Graham Sanford

Review Fri Mar 28 2008

Singer minces words, music on debut album

Composed of seasoned veterans from Chicago's avant-rock heyday of the mid-late 90s, the band Singer has just this week released their debut album, Unhistories, on Drag City. And if there's one thing that should be established from the start, it's that Singer don't "do" linearity.

This should come as no surprise, given the band's collective cee-vee. Bassist Robert A.A. Lowe was previously a central member of math-rock/no-wave/prog-revisionists 90 Day Men, currently performs and records under the moniker Lichens, and has -- as a studio and touring sideman -- contributed keyboard work to TV On The Radio. Ben Vida was formerly part of the minimalist chamber ensemble Town and Country and has recently been producing work as Bird Show; while Todd Rittman and Adam Vida are erstwhile members of the defunct Chicago "rock deconstructionist" unit U.S. Maple.

Much of Unhistories unfolds by way of country-blues(ish) guitar riffs that sidewind and meander, sometimes get bogged down in briars, but are more often striking ahead in a hunting or explorative mode. With Singer, songs don't develop or progress so much as charge up to a threshold, pause, and double back to strike out on alternate courses. Theirs is a music that involves the tightening and release of torques and tension, always playfully teetering on the edge of clamor and collapse. But the guitars never roam too far from the campground, so it ends up being drummer Adam Vida who probes at the outermost perimeters, his kitwork often dancing around a rhythmic center of the song without engaging it directly. While the whole band routinely steps in with some woozy harmonizing, bassist Robert Lowe's vocals -- often straining into the upper registers in a faux-falsetto that suggests mimicry or mockery -- drape the tenuous melodies like lilies wilting under a blistering sun.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Concert Mon Mar 17 2008

Stop Watching TV!: The Boredoms' Circular Logic

Since they first came together on the Osaka noise scene of the mid-1980s, The Boredoms have always been one of the music world's most unwieldy and inexplicable acts. Starting out as an outfit of frenetic, genre-mulching rawk'n'roll destructivists, they've since undergone a circuitous musical evolution over the past decade. Like a supernova constricting into a neutron star, the band refocused its musical energy to become purveyors of dense and droning space-rock in the late 1990s before finally arriving at their present trance-inducing, tribal incarnation as the most apeshit drum circle on earth.

Boredoms fans will have a chance to see the band play a special "in the round" performance at the Congress Theater next Wednesday evening. The show will be one of the few dates on their current U.S. tour where the group will be able to perform the way they want to -- interfacing in a circle in the center of the venue while the audience will be free to gather around on the periphery.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Thu Mar 13 2008

Hit Her on Her Beeper

Kid Sister is the featured star in this dance video for The Count & Sinden's "Beeper."

"Beeper" - The Count & Sinden ft Kid Sister from joseph monish on Vimeo.

As Andrew Gill points out, she and her crew walk into Uptown's Shake Rattle & Read and descend into Al Capone's escape tunnels before emerging in a thumpin' club where Flosstradamus is laptop-spinning.

Andrew Huff

News Fri Mar 07 2008

Shellac announce globe-trotting mini-tour

Word went out earlier this week that Shellac will be launching a brief series of mini-tours over the next few months. The itinerary has Albini & co playing a number of dates in South America, continental and Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Macedonia.

As usual, the tour (reportedly) bears no correspondence to the band's schedule for recording and releasing new material. There's no word, at present, if stateside dates are to follow; but if you find yourself a stone's throw from Ljubljana or Zagreb in early May, tailor your travel plans accordingly.

See the band's page at Touch & Go for the list of dates and locations.

Graham Sanford

Artist Wed Feb 27 2008

Mahjongg & The Weeping Eye Of Providence

Trailing the release of their new album Kontpab by just a few scant weeks, the Chicago electro-punk outfit Mahjongg recently started circulating a video for their tune "Teardrops":

Posted on YouTube just over a week ago, the video appeared with the foreboding caption: "Cycle of the Symphony of Destruction." The tagline might either be an ironic salute to Metallica, or it might have something to do with the clip's artistic indebtedness to Kenneth Anger's cult film Lucifer Rising. Or perhaps neither.

To see Mahjongg operating in a somewhat less shadowy manner, you can also check out their old appearance on Chic-A-Go-Go here.

Graham Sanford

Concert Thu Feb 14 2008

When Carnivores Attack

For the handful that heard it, Food For Animals' first EP, Scavengers, was one of the boldest musical debuts of 2004. Throughout its blitzkrieg 22-minute stretch, emcee Vulture Voltaire kicked bellicose verses about the current political climate and contemporary hip-hop while deejay Ricky Rabbit served up a fragmented blizzard of samples and sonic schrapnel punctuated by punchy, thuzzed-out beats. It was noisy, boisterous, incredibly exciting -- a speaker-shredding monster. And given all that, it wasn't surprising to learn that the two guys responsible for it were veterans of the D.C. hardcore punk scene.

The duo took a brief hiatus in the intervening three years. Recently, they've relocated to Baltimore and taken in a third member when emcee HY came aboard. The release of their new debut full-length, Belly, finds Food For Animals broadening their musical palette, both musically and lyrically. Vulture V has largely sidelined his penchant for socio-political rants this time out, and HY brings some welcome humor and stylistic balance to the mix. The two emcees sling rhymes that don't so much ride the beat as tease it out of Rick Rab's digital onslaughts. And yeah, while there's the juked beats on "Virgogo" and some slo-mo skrewd vocals hooks on a couple of tracks, a majority of Belly's content falls in the most outbound orbit from contemporary hip-hop. Fair to say that it's an animal that eats backpackers for breakfast.

Food For Animals will be appearing at the AV-aerie next Saturday, February 23. They're currently touring with Bay Area freeform skronksters Mi Ami, who are also on the bill. Chicago's Pit er Pat headline for the evening, Scalpels open, and DJ Mayor Aspirin spins between sets. (Now how's that for a diverse billing?) 2000 W. Fulton. It all gets underway at 9pm and admission is $8. All ages show.

[mp3]: Food For Animals - "Cut and Paste" (2004)
[mp3]: Food For Animals - "Swampy (Summer Jam)"
[mp3]: Food For Animals - "Mutumbo"

Graham Sanford

Concert Tue Feb 12 2008

Those Powers That Be

While it seems that poise, a modicum of polish, and a few thin ideas are all it takes to pull an act together in Williamsburg these days; it requires a unique degree of creative and collaborative chemistry to transcend the "just another band from Brooklyn" syndrome. Such is the case with the noise-punk trio These Are Powers. Guitarist Anna Barie and bassist Pat Noecker first came together to form These Are Powers back in 2006 -- Noecker having formerly been a member of Liars, and Anna was then working in the band Knife Skills. The rest of the equation fell firmly into place when the pair took on Brenmar Someday drummer Bill Salas while summering in Chicago this past year. Salas returned with the band to New York in time for them to complete work on their debut LP, Terrific Seasons.

Much of These Are Powers' musical energy takes its cue from classic NYC no-wave precedents, the sort of tribal noise that the likes of Mars, 8-Eyed Spy, and (a then appropriately named) Sonic Youth were churning out in the trash-strewn Lower East Side back in the mid-1980s. Onstage, Barie's a dynamo, a one-woman maelstrom of daemonic vocals and frenzied slide-guitar, as she and Noecker whip up a delirium over gnarled, interlocking rhythms. Their music could be considered "heady" stuff, but its jolt is mainly visceral -- often dizzying, sometimes harrowing, and urgently rhythmic to its core.

These Are Powers will be playing the AV-aerie next Wednesday evening, February 20th. Local naïf-savant popsters Bird Names will also be on the bill. Adam Griffin and Laromlab open. 2000 W. Fulton. Admission is $8 and the show starts at 9:30pm.

[video]: These Are Powers - "You Come With Nothing" (live)
[video]: These Are Powers - "Peel Some Off" (live)
[mp3]: These Are Powers - "Little Sisters of Beijing"

Graham Sanford

Concert Fri Feb 08 2008

Russian Circles' New Notes From the Underground

While the world has waited for the release of Chinese Democracy, metal has undergone a lot of changes. It's responded to the backlash against its hair-hopping halcyon days by absorbing influences and ideas from across the rock spectrum, splintering off into a number of enclaves that probe the perimeters of the genre's creedal heaviness.

Case in point, the Chicago instrumental trio Russian Circles. The band's 2006 album Enter received a lot of glowing praise via print and online venues that cover the heftier ends of the musical spectrum, and it sent critics scrambling for labels to sum up the the band's sound. If you were to string all the resulting desciptives together, then Russian Circles are reputedly a math-/prog-/post-rock metal trio with melodic, neo-Mahlerian shoegaze affinities. Or something like that.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Thu Feb 07 2008

The Return of Airiel

Airiel had quite a major 2007 between a lot of touring, recording and releasing a new album (The Battle of Sealand), and losing a couple members near its end. On Friday they'll make their 2008 live debut with both a new drummer and bassist at Darkroom. It should be business as usual for Airiel, though, as they pummel ears with layers upon layers of heavy guitar sound and delight eyes with trippy visuals. The show with Apteka precedes the Chicago shoegaze/psychedelic rock band's sold out gig with A Place to Bury Strangers and Holy Fuck at Schubas next weekend. Later this year they'll tour the west coast with Film School and the UK with Ulrich Schnauss. DJs open the night at 9PM. The cover's $7. Bring ear plugs.

James Ziegenfus

Artist Wed Feb 06 2008

A.A. Bondy Is One Old Soul

On first listen, the acoustic blues based songs off of A.A. Bondy's new record do not sound like they're coming out of the mouth of a twenty-something, indie-rock slacker kid or from the former leader of the rock band Verbena. In fact, his style of folk blues is most reminiscent of the gentle finger-picked blues of the Piedmont (but most will just throw him in with Dylan et al and hope for the best).

The song "Vice Rag" is just that: a long list of all the things one shouldn't be doing. It's sung in such a beaten down tone you wonder if Bondy himself has been down that road and lived to tell. Either way, and no matter how you slice it, A.A. Bondy will become one of the new voices in roots music over the next 5 years. Here's his song "Vice Rag" off of his 2007 release American Hearts, plus a video of an impromptu jam session with rising stars The Felice Brothers and The Pines.

A.A. Bondy is the second act on a nice little lineup featuring Kevin Devine and The Jealous Girlfriends at Beat Kitchen on Feb. 14. Buy tickets here.

[mp3]: AA Bondy - "Vice Rag"

[video]: AA Bondy - "American Hearts"

Craig Bonnell

Concert Wed Feb 06 2008

From The Jam (Who Are Most Of The Jam) Jam @ Abbey Pub

Bassist Bruce Foxton and drummer Rick Buckler, formerly of The Jam, now known as From The Jam, played the Abbey Pub on Monday. Here's a video clip of them finishing the encore with "A Town Called Malice".

Did you also know it's another musical Rick's birthday today?

Dan Morgridge

Artist Thu Jan 31 2008

I guess that makes it a 'supergroup'...

The Chicago-based Drag City label recently announced an upcoming release by the recently-formed outfit Singer. The group involves an uncanny convergence of local underground talent, with a lineup featuring Robert Lowe, formerly of 90 Day Men and currently of Lichens renown, and Ben Vida of Town & Country/Bird Show affiliation. Rounding out the ensemble are Todd Rittmann and Adam Vida from U.S. Maple.

The album, entitled Unhistories, is slated to release on March 25. In the interim, Singer has lined up a couple of in-town gigs. They'll be playing this coming Monday night at the Hideout; and on Friday, February 22 at Subterranean. To get an idea what the crew's got going, here's an intriguing preview track (below), and there's an additional two songs currently up on the band's Myspace page.

[mp3]: Singer - "Dumb Smoke"

Graham Sanford

Concert Mon Jan 28 2008

Mahjongg: Love means never having to apologize to the police

The Chicago outfit Mahjongg recently went on tour, aiming to round up converts to Kontpab--which is both the title for their new album that's now being released on K Records and the name of a post-millennial cult that the band recently started. Actually, the stuff about the cult's just a bunch of presskit monkeyshines; but the album's for real, and Mahjongg will be returning to home base to play a record-release party at Subterranean this Thursday.

If you threw a party and invited Suicide and Konono No1 to play in your basement, what would it sound like? Kontpab probably best answers that question. In the time that's lapsed since their prior LP, Raydoncong2005, Mahjongg has undergone some slight personnel changes. Their sound has changed a little, as well. Save for bass, guitars are largely out and keyboards dominate -- specifically keyboards of the gritty, pulsing electro-punk variety.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Fri Jan 25 2008

People Who Don't Do Anything In Pretty Good Bands, Vol. 1

Do you remember that the Mighty Mighty Bosstones had one guy who didn't really do anything? His name's Ben and he danced during their shows, sometimes joined in on choruses, and was officially titled "Bosstone" in their credits. There's a guy in Chicago's Ultra Sonic Edukators who seems awfully close to that description, except more annoying. He's probably an integral part of the band away from the stage, but his antics are reminiscent of a middle child seeking attention from anyone and everyone. Unfortunately, he's rather hard to miss live.

Otherwise, this band is pretty good. Even though they refer to Super Furry Animals and Blur as major influences, they often sound more like Oasis stealing a chapter from the Weezer book of hooks. (And, coincidentally, they'll be recording their first album with Weezer's Brian Bell.) They have an EP out now called Bad Blood and have played Schubas each Monday in January. Next week's openers are Maradona and the Loyal Divide. The show is 18+ (beware of a young crowd), starts at 8:00 PM, and the cover's $6.

James Ziegenfus

News Thu Jan 24 2008

Flosstradamus builds bomb, sells the tools

Word has officially gone out that Flosstradamus are aiming to release a debut album sometime this Summer. Floss DJs J2K and Autobot are reportedly handling all of the production work, laying down beats and crafting tracks to put behind appearances by Chicago cohorts Kid Sister and The Cool Kids. Also guesting on the album will be Philly femme-cee Amanda Blank, who you might've heard via her past guest spots on tracks by Spank Rock and Plastic Little.

Meanwhile, Josh (aka J2K) from Flosstradamus is presently auctioning off some of his own DJ gear on eBay. Up for grabs among the lot of mixed goods are a number of items autographed by the Floss guys--including mix-CDs, a Vestax portable turntable, and Josh's recently retired iBook G4 (complete with audio programs like Serato, et al.).

And speaking of The Cool Kids--they're getting mad love from the crew over at IHEARTCOMIX! Check out the site's pics and vids from the Kids' recent appearance in L.A. here.

Graham Sanford

Artist Thu Jan 24 2008

Boredoms Sign to Thrill Jockey

After years of representing Yoshimi and her OOIOO gals, Bettina and the band have finally lured over Japan's other crown jewel of freak-out electronic drum circle music - The Boredoms have signed to Thrill Jockey. They will be releasing the 9th volume of the Super Roots series and first-ever live disc: a concert from Christmas Eve 2004 with a full choir. The album will have forty pages of EYE artwork, musical scores & notation. The band is also planning a North American tour "In The Round" - including a date at Chicago's Congress Theatre on March 26th. No word yet on whether you'll need to bring a drumset up Milwaukee for the show...

Link: 77 Boadrum video.

Dan Morgridge

Concert Sat Jan 05 2008

Dial Radio M for OFFICE

We'd like to thank Chicago Public Radio for sponsoring Transmission. They've been advertising an upcoming event that's right up our alley: Tony Sarabia of "Radio M" will be hosting an evening with OFFICE, one of Chicago's up and coming bands, next Wednesday, Jan. 9, at 8pm in the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln. The band will be sharing anecdotes and stories, and playing songs from their latest album, A Night at the Ritz, and prior. Tickets are just $15 -- $10 if you're a CPR member.

Andrew Huff

Concert Tue Dec 18 2007

No, They Don't Do "A Love Supreme"

What's in a name? Everything and nothing, maybe. But if you're in a band, at some point you have to collectively decide to call yourselves something. That in itself can be a creative hurdle that some aspiring music artists never successfully overcome. In the end, does it matter if you call yourselves the Caveat Emptors or the Not Dead Yets or the Dirty Merkins or We Came To Wreck Your Pity Party or whatever? Not sure, but how different would the legacy of Joy Division have been if they'd stuck with their first adopted moniker, the Stiff Kittens? So yeah, names can be tricky.

Take Coltrane Motion, for example. Coltrane Motion are not a jazz ensemble. The trio started out as a bedroom-recording DIY outfit in Ohio before they relocated to Chicago about four years ago. And while there's exactly eight seconds of squeaky soprano sax smear during the opening of their tune "Ex-Girlfriend In A Coma," the band bears no musical resemblance to their venerated namesake, but instead play what they call -- for lack of a better label -- electronic indie-pop. After numerous releases on their own Datawaslost label, the band released their latest album, Songs About Music, earlier this year.

From start to finish, Songs About Music is a fun and enjoyable listen. The guys definitely aren't hook-averse, offering up tunes that are sometimes breezy and wistful and sport catchy choruses. At other times they dig into darker, droning domains that fit snuggly into orbit around planet Shoegaze. In terms of songwriting styles, the cover a lot of bases and thread it all together with a thick sound that's heavy on buzzing, textural keyboard and guitar washes, all laid atop funky, punchy rhythms that all but mandate hip-shaking. And while it may epitomize something akin to a new "indie-pop sensibility," the core of its charm and catchiness is about as new-school as The Seeds or Question Mark and the Mysterians.

You can catch Coltrane Motion at Schubas this Wednesday evening. Hearsay has it that they throw a lot of energy into their sets and put on a good show. Butterfly Assassins and Let's Get Out Of This Terrible Sandwich Shop open. 3159 N. Southport. Show starts at 9pm and admission is $5.

[mp3]: Coltrane Motion - Twenty-Seven"
[mp3]: Coltrane Motion - "I Guess The Kids Are Okay"
[mp3]: Coltrane Motion - "How To Be"

Graham Sanford

Concert Mon Dec 17 2007

New Year's Eve With Umphrey's McGee

Those with holes left in their end of the year social calendars could do much worse this NYE than to catch local band done good Umphrey's McGee at Uptown's Aragon Ballroom. The 2007 installment of what is becoming a traditional Chicago year ender also serves as a celebration of the band's 10th anniversary.

Formed in 1997 in South Bend, Umphrey's McGee have become summer festival staples and, in the mind of some, inheritors of the Grateful Dead, Phish jam band mantle. While there are some parallels to be drawn — ever-changing setlists, a rabid fanbase apt to see multiple shows and dissect the nuances on forums such as, and a firm foot in improvisational rock — Umphrey's has a lot that separates it from the pack of current and recent jam-rockers. First, the band seems to draw from a deeper musical pool, pulling from Zappa, King Crimson, and Yes as much as from the Dead or Phish. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the band has been known to cover everything from Toto to Radiohead to Snoop Dog.

Tickets to all three nights of Umphrey's Chicago stand are still available, with The Wailers opening Saturday 12/29 and Chicago's Tortoise providing support Sunday 12/30. Monday's NYE show will feature a video tribute for the band's 10th anniversary.

Dan Snedigar

Concert Wed Dec 05 2007

Hideout Gets Heavy

I'll confess to have had my flings with noodly hippy jam rock and precious art pop, but lately, I have been developing a new theory centered on the basic premise that heavy metal music may be why God saw fit to send man the electric guitar. Chicagoans will have a chance to put that theory to the test this Saturday as the generally mild-mannered Hideout presents Hideout Gets Heavy, featuring three up-and-comers in the increasingly interesting Chicago metal scene. Leading the bill is Indian, celebrating their second release on local label Seventh Rule. Also appearing is Rabid Rabbit, something of a local super group featuring former members of Frontier, Camaro Rouge and Galactic Inmate and Den of Vipers and their sludgy grind.

A late night DJ set by Bruce Lamont of Yakuza winds things up.

More information and tickets at the Hideout's website. Show starts at 9pm, Saturday 12/8.

Dan Snedigar

Artist Mon Dec 03 2007

Fancy Knucklework

As Miles Raymer recently detailed in the Reader, Kid Sister and crew recently produced a video for Sis's track "Pro-Nails." The video's now been released via Youtube, so check it out...

Made here in town (at the Nails R Us on Western Ave) for a modest $3K, the song and video features a cameo from Kanye West, who stopped by the shoot to join in on the some finger dancing.

Graham Sanford

Artist Tue Nov 20 2007

Slashing the Suburbs

Just when you thought the re-united New York Dolls were too much, when Of Montreal's commercial was making you cringe, when Fergie having a sex tape had you out on the ledge, peering down 38 stories: this happens. Slash, the guitarist so bad-ass he had to leave his friend's wedding mid-ceremony to jam out a bad-ass helicopter-friendly guitar solo, has now written a book to sum his life. Why he did this instead of a week-long guitar solo is beyond this author, but we can only assume the autobiography, Slash, is a mildly more comprehensive (if less headbang-tastic) format. What's more, he will be signing this book in the Oak Brook Borders on Tuesday, Nov. 27th, at 7:30 PM. Borders? For real, Slash? And just in case you thought you could at least get that Use Your Illusion poster signed for the trip, think again: Slash will only be signing copies of the book due to the "popularity of this event". Our only hope is that if enough people smuggle in lighters, we can raise them all at once and trigger a Pavlovian response to shred in the erstwhile king of rock. At least he's still more productive that Axl.

Dan Morgridge

Concert Tue Nov 20 2007

M.I.A/Low B, Cool Kids @ HOB and Vic


Chicago's hip-hop fans definitely have something to give thanks for this week, with two holiday bookend shows from insurgent rap superstar M.I.A. and Chicago's hometown heroes Cool Kids.

M.I.A. (real name Maya Arulpragasam) is the British-Sri Lankan artist whose melange approach to music blends everything from ragga to dancehall and back to hip-hop. M.I.A. became a critical darling in 2005 on the heels of the release of her debut album Arular and North American concerts at the sold out Bowery in New York and a stellar set at the 2006 Coachella festival.

Low B

Accompanying M.I.A. on this tour is DJ Low B (formerly Low Budget) who is one half (with Diplo) of the duo Hollertronix. This influential Philadelphia-based duo was at the forefront of the current trend towards eclectic DJing, mixing and mashing everything from indie to soul to old school rap in one frenetic mix. Low B himself is definitely a product of the age of rap. His personal sets draw heavily on classic rap platters and crate-digger soul numbers. There is also news from the Hollertronix camp that there is another M.I.A. mix tape in the works, a sort of Piracy Funds Terrorism part 2.

Cool Kids

As if the headliner alone weren't enough to get you out of the house, M.I.A.'s opener is none other than Chicago's own up-and-comers Cool Kids. Touring in advance of their debut album and on the heels of a standout set at this past summer's Pitchfork Festival, Cool Kids seem on the cusp of well deserved wide recognition.

M.I.A with DJ Low B and Cool Kids play two shows this week, Wednesday 11/21 at the House of Blues and Friday 11/23 at The Vic.

Really Cool Contest! We've got a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky reader to the show tomorrow night (11/21) at the House of Blues. The first to email contests (at) with the subject line "I'm Cool" gets the pair! UPDATE! We have a winner! Congrats to Eric!

Dan Snedigar

Artist Mon Nov 19 2007

Thanksgiving with Percolator

If you thought the Get Up Kids were good and gone, you can put an end to your angst-ridden moping, and leave the dark corner for at least an evening to see a reincarnation, Percolator, play Ronny’s Bar this Wednesday. In preparation for having to spend all of Thursday with relatives, these Chicago locals will help you get one last whine out before the turkey and family values. Self-described as “pretty raucous” when it comes to live shows, they say they just want to “entertain and surprise people.” And with hooks that evoke Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, and an enthusiasm heard genuinely through their tunes, it should promise to do at least that. They’ve just finished recording their first record, Man is Not a Bird, which is streaming on their website for your listening pleasure. In addition to Thanksgiving, they’ll also be around the southside Dec 6th for a show at Reggie’s Rock Club.

Percolator @ Ronny’s Bar, Wed 11/21, 9 PM, 21+
@ Reggie’s Rock Club, Thurs 12/6, 8 PM, $6, 18+

Emily Kaiser

Concert Mon Nov 19 2007

B1g t1me fun

Chicago seems to be breeding an entire sub-genre of well executed high-concept, low-brow theatrical rockers. In the past year or so, on the advice of friends, I have been introduced to the oddball exuberance of The Bitter Tears, and the peculiar camp of Let's Get Out of this Terrible Sandwich Shop. I must admit, however, that I was blindsided by the sheer weirdness of b1g t1me.

Last summer, I met some friends for drinks at Simon's in Andersonville on a Sunday. An interesting looking quartet was setting up in the corner. I asked what they did and the bartender summed it up; "They do '80's one-hit-wonder songs in the style of Tom Waits."

And that they do, more or less. What followed was two hours of pure fun, easily the most interesting accidental concert I've seen in years. The band manages an uncanny mimicry of Waits' style, wringing new meaning from songs that we've all heard a thousand times. Tom Petty's Don't Come Around Here No More takes on a decidedly threatening tone. Dio's Holy Diver is transformed from slapstick metal to a gospel-like call-and-response number. While the concept seems dubious on paper, there's definitely something else going on. By mixing a spot-on homage to Waits' innovative style with classic material that has subtly begged from day one for reinterpretation, b1g t1me manages to create something that easily stands on its own.

B1g t1me plays this Wednesday 11/21 at Quenchers Saloon, corner of Fullerton and Western.

Dan Snedigar

mp3 Wed Nov 14 2007

Southside Beatdown

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

For over two decades, J. P. Chill's Friday Night radio show on WHPK has been a cornerstone of the Chicago hip-hop scene, and the show's hosted its share of top-tier guest appearances over the years. I myself used to have a cassette that I'd recorded from his show one evening back in early 1994 -- a show that included an incredible 20-plus minute freestyle battle between Masta Ace and his posse, a pre-Resurrection Common Sense(or Common, as we know him now), and the guys in the Southside crew East of the Rock.

Apparently I wasn't the only one recording some of these shows. Courtesy of an mp3 that was recently posted over at Exclusive Trax, we get to hear Common battle a young Kanye West on an edition of Chill's show from 1996. Check it out and get treated.

Track here.

Graham Sanford

Concert Tue Nov 13 2007

Mission of Burma @ Abbey Pub

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that "In American lives, there are no second acts." I'm pretty sure that that theory doesn't hold water, and if you want to see direct evidence in the contrary, Mission of Burma will make a strong case at the Abbey Pub this Friday.

Mission of Burma formed in Boston in 1979, part of America's burgeoning post-punk/new wave movement. Unlike many punk groups, the members of M.O.B. (Roger Miller - guitar, Clint Conley - bass and Peter Prescott - drums) were well versed in their instruments and grounded in a sense of history that encompassed late '60's proto-punks such as the MC5 and The Stooges. Burma's songs were driving, angular rockers with intelligent, acerbic lyrics; audio pastiches of swirling guitar filtered through the soundboard by original audio engineer and tape loop artist Martin Swopes. In their first iteration, Burma's impact was limited to a single studio album Vs., one EP Signals, Calls and Marches and a couple of singles, all originally released on the Boston label Ace of Hearts. While their output was critically acclaimed, the band disbanded in 1983, in part due to Miller's worsening tinnitus.

1983 may have seen the end of the band's first act, but Michael Azzerad's 2001 punk rock paean This Band Could Be Your Life featured a chapter on the group, introducing them to a new audience. After some exploratory touring in 2002, with Bob Westen of Shellac manning the console and tape deck, Burma released two new studio albums, 2004's ONoffON and 2006's The Obliterati, effectively tripling their original output. Both albums ended up on year-end lists, and the band's live shows seem to maintain more vitality than a band off a 20 year hiatus has a right to possess. While it would be tempting to compare them to their early '80's heyday, it may be closer to the truth to say that their heyday is now.

Mission of Burma plays Chicago's Abbey Pub Friday, Nov. 16 at 9:00 PM with Weber Club, Helicopters, Comasoft and Fun Club opening.

Dan Snedigar

Concert Fri Nov 02 2007

Some Things Not Lost In The Fire...

The press kit for the North Carolina outfit The Annuals would have us believe that the band is of the "should appeal to fans of Arcade Fire" stripe. Such reductivism and coattail-riding is the bread and butter of music industry blurbsters and hype merchants. Granted, there's plenty on the band's latest EP, Frelen Mas, to give teeth to the comparison. But fortunately, the Annuals know to pare back on the storm and stress and end-of-the-worldness much of the time, allowing more space for the listener to cozy into. And they prove that they're (thankfully) capable of bringing a little much-needed humor and whimsicality to the table.

On Frelen Mas, instruments and leads get passed around quite playfully, and the Annuals actually sound like they know how to enjoy themselves and keep the caterwauling and histrionics within reasonable limits. While their version of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" doesn't really do the band or the songbook staple any great favors, there's still a fair amount of lush and capacious prettiness to be found throughout. Not to mention that they manage to pull together something that's damned near sexy with “Such a Mess.”

And, oh yeah, Sneak Attack Media is currently hosting a contest where fans and listeners are welcome to mashup an Annuals’ tune with some material by labelmates The Manchester Orchestra. Which, given the similarity between the two artists, ain’t exactly like mixing anchovies and ice cream. (Check the links below to hear the two bands covering each other's songs.)

The Annuals will be playing at Subterranean this coming Tuesday evening. Manchester Orchestra and The Nevers are also on the bill. 2011 W. North Ave. Doors open at 6;30pm, show starts at 7; and tickets are $10 in advance, $12 the night of.

[mp3]: The Annuals - "Where Have You Been?"
[mp3]: Manchester Orchestra - "Brother"

Graham Sanford

DVD & Video Mon Oct 29 2007

Of Poor Gods and Unclad Emperors

Okay, Chicago Punk Rock 101 time. Anyone with a sense of this city's indie music history knows Naked Raygun. Formed in 1980, they were once this city's most formidable reps on the national punk scene, banging out their own brand of "blast furnace monomania" and influencing the sound of countless bands around the country. Strictly textbook, as they say. And by now, even the half-attentive know that the band has reunited "for good"--back in action for the past year or so, playing occasional in-town shows and doing a little touring from time to time.

This month Naked Raygun will be playing Riot Fest at the Congress Theater for the second year running, headlining on November 17. But next week sees the release of What Poor Gods We Make, a DVD overview of the band's history. An exclusive screening of the documentary will be held at Reggie's this Sunday evening, with copies of the two-disc set will be available for sale before the thing properly hits the streets on November 6. The band will reportedly be on hand for some hobnobbing, as well. An afterparty featuring a bunch of other noisy young things will follow. 2105 South State Street. 7pm. The screening is all ages, the afterparty is 18 and up. (312) 949-0125.

[video]: Naked Raygun - "Rat Patrol" (from What Poor Gods We Make)
[video]: Naked Raygun - "Surf Combat"

Graham Sanford

Artist Tue Oct 23 2007

Cool Kids debut release announced

For the past few months, the rumor's been that the southside rap duo The Cool Kids were aiming to release their debut EP, Bake Sale, at some point in the unspecified future. Now the word goes out that the EP has been picked up for release by the crafty Chicago-based label Chocolate Industries. The hardcopy product of the EP is slated to hit the streets sometime in January.

In the meantime, the “Black Mags” single is due to drop sometime next month–which means it’ll start circulated while The Cool Kids are on tour opening for M.I.A. The tour arrives in Chicago for a pair of shows on November 21 and 23, at the House of Blues and Vic Theater, respectively.

Graham Sanford

Artist Tue Oct 23 2007

Words Cannot Describe

On the same day that Radiohead released their newest studio album In Rainbows online at the always alluring whatever-you-feel-like price, a local group called The Lickets did the same. Through their captivatingly mysterious label International Corporation, the Chicago experimental outfit released not only their new album Journey In Caldecott online at consumer-decided prices, but their entire 4-disc discography. Set your own price here.

So just who are The Lickets? Spacey, other-worldy, and unsettling, theirs is the music that Alice would play on her iPod if she had remembered to grab it before heading into Wonderland. Journey In Caldecott is more than the name for this album, its also the concept. This is a trek, an epic journey through forgotten lands, emerald forests, and unholy temples. Tracks like "Jero" and "Rabbit Moon" emit Old World instrumentals and sensibilities, while remaining in the world of the fantastic. The band is made up of Mitch Greer and Rachel Smith, who "deploy a mini-orchestra violin, cello, guitar, double bass, flute, Farfisa, mellotron, vibraphone, Theremin, Mini-moog, chimes, xylophone, and percussion to create their thoroughly trippy travelogue."

For more fun, head to The Lickets' website to actually travel through Caldecott (it's sort of like a Victorian Myst).

Michael Schmitt

Artist Tue Oct 09 2007

"You got BBD up on your bedroom wall/ But I'm above the rim and this is how I ball."

Lupe Fiasco has prompted, well, a fiasco.

Charged with performing a verse in a tribute to honorees Tribe Called Quest at last night's VH1 HipHop Honors show, Lupe went out...and forgot a quarter of the lyrics he was supposed to do. Compounding the disaster was the fact that he was performing for an audience full of people who knew the lyrics, and on stage with Pharrell WIlliams and Common apparently set the bar too high.

Afterwards, he blamed the incident on not growing up on Tribe's material and not having actually LISTENED to the albums Tribe's catalog is comprised of. What began as simply forgetting the lines at an awards show ballooned into a PR nightmare when one of hiphop's up-and-coming artists admitted not really giving a damn about it.

Troy Hunter

Artist Fri Oct 05 2007

There's No Love In This War


Matt Arbogast is essentially The Gunshy. When he hits the road in support of his new record for Latest Flame, There's No Love In This War, he'll be touring with a group of like minded musicians but it's Matt's songs and his intensity that will bring the show to life. The new disc (out October 30) is a concept record based on the letters his grandfather wrote back from World War II.

Like any great art dealing with war, these songs illuminate the horrors, banality and just sheer ridiculousness of such a thing. Matt's grandfather died of a heart attack at the age of 39 due mainly to the shrapnel still embedded in his chest from wounds received in Anzio in 1944. You'll be able to pre-order this release from Latest Flame on October 16. The full band will be playing Oct. 12 at Ronny's.

[mp3]: The Gunshy - "May 14, 1943, The Khaki-Whacky Girls"

Craig Bonnell

News Thu Sep 27 2007

We Roll Econo

Breakout southside hip-hop duo The Cool Kids have a new video out for their track "Black Mags." It's currently up on, and you help represent the the new Chi scene by voting to push the Kids up on the network's "Freshman 5" contest. Maybe I missed some stuff, but this may be the first appearance of a rap act proudly spotlighting shortie lo-buck rides since Another Bad Creation's "Playground."

In related news, Cool Kids associate Hollywood Holt became something of a international phenomenon a short while back when he dropped his video for "Throw a Kit." The clip was instantly relayed to moped-enthusiast websites and chatboards the world over, and -- for lack of any opposing candidates -- became something of a mopedder's hip-hop anthem. But word has it that Holt's moped was stolen a few days ago. Apparently the theft took place somewhere in the vicinity of Jackson and Western.

UPDATE: Reached for comment after presstime of the above, Mr. Holt reported: "Yeah. My cousin caught the dude. Thanx though man."

Graham Sanford

Artist Mon Sep 24 2007

These Kids Can Gaze

Anon, Good Nurse

Too many high school bands are punk-pop, teeny-bopper-pleasing pretty-boys. Perhaps I'm opinionated, but the fact remains that teenage bands lack the variety found in older acts. So, a band like Anon, Good Nurse is a special find. Why? Anon, Good Nurse is a young local band with serious shoegaze chops.

Yes, that's right: a (mainly) teenage shoegaze group. If your mouth isn't watering as much as mine, something is seriously wrong with you. Despite some sketchy recording, their MySpace page provides two explosive instrumental tracks that ring with the same sort of musical climaxes as Explosions in the Sky, but with guitar influences closer to Sonic Youth at times (more on them later).

Running truly DIY out of their MySpace page, Anon have already played with notables Sunny Day in Glasgow, Knife, Caspian, and are scheduled to play with Tulsa...just to name a few. Additionally, the band just announced the completion of their debut record, which should be released and available at their shows through Mouthstatic Records (and in Japan through Friend of Mine Records) in November.

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Schmitt

Artist Mon Sep 24 2007

Wilco in Your Pocket

For the price of a concert ticket, the whole band could be yours.

Andrew Huff

Artist Wed Sep 19 2007

School of Language Enrolls at Thrill Jockey Records


Thrill Jockey Records, the local label that recently brought you such works as ADULT.'s Why Bother? and Everybody by The Sea and Cake, recently announced signing School of Language. Why should you care? Because David Brewis, previously of Field Music, is heading School of Language.

Back in April, just after the release of their critically acclaimed Tones of Town, the Sunderland chamber-pop act Field Music announced that they weren’t breaking up…but kind of putting the collective music-making on hold. Instead of a band, Field Music is until further notice a support group of sorts for the three "core members." The first work to come from this new arrangement is Ships (working title) from songwriter David Brewis under the moniker School of Language. The album is nearing completion, and will be released next year.

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Schmitt

Concert Sun Sep 09 2007

Juke Crewin' Uptown

“I have this horrible feeling," Flosstradamus's Josh Young recently admitted to Fader, "[That] we might get hated on super hard.” Young was referring to Flosstradmus's role in helping spread the juke sound to "outsider"/non-Southside audiences. And yeah, given how territorial folks get about such things, that could conceivably happen. But whatever the case, it looks like the popularity of jukin' might be destined to break out -- be it on a crosstown or nation-wide level. Case in point: Check Sasha Frere-Jones's three-paragraph writeup of "Watch My Feet," the breakout track by southside Chi hip-hop artist Dude 'N' Nem that appears in the front pages of the latest New Yorker.

"Watch My Feet" has not only become the definitive juke tune of the season; but might be the track that puts the southside juke music scene (and the footwork that goes with it) on the map. And small wonder, because it's a helluva summer party joint -- deftly anchored with a steady, slow-rolling bass thump that keeps the whole thing on cruise control while the beats and verses flip into triple-speed juke mode. And the accompanying video (see above) complements the cut perfectly.

You can check out Dude 'N' Nem this Wednesday night, as they'll be kicking it with -- surprise, surprise -- Flosstradamus at Subterranean. Willy Joy opens. 2120 W. North Ave. Doors open at 9:30, show starts at 10. Admission is $5.

Graham Sanford

Artist Fri Sep 07 2007

Music as a Business

Crain's Small Business' Entrepreneurs in Action video series this week features Chicago jazz and classical arranger Cliff Colnot. Worth checking out.

Andrew Huff

Concert Tue Sep 04 2007

The Sounds of Signage

Signing Choir is the solo effort of Joey King, bassist for the Chicago glam-/psych-pop outfit The M's. The Choir's self-titled debut, to be released this week on Brilliante, is the culmination of of five year's worth of sideline songwriting and recording. Left to his preferences and devices, King cozies into low-fidelity space quite comfortably and furnishes it well; exploiting the four-track, bedroom recording aesthetic to maximum effect. Throughout there's plenty of fuzzy and bottom-heavy riffs, amplifier hum, and the grain of the voice cloaked in varied degrees of distortion.

Despite these deliberate rough edges, King proves himself an astute craftsmen when it comes to tailoring his songs with subtle, contrasting sonic details. He gravitates toward a post-mod mish-mash of pop stylings, and the Signing Choir sound is more pointedly "rockish" (in an early-90s college-radio way) than the Anglophilic hookiness of The M's usual material. He cranks things into bouncy mode on "Comb Your Hair" and "The Beths," and King proves himself consistently pop-savvy in the offing. But in its later stretch, the album settles into more shadowy terrain that's reminiscent of the shoe-gazing languidity of Dinosaur Jr. -- moody and ruminative, it's the sound of thoughts and feeling turning themselves over to see how their undersides fare against the light of day.

Brilliante Records and Schubas will be host a record release party for the Signing Choir CD this Saturday night, with Signing Choir -- featuring King with friends and The M's guitarist Robert Hicks -- headlining. Rock Plaza Central and Casey Dienel are on the opening bill, and DJ LA*Jesus will be spinning some tunes between sets. 3159 N. Southport. 10pm, admission is $8.

Graham Sanford

Artist Thu Aug 30 2007

One Flew Over the Cuckold's Nest

What was it that André Breton said in one of his Surrealist manifestos, that "Beauty will be compulsive, or not at all"? Or wait…maybe he said that it would be convulsive. It's been misquoted so often that I can't remember which it is. But anyway, nevermind -- it's neither here nor there. For the Chicago band The Bird Names, the answer is that it will be both.

The Bird Names are about to release their third album, Wooden Lake/Sexual Diner, and chances are this is the first you're hearing about them. They've been around for about four-plus years, and have been playing in lofts and art spaces and clubs around town since the start. At first, they changed their own name many times over; and have had a number of members, friends, and valued contributors pass through their ranks all the while. On some evenings there's only a core group of about four or five people on stage when they play, on others so many of their extended family show up and join in that they can barely fit everyone on the stage. Sometimes they play plugged-in and very loudly, and on some occasions they perform much more subdued acoustic sets.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Mon Aug 27 2007

Your Annual My Bloody Valentine Reunion Rumor

My Bloody Valentine was hugely influential, having pretty much defined the shoegazing genre, and their mystique was only heightened by their dissolution after only two albums and the famous reclusiveness of Kevin Shields, the band's frontman and occasional Chicagoan. So it's no wonder that rumors surface every so often about a reunion show, tour, new album or some such thing.

The latest is this: MBV may get back together to play Coachella next year. The Daily Swarm has pulled together various reports from Shields interviews over the past few months in which he's mentioned a new album (and a retrospective), an '08 tour and other juicy hints. This coupled with a brand new MySpace band page and has recently been registered, and the Swarm thinks it all points to Coachella. Hmm...

At any rate, take the rumor with a grain of salt, but evidence certainly has been mounting. Time will tell.

Andrew Huff

Review Sun Aug 26 2007

Dog-Paddling Through Domesticity

For some time now, Marvin Tate has been keeping a diminished profile on the local music scene. As of this month, that appears to have finally ended.

Those who've been around a while might recall his appearances at the Hot House and other venues around town with his former bands Uptighty and Marvin Tate's D-Settlement, or they might know him as a denizen of the city's spoken-word circuit. Since the break-up of D-Settlement, Tate has spent the past few years dwelling of the periphery; but now he's returned with Family Swim, his debut CD as a solo artist.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Fri Aug 24 2007


After watching this very bizarre yet utterly hypnotic video for a giant figurine of Archer Prewitt's Sof Boy, one either comes away desiring one immensely, or being mildly creeped out. As soon as you give in to the desire to own one of these rapscallious marshmallow men though, be warned - with shipping included this baby will set you back a few hundo.

Dan Morgridge

Artist Tue Aug 21 2007

The Lonesome Organist and Leaves

Tap shoes clacking across the Schuba's floor in time, accordion billowing, and his face a faraway grin - that was how the Lonesome Organist left us last time. Over a year and a half later, Mr. Jacobsen returns from his Fortress of Solo Simultaneous Instrumentalus to play a show at The Hideout this Friday with the lovely Leaves of local label . Expect the former to play more simultaneous instruments than you ever thought possible, and expect the latter to perform some of Chicago's finest "autumnal jazz". If you want a sneak preview, Leaves will also be playing a live set on WNUR Wednesday night.

Dan Morgridge

Artist Mon Aug 13 2007

El Che goes to Philly.

Rhymefest is cooking up some great-sounding collaborations for his second album, El Che, as well as showing a flair for the funny, as he works with DJ Jazzy Jeff in Philadelphia. Most of you haven't heard or seen Jeff since Fresh Prince, but DJ Jazzy Jeff is internationally reknown at being damned good at what he does, namely DJing and production. (Check the video to get a sense of just how busy he's been.) It seems that 'Fest is about due for, at the very least, a solid album. Check the other videos to watch the wordsmith at work.

Troy Hunter

Concert Wed Aug 08 2007

Throw A Kit On That, Get Caked...Holla!!

Maybe you've seen him crowd-surfing during sets by The Cool Kids, or maybe you've seen him and his Murder Gang moped crew cruising around the city, or maybe you've actually caught one of his recent appearances around town. Who I'm talking about is up-and-comer Southside emcee Hollywood Holt. So far, Holt's only released about a half-dozen or so unproduced, demo mp3 tracks; but the YouTube-circulated video for "Throw A Kit On That" recently made him something of an instant cult hero with moped enthusiasts the world over. He flexes with a definitively Southside sound, mixing buttery "diamond in the back / sunroof top"-styled elegance with a booty-rolling bump that's deeply rooted in a red-dirt, down-yonder party groove. And while "Stuntin' In My Caddy" probably won't displace Masta Ace's "Born To Roll" as the ultimate (s)low-rider's anthem, it sports its share of back-to-basics cold-diss verses that are just as hilarious.

And this Saturday is a good chance to catch him in a tight, lively environment at this month's installation of the Life During Wartime DJs' Hideout dance party. Aside from the mainstay crew of DJs Bald Eagle and Mother Hubbard, there'll be a live set from Hollywood Holt, who'll be kicking it along with his DJ and producer Million Dollar Mano. Also up on the bill is a special DJ set from the Chicago mash-up crew The Hood Internet. Much of the Hood's rollin' modus of late has been matching hip-hop hits to "alt-rock" staples, resulting in such hybrid mutations as R. Kelly vs. Broken Social Scene, Shop Boyz vs. Polyphonic Spree, and UGK vs. TV On The Radio. So go and get treated. 1354 N. Wabansia, Saturday August 11, 9pm-close. Admission is $8 ($5 after midnight).

[video]: Hollywood Holt - "Throw A Kit On That"

Graham Sanford

Artist Fri Jul 13 2007

Emily Jane Powers Is A Punk Rocker

Emily Jane Powers is a mystery surrounded by a conundrum. She's been making lo-fi music here in Chicago and up in Michigan for a couple of years now. Her DIY homepage seems defunct, her MySpace page has no character or soul, and the only recent info I can find is a one sentence bio on a Virb profile she seems to be barely keeping up to date.

So I was surprised to find her on a new compilation of bands doing classic punk rock covers (Pants Yell, Boyracer, The Lucksmiths) being put out by the Swedish label Yellow Mica Recordings. I really like her rambling, folk-tinged cover of The Ramones classic mind-meld of surf rock with punk - "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker". Full track listing and more about the record here.

[mp3]: Emily Jane Powers - "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker"

The original in all it's ragged glory:

Craig Bonnell

Artist Tue Jul 03 2007

Vassar Girl

There are three or four types of demo songs. The first one is just you and your friends goofing around with an eight-track and that's the end of that, the second is a stripped down version of a song that will need a lot of work to someday see the light of day, the third is overproduced schlock vainly trying to catch the ear of a major label A&R type, and the fourth is the demo that strikes gold sounding like a completed, mature work. To my ears Judson Claiborne's "Vassar Girl" is most like the last. Although he may beg to differ.

Judson Claiborne is an unsigned artist from Chicago who, according to his MySpace profile, is friendly with the Chicago bands Palliard and Low Skies. "Vassar Girl" sounds like the work of a much more established singer-songwriter. Judson's confidence in his use of strings, piano and guitar, as well as soaring vocals a la Jeff Buckely, shine through in this his first recorded output. You can see how this song and others translate live on July 31 when Judson opens up for Joan As Police Woman at Schubas.

[mp3]: Judson Claiborne - "Vassar Girl"

Craig Bonnell

Artist Fri Jun 29 2007

Marky Ramone Is Getting Around

Wh524_1500_993bfa53217a9aa4ed6f1bb7The Ramones earned their place in music history and Marky Ramone was there for much of the band's hall of fame career.  Recently the band's drummer has been involved in many projects including producing a DVD about the Ramones, a satellite radio show, a spoken word tour and gigs with many punk superstars.  You can throw DJing into the mix as well.  Catch him this Saturday at Debonair Social Club with Jordan Z and Mat Devine of Kill Hannah. RSVP for free entry.

Brent Kado

Concert Tue Jun 26 2007

A Basket Full of Mallets and a Yard Littered With Limbs

Tortoise pops its head out of its collective shell to make an in-town appearance at the Metro this weekend. Granted, it's been three years since they released an album of new material, but expecting a regular schedule from an entity that never fully behaved like a "band" in any conventional, rock-wise sense would be like asking Jackson Pollock to color between the lines. And it isn't like the band's their activities have been slack in the interim. Recent efforts have seen them all busy with their various side projects, be it the recent effort from The Sea & Cake, Doug McCombs continuing work under his Brokeback pseudonym, or guitarist Jeff Parker being the indefatigable and multi-skilled musician about town. Not to mention that this past week saw the release of the Bumps LP--a one-off project by drummers John McEntire, John Herndon, and Dan Bitney.

Despite all of the tangential bustle, Tortoise has reportedly been working on new material, and recently contributing some music for an upcoming documentary on Robert Moog. They're making a quick excursion of touring through major cities across North America. Sunday night will find them making a quick stopover at home base to play the Metro. Touring with the band and featured on the opening bill is Joan of Arc offshoot Make Believe. Somewhat newsworthily, the occasion marks one of Tim Kinsella's final performances with the group (in case you missed it, story here). So catch that while you can. First up on the billing is David Daniell. 3730 N. Clark. Tickets are $19. Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8. 18 & over.

Graham Sanford

Artist Fri Jun 22 2007

Tim Kinsella Quits Make Believe

In a strange, un-forseen turn of events, Tim Kinsella has announced that he is quitting his most recent, well-loved, full-time band Make Believe.

You can read Kinsella's full explanation here, as it appears on the band's official website. It's difficult to discern why this decision has been delivered now, with the new record fully-written, but it seems like "Being a sort of bizzaro David Lee Roth or whatever is kind of fun and fulfilling in some sort of way, but not something I have it in me to prioritize enough to commit the time to..." kinda sums it up.

The band's two remaining shows with Tortoise (the last at Metro on 7/1) will be Kinsella's last.

John Lombardo

Artist Wed Jun 13 2007

The tension mounts...

So, it seems to be set. Due to drop July 31st, Common drops "Finding Forever," his seventh album in fifteen years. (Man, I feel old.) Some of the album's tracks can be sampled at his site. Production handled by and Kanye West.

Troy Hunter

Artist Sun Jun 10 2007

Rivers Known & Oceans Crossed

This week sees a pair of events celebrating the release of the new album from two Chicago jazz titans, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson and percussionist Hamid Drake. Entitled From The River To The Ocean, the album was recorded by John McEntire at Soma Studios and it's a full-ensemble affair that features outstanding accompaniment from multi-instrumentalist Harrison Bankhead of 8 Bold Souls affiliation, bassist Joshua Abrams, and AACM guitarist Jeff Parker (of Tortoise, Chicago Underground Quartet, et al.) who steps in for three of the album's five tracks. Tuesday night, the full ensemble will be playing at an RSVP event at the headquarters of Stop Smiling magazine. The performance will be hosted by local author, curator, and musician John Corbett, who'll be conducting a public q&a with the band throughout the set. And on Wednesday night, the band will playing a regular evening set at Anderson's Velvet Lounge.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Fri Jun 08 2007

Just In Time For Summer, Furnaces Return Home

The Fiery Furnaces grew up as natives of Chicago suburb Oak Park, and now they're finally returning home - they've just signed to Thrill Jockey! According to the label, the sibilant siblings have just wrapped up recordings for Bitter City, which will be released on October 23rd. Feel free to give them a hearty slap on the back when they hit town for a show on June 22nd at the Empty Bottle.

Dan Morgridge

Artist Thu May 31 2007

He really is rocking over London, Chicago now

Today marks what would have been the 44th birthday of the late great Chicagoan Wesley Willis. A staple of Chicago in the way that Thax Douglas or Gene Le can only hope to aspire to, Wesley was a prolfic artist and composer, albeit one with a crude style and monomaniacal sound. His profane lyrical titles, completely untrained style of singing, and recurring theme of product pitching at the end of each song was the perfect formula to win over Chicago youth - as well as a curious and burgeoning Napster. Wesley's schizophrenia was always a point of contention in the sincerity of his audience, but Wesley's big-heartedness and the blossoming trend of low-brow to no-brow humor appreciation seemed to truly delight most fans. Grab a friend and give them two headbutts for Wesley today.

Dan Morgridge

Artist Wed May 30 2007

With Hearts All Aflutter...

This has been a whirlwind month for Chicago’s Pit er Pat. They’re in the final stretch of a tour that’s had them playing 28 cities in as many days. It's their second — or is it third? — such excursion playing out to support their most recent LP, the John McEntire-produced Pyramids, which was released on Thrill Jockey this past fall. This Friday has them playing their final gig of the country-wide circuit, winding down with a homecoming set at the Empty Bottle. The show involves a meager $8 admission and kicks off at 10pm.Touring companions Priestbird are also on the bill, with local psych-folk trio Scalpels scheduled to open.

As a special bonus for fans, Thrill Jockey recently posted a page featuring Pit er Pat performing covers of some of their own cult fave songs. Featured are the band’s interpretations of tunes by Yoko Ono, Oneida, Sade (yeah, you read that correctly), and the perennial classic “Underneath the Arches.” Check ‘em out:

[mp3]: Pit er Pat - "Dogtown"
[mp3]: Pit er Pat - "Sheets of Easter"
[mp3]: Pit er Pat - "Feel No Pain"
[mp3]: Pit er Pat - "Underneath the Arches"

Graham Sanford

Concert Tue May 29 2007

In Case You Didn't Get The Memo...

Bouncy, synthy, power-pop hook-slingers Office pop their head up out of their cubicles to play a show at the Empty Bottle this Sunday. The up-and-coming local darlings, who've generated no small amount of buzz for themselves with their appearances at SXSW, are reportedly taking an extended breather for a few month until the release of their sophomore album that’s slated to drop in September. Their local gigs have been few and far between lately, so Sunday’s the night to go and catch them. Supporting them on the bill is the Detroit combo Freer, who are accompanying to promote their self-release debut CD, Secret Chorus. Favourite Sons also open. Show starts at 9:30, tickets are $8.

Graham Sanford

Artist Wed May 16 2007

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Dancing

Four more years!!!: DJs Bald Eagle and Mother Hubbard

It's been four years since the Life During Wartime DJs crew came together and started spinning at clubs in Chicago. They're still at it, and their chosen moniker is, unfortunately, still relevant. The duo of DJs Bald Eagle and Mother Hubbard currently bills its homebase monthly appearance at The Hideout as “Chicago’s Dance Party.” While that may sound like a bold claim, it’s certainly apt. The past two years have seen LDW move to the top of the local popularity index, having proven themselves to be one of Chicago’s most reliable homegrown party-sparkers. This weekend sees them celebrating their four-year anniversary with a two-night dance party at The Hideout.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Concert Fri May 11 2007

Life in a Few Stolen Moments

(photo courtesy of Robert Loerzel)

No two ways about it, John Lennox is a singer-slash-songwriter. He’s the kind that some might lazily label "alt-country" or some such animal. But for Lennox, such pigeonholing doesn’t amount to much. He started out playing guitar in various indie and experimental rock combos in his native Ontario years ago before gravitating toward his current musical modus. Ultimately, for him it’s more about the song than any stylistic conceits, and he has sense enough to know that a picture only mumbles if it’s craftlessly hung in the dimmest of lighting. Admittedly, the country-blues-folk-etcetera rubric fits for the way Lennox’s songs deal with the universalizing stuff — with love, loss, yearning, fond reminiscences, obligation, regret, and of the hard-won emotional insight and perspective gained from such things. In the end, the impression his 2005 album Into The Bull's Shoulder leaves isn't unlike that of a long cross-country drive, the sort you undertake with the purpose of being there for a certain someone in an hour of need. It manages to capture the gravity of those moments when you're aiming through those sparser stretches, when the radio goes laconic and you instead listen inside yourself, briefly allowing yourself to think of the why and whatfor of what you're doing, of the reasons for the journey taken.

Lennox also seems to have an exceptional knack for pulling together a good band. His last album demonstartes as much, and judging from his recent performances around town, he's managed to do it a second time after relocating to Chicago this past year. His current band features a collection of local musicians who usually gig on the local jazz circuit, including drummer Daniel Groll, who can bang out some fat Southern soul-styled licks when the occasion calls for it. On the more uptempo numbers, the crew deals out some country-blues swing that can get your foots scooting and hips swaying. His songs are varied in mood and feature arrangements that are astutely tailored to match. A faint tinge of Blonde on Blonde-vintage Dylan colors some tunes. And on the slower numbers, you sometimes catch a Willie Nelson-ish lilt creeping into his voice. Lyrically, he's fairly plainspoken, but the occasional poetic twist turns up. Such is the case on the aching duet "No One Loves You," with its opening verse: “I can hear voices / I can see devils / and counterfeit rebels in the street. / Chinese flowers / Gloves made of powder / And infrequent showers relieve the heat.” Recent material reveals Lennox moving in a slightly more rock-ish direction on some tunes, proving that he’s not limiting himself to balladeering and honky-tonkness.

The John Lennox Band will be playing at the Empty Bottle next Tuesday night, so this is a good time to catch him. He’s in the opening slot on the bill, warming things up for Merle the Mule and Barely American, meaning that this is one instance when you’ll want to get there by opening time. Show starts at 9:30 pm, and admission is $7.

[mp3]: John Lennox - "You Got To Move"
[mp3]: John Lennox - "Pretty Green Eyes"

Graham Sanford

Artist Tue May 08 2007

Paribus Records - A Local Label To Know

Chicago is a city briming with little-record-lables-that-could, mixing what this city does best, hard working Midwestern drive with an eye on the cutting edge.  One such label that has steadily built up a strong group of artists, is now showing they're ready to begin buidling an equally strong catalog. Paribus Records artists generally offer up dreamy (dreary) electronic rock, but they all have a delightfully unique sound. Menowah, whose recent EP After Everything, is a record all the art kids and grungy post rockers need to pick up.  It's perfect gritty chill out music or gradual party starter. Menowah strikes a balance between Boards of Canada-esque reflections and more energetic, pulsating, hip-shaking pieces that offer a middle ground that makes their form of electronica easily digestable.  Paribus also has upcoming releases from LMNOP (sexy, hypnotic beats) and Sally. (music is an action and Sally is halluconaginic desire) With these new releases Paribus seems to have graduated from upstart label to rising player in Chicago's impressive record label field

Brent Kado

Artist Mon May 07 2007

CocoRosie Get Put in the Pokey

Touch and Go artist CocoRosie made an announcement on their MySpace (now since removed) earlier today that they were forced to cancel several upcoming tour dates including a Saturday stop in Chicago. A comment on and AbsoutePunk message board seems to indicate that band member's work permits may have been the culprit. The sisters are presumably fine, as prisoners are not yet allowed to swap their one phone call for one blog post. Yet.

Dan Morgridge

Artist Wed May 02 2007

Lupe wants you to Cool out.

Now that the ebb from Food and Liquor has died down, Lupe Fiasco is concentrating on the followup album, Cool. Tentatively, the album will see the light of day in late October.
Lupe has big plans for the album, including reuniting Pink Floyd for an appearance. Sounds as if he should at least get points for trying something new.

Troy Hunter

Artist Mon Apr 30 2007

Cornbread warming up...

The Fader sits in with Common and Kanye West for a listening session for a rough draft of Common's album Finding Forever. Track by track synopses, including appearances from Lily Allen, Bilal, and - what's this? - D'Angelo.

Troy Hunter

Artist Sat Apr 28 2007

Way down...

She's part of a legendary musical family, a Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and is set to take the stage at Harlem's Apollo Theatre 40 years after she first stepped onto it. Chicago native Mavis Staples' new album, We'll Never Turn Back was released last week, and it certainly does not disappoint fans of her earlier work, and it may be a good starting point for those of a younger generation who may not be aware of her talents.

- Video - "Eyes on the Prize" - first single

Continue reading this entry »

Troy Hunter

Artist Fri Apr 20 2007

Never on schedule, but always on time.

Only in rare cases can an artist be called out and called a savior in the
same year. Only rarer in hip-hop, where entire careers can be summarized by an artist's choice of adversaries and the resulting verbal sparring match and the inevitable "who won/who got sonned".

Nas’ career trajectory started high in 1994 with Illmatic and had sunk pretty low amongst hip-hop followers with a number of iffly projects, spotty albums, and Jay-Z’s verbal barrage “Takeover”. The resulting responses seemed to have stirred up the sleeping giant.

With last year’s “Hip Hop is Dead,” fans and critics were faced with the fact that an insider, a pioneer of the genre, had essentially called it over, that the show was done, pack up and go home. He then spent the album revitalizing the art, garnering critical acclaim and healthy album sales. Couple the popular response to the album with the “street” response of his release of three remixes of “Where Are They Now?” The album version mentioned various 80s and 90s artists and asked where they were. The remixes brought some of those artists out to shine once again. This goodwill gesture was just the latest to endear himself to an audience that wasn’t really paying attention much his recent output, or at least since Illmatic

He comes to the Congress Theater tonight as part of his “Hip Hop Is Dead Tour”. More info available here.


Where Are They Now? remix - courtesy of Soul Sides
Can't Forget About You - video

Troy Hunter

Music & Film Thu Apr 19 2007

Bands You Missed: Millimeters Mercury

Bands You Missed is Transmission's new semi-feature, taking a look back at notable Chicago bands that were big parts of a scene, but are hard to find information about. We're open to your suggestions, if there's a band that shaped a moment in your own personal Chicago history, let us know!

they are here to help!

(A quick opening note here: I am totally biased, because I played in a band that played lots of shows with mmHg, and they're all my friends. On top of that, I'm in a new band with Gabe now, and last week I think I probably humped Chris' leg at Carol's. So this is going to be a little glowing. Fair warning.)

Although Millimeters Mercury was officially formed in the fall of 1999, the band really took shape during the University of Chicago band explosion in 2001, when it seemed like everyone cool in Hyde Park had a band and played shows at The Cove. Founding members Travis Carter and Robert Voyer were joined by drummer Chris Vlasses and bassist Conor Loughridge (he of First Coat fame), and played their first full band show in October of 2001 at the Prodigal Son, a terrific venue on Lincoln that later burned down in a free bacon fire*.

Read on after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Nilay Patel

Artist Wed Apr 11 2007

Filled With Radio Cures

Glenn Kotchke discusses Wilco's upcoming record Sky Blue Sky, with X-Press Online. Glen weighs in on file-sharing ("They are supporting the band"), catchy songs versus album continuity ("I’d rather have a good complete record") and the possible pigeon-holing of his solo record ("I am not playing drum clinics, I am playing rock clubs" {this author's new catch-all phrase of the day}). Wilco will be playing at Bonnaroo (June 14th-17th) and Sky Blue Sky comes out on May 15th.

Dan Morgridge

Artist Tue Apr 10 2007

Play. Repeat. Play.

Touch & Go favorite Ted Leo's latest single off of the recently released Living With the Living, carries a video from first time director Sara Grady that drives home Leo's message well. On "Bomb. Repeat. Bomb." protestors carry placards that serve as windows to the depressing reality of war and exploitation that Leo perpetually strives against. Hmmm, thoughtful stuff. On a lighter note, drummer Chris Wilson continues to sport a kick-ass beard.

Ted Leo and his pharmaceutical team sell their own brand of aural drugs at the Metro on Saturday, April 28th.

Brandon Forbes

Album Mon Apr 09 2007

Roots Control

It's to no small degree of anticipation that Chicago's The Jai-Alai Savant released its debut LP, Flight of the Bass Delegate, this past week. Equally due to the take-notice served with prior EP Thunderstatement and to frontman Ralph Darden's sidework as DJ Major Taylor, the band has netted a fair amount of attention, both here and elsewhere. And here's to making a grand entrance.

By way of an opener, Jai-Alai get things rolling in a dark and heavy mode with "Datamassagana" — a tune that plays off both the title and primary melodic riff from The Abyssinians' classic Trench Town devotional, "Satta Massa Gana." The track's swollen, plaintive horn chorus sets a haunting, ominous tone for what’s to follow, its skulking bassline connoting dread in both senses of the word. No sooner does it fade, then the band strips gears by launching into a whiplash-inducing trio of tunes of punk-pedigreed pop. This back-and-forth manner of navigating between styles — from rock to dub and then back again — plows a twisting path, lending the album a varied sense of balance and pacing.

Continue reading this entry »

Graham Sanford

Artist Mon Apr 09 2007

Find yourself some Forever

So, you may have heard that Common has an album coming out later this year. You may even have heard that the kids say that it's "highly anticipated." Now, a bit more information has popped up.

Kanye West looks to take a lot of the production duties, and this is shaping up to be a J Dilla tribute album, for better or for worse.

Troy Hunter

Artist Fri Apr 06 2007

Who are the Swimmers?

Starting anew can be risky, especially when things seem to be on the upswing. But that's exactly what Steve Yutzy-Burkey did when he disbanded Philadelphia's One Star Hotel to start the Swimmers. On Thursday night they visited Schubas for their first Chicago show. Beginning with "It's Time They Knew", which has been a hit across the MP3 blogosphere, the Swimmers played an energetic 40-minute set rawer than the album, in which influences from all over could be heard - notably, Yutzy-Burkey invoking a bit of James Mercer's vocal style, the drumming of the Beach Boys' "I'm Waiting for the Day" on "Heaven", and a cover of "Mr. Blue Sky." Don't be surprised if they're headlining Schubas when they next come to town.

Last week before they left for this short Midwestern jaunt, I had a chance to talk with Steve Yutzy-Burkey about the Swimmers, his day jobs, and playing in a band with his spouse. Read it under the cut.

Continue reading this entry »

James Ziegenfus

Artist Wed Apr 04 2007

Happy Birthday Mr. Waters

Today is the birthday of one McKinley Morganfield, who decided that name was slightly not awesome enough and so endeared himself to us as Muddy Waters. Not a Chicagoan by birth, Waters came here in 1943 at the age of 30 to try and become a full-time professional in the most competitive Blues market in the country and possibly world. With the help of Big Bill Broonzy and the Chess brothers, Muddy far exceeded his expectations.

Dan Morgridge

Artist Fri Mar 30 2007

Dear Twista,

K-Town native Twista has had many many great titles: World's Fastest Rapper, Platinum-selling Artist, Kanye West Collaborator - and now he gets to add Newspaper Columnist to the pile. Twista will be answering reader mail and questions in his own column with the Redeye. It will appear once a week as a promotional tool for his upcoming release Adrenaline Rush 2007. Hopefully they'll stay true to his speaking pace and print it without spaces.

Dan Morgridge

Artist Sat Mar 17 2007

With A Face Like That

The Birdman is everywhere. No, not Larry Legend or the Cash Money Hip Hop Mogul. It's Andrew Bird, and his amiable mug appears on both Time Out Chicago and New City's cover this week. Bird's current media deluge comes at the forefront of his soon to be released album Armchair Apocrypha. It's not just hype though, the eclectic artist has been laying a solid foundation of musical mastery and personal style that predicated his ability to be a media darling. And now all that groundwork is displaying itself on Chicago's alternative press. But maybe you want to hear something from Mr. Bird and not just look at his introspective guise. NPR has a stream up from his SXSW WXPN Showcase performance in which you can hear 20 minutes of Bird's genre fusing elegance. Now you have some fresh music of Bird's to listen to as you read over the many recent articles devoted to him.

Brent Kado

Artist Thu Mar 15 2007

The Prides of March

If you're having a baby this week, break out the Baby Mozart tapes: mid-March is apparently a good week to be born a Chicago musical genius. On Tuesday, velvet-tongued rap standard-bearer Common turned 35. (That means it's been 13 years since he lost his Sense — ba dump ching!)

A little higher up the legend status ladder is the inestimable Quincy Jones, born in the Windy City 74 years ago as of yesterday. Aside from producing the albums that made Michael Jackson a musical legend, he also organized "We Are The World" — one of the greatest charitable moments in music, if perhaps not the best-aging collaboration.

And last, but barely least, Grand Poobah Pumpkin Billy Corgan will turn the big 4-0 this Saturday — in honor of his forthcoming new release, let's dye the Chicago River green like a ripening pumpkin in his honor!

Dan Morgridge

Artist Mon Mar 12 2007

I Guess This Makes It Official...

The April issue of URB will feature the magazine's annual picks for anticipated blow-ups of hotness for this coming year. And -- padow! --judging from who made the cover of the thing, it looks like what a fair number of us have suspected for some time is now nationally confirmed. Kid Sister and Flosstradamus, ya'll. Hopefully this means there's still time to catch 'em at some of the smaller local venues in the near future.

Graham Sanford

Artist Sat Mar 03 2007

Ears Ring

Ten years ago, Princeton Scheide Professor of Music History and Gregorian chant expert Peter Jeffrey went to a rock concert for the first time in his life to watch/pick up his son. Eight years ago today, he went to court to sue the Smashing Pumpkins, Fountains of Wayne, the Frogs, the New Haven Coliseum, Virgin Records, and earplug manufacturer Siebe North for 150,000 dollars, claiming the single performance, even as heard through the protection of the earplugs, had caused irreparable damage. His lawyer stated Mr. Jeffrey "has chronic tinnitus and also suffers from sleep deprivation". At one point he even appeared on the Today Show - you think he was trying to make a point about that loud rock music?

Continue reading this entry »

Dan Morgridge

Artist Fri Mar 02 2007

And still more yet to do...

Ye, Common, and Twista are flag-bearers for Chicago hip-hop, and Rhymefest wants to join that rarefied air. He's battled Eminem, he's won a Grammy, and he's preparing his second LP effort. His new album, El Che is said to feature Kanye, DJ Premier, and Ghostface. He sits for an audio interview and speaks on touring, the new album, and battle rhyming, among other things.

Troy Hunter

Artist Mon Feb 19 2007

Historical Gangsta Rap

Just in time for President's Day, local writer and comedian David Wolinsky has released Abe & Ben: History's First Thugs, the first entry, to our knowledge, in the new genre of Historical Gangsta Rap. A genre that will soon be burgeoning with new, er, old, talent.

Learn marginally more here.

Andrew Huff

Artist Thu Feb 15 2007

Dave Fischoff Continues Low-Level Flight, Thanks You For The Add!

Dave Fishoff has got to be wondering where, exactly, the radar is located, because he's been skimming the bottom of it for a while now. After being picked as Spin's Artist of the Day back in December, being written up by PopMatters and even getting some local love from TimeOut Chicago, it looks like he's finally hitting the mainstream by getting picked as a Featured Artist.

Okay, maybe not. But that's a crying shame, since Fishoff has picked up the blip-pop cause in convincing fashion with The Crawl, the sort of basement recording that makes Ukranian Village basement apartments seem far more appealing than they actually are. Full of samples culled from the Chicago Public Library's sound bank and lush vocal layering, Fischoff has made a strong play towards replacing that one Postal Service song on your go-to first date makeout playlist. Now we just have to convince you to drop Lady In Red and our work here may finally be done.

[MP3]: Dave Fischoff - "Ghost Of An Afternoon"

Nilay Patel

Artist Sat Feb 10 2007

Bloc Party Listening + Free Bushmills = RSVP Right Away!

There's a listening party at the Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., tonight (Saturday) for Bloc Party's new album, A Weekend in the City, and there's free Bushmills whiskey from 10pm to midnight if you play your cards right at RSVP to DJs Mother Hubbard and DU4Play also spin. No cover, 21+.

Andrew Huff

Artist Fri Feb 02 2007

If Only This One Had Christopher Walken In It

There's a new Deerhunter in the culture lexicon, but instead of a harrowing tale of war and Russian Roulette, this one's a pleasantly avante-garde band from Atlanta. Now here's the question: they're out on Chicago label kranky, they're booked by Chicago bookers The Windish Agency, they've even given a glowing review from local scene-setters Pitchfork. So why don't they have a Chicago tour date yet? Show some love for your home-away-from-home, fellas!

In the meantime, we'll have to make do with enjoy this video for Strange Lights:

For the truly brave, you can check out their other video for "Lake Somerset", but I'm warning you - it's creepy.

Update: Psst: Windish says Deerhunter will be playing here on April 4th at the Empty Bottle!

Dan Morgridge

Radio Wed Jan 03 2007

A Musical Resolution & The End of Jazz

Eight Forty-Eight interviewed musician and teacher Michael Droste this morning about his just-completed One Song Every Day project , which began as a New Year's resolution in 2006. Listen to the interview here (mp3).

Later in the show, Chicago Public Radio's decision to kill its nighttime jazz programming was defended by music critic John McDonough (mp3), who pointed out that many of the most vocal opponents of the decision don't actually listen to jazz on the radio.

If you do listen to jazz on the radio, your last chance to do so at 91.5 on your FM dial is tomorrow (Thursday) night beginning at 8pm, when Dan Bender, Richard Steele and Sarah Toulouse will host the final eight hours of jazz programming as a team.

UPDATE: Here's Peter Margasak's take on the McDonough piece.

Andrew Huff

Artist Tue Nov 07 2006

OK Interview

Good interview with OK Go bassist (and choreographer) Tim Nordwind over at Chicagoist, talking about the band's wildly successful videos, songs about bad relationships and the price of fame before devolving into a discussion of ping pong.

Andrew Huff

Artist Mon Sep 25 2006

Hotel Intercontinental Drops Jazz

The Hotel Intercontinental abruptly ended its 15-year-old jazz program last week, the Tribune reports, leaving featured performer Judy Roberts without a Chicago venue. Roberts had played piano in the hotel's streetside lounge since 1991, except for 2001-2003, when other musicians regularly filled in. Her last performance was Friday.

No replacement plans have been announced by the hotel. Fans can only hope that some other hotel or venue will pick up where the Intercontinental dropped off, and Roberts will be back to playing Thursday through Saturday every week. She still has a regular gig at Chambers in Niles; check her website for news of future shows in the city.

Andrew Huff

Artist Thu Sep 21 2006

Need Them Around?

Smoking Popes

It's tantamount to sacrilege around these parts, but I fail to be enthralled by the return of the Smoking Popes. Still, they've made a triumphant go of it this second time 'round, and the crowd at Lollapalooza certainly showed some love. If you missed that set, you can now hear it at home: Thetripwire reports the band has released the live material on iTunes.

[Author name lost in database explosion]

Artist Wed Sep 13 2006

The Nouvelle Vague Are Copycats

The French band Nouvelle Vague has found a nice niche with the indie rockers by playing lounged-up bossa nova covers of classic alternative songs, like "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Guns of Brixton." But I can't help but think that Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux must have come up with the idea after hearing a copy of Prozak for Lovers.

Chicago studio musician Bruce Lash recorded "Prozak" in 1998, covering popular songs from the '70s and '80s, including, yes, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (a cleaner, more soothing version than Nouvelle Vague's), "Don't Fear the Reaper," and "London Calling." The self-released album disappeared for a few years before becoming available through CD Baby in 2001. Lash released a follow-up in 2004, covering alt-rock hits from the '80s and '90s, such as "Black Hole Sun," "Lithium" and "Psycho Killer."

I find the first album more satisfying than the sequel -- the latter is a bit more formulaic, while the former shows more of the creativity of experimentation. Both are worthwhile if you're into covers, even moreso if you're looking for something to surprise your friends with at parties. (You might also want to explore Lash's site -- he's got lots of mp3s of his other work, which ranges from folk to psychedelia.)

Andrew Huff

Artist Fri Sep 08 2006

Lollapalooza: a Curse and a Blessing?

If you caught Nickel Creek's set at Lollapalooza last month, count yourself lucky. The band has decided to take a "break of indefinite length" (at the end of 2007). Mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile is going ahead strong with his solo career with a new album out soon, and it seems the break is relatively amicable. (With the "never say never" vibe coming out of their press statement, I wouldn't say it's goodbye forever, but you just never know.) Another Lollapalooza act with some good news is local bluesy rockers Catfish Haven who'll stop back in town next weekend while they promote their first full-length album Tell Me (out 9/12). Each Note Secure has some kind words and some mp3s available.

Anne Holub

Artist Sun Sep 03 2006

We're Promised to Hear What is Making Him "So Angry"

The Thax Douglas "Farewell, Chicago" Tour 2006 continues Tuesday night as he appears on WLUW's "Think Pink." Billed as "Chicago's only all-music radio show for the queer community," the program airs from 6-8pm on 88.7FM. (See Anne's Really Quick Interview for a preview.)

[Author name lost in database explosion]

Artist Fri Sep 01 2006

YouTube Has Neko, OK GO (x3)

YouTube is all over it: Neko Case & The Sadies perform "Hold On, Hold On" on Conan from Wednesday; OK Go rocks the treadmills at MTV's 2006 VMAs last night, plays live on Letterman Wednesday, and, most curiously, films themselves getting a pre-VMA performance pep talk from N'Sync's JC Chasez in the bathroom Thursday night. Viva la YouTube.

[Author name lost in database explosion]

Artist Wed Aug 30 2006

Late Night with Neko Case & Kelly Hogan

To Tivo: Neko Case and Kelly Hogan will perform on Late Night with Conan O'Brien tonight.

Andrew Huff

Artist Mon Aug 21 2006

Devin Davis is Floating

Good interview with Devin Davis over at I Guess I'm Floating.

Andrew Huff

Artist Sat Aug 19 2006

Sextet seeks guitarist for lush melodies, romantic dinners

Lovable orchestral-pop outfit (and headliner of Gapers Block's third anniversary party back in May) Canasta is auditioning for a new guitarist. Interested? Check out the details here, and tell 'em GB sent you.

Kris Vire

Artist Mon Aug 07 2006

Berman, Lekman & Grier Interviews

Chicago Public Radio music producer Andrew Gill interviewed David Berman, Jens Lekman and Josh Grier of Tapes 'n' Tapes who all played Pitchfork last month.

Andrew Huff

Artist Fri Aug 04 2006

Here it OK Goes Again

You've probably seen this by now, but just in case: OK Go has another super choreographed video out.

But what you may not have known about is the dance contest they're running: contestants replicate the moves from OK Go's previous viral video, "A Million Ways," post it on YouTube, and the band judges. The winners will dance with the band on stage during an upcoming concert. You've got until August 30 to enter.

Andrew Huff

Artist Thu Aug 03 2006

Frolicking in the Ether

Ether Frolics, a local band with a small but loyal following, have some new songs up on Worth checking out if you're into folk-influenced indie rock.

Andrew Huff

Artist Tue Aug 01 2006

Deathcabapalooza, Part 2

Death Cab for Cutie are one of few acts returning this weekend from last year's Lollapalooza. By now we've gotten used to their big time status, and so, it seems, have they. In the past year, they've done a number of European festivals and know how to handle being on a bill with a hundred other acts: "come out swinging and play the most high-energy set you possibly can." They talk about the passion with Illinois Entertainer.

[Author name lost in database explosion]

Concert Thu Jul 27 2006

A Revival in her Own Right – Jolie Holland

I’m a big fan of the ukulele. It’s an instrument that can bring a touch of old-timey tradition while being a little kitschy. I love that. These days I feel like the musician who plays it has taken a little extra time to master their craft, and to expand far past the likes of Don Ho. A more recently recognized ukulele player and indie songstress from San Francisco, Jolie Holland is on tour and performing tracks off of her new album, Springtime Can Kill You released from Anti Records. Jolie sound is straight out of the depression era basin, filled with roots and gospel even if she never had to survive the stock market crash of the century. Her lyrics are sweet, soulful and modern, however, she uses her voice to conjure spirits of a lost generation, telling tales that sound like they’ve been passed down from years long ago. Jolie Holland can be seen performing at Schubas tonight, at 7 and 10pm.

[Author name lost in database explosion]

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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 »


  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
The Promontory
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

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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...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks,
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