As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block is on indefinite hiatus. The site will remain up in archive form while we evaluate our options, which may include a redesign or sale. ✶ Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. ✶
Is it Christmas in July? Wilco just surprised us all with a band new album of 11 new songs! The best news? It's FREE and available for download (for now) at WilcoWorld.net. Get thee there and sign up for a download. (Word to the wise, they're pretty swamped. It took my download link about 8 hours to show up in my inbox.)
Can't wait? Stuck at work? Try the album streaming on YouTube:
Or, just wait for Wilco to dust off some of these just born songs tonight when they headline the Pitchfork Music Festival at 8:30pm. We'll be there, and we'll bring you our recaps all weekend long.
If you're heading to next weekend's Spring Awakening music fest, you're probably already pretty psyched to hear DJs spin and get your dance on. Performers include Tiesto, Diplo, Pretty Lights, Kaskade, Derrick Carter, A-Trak, and many more.
But hey, there are still 8 days to go! Give your ears a little preview with this new mix by performers Moon Boots via Soundcloud:
Every year, it goes without saying that I really look forward to the start of holiday songs posted to Chicago blog Big Rock Candy Mountain. If you're not familiar, BRCM often features tunes from early rock and country artists. Hidden gems, if you will. Little diamonds in the pile of coal. If you'd like to fill your Christmas playlist with songs other than the standard fare (at times maudlin, and sad, but still wonderful), head on over to the Big Rock Candy Mountain every day till Christmas, and click away at the awesome.
If you've been busy these past few weeks, you might have missed a lil slice of summer in The Hood Internet's latest mixtape release. In honor of this coming holiday weekend, it's only right that you take a moment now to jam out and celebrate a bit of a season we'll soon be passing by.
Just yesterday, however, J.Arthur and Dot Kom took their growing rep to new heights, with the release of "Hey," a collaborative track with the world famous Beat Junkies originator, DJ Rhettmatic. The track shakes the speakers with a booming backdrop of horns, bass, and scratches complementing the pair's unique style and delivery, with the original beat maker at his best.
The 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.
It's been hot, it's still hot. In classic rock n' roll style, there's a lot of songs about it. Let's cool down with a little Motown, huh? Here's "Heatwave" by Martha and the Vandellas (with some great B&W video [er, film].)
Or maybe, if you prefer, sing some "Summertime Blues" with Blue Cheer.
But really, here's some cool stuff about Chicago music happening around the web:
The Quietus interviews John Herndon from Tortoise about the band's pending back catalogue releases and what musical influences shaped the band's unique sound.
If you missed the tribute to MCA and the Beastie Boys at Lincoln Hall earlier this week, there are a ton of videos from the event, including a full stage performance of "Fight For Your Right" and an appropriately funky "Funky Boss."
Next Wednesday is the deadline to enter Mucca Pazza's "Thought Bubble for a Mucca" contest. Prize includes a Safety Fifth CD, a t-Shirt and a tote bag. See the contest details and post your "thought" on Twitter or Facebook.
DJ Chrissy Murderbot plays a rare Saturday night show in Chicago at the Kioku Lounge at 2130 S. Wentworth Ave. this weekend. Starts at 10pm ends at 3am. Free beer from 312 from 10-11pm. Custom photo booth. Learn more on Facebook.
Outliers Vol. 1 will be released on DVD later this month (it's available for preorder now), and will premiere at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., on July 10. There will be a Q&A with the artists after the screening, followed by a concert by Loscil, Sweatson Klank, Shigeto and Dero. Scenic will join Deru onstage for the final set, which will consist of a collaborative A/V performance. Only the first 200 ticketholders will get into the film and Q&A; the rest will see the concert only. Tickets are $20 online or at the Lincoln Hall box office.
As an exclusive on Transmission, Scenic has shared a song from the soundtrack: "Filthy, Wild Animals" by A Lull. Listen to it below or download it here.
For most of the last minute, DJ Pharris runs through shout-outs to various Chicago neighborhoods:
This is Chicago, nigga!
South Side we're in this bitch!
East Side crazy blow that loud!
Low End! 39th! the Ickes!
47th Street! Garfield Park!
79th! Stony Island!
K-Town and Wild Hundreds!
This is Chi-Town!
Dro City! The Village!
Harvey World! O-Block!
64th and Normal!
64th and King Drive, what up!?
83rd! Cottage Grove! The Gardens!
This Chicago, nigga!
The Dearborns! 55th!
Cabrini Green! Terror Town!
West Side! Pocket Town, it's Chicago!
Halsted to the Ida B. Wells!
Lawn-City! The Manor, London Town!
DJ Pharris, fuck around and get embarrassed.
The always majestic and never foul Andrew Bird has embraced the a pay what you like model for the NoiseTrade Sampler. Think of it as you surfing down the information superhighway and stopping to hear him perform a series of rustic heart soaring songs on his electro violin before tossing a few eShekels into his binary hat. The NoiseTrade Sampler contains new tracks from his forthcoming album Break It Yourself and b-sides.
Chicago's SONOI drops their second album, Tropics of Holland, on March 13, 2012. In great anticipation of a new collection by the local sonic dreamers, we're thrilled to offer up an exclusive premiere of this new track, "Cotton." Filled with spare guitar looping with jangly, Eastern-inspired rhythms, "Cotton" is a fluid, tantra-like tune. Without a pretentious edge, the song is equally something you can bob to in a cafe, or jog to on the treadmill — all with a goofy grin on your face.
SONOI is currently comprised of Adam Busch (Manishevitz) on guitars and vocals, and Ryan Hembrey (Manishevitz) on bass and keyboards with drummer Pierce Doerr. Sadly, the band's upcoming Hideout show will be their last show with Doerr. Take a listen to the track, and head out to their upcoming Hideout show to hear more by the trio, live. You can also purchase Tropics of Holland in advance of the official release on mp3 or limited edition 180 gram vinyl from the band's website.
Christmas just isn't Christmas without the music. And every year I look forward to hearing some real rare gems over at the Big Rock Candy Mountain blog. They started December 1st, with a handful of tracks from everyone from country artists like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys (with one of today's rather somber selections) to indie rockers like Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan (below) and R&B masters like Bloodshot Records' Andre Williams (who has a very filthy track not appropriate for young kids, but might give adults quite the chuckle). Bookmark the blog and check back for a daily dose of music that won't leave you Grinchy in the least. Check early and often, these tracks don't stay live forever.
In 2003, I saw Andrew Bird debut his latest album, Weather Systems, at the Old Town School of Folk Music. It was an incredible show, and afterward I wished I'd had a recording of it. A couple years later, I was searching for something on the Internet Archive when I stumbled into its Live Music Archive, a vast collection of recording of concerts from all over the place, much of it downloadable in multiple formats. I did a quick search, and there was my coveted concert, free for the taking.
As I revisited Andrew Bird's listing on the LMA to see if his Gezelligheid show was available (it's not), I got to thinking recently about how much local music there is available in the archive, and how hard it is to sort through. One of the easiest ways to approach it, in my mind, was to break it down by venue. So that's what I did. Here's an exhaustive list of links to recordings made at bars, concert halls, theaters and pavilions in Chicago and the suburbs. I've also included the few music festival recordings I could find. There are a handful of stragglers and outliers that I didn't include here, mostly single shows at marginal venues; search Chicago for an unfiltered list.
Before Pandora, Hype Machine, and even Last.fm, the best way to discover new independent music was through a site called Epitonic. Founded in 1999, Epitonic was one the first sites to offer free (and legal) mp3s from independent bands and labels from around the world. Music fans would spend hours digging through the site's recommendations and discovering bands they would have completely missed without the site. Epitonic lasted until 2004, but has remained dormant since. However, one of the original founders and co-owner of the site, Chicagoan Justin Sinkovich (The Poison Arrows, File-13 Records), is being the site back is a big way, and the support has been overwhelming. He has started a Kickstarter page for fans to help and show their support, and is planning a launch event to be held when the new site is ready. We recently had the opportunity to ask Justin a few questions about Epitonic, why it is coming back, and what we can expect.
DFA records' Juan MacLean's recent contribution to !K7 DJ Kicks series definitely shows he has a bit of a love affair with classic house. While that might seem surprising given DFA's reputation - which leans more toward indie dance, nu-disco fare - the man knows his roots. The DJ Kicks mix is peppered with older tracks, such as Armando's "Don't Take It" and Rick Wilhite's "Get On Up," but keeps it current with contemporary house/techno producers from all over the world and just a touch of DFA with labelmates Shit Robot and Still Going.
While it's worth a listen sooner rather than later, you can check out Juan MacLean's impeccable selections and more on June 4th, when his DJ Kicks tour hits Chicago at Green Dolphin Street. What better place for a man who hopes to pay homage to the classic house sound then to play at a venue that hosts the longest running house residency in town? The night promises some great energy, as the DJ Kicks mix was intended for a crowded dancefloor.
His Chicago date features more than just some stellar support from a long list of talented locals from Smartbar mainstays Justin Long and Michael Serafini to the infectious disco and house of the Chicago Workgroup and Yazi. Apparently, there's free entry to a pre-party BBQ that starts at 6pm and the whole crazy business goes until 4am, with a GlitterGuts photbooth and three rooms of DJs.
Green Dolphin Street is located at 2200 N. Ashland and is 21+. Special limited pre-sale tickets for the June 4th show are available here and go for $5, though the price jumps to $15 when they're gone. 773-598-0852
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.
The third installment of The Smashing Pumpkins' Teargarden by Kaleidyscope was released via Sound Cloud this morning. The song is called "A Stitch in Time" and will also be available to download via SmashingPumpkins.com later today. After 19-year-old drummer Mike Byrne's cringe-worthy debut in the band's last release, "Widow Wake My Mind", I'd been hoping, for his sake, that he'd really bust his chops with this next song. Unfortunately, "A Stitch in Time" is devoid of drums completely, so I guess he'll have to wait another 4-6 weeks to redeem himself.
Where there are people, there is music. It makes us feel the things we need to when we don't already. It enhances them when we do. It carries us backward and pushes us forward. It can be found in every known culture and has been performed in public since the time of antiquity. It should come as no surprise to find it being performed just a few steps beneath the ground. After all, there are fantastic acoustics and 24-hour audiences to be found in the tunnels below.
The tunnel musicians of Chicago can be heard amid the roar of trains. Depending who you ask, there are only four performance-permitted stops: Jackson and Lake on the Red Line, and Jackson and Washington on the Blue. Some will tell you about these four. Some will tell you there are only three. I'll tell you what time already has: where there are people, there is music.
I recently spent three nights walking through the tunnels for a closer listen. These are the sounds, and the people I heard.
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.
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.
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.
If you're looking for something to get you pumped this morning on your commute, Rhymefest has just released a new mix titled El Che: The Manual. The mix sets out to prove that hip hop is timeless by reworking old beats into modern form relevant for 2009, and is available for free download here. Head over to 'Fest's MySpace or Twitter to let him know what you think.
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.
The 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.
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"
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.
I covered my favorite Blondie song, "Fade Away and Radiate." You'll be surprised to hear some slide guitar in there, and a few other elements peppering the song. The beats are a little different than usual, too, as I had deric for 20 min so I sampled his beats sometimes down to individual hits and re-arranged them to work. They ended up way more "open" than what we're used to. But I think the result is pretty cool. Please have a listen, and a download if you like.
Find Aleks and the Drummer's cover of Blondie's "Fade Away and Radiate" on page three of the site.
Chicago's own Rhymefest is taking a break from recording his new album El Che to prove that true hip hop music is timeless by way of a mix tape titled El Che: The Manual. The mix tape will feature rehashed old school beats made relevant for 2009. He's offering up a sample track to download free here, which you can preview before downloading on his MySpace.
'Fest is giving you the chance to get involved in the project as well. Submit your retooled beats to pluggcitybeats(at)gmail(dot)com ASAP and you could be featured on the mix. Files must be in MP3 format and all emails without a file attached will be deleted.
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.
Kenyan and American Thrill Jockey artists Extra Golden are rockin' the results today with the release of a free download of an extremely appropriately happy track, "Obama". Also check PBS' Frontline's interview with Extra Golden drummer Steve Onyango Wuod Omari on the eve of the election.
Chicago's favorite kid sister (er, um, Kid Sister) has a fab new track you can download from RCRD LBL right this very minute, for free. She's the rappinest, toe-tappinest girl on your musical block. Who needs a candy bar? This is going to get me past my 3pm slump. Go on, "Get Fresh". It's from her forthcoming album Dream Date, due out in November January 2009.
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).
Need some good thoughts to get your mind off the latest doomsday news cycle? Turn to Chicago blog Big Rock Candy Mountain for your very own Happy Endings Mix. As a reward to his faithful readers who've been coming back again and again for two years now to enjoy sweet classic country, blues, and folk posts, blogger Brian Reese has made a sweet mix in anticipation of a "big announcement" TBA. Enjoy tunes from the likes of Sally Timms, The Willis Brothers, Johnny Paycheck and Waylon Jennings here [mp3]. (And keep an eye on the blog for his pending announcement!)
On Friday the 13th, you, along with the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery can Wake Up with Calexico...in Space. Apparently Arizona Congresswoman Gail Giffords is a big fan of the Touch & Go artists, and her husband just happens to be Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly. You can tune in to NASA TV at 4am CST on the 13th, or check it out online (click NASA TV Live). Or, you can just download the free track "Crystal Frontier" [MP3] and rock it on the ole terra firma on your own time.
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.
Agreed: this "spring" weather is officially, uh, bullshit. Here it is nearly June in Chicago and we're still having to keep some layers handy. Be that as it may, that hasn't stopped some of us from breaking out the summer tunes weeks ago and trying to absorb some warmth from vicarious sources.
So, as you close your eyes and picture July and tell yourself that it will (eventually) get warmer, Austin's DJ Chicken George has something that'll help pull you through the lingering chill. By way of the latest Blentwell podcast, he's served up a summery mix that was recently recorded at Chicago's own Darkroom. It's a deep set of hip-hop, nu-jazz, neo-soul, dope beats, and some remixed dusties; all of it building into an uptempo homestretch that caps off -- in a solid Southside summer barbeque tradition – with a tight reworking of a classic Roy Ayers cut. Recommended. Soak it up until the higher temperatures finally kick in.
If you're bored at work on this beautiful Friday, or just looking for a little auditory vacation, check out our first muxtape. There are 12 tracks compiled by the Gapers Block: Transmission staff, all set for you to stream. There's some new school, some old school, some Chicago bands, and some from further afield. We'll be making muxes on a regular basis, as the mood strikes us, so, enjoy!
Chicago indie rockers Canasta are shaking off the winter blahs with a remix of their latest album We Were Set Up with a mini tour and a freedownloadable remix album, appropriately named We Were Mixed Up. It's available starting today on the band's website and contains remixes by members of The Hood Internet, OFFICE, The Fake Fictions, Brighton MA, Allá, Velvetron, Crap Engine, and more. The bonus in it for you, music lover (besides a new album in your iPod rotation), is a chance at winning some neat-o "Canasta Flash Drives" (one at each out-of-town show) emblazoned with the Canasta logo and containing their entire catalogue (including the remix album).
Canasta on the road:
Friday, Feb. 22: Ypsilanti, MI
Saturday, Feb. 23: Cleveland, OH
Wednesday, Feb. 27: Minneapolis, MN
Friday, Feb. 29: Kalamazoo, MI
They'll return to town and officially release the remix album (and give away a bunch more flash drives) on March 1 at the Beat Kitchen along with Scotland Yard Gospel Choir and Otter Petter. Doors open at 9:30pm, tickets are $10 and it's 18+. Until then, enjoy your downloads.
I hate to be the only geek on Transmission posting Christmas Music. I'm not trying to be festive, in fact quite the opposite, as the first two songs I posted by Dick Smith were more anti-Christmas if anything. Today's song is not overtly about Christmas (despite it's title - "X-Mas Song"), in fact it's more of an ode to winter love by the one man Chicago-based group Fireflies.
I've written about Fireflies (just one guy named Lisle Mitnik) before and noted how it seems a bit odd that this transplanted Chicagoan records for not one, but now two Swedish labels (Music Is My Girlfriend and Lavender Records). Why can't some great Chicago label snatch this guy up? I bet the advance could even be paid out in hot soup rather than cold hard cash. His new record Goodnight Stars, Goodnight Moon, was just released in Sweden but is available here through Tonevendor.
It seems a little early but I'm in the mood for some Christmas music. Mind you, I'm more of a fan of anti-Christmas music. Music that if it were a film would surely be more like Bad Santa than Miracle on 34th Street. The Illinois band Dick Smith has added to the Christmas music canon with two offbeat odes to Christmas. On "Red Eyed Santa" you get a twist on "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" but instead of the kids catching Mommy and "Santa" kissing you get "Santa" (aka Dad) hungover beside the tree and a raft of unwrapped presents. On the bluegrass-y "Gold Front Tooth" you get a take on "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" except on this version you get the explanation on why the tooth is missing in the first place (something about an argument about the existence of Santa).
Dick Smith can be seen performing these songs and more on December 23 at Chord On Blues in St. Charles at something called "Christmas Hoo Haw".
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.
Chicago's own whistler extraordinaire Andrew Bird and longtime pals Dianogah have teamed up in the past to perform and are now in the process of recording some amazing new material. Head over to Daytrotter.com to check out some exclusive free mp3s of Bird performances. Of the five free songs, two are previously unreleased (including one of Bird's collaboration with Jay Ryan and Co., A Breaks B).
Dianogah and Bird will be collaborating on a new full-length that will be released by Southern Records sometime next Spring.
It seems the music industry has sprung a leak. It was only last year that labels and bands were worrying about early leaks of their copywritten works. Now pr companies, labels and management can't get the leaks out early enough. In fact, what once was illicit is now tacitly condoned or even encouraged by the recording industry. Two Chicago area band are part of this week's leaky sieve. Songs from the new records by The 1900s and Head Of Femur have been officially leaked (an oxymoron) by the band's publicist. Both bands have been receiving a good bit of national press so it will be interesting to see if this online promotional campaign has much effect when the records are released in early October.
What's better than a tour of one of the most important historical aspects of Chicago, like our long tradition of putting out amazing blues artists? Well, how about one that's free, downloadable to your mp3 player and narrated by Buddy Guy. The City of Chicago has done just that with a new self-guided blues tour that leads you all around Chicago's blues landmarks from Maxwell Street to Chess Records to the former home of Muddy Waters. While you're walking, you'll hear interviews with legends like Koko Taylor and Buddy Guy and hear profiles on musicians such as Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, just to name a few. Best of all, the tour will take you under an hour. Perfect for lunchtime, or when you just want to get a little bit of Chicago history under your feet and between your ears.
On Tuesday, Touch and Go Records officially launched its digital store, which offers DRM-free MP3s as both full albums and single tracks. It's also the only place where you can purchase the digital version Shellac's latest (and its return after a seven-year sabbatical), Excellent Italian Greyhound. T&G promises more digital-store exclusives in the future -- but in the meantime, I'll be DLing all the Killdozer my little heart desires.
A brand new 25-track Kanye West mixtape entitled "Can't Tell Me Nothing (The Official Mixtape)" hit the Internet in the last week. Get the details and download it via illRoots. Make sure you check out the song "Us Placers," which features fellow Chicagoan Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell Williams under the moniker "CRS."
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:
It's been a big year for North Carolina's Merge Records already with the releases of Arcade Fire's Neon Bible and the excellent God Save the Clientele by The Clientele, but it's only going to get bigger. Percussive Texan mood rockers Spoon will be releasing their sixth full-length entitled Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga on July 10th. This ambiguous title is interpreted by me, as a good Southern-born man, to be five repetitions of the state abbreviation for Georgia. Any way you look at it, though, this is a big release for the Austin, TX four piece. After a big hit in 2005's Gimme Fiction, and a fantastic set at Pitchfork last year, Spoon will be gracing the stage at Lollapalooza in Grant Park this August. As an aural treat to prep you for the summer's end festival, here's the first released track off of the record. Entitled "The Ghost of You Lingers," the trademark heavy keys and exasperated gasps of frontman Britt Daniel's abound. But be warned: this isn't a chart-topper, though I would be surprised if you can get that keyboard part out of your head anytime soon.
Billboard reports that local label Touch and Go will launch a digital download store later this summer, offering up DRM-free MP3s from its roster with pricing at 99 cents per song and $9.99 per album. It will also be the exclusive place to purchase downloads from any of Steve Albini's bands -- the new Shellac album, Excellent Italian Greyhound, drops June 5.
I was frantically searching for Swedish music to write about last night (don't ask!) when I came across a promising sounding band called Fireflies on the nice little Swedish indiepop label Lavender. But when I finally tracked down the band's MySpace page it turns out they're from Chicago not Stockholm. How ironic, a guy from Chicago looking for Swedish music instead finds a Chicago band on a micro label from Sweden?
Fireflies (really just one guy named Lisle) is clearly influenced by the type of music you'd find on some out of print 7" from Sarah Records, or maybe early Belle and Sebastian before they learned any modern production techniques (and when they were still shrouded in mystery) or maybe a b-side to some epic tone poem by the Endlish band Felt.
"Cherry Blossum Girl" is like an indiepop lo-fi remake of the Dione Warwick hit "I'll Never Love This Way Again" right down to the somber chorus of "I'll Never Love Again. Can I say that to you? Will you run away if I try to be true?" I'm not sure how this would translate live but you can find out April 27 at 6pm at the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts.
Eccentric four-tracker and producer to the stars John Vanderslice isn't the only good thing hitting Lakeshore Theatre this Friday. Crushworthy Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, will be opening for the Pacific Northwest songwriter, and will bring her own brand of dynamic tunesmithing to the intimate confines of Lakeview's best venue. St. Vincent, who put on quite an entertaing "one-woman band" performance opening for Midlake at Schubas in February, has a rookie full-length coming out on Beggar's Banquet on July 10. Entitled Marry Me, the record will feature such live favorites as "Paris is Burning," a wartorn cabaret ditty, "All My Stars Are Aligned," a Patsy Cline-esque piano ballad, and "Marry Me, John," a Carole King ride on the darkside. Check out the brilliant shuffle of "Now Now" below, and check out St. Vincent in the flesh this Friday, April 13 at Lakeshore Theater at 10 PM for 12 bucks.
In a little over 2 months, fans of Wilco (and really, isn't that all of us?) will have a new aural gift for unwrapping on our collective record players. Sky Blue Sky will hit the shelves on May 16th via Nonesuch Records and include the following tracklist:
01 Either Way
02 You Are My Face
03 Impossible Germany
04 Sky Blue Sky
05 Side With the Seeds
06 Shake It Off
07 Please Be Patient With Me
08 Hate It Here
09 Leave Me (Like You Found Me)
11 What Light
12 On and On and On
As a gift, or teaser might be more appropriate, Wilco's website is offering a free mp3 of penultimate track "What Light." Surprisingly, the track has none of the following: 4 minute guitar noodling, bizarre keyboard sounds, or off-kilter syncopation. In lieu of such avant-posturing found on the last two Wilco records, "What Light" actually sounds like something off of AM or Being There - bright acoustic strumming, slide lead, and Uncle Tupelo-era lead vocals from Tweedy. Is a step backward the way forward? Who knows, but it sounds damn good.
The Kamikaze Hearts are one of the few great young alt-country acts with a chance to crossover, had the country's radio landscape not shifted so drastically over the last decade or so they would at least have had a shot at being a household name. The band is from Buffalo, but is becoming a Chicago favorite as they visit Chicago for the third time in the past year. They'll be playing The Hideout on Friday, March 9 on a double bill with The Gunshy.
Here's two songs from their 2006 release, Oneida Road, set to be released in the UK on One Little Indian on March 19:
The Gunshy has just relocated to Chicago, so they are officially the Chicago band on the bill. The Gunshy is basically Matt Arbogast. His voice is a spent, worn out thing; like Tom Waits on a good day. Musically he's all over the map, but If I had to categorize his sound I'd call it gothic, folk-punk. Get to Martyr's early on March 9th to see this one of a kind artist.
Here's the title track from his new record on Latest Flame Records.
Some people might claim that Youtube or Myspace lead the way in sucking souls into an Internet addiction.(or at least are frontrunners for killing time by the hours) These people have yet to met the Internet Archive. While "Archive" has over 200,000 professional video clips, podcasts, open source texts and other digitial items, their Live Music Archive is a real blessing (or a curse) for the serious music fan. With nearly 38,000 concerts available to stream or download, (in various forms) the Live Music Archive has something for every music fan. Want to know if the current lineup of Camper Van Beethoven are worth seeing live next time they come to town? Check out the 10 shows they have on Archive from last year. Haven't got out to see local buzz band Suffrajet? Don't worry. Give one of their six shows a listen from the comfort of your own home. Most bands have under 20 shows, (the Grateful Dead and String Cheese Incident have thousands) but the list of bands is extensive. The majority of the taping found on Archive is done by amateurs with their own gear and a passion for live music, so not all recordings match actually being there. (check the quality ratings provided for each show) But many of them are. Plus you can hear them without the smoke, high beer prices and Ticketmaster surcharge fee. Now that's the foundation for a good ol' Internet addiction.
The Chicago band The Zincs are heading to SxSW. I wish I could be a fly on the wall when the group's leader Jim Elkington checks in at registration. When this Englishman claims to be from Chicago I bet he'll get a few stares. When SxSW says there's been a mix-up maybe he can put on a Chicago accent and throw in a couple "da Bears."
Given the band's English heritage (Elkington moved to Chicago in 2000) it's hard to peg them with any kind of midwestern sound. The band's new album, Black Pompodor, comes out on March 20 on Thrill Jockey. "Head East Kasper" is the first song released off the new record and it continues to develop the sounds and themes from their 2004 debut, Dimmer, in particular its dark pop sound, Elkington's deep baritone and the way the guitars cut huge swathes in space. The band will play Uncle Flirty's Loft in Austin as part of a Thrill Jockey SxSW showcase on March 17.
I know it must seem like someone's paying us here at Transmission to cover Bobby Conn but that's just not true (the check's in the mail, right?). The fact is Bobby Conn could go a long way to putting Chicago back on the map as a home for creative, experimental, pop music. Today's post deals with the collaboration between Bobby Conn and the Chicago band Baby Teeth on the song "Sarah". We Live Here is the new four song Chicago-centric ep from Baby Teeth. It's being released in advance of the upcoming disc, The Simp, coming out on March 13 on Lujo Records.
The four songs on the new ep are covers of Chicago bands and some feature other Chicagoans as guests, most notably Bobby Conn and Kelly Hogan. "Sarah" has that Quensy over the top sound that Baby Teeth is becoming know for, while "Fool For You" is a bedroom psych-pop reimagining of The Impressions' soul classic. These songs are all free downloads. You can buy Baby Teeth's forthcoming cd, The Simp, directly from Lujo Recordshere for $10 and receive a free ep by The Heathers and a poster to boot.
The big news this week in the indie record label world is Ropeadope's move to all digital (mp3's). The plan is to release new music on their website the first Tuesday of every month priced at $7.98 per "album". The first batch of releases just dropped, and Chicagoan Josh Abrahms is prominently featured in the mix.
Reminder is the solo project of Josh Abrahms. Over the last decade Josh has played with Town & Country, Sticks and Stones and Prefuse 73, and has become a prominent member of the Thrill Jockey extended family. Guitarist, Tortoise member and Chicago jazz mainstay Jeff Parker contributes to the track below. Back in the day they'd call this acid jazz (mixed with a little dub), but in 2007 that would be a little passé. Check out "Halfsies" to see what you'd call it. Buy West Side Cabin #1here.
We REALLY like this whole "Bears go to Super Bowl, song gets made/recorded/performed" thing, so let's continue with the two most visible Chicago hip-hop artists and their contribution. Apparently, while taking breaks from both of their albums (due out later this year), Common and Kanye decided to show love. After a Bears win, maybe this (with a special verse) will show up on one of their albums.
Chicagoans support their teams and the musical community isn't slacking by any means. Not only has the Lyric Opera got in the spirit, but the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has put their version of "Bear Down, Chicago Bears" up on their website. The song was recorded in 1986 and conducted by Sir Georg Solti to celebrate the Bears Super Bowl XX victory. The crowd chimes in to add lyrics to the song originally done by Jerry Downs. Nothing says Monsters of the Midway like some classical music.
This tape is of late 70's or early 80's polka radio in Chicago. I love the DJ hamming it up, giving shout outs, and his intro to a song by Tony Rodemaker "the Rocker" from Kettle Merain. The commercial for Al's Superette is fantastic as well.
I guess back in the day Chicago was pretty well known for their Polka radio. There was even a polka shock jock. You can read more about him here.
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.
This week's audio comes from an answering machine microcassette tape. This is one of the best message tapes I have. It's absurd, dramatic, mundane and hilarious. This might also be proof that Elvis is still alive.
Chicago's a pretty good opera town, so it's not surprising that an opera podcast would originate from here. OperaNow! is new, weekly-ish podcast by local singer Michael Rice. A recent episode featured OperaModa and their recent "OperaModa Uncovered" calendar, as well as a recent production of Salome at the Lyric Opera featuring Deborah Voight, who made headlines after being fired for not being "too fat" for a part. It's available through iTunes.
These two stories are about a Hinsdale man who built a replica WWI plane with his son. I am guessing that these were rough audio mixes for a possible TV news story. I prefer the second version because it has a more "this guy is crazy" feel.
[Hi Transmission readers, my name is RJ Porter and I have been a hunter of found audio in Chicago for a number of years. Chicago has turned out to be a treasure trove of lost audio gems and I will be sharing some of my finds here every couple weeks right here in the Transmission blog. Visit my site Tape Findings to check out my archive of found audio.]
For my first post I have chosen a tape from my collection that continues to give me joy every time I hear it. This is a practice session of an unknown women's singing group that I suspect would preform at senior centers or similar places around Chicagoland. These ladies have a truly unique act incorporating a chorus of kazoos, crashing percussion, and some goofy jokes to a accompany old-time standards. Truly odd and inspiring music. [MP3]: All Women Kazoo Band Medley (8:58)
Lupe, Kanye and Common may be the Chicago hip-hoppers gettin' the most press lately, but Bonafyde Recordings has some less traditional rap of local origins up its sleeve. Serengeti's unconventional take is epitomized in "Dennehy" [MP3], a character-driven jam named after actor Brian and taking place along Western Ave. Stream the full-length album of the same name here. Haiku, on the other hand, has a more chill, tru-school sound, and he's notable for being a rare Asian face in the game. Rather than beef about the battle, "Pendulum Head" [MP3] is a different sort of diss rap, if only cos it calls out "Wicker Park rich kids"; stream the album Blewhere. Both acts have shows upcoming, including a joint gig at the Empty Bottle next month.
Folks interested in what might be called "the creative process and how studio productions unfold over time" (that's how they describe it, anyway) can hear some of Office's demos at the band's MySpace page. This is a limited time offer -- they'll only be up for a day or two -- so get while the gettin's good.
Sub Pop'sRogueWave hits Logan Square Auditorium September 7th in support of their new album, Descended Like Vultures. Picking up steam from inclusion on the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack and repeated play on tv's The OC, Rogue Wave's adventurous, glistening indie pop seems destined to win over fans of like-minded indie faves Death Cab for Cutie and Built to Spill.
What are you still doing home? Haven't you heard? There's a show tonight. Chicagoan Chris Mills brings his seventeen piece band The City That Works to The Subterranean tonight and word is, they put on a phenomenal show. The real treat, though, may be the opening act.
Brooklyn's Bishop Allen has been getting a good deal of pub lately for its ballsy 2006 release strategy. Each month, they've self-released another mail order four song EP. That's 28 tracks so far of good-natured, optimistic indie pop. The EPs have created a steadily growing fan-base, all waiting by the mailbox to see what's next. A loving tribute to a Civil War ship? Check. Moody Arcade Fire-esque anthem? Check. Even when the band's original songwriting chops lag a bit, they manage clever classic rock knockoffs like March's "The History of Excuses" (via the Stones "Street Fighting Man") or February's "Vain" (via Boston's "More Than a Feeling.") Check 'em out at the Subterranean at 10 pm tonight (Friday) and get your fill of warbly gang vocals, cheerful handclaps, and playful singalongs. More on Bishop Allen in this NPR piece from 2003.
Gorilla vs. Bear points out the upcoming re-release of The M's debut album. Along with comes a 7" featuring the band's cover of "Turn on, Tune In, Drop Out," a cover so long it takes up both the A & B sides. If you've not got a record player, Polyvinyl offers the song as an electronic (and legal) download: part 1 and part 2.
The Taste had quite a lineup for this year's July 4th show: Ray Davies, My Morning Jacket, and Mike Doughty. But if you couldn't bear the heat or the crowds or the bad barbecue sandwiches, you can find all three performances online. The Davies and MMJ shows are reg. req'd and require a bit of FLAC and torrent nerdery, but the Doughty tracks are available in a simple mp3/zip package with a streaming online player to boot. Enjoy the fireworks.
In the iTunes Music Store, you can now download five tracks from five of the bands playing Lollapalooza next weekend (that's 3.8% of the total bands playing). The tracks are from Thievery Corporation featuring Sister Nancy, Mates of State, Nada Surf, The Hold Steady and Cursive. Just redeem this code (HP9W937TMXPH) to get your five before August 17th, after you create an iTunes Music Store account. Another bonus announced: they'll be giving away a 20-song sampler of Lollapalooza acts at the gates, while supplies last.