Many critics pegged Josh Ritter's most recent release, 2013's The Beast In Its Tracks, as a prototypical 'breakup' album, but the label does little justice to the album itself. Though written and recorded in the aftermath of a divorce, the record sets itself not in the pathos of the immediate fallout, but in that tentative, woozy period afterwards, when you dust yourself off and move forward. It's a more hopeful attitude than is found on most breakup records, and Ritter's perspective on relationships is an apt analogy for the perspective he takes in much of his songwriting; a dose of optimism that doesn't brush off the darker corners of his psyche or the world, but instead treats them with the complexity they deserve. That's not to say the album lacks darkness; one need only hear the acerbic punchline that concludes "New Lover" to dispel that theory.
Ritter is coming to Chicago next week to perform two solo acoustic shows at City Winery to debut brand new material that, according to the songwriter, arrived in an unorthodox manner. "About four months ago," Ritter recalls, "I was hit by a song on the New York Thruway. The whole thing. Verses, bridge, a witty one-liner or two. Nothing like that had ever happened with such force. It was the first raindrop in a thunderstorm that I'm thankful continues unabated." Ritter rarely unveils new songs before they've been run through the wringer of the studio process, so the City Winery shows indicate an intriguing new approach. He's riding a four-album hot streak (including 2006's The Animal Years, my pick for one of the last decade's most powerful and unheralded releases), and these concerts stand to shine some light on where he's heading next.
Ritter plays the City Winery at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, April 21 and Wednesday, April 23 (I'll be attending Wednesday's show and will have a review of the evening on Gapers Block next week). Currently, tickets are available for both shows. On both nights, the doors are at 6 p.m., and you can find more information and purchase tickets at the City Winery website.
Yesterday, the internet's most lovable grump announced the dates for this year's edition of Riot Fest. Riot Fest will return to Chicago this September 12th - 14th. Before that, it'll be in Toronto on September 6th - 7th. Riot Fest will wrap up this year's season in Denver on September 19th - 21st.
From the looks of it, they plan to keep building on what they've started when they pivoted to become a major festival. They plan to expand the grounds at Toronto in order to have more carnival rides. In Denver, they plan to revamp the camping areas. 2014 also marks the ten year anniversary of Riot Fest being in Chicago. In response, they promise "special surprises and attractions."
Ticket and lineup information has not yet been released, but should be provided soon.
There are few musicians like Martin Dosh. He is a gifted collaborator, having worked with Andrew Bird and Bonnie "Prince" Billy. He is able to create wonderfully expansive compositions, always standing out. His unique solo work edges off to all ends of the spectrum, incorporating elements of jazz, hip hop, and surprisingly warm electronic noise. As displayed on the cover last year's Milk Money, Dosh is a one man band. He switches from a variety of instruments, using loops and innumerable knobs and switches to create lush soundscapes that at times are accented with soft bursts of vocals. Dosh's music is interesting and utterly engulfing.
Dosh will be joined by local Chicago band Bitching Bajas. They specialize in achingly long but undeniable beautiful pieces of music. Their latest album, Bitchitronics is made up of only four songs, the shortest of which clocks in at just over five minutes and the longest at a massive sixteen minutes. Every moment of their lightly drizzled droning feels like deep meditation tha is occasionally interrupted/enhanced with soaring guitar solo. It wouldn't be hard to find yourself melting into their sound.
Dosh and Bitchin Bajas will be playing at The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave. Chicago, IL, on Thursday April 17. Tickets are $12 and the show starts at 9pm
The Julie Ruin originated as a solo project by Kathleen Hanna in the midst of a short break from Bikini Kill, the band that introduced Hanna and the riot grrl movement of the Pacific Northwest to national audiences. Hanna recently told the Detroit Metro Times that by adopting the Julie Ruin moniker for her solo work, she "had this artificial character that I could hide behind. Because I had that safety I was able to be even more honest."
This honesty is conjured in ample spades on 2013's Run Fast, the second album released under the name The Julie Ruin, but the first recorded by a band. The lineup includes Bikini Kill bassist Kathi Wilcox, and Kenny Mellman of NYC cabaret duo Kiki and Herb. The album is also the first release of original material by Hanna since she took an extended break from her previous band, Le Tigre, and music, in 2006. We learned in last year's documentary The Punk Singer that the hiatus was due to chronic health issues stemming from a diagnosis of late-stage Lyme disease (the film itself is an excellent primer on Hanna's life and her foundational role in the movement that spurred so much amazing music). Only in the past few years has Hanna re-emerged on the music scene, beginning with a live performance in New York City in December 2010 and culminating with the release of Run Fast last autumn.
A few months ago, I wrote about the band Weekend. They were in town opening for Dissapears at Empty Bottle back and we gave away a pair of tickets to see them. I went to the show, later on that week, and they were truly fantastic. Loud, desolate, and claustrophobic. That intense wall of sound that they created during the chorus of "Oubliette" is probably a highlight of things I experienced last year. All of this is to say that Weekend is back in town, tonight at Empty Bottle. I recommend checking them out and I also recommend checking out their stellar album Jinx, but Weekend isn't the point of this; their opener Cities Aviv is.
Cities Aviv is a rapper from Memphis who finds himself deconstructing what rap is while challenging preconceptions of what rap is supposed to be. Sometimes tagged with tumblr-born genre descriptors such as "cloud rap" or "trillwave" along with rappers such as Spaceghostpurrp and producers such as Clams Casino, I discovered him while in the midst of a depraved insomniatic state in the middle of the night a few years ago when he appeared on the overlooked track by Lushlife, "I'm a Buddhist, She's a Cubist." I was stricken by his surrealist wordplay and etherealized delivery, vaguely reminding of things like Tricky's "Hell is Round the Corner." I sought out his mixtape, Digital Lows (album artwork potentially NSFW) and was enraptured by songs such as the hazy sounding "Jaguar" and the beautifully dense Depeche Mode sampling, "Die Young." His latest album, Come to Life came out earlier this year and continues his experimentation. "IRL URL" acts as a triumphant call to arms while other tracks are zoned out and introspective. You should check him out. Our friends at the Chicago Reader agree.
Cities Aviv plays tonight, April 5, at Empty Bottle opening for Weekend. Local band Supercell Mothership kicks the night off. Tickets are $12 at the door and the show starts at 9:30pm. You must be 21+ to attend. You can get tickets here.
Local non-profit independent radio purveyors CHIRP have announced this year's CHIRP Record Fair & Other Delights, and the 12th since starting the event in 2003. Like last year, the fair will be held at the Chicago Journeymen Plumber's Union, 1340 W. Washington Blvd., and will feature music (on vinyl, of course), food and local performers. The fair runs Saturday, April 12 from 10am until 7pm, and will play host to over 50 vendors from throughout the Midwest, along with local labels like Hozac, Already Dead Tapes & Records, and Hausu Mountain (among many others) offering up thousands of rare and out-of-print records form their admittedly intimidating collections. Real aficionados, however, are encouraged to arrive early, before the vendors' racks are completely overrun by the dusty fingers of the city's more determined collectors, with CHIRP offering a special early bird rate that grants entry onto the grounds starting at 8am, all to the tune of $25.
Luckily, if getting up on an early Saturday morning to immerse yourself in literally hundreds of thousands of sought-after vinyl is your kind of bag, Dark Matter Coffee will be there hawking their premium roasts, along with vendors like Goose Island and Upton's slinging food and beverages throughout the day. Within the Other Delights portion of the fair are DJ sets by the likes of Windy City Soul Club, and there will even a music quiz by CHIRP DJ Austin Harvey, who will be sure to test your wits while you test your patience perusing the stacks.
General admission begins at 10am, and costs $7, or $5 with a flyer. Parking is free for all attending.
I'm looking at the weather report and it's supposed to be 50 degrees in a few days. There still might be some snow on the ground, but it looks like we've almost made it through this winter. Things outside seem to be increasingly pleasant and this may be the first weekend to truly resemble spring that we've had in 2014. What are you going to do with this not hibernating in your comfortably warm apartment whilst binge watching Pokemon cartoons on Netflix and eating leftovers of cheap chinese food time you've suddenly found yourself with this weekend? If you want to get out of the house, a few good shows are coming up that you may want to check out.
Can you believe that Irish punk outfit Flogging Molly has been playing music together for their Green 17 tour for a decade now, and has been recording music for 15 years? I sure couldn't, yet as I look forward to St. Patrick's Day solely as an excuse to listen to only Flogging Molly on repeat, it makes sense. It feels like they are constantly evolving, yet still maintaining a solid presence in the music world.
This year, they are gearing up for the epic 10th anniversary concert celebration of their Green 17 Tour, which will definitely prove to be just as head-banging, foot-stomping, and raucously energetic as ever before. Stopping in 27 major cities including Chicago on March 8th, Flogging Molly will grace us with their infectiously joyous presence and undoubtedly turn several concert halls into packed dance parties and lively mosh pits.
A gathering place for devoted Flogging Molly fans, Green 17 represents a sort of catch up each year, where the band can reconnect with fans who adore their music so dearly. The 10th anniversary will also mark its closing reign, as the group prepares to record a new album slated for release in early 2015. A four year hiatus from recorded material illuminates this new record, sure to bring new twists from the punch-laden anthems that are consistently revered by their fanbase.
The vibrant music of Columbus-based band Saintseneca is full of triumphant contrasts — they're the hammock you want to lay in on an endlessly sunny, summer day, and they're the hearty, comforting stew that you want to eat after a long winter's shoveling. Their sound is reminiscent of of Neutral Milk Hotel mixed with Violent Femmes and The Cure, not to mention tinges of the rural music of Appalachia (deriving from front-man and songwriter Zac Little). Floating leisurely like dust particles in an empty room, the buildup of so many influences create dynamically melodic molecules eager to reach listeners everywhere and anywhere.
The perennial suburban summer music festival, Ravinia, announced their lineup earlier this week and they've booked a lot of things you've probably come to expect from them; healthy amounts of jazz, classical, classic rock, and adult contemporary. There are a few miscellaneous dance and theatre performances scattered in the meanwhile, but the 2014 season seems to really kick off on June 16th with John Legend and goes until mid September closing with Five For Fighting.
The rest of the festival lineup looks comfortingly familiar. Ramsey Lewis with his band of cool jazz troubadours make an appearance on June 24th. ZZ Top show up on August 28th for a night of rock along with Jeff Beck. Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy returns on August 19th. Leaders of modern classical, the highly celebrated Emerson String Quartet, stop by on July 7th for what will probably be an illuminating night. Carrie Underwood returns and brings her power-pop country stylings for two nights, September 6-7. And this is only a small segment of who will be playing throughout the summer. Check out the entire announced season here.
Tickets go on sale on April 24th and can be purchased here. Fancy cheese and wine not included, though.
PUP, a punk rock outfit out of Toronto, walks a menacing line between pummeling aggression and pop melodicism. It's garnered them great accolades for their live show, as well as for their just-released self-titled debut record. They recently completed a UK tour and are coming to Chicago this Thursday for the first stop of their headlining U.S. jaunt. The band has made a video for "Reservoir", the first single off their debut, and it's quickly become one of my favorite songs of the past several months. You can watch it below, though if you're easily squeamish I'd consider refraining.
Lead singer Stefan Babcock sings like a man holding on to the freight train of a five-star melody for dear life. The hairpin reversals make it seem like the band is shaking the song itself back and forth, while the verses, bridges, and choruses seem to always arrive earlier or later than you'd expect. All the while, the vocal struggles to keep up, but when that chorus hits, it's catchy and on the mark, arriving in shambles yet somehow majestic. The rest of the record unfolds in a similar vein, with vicious, swerving backdrops offset by sandpaper-roughened pop hooks.
PUP plays the Burlington Bar, 3524 W. Fullerton Ave., tonight, Thursday, Feb. 27, with openers Pinebocks and Uncle Ghost. Doors are at 9pm.
And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead may have taken some flak for signing to a major label (at a time when it mattered what label a band was on), but there were few complaints about their first output for Interscope in 2002. Source Tags & Codes was the album that forced people to think of Trail of Dead as more than just a band that trashed their gear every night. That's not to say their earlier albums are anything less than solid, but Source Tags & Codes was on a different level. It didn't veer from being rowdy and vigorous, but it was also crisp and melodic in a way they hadn't been before, as showcased on "Another Morning Stoner" and "Relative Ways." But, most importantly, it just sounded awesome. And putting aside arguments about the band's trajectory since then, they have remained terrific live.
And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead headline two shows at 6:30 and 9:00 at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday, April 1. They'll play Source Tags & Codes in full. The Paris band La Femme opens. The shows are 21+ and $20. The Empty Bottle's at 1035 N Western.
"I made a pledge to myself. If I was to raise my voice, be direct as I can be. No matter what I may destroy," Jeremy Bolm screams during the song "To Write Content." Touché Amoré is a hardcore band from California who have been making waves these last several years with their impassioned recordings and incendiary live shows, destroying conventions and creating believers in their wake.
Inspired by bands such as Converge, Thursday and Refused, Touché Amoré have been carving their place in the world of hardcore for the better part of a decade. Thier latest album, ...Is Survived By, has gathered a substantial amount of attention for the band, earning accolades such as Pitchfork's "Best New Music" and has enabled them to perform for larger crowds including their set during prime time at last year's Riot Fest.
What I find most interesting about them is Bolm's heartfelt spoken word-esque lyricism which acts as the driving force of the band. Songs such as "Just Exist" deliver a sensation of intensity paired with a message of hopeful catharsis as Bolm passionately proclaims "All of these things scare me half to death. I'll suffer the day just hoping for the best," while the drums clatter claustrophobically followed by a luminous bit of guitar that calls back to bands like Fugazi.
Opening for Touché Amoré are survivors of the Tooth and Nail / Equal Vision / Epitaph / Victory Records hardcore bubble burst of the mid 2000s, MewithoutYou. Over the course of their last several albums, MewithoutYou have been experimenting with folk while retaining their sense of intensity; just now that intensity is manifested differently. In their current form, they remind me of bands such as Murder by Death but exploring issues of philosophy and religion.
Update: ...And this show is now sold out. You can try contacting Bottom Lounge to find out if they'll have any additional tickets at the door, but as of right now tickets are no longer available to purchase. If you're into it, I still recommend checking out Touché Amoré and MewithoutYou on Spotify, though.
If you haven't heard the music of epic hybrid-troubadour-brass outfit Mucca Pazza, it's a serious shame. Promoting an ingenious whimsical concept and sound, the group prides itself on sheer originality, variety and showmanship. If I try to explain the type of sound that Mucca Pazza possesses, it would be lost in comparison to imagining their music being explored in a live setting.
The first time I saw Mucca Pazza was when they were the opening act for an Andrew Bird show two years ago. A distinct variety of instruments comprise the group's sound, as it vacillates between a marching band and various other outfits. They keep moving throughout the crowd, and are just as much a visual musical experience as aural. I remember thinking to myself that I had never seen a group create music in the same way as they did, with such out-of-the-box creative thinking regarding how to involve a mass group of musicians and form a cohesive outfit that was versatile and engaging.
If you haven't seen Mucca Pazza live yet, fear not, as you will definitely have the chance to do so — three times in the next month-long period, to be exact. The group has approached a monumental decade of playing music together, and to celebrate, will be holding a residency of shows at Revolution Brewing (2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.) for your listening (and viewing) pleasure. Beginning tonight, February 17, and extending through three more consecutive Mondays, Mucca Pazza will play songs off of their forthcoming album Sitting In Chairs. Enjoy drinks crafted by the Brewery itself as you watch Mucca Pazza create a show unlike any other you have seen before.
Mucca Pazza will play at Revolution Brewing on February 17, February 24 and March 3. Tickets are $12 for a 21+ audience, with doors opening at 7:30pm and music beginning at 8:30pm.
There's a motif that sweeps through the spectrum of bluesy-rock duo Little Hurricane like an unexpected storm, and that's the underrated factor; indeed, the San Diego-based band consisting of Anthony "Tone" Catalano (vocals and guitar) and Celeste "C.C." Spina (drums and vocals) spans so extensively that the effect is like the impact of a hurricane. Don't be fooled by the "little" portion in their name — their sound is nothing short of explosive. In fact, the intertwining vocals between Tone and C.C. is reminiscent of a salted caramel old-fashioned doughnut from the Doughnut Vault, with its rich and multidimensional flavor. Alongside that, though, there's an underlying grit and gristle that impulsively perks the ear buds and urges listeners to sway and become one with the hurricane they've cast upon a stage and studio. This soul-seeping inundation sets Little Hurricane apart from many indie acts in the music industry, and they're not one that should be ignored. The band has already received acclaim from IHeartRadio and Rolling Stone.
Beyond general gusts from reputable outlets, Little Hurricane has caused even more wondrous wreckage: two songs from the band's 2011 release, Homewrecker, aired on television (the track "Get By" was on Revenge and "Hold Me Back" in a Taco Bell commercial), while their vast appreciation for making music and sharing it with their fans led them to an August 2013 release of Stay Classy, a 10-track collection of the band's favorite covers (including "Ain't No Sunshine," "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" and "Blue Jean Blues," among others). Little Hurricane will release their next album, Gold Fever, on March 4 on Death Valley Records (a label the band created). Most recently, Paste Magazine premiered their new single, "Sheep in Wolves Clothes", and the band has shared four video teasers promoting the record on its Facebook page.
The Black Angels have proven to be the modern mainstays of psychedelic rock. Their sound reminiscent of Spacemen 3 and The 13th Floor Elevators, not to mention The Velvet Underground from whom the Black Angels got their name. Since their first full length album, Passover, The Black Angels have been continually proving their amazing ability to continue. They return to Chicago for their second show in under a year. It's not surprising given the reception they received at the Vic last April while touring in support of Indigo Meadow, the latest phenomenal psychedelic record from the band. The Black Angels have a stage presence embodies psychedelic. Between the moments of spaced out grooving and total rocked out intensity, there is nothing short of amazing at The Black Angels shows. Alex Maas' voice and cadence were meant to be heard live. Songs you think you know turn into something else when played live, something more immersive than their studio counterparts.
Califone is determined to never stop improving on its sound, even after fifteen plus years and an impressive catalog of albums. The Chicago band, fronted by Tim Rutili, has always had their songs steeped in constant state of change; such is the case with experimentation. However, the group's has and inimitable style that is instantly recognizable as their own. It's quite a feat to be musically progressive and still have an instantly identifiable sound. Calfone's latest album, Stitches, embodies the sentiment perfectly. It's the first album the band did not record in Chicago, instead opting for numerous locations throughout the American southwest. Despite the change in locations, Stitches still captures Califone's soft and deeply nuanced experimental rock. A mix of a twang induced guitar and quiet electronic noise occupy the album, all the while Rutili's voice drifts over the songs with effortless elegance.
Joining Califone will be William Tyler, a formidable folk guitarist. Tyler has played with the likes of Lambchop, Bonnie Prince Billy, Silver Jews, and countless others.Tyler's repertoire only improved when he began releasing his solo work. 2010's Behold the Spirit and last year's Impossible Truth are composed solely from his powerful guitar. Instrumental albums can be difficult to pull off as well as Tyler has. His guitar work is impeccable, sending the listener off into a beatific world that could only exist in his chords. His musicianship says more that any lyrics could possibly say.
Califone and William Tyler will be performing a 21+ show at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., this Saturday, Feb. 1 at 9pm. Tickets are $18.
On many occasions, my friends have suffered my unrelenting droning on about whatever musical obsession I'd most recently happened upon. I don't really feel like my yammering was evangelical in intent; I was merely trying to summon the words that could explain the new feelings that had been exposed by these artists and their songs. Of course, I later realized that I could simply write these feelings down and spare my friends the trouble. I dwell on this now because I'm worried that, at times, I may have spoken too much and too long about Patty Griffin, to the degree that the mere mention of her name would be a disincentive for them to explore further. The phrases "criminally underrated", "best modern songwriter", and "greatest of all time" may have made an appearance (or several) in my testimonies. I hope my hyperbole didn't turn them off, for no one should be dissuaded from unearthing one of the great song catalogs in American music.
This form of zeal isn't surprising, for Griffin writes small songs about big feelings, and she's been known to inspire such feelings in her fans. Griffin's first record, 1996's Living With Ghosts, was actually a demo tape she'd sent to A&M Records, her first label; they saw no way to improve upon her own work. This is the kind of passion that Griffin generates in her fans, whether they are newcomers to the flock or long-standing devotees. In a recent article, Griffin recalled when A&M was folded into Interscope Records, and she was subsequently dropped her from that label in 2000 after delivering her third album Silver Bell (it went unreleased until this past year, and she is touring behind that album and American Kid, a collection of new songs). She particularly remembers her meeting with Jimmy Iovine, a co-founder of Interscope and music mogul extraordinaire, who told her that "she had never made a great record", and that she was to be released from her contract. My immediate thought was that Jimmy Iovine was an idiot who didn't know a thing about music. Granted, this is the Iovine who had been essential in Bruce Springsteen's early career, and who had produced such stars as Patti Smith and U2. He clearly has the bona fides, but what the hell did he know, I'd decided; he actually thought Patty Griffin hadn't made a great record! Such is the nature of that kind of fervent fandom, I suppose.
The Gingerman Tavern, a local favorite for those seeking asylum from the endless sea of sports bars in Wrigleyville at 3740 N. Clark, will play host to Uncle Jasper's Rockin' Record Bazaar and Beer Blowout on Sunday, January 26. The event brings together a wealth of some of the city's finest independent record labels to the GMan, including Hozac Records, Bloodshot Records, BLVD Records and more, to showcase their releases (on CD and vinyl) and generally mingle with Chicago's ravenous record-buying public. Uncle Jasper, local dog and unofficial "mascot" of the bar, will reportedly make an appearance as well. We can only assume he'll want to pick up the latest Pink Frost record from BLVD or a handful of local garage rock 7"s from Hozac's racks because, why wouldn't he?
Bazaar-goers are encouraged to arrive early to snag "rare and special surprises" from within the stacks, and are also invited to stay late and guzzle down the variety of beers the bar has on site. If there's a better way to spend your Sunday afternoon, we've yet to find it.
Uncle Jasper's Rockin' Record Bazaar and Beer Blowout begins at 4pm and continues to 10pm. Admission is free for all 21+.
Dexter Tortoriello is a restless man. The former Chicago native gained attention the last few years alongside Megan Messina masterminding the band Houses together. With Houses taking a break at the moment, he's getting attention for his latest project; producing electronica as Dawn Golden.
Houses made soft and sombre indie pop with a subtle sinister edge. It appears that Dawn Golden aspires to kinda be the opposite of that; an idiosyncratic soundtrack to a night of insomnia in which the narrator seeks a human connection amidst a psychedelic fog of death metal inspired drum machine loops and trippy slowed down vocals. This new musical direction seems fitting since Tortoriello is candidly into bands like Neurosis and opened for Pelican during the Adventures in Modern Music festival at the Empty Bottle awhile ago. I find Houses to be pleasant, but I personally find his Dawn Golden project to be more dangerous, engaging and thats what appeals to me.
Check out Assorted Tracks, his makeshift mixtape of what he appropriately describes as sad bangers below.
At some point, the ways and means of starting and keeping a rock band became codified; though the tools have changed, the beginnings of most bands tend to read pretty similarly. You may find your band mates through scouring the Classifieds or Craigslist, or you may meet them by chance at a gig or a party. It could be new acquaintances or it could be your friends since grade school, but typically, the story begins with an assorted cadre of four of five people on drums, bass, and guitars who gather for the tentative first rehearsals and the punch-drunk first show. By some miracle, if the center holds, there's the possibility of more shows, maybe more fans, and perhaps even the chance at making albums. Other genres are undoubtedly propagated with their own common geneses, but the progression rock bands take has remained remarkably common, albeit not without exception. This makes the understated yet singular story of how The Vulgar Boatmen came to be all the more remarkable, and one of the greater exceptions around.
Any discussion of The Vulgar Boatmen inevitably focuses on their peculiar arrangement; there's more to the band than its lineup and lifespan, but the story behind the music is so fascinating as to demand the attention of those who care to look. The band was born in the classrooms of the University of Florida, with film studies professor Robert Ray eventually seizing the reins. He initiated a writing partnership with Indianapolis punk upstart Dale Lawrence, who was a former student of his, and they composed the songs for the band via cassette tapes sent by mail. As they were crafting their first record in this iteration, Ray and some friends were playing shows in Florida under the name The Vulgar Boatmen. Lawrence was eager to go public with this burgeoning song catalog he could lay claim to, so he organized a Vulgar Boatmen of his own in Indiana. The country now had two Vulgar Boatmen bands to choose from. It was an effortless, intuitive obliteration of the stagnated format prevalent in rock and roll, and it led to live shows and albums; the center held despite the band's unconventional origins (this cursory background doesn't do justice to the tale, and feel free to check out this page for a more exhaustive account).
Five-piece bluegrass band Greensky Bluegrass will play at the city's newest venue, Concord Music Hall, which quickly became the go-to place to host concerts in Logan Square after the Congress Theater was shut down. Rusted Root, the dynamic band that is best known for "Send Me on My Way," will also perform there for one of the final shows of the festival.
Tonight brings Chicago's true harbinger of the holiday season; "The Second City 24 Hour Letters to Santa" extravaganza, benefiting families who need a little help in fulfilling their children's Christmas wishes. Second City will host comedy and musical performances for a full day, with onstage acts as well as exclusive webcasts from some indie-rock heavyweights.
Highlights include in-person performances by punk rock mainstay (and Hüsker Dü alumnus) Bob Mould, as well as Chicago's own breakout band, J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound. Fred Armisen of Portlandia fame will make an appearance, and acts such as St. Vincent, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and Louise Post and Nina Gordon of Veruca Salt will be firing up their laptops for webcast appearances from cities around the country. The Post and Gordon pairing is a particularly sizable catch, as the duo has not played together publicly in 15 years. Veruca Salt recently announced a re-forming of their original lineup and plans to release new material in the coming year.
The show begins at 6pm tonight (with doors opening an hour earlier), and will continue until 6pm on Wednesday. Tickets are $20, which gets you entry for the entirety of the show, and they'll be sold at the door throughout the event on the basis of seat availability. The full performance will also be streamed live at letterstosantachicago.com where you can see a full performance schedule and make a PayPal donation.
Upon my first listen to The Pines' music, it was reminiscent of my favorite folk bands, all jumbled into one, familiar and inviting. Recognizing their influences, this comes as no surprise now; vocalist Benton Ramsey's father Bo Ramsey, also a musician, worked with folk legends such as Joan Baez and Lucinda Williams as he produced and performed music. A songwriter, he imparted this lyrical gift to his talented son, who joined forces with David Huckfelt and brother Alex Ramsey to form The Pines in 2002. They'll be making a tour stop at City Winery on Wednesday night, sure to stun listeners with their vulnerable approach to folk music.
After several years of playing music together, the group accumulated banjo player Michael Rossetto, bassist Chris Morrissey, drummer J.T. Bates and guitarist Jim Hanson in Minneapolis. A more full-bodied sound, the group has been able to cultivate their folk roots into a layered sound sure to both warm your heart and chill your bones with the emotional range the songs possess.
Having released three full-length albums, the group has delved into their sound completely, which presents listeners with a stark representation of an emotional intimacy unprecedented in so many instances in our every day lives. They've played SXSW, opened for Mason Jennings, and have been featured on countless outlets for their raw approach to timeless folk music. Take a listen to a live recording of "All The While" and take a gander for yourself at their magnificent representation of their craft.
The Pines play a show at City Winery on Wednesday, December 18, opening for Yarn. Tickets range in tiers from $12-$18, and the show begins at 8pm with doors opening at 6pm. City Winery is located at 1200 W. Randolph, (312) 733-9463.
Copenhagen has been getting an increasing amount of attention recently for their flourishing punk scene. But as bands such as Iceage and Lower become ad hoc ambassadors for the disenfranchised youth of the region, another band that is quietly emerging is Holograms.
A few years ago, after a few singles of theirs went viral, the young band were signed to Captured Tracks, recorded an album, and went on tour around Europe. This turned into a series of discouraging events such as their van being broken into and finding themselves stranded in Paris with no money for several weeks.
Upon their eventual return home to Stockholm in the dead of winter, they found themselves in a weird insomniaic fog. Nothing, seemingly, had changed. They had no money or jobs. They found themselves restless with boredom. Conceived out of this sense of isolation, they started to record their second album, Forever. The album has a full sound to it, channeling the bleakness of bands such as Joy Division as well as the melodramatics of Swedish metal bands such as In Flames.
Check out the video for their latest single, "Luminous," below.
Holograms play tonight, December 9th, at Schubas (3159 N. Southport.) This is a 21+ show. TV Ghost opens. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.
The first time I saw an InnerVisionists live show was this past summer, at a dive bar a few blocks away from my apartment. As I headed over there, I honestly didn't know what to expect pertaining to their sound, as honestly sometimes I prefer to listen to a new group without hearing their music prior. There are no preconceived notions as to how I will react to the sound, or what I will think. I'm merely submerged by the sound, as I let it wash over me and fade out.
Hearing InnerVisionists' unique sound for the first time absolutely stunned me. Their sound is a blend of many different musical styles, subverting the notion of a band needing to fit into one unique category. Their sound was merely unable to be typecast, as they jaunted from hip hop with elements of jazz, to funk, to rock, and back again. The crowd that was once seated in booths and not fully engaged with the music prior was now attentive and watchful, with many members of the audience dancing and tapping their feet along to the new sound present before them. The duration of their set flew by, and it ended with grins plastered to the faces of many audience members; Innervisionists had gained some new fans.
Their self-defined genre description includes "whatever we feel," and honestly, that is perfectly stated. Two separate listens to two different songs and one could wonder, "is this the same band?" and I mean this in an extremely positive way. To clarify, they don't lose their sound at all. They keep their sound fresh, lively, and not once is it boring. Innovative sounds and styles are utilized to their fullest, as they mix it up and keep listeners on their toes.
As a fledgling local group, they're one of the strongest and most eccentric that I've heard in some time. I was overjoyed to have the opportunity to review their new EP, which they are having a release party for this Friday.
Some albums arrive just when you need them most. Remember April? Summer was near, hip hop was still devoid of Yeezus, Random Access Memories loomed on the horizon, and Modern Vampires of the City was still six weeks out. Whither our summer jam album? And then along came Acid Rap, and young Chicago upstart Chance the Rapper saved us all in one fell swoop.
With a soul sound that heavily tips a hat to College Dropout and an attitude that can probably be attributed to the perma-smirk of someone only one year removed from teenagedom, Chance's croaky delivery on Acid Rap may take some getting used to, but it's one in a handful of the most genuinely charismatic debuts of a new rapper in years. Chancelor Bennett is only twenty, but his verses are nothing if not witty, wise, and, when appropriate, calculatedly youthful.
Currently on his Social Experiment tour, Chance ended up adding another Chicago show due to overwhelming hometown demand--hardly surprising, when you consider that Chance's Lollapalooza set this past summer accommodated perhaps 1/3 of the actual folks who showed up to his show.
Since Acid Rap dropped, Bennett has been on the cover of multiple major music magazines and reviewed by just about every esteemed music publication. Downloads of Acid Rap have caused multiple websites to crash, he's jumped on Lil Wayne and James Blake joints, and headlined his own North American tour. All the hype a rapper could ever want, and yet Chance remains unsigned by a label. And so goes the entrepreneurial spirit of the self-starting millennial set. Here's to hoping he keeps doing what he's doing.
Chance the Rapper performs at the Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine, on Wednesday and Friday, at 7:30pm. Both shows are sold out.
Sky Ferreira is finally having her post-"Everything is Embarassing" moment. Though she may never truly bypass the original sleeper Internet hit that made her something of an indie phenom, Ferreira makes a good case with her first full-length album, Night Time, My Time, which was released in October.
Her album cover (which is NSFW, to put it lightly) either gives no fucks or is as calculated as MTV's "Miley: The Movement." The great thing about Ferreira is that it doesn't matter. Nude album cover or not, her songs speak for themselves. Beautifully unraveled at the edges, melodic to a fault, and at once perfectly modern and retro, Night Time, My Time, must come as a relief after years of being jerked around by her record company.
It's hard to imagine the record company complaining now, considering "You're Not the One" is pure pop majesty, a driving anthem that begs for car speakers and rolled down windows. Same goes for the heartbreaking "I Blame Myself" and the angry, frantic guitars of "I Will."
Smith Westerns, a band comprised of native, long-haired Chicagoans, share the bill with Ferreira. The band's garage-y, glam-rock sound should complement Ferrerira's unhinged, '80s-esque pop ditties nicely. Whoever made this match knew what they were doing. The show is at the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave, Saturday night, and begins at 8pm. Tickets are $21.
It's somewhat apropos that a band called Cults has, well, developed a bit of a cult following in the three years since singer Madeline Follin and guitarist Brian Oblivion formed in New York City. And why not? Catchy indie tunesmithing and a quirky and widely circulated video for the song "Go Outside" off their eponymous 2011 full length helped build buzz and garnered a fair amount of critical acclaim and has led to a great deal of touring in the past few years. Their 2013 release Static features a somewhat more aggressive sound, but it's still clear that this band took some notes from shimmery late-'60s California pop, a la Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys or Mike Curb Congregation bubblegum. Check it out for yourselves, with a sample below, or head out Saturday night to the Metro to see it live and in person.
The Avett Brothers have built an audience show-by-show over the past decade, and the band has negotiated a gradual climb from rock-influenced bluegrass upstarts to arena headliners (produced by Rick Rubin, no less). Their three major label releases have charted the band's attempt to impart pop song craft and elegance onto their well-honed caffeinated country style. The band visitings Chicago Friday in support of their newest record, Magpie and the Dandelion, which was recorded during the same studio sessions for last year's release The Carpenter.
Kicking off the evening is Providence, RI group Deer Tick. The band has navigated its own transition into bigger venues, albeit in a different direction than The Avett Brothers. Deer Tick's previous records have always struck a woozy balance between traditionalist Hank Williams-esque balladry, and the ramshackle, beer-soaked verve of The Replacements' more up-tempo tracks. 2010's Dear Providence tilted the scales decidedly in the latter direction, as lead singer John McCauley yelped over sandpaper guitar tones about an assorted cast of characters fueled by an endless amount of alcohol. Deer Tick's newest release, Negativity, can't help but feel like sobering up on the morning after, but it does so with a burgeoning diversity of styles for the band to draw on, including power pop, horn-infused soul, and a refined, weary lyricism. The band is a livewire act to see in person; I've been lucky enough to see them several times, on stages that ran the gamut from dive bars to festivals, and they've never failed to deliver a spirited and hysterical show.
The Avett Brothers and Deer Tick perform at the UIC Pavilion, 525 S. Racine Ave., Friday November 22 at 8pm. Tickets are $38.50-49.50.
For this Saturday's performance of Lampo's Fall 2013 season, guests will taken several steps off the standard path. For starters, the event is at the Post Family Gallery (1821 W. Hubbard, #202), a new collaborator for this venerable experimental music organization. The gallery, which emphasizes photographic and design art, will also be hosting Reading Lampo, a month-long exhibit of printed material from the Lampo archives. Anyone who has ever received one of Lampo's elegantly designed postcards in the mail or purchased a gig poster knows the consistently top-quality design sense of every piece of printed collateral, and many of your favorites will be on display. The exhibit is mainly open by appointment, but on the night of the show, the exhibit will be open to the public for free.
Though Mazzy Star went on hiatus in 1997 — much to the disappointment of scores of lovesick teens and introverts around the world — they've finally returned earlier this fall with Seasons of Your Day, their first full-length LP in over fifteen years. With roots in California's Paisley Underground movement in the '80s, it's lucky for us the band didn't let their legacy lie with the incomparable movie-montage magnet "Fade Into You."
With slide guitar and dreamy sonics reminiscent of Beach House and a voice so breathy it sounds like it could float away, Mazzy Star is anchored by Hope Sandoval's breezy vocals and David Roback's guitar.
Though Seasons of Your Day sees the band diversifying from the reverb-soaked sound they favored in their earlier days, there's no mistaking the wistful, airy ambience for any other band. The descending organ on "In the Kingdom" is achingly beautiful and sad at the same time, retaining just the right amount of '90s melancholy, while the Led Zeppelin-esque "California" brings a welcome change of pace with a crisp acoustic guitar riff.
Mazzy Star plays at the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield, on Wednesday night at 8pm. The show is 18 and up, tickets are $35, and Psychic Ills opens.
Local post-metal quartet, Pelican, creates music that is darkly beautiful. Wordless in it's execution, their instrumentation creates vast compositions that examine emotions ranging from anxiety to cathartical.
Check out a stream of their single, "Deny the Absolute."
We're giving away a free pair of tickets to see them as they celebrate the recent release of their excellent new album, Forever Becoming this Wednesday night at Bottom Lounge. Email us at email@example.com with the subject line "Pelican" and we'll pick a winner by 5pm Monday to go to the show with a friend. Update: We have a winner! Congrats to Thomas!
In addition, Pelican have linked up with the somewhat local (right over the border in Munster, Indiana) perpetual favorites 3 Floyds to create a new limited edition beer that will be on tap throughout the night. Immutable Dusk, a Black IPA, is the latest collaboration between the metal band and the highly metal influenced craft brewery. I've yet to try it myself, but it seems like it should be similar to beers such as Stone's Arrogant Bastard, which is to say it should be a unapologetically dark beer which commands your attention. This seems appropriate since Pelican's music is often the same.
Dan Bejar is as eclectic as he is talented. Whether he's performing with one of the multiple bands he is a part of (indie super groups The New Pornographers, Swan Lake, or as the duo Hello, Blue Rose), Bejar has shown that there is no end to his unparalleled songwriting. His voice is strange, hypnotizing, and instantly recognizable; consistently bringing an exciting and eccentric energy wherever he plays. This Thursday he will be performing at Old Town School of Folk Music under his moniker Destroyer, which he has used to release ten albums and four EPs. Saying he is prolific would be a serious understatement. His latest EP, Five Spanish Songs, is comprised of songs written by Spanish musician Antonio Luque and will be out Nov. 25.
Au Revoir Simone has grown magnificently in the span of their first four albums. Initially, the three piece dream pop outfit from Brooklyn had a soft and twinkling aura to their music. They invoked a charming innocence when performing their uplifting sound, even when they were giving us a "Sad Song". Now, that twinkling is a bright flashing light. The sound is fuller, loftier, and more seductive. Instead of meekly taking over a room, they engulf it with an incredible confidence. Au Revoir Simone will be headlining a show at Lincoln Hall in support if their latest album, Move in Spectrums, which truly plays like a lost New Wave gem infused with a dreamy glow that can only emanate from their keyboards and synths. Plus, with a name straight out of a Tim Burton movie and accolades from David Lynch, how could you not love this group.
Joining them will be local Chicago band City States, a self-described art-pop band consisting of Steve Lund and Joel Ebner. Their musical repertoire jumps from minimalistic and beautifully eerie like "It's Nothing" to the more pop centered "Evened Out". It's easy to hear the influence of the Brian Eno-era Talking Heads along with a modern note of Radiohead in all of their songs. However, as much as their influences play on their sound, City States creates a mood all their own. Their 5-track EP Resolution captures the band at their best.
This perfect pairing of electronically centered bands will be performing a 21+ show at Lincoln Hall, Monday the 28th. Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door.
Neon-clad rave rats, deep-house purists, hip-hop fans, indie know-it-alls, Top 40 sleuths — all types have succumbed to "Latch," cementing Disclosure's Settle as the great sonic equalizer. For those in the know, imagining summer 2013 without the constant loop of "Latch" or "When a Fire Starts to Burn" blasting from dance floors across America is like imagining summer 2012 without Frank Ocean's Channel Orange. Settle's ubiquity and across-the-board acclaim is even more impressive when you consider Disclosure's Guy and Howard Lawrence are 22 and 19 years old, respectively.
With just enough melody to elicit repeat plays for months and just enough hype to make tickets to their shows triple in value on Stubhub, Disclosure has thoroughly earned the wave of success they are currently cresting. Though the Sam-Smith-assisted "Latch" was the magic catalyst that gave Disclosure its breakthrough, Settle — a diverse dance album where practically every track is a standout — is what gives the duo staying power. With collaborations ranging from Jessie Ware to AlunaGeorge to London Grammar, the Lawrence brothers have their fingers on the pulse of the future of the dance music genre.
Disclosure plays a sold-out show at the House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, on Thursday night. Doors open at 8pm and the show is 17+.
Like the elephant to the blind men, composer John Zorn looks completely different depending on where you first experienced him, and like Walt Whitman, he contains multitudes. No single description will wrap it all up tight. If you watched "120 Minutes" in the '90s, you remember being pinned to the wall any time his group Naked City strafed your susceptible mind. Perhaps you even went further with his "death jazz" group Painkiller, and he hepped you to Japanese noise and grindcore terror. If jazz was your bag, perhaps you have fond memories of Masada, his "Judaism meets Ornette Coleman" project, with 500 compositions and dozens of recordings on display. Free improv fans remember seeing the weird, cartoonish mayhem of his game-based improv pieces like Cobra, Archery, or Xu Feng. Maybe your heard him blow duck calls on early Golden Palominos records, or subliminally took in his scads of soundtrack work. Back in the day when Best Buy and Borders catered to all tastes, you might have taken a chance on releases on his ultra-prolific Tzadik and Avant labels.
But amidst this sprawling hedge-maze of musical styles and approaches, John Zorn is first and foremost a composer. His works for variable ensemble units range from Feldman-like rivers of calm ("Redbird") to blood-draining exorcisms ("Kristallnacht").
Simply put, Deke Dickerson is a Renaissance man. While time seems to slow some artists, who get complacent or fall into a rut, Dickerson seems to have modeled his career after an avalanche, only picking up speed as it progresses. At this point, the man runs his own record label, is one of the nation's foremost experts on and collectors of vintage guitars, pens a regular column for Guitar Player magazine, designed a signature model for Hallmark Guitars, and still finds time to be America's foremost promoter of early Rockabilly and country twang, from a time when the emerging rock genre and the waning country swing were still kissing cousins.
Dickerson, of course, shouldn't be pigeonholed in that style, having played with noted 1980s surf/garage upstarts The Untamed Youth and continuing to colaborate with such as Nikki Hill and Southern soul artists the Bo-Keys. Ultimately, Dickerson is simply a penultimate showman, and his performances reflect his obvious deep interest in the evolution of Rock's early years. Always an impressive guitarist, it should be of no surprise that his immersion in all the stuff that he loves, and his ability to turn it into a thirty-year career have honed his performances into impressive exhibitions of the best the genre can offer.
On this tour, Dickerson is performing with the rhythm section from J.D. McPherson's band on a midwest swing that delivers them to Reggies Music Joint (2105 S. State St.) this Saturday, the 19th at 8pm. Tickets are $12 in advance, or $15 at the door. The Dyes and Kent Rose open. (21+)
Bill Callahan has proven over the course of two-plus decades that he's no stranger to bucking expectation. So it makes sense that Callahan will once again be performing in a "unique performance environment," this time at the Alhambra Palace, 1240 W. Randolph, a large restaurant with vaulted ceilings and beautiful interiors with little to no history of hosting indie rock legends and their attendant crowds. In other words, another perfect wrench to throw into the rock-world works and a welcomed disruption to the often tired and conventional thinking of where a performer of Callahan's stature might be expected to appear on tour.
Partnering once again with Land and Sea Dept., the same group responsible for bringing Callahan to the Garfield Conservatory last spring and Kim Gordon's Body/Head to the MCA last month, Callahan returns to Chicago to play material from the newly released Dream River. Callahan's newest set of songs explore themes of sex, love, and acceptance, with his trademark wit and devastating use of understatement keenly intact. Using roughly the same cast of musicians as 2011's excellent Apocalypse, Callahan's newest once again makes use of sparse percussion, the occasional flute and violin, and Matt Kinsey's striking, tumbleweed guitar. What's most remarkable, however, is that Callahan actually sounds happy, which comes as less of a surprise when considering the 47-year-old is newly engaged to filmmaker Hanly Banks, who shot his 2012 tour documentary Apocalypse: A Bill Callahan Tour Film. As he says on Dream River's "Ride My Arrow", he sounds "alive, and enjoying the ride." Callahan's ex-con has finally made good, it would appear.
Like his last tour, Callahan will once again be performing in three-piece format for what promises to be a profoundly intimate take on his newer material. Expect a looser and even more open-plains take on tracks from his last few records, with Callahan's careful baritone leading the charge.
Haunting. Stunning. Overwhelming. They're just a few of the words I've used to describe Ólafur Arnalds. The Icelandic pianist excels at layering his music with classical, electronic and even some pop music. Where Arnalds best shows his skills is in how songs slowly build with percussion or strings or just atmospherics constantly providing another little something for ears to munch on. Songs run the gamut from uplifting to devastating, even from one's beginning to end. There are points where you may be in awe. A minute later you might get chills. Essentially, his compositions sink in. As a performer, Arnalds can thrill. At the MCA in 2011, he was locked in with string accompaniment and dazzled with a light show that perfectly fit the mood of his pieces. (And if you've been watching Broadchurch, you've heard the range in which his music can be used.)
Ólafur Arnalds headlines two shows at Constellation (3111 N. Western Ave.) on Thursday, the 3rd. Lisa Alma opens both. The shows are at 6pm and 9pm. Tickets are $25.
One of my favorite aspects of the Chicago music scene is its effortless ability to cultivate fledgling bands into big name talent. With such a vibrant and diverse scene, you can easily catch a show at a plethora of small music venues, huddled amongst other music fanatics, and spot a glimpse of an act that will grow over time due to Chicago's strong local fan base and the pride it takes in its music culture. Watching these bands cultivate their sound and harbor a local fan base at the same time is an amazing feeling, as you follow them from their start.
I've seen Ballroom Boxer grow immensely since their opening debut just two summers ago, with their album release titled Summer Mixes & Backseat Dreams. They've played sets at SXSW and at numerous Chicago venues since its advent, all the while preparing for the release of their second album. Their debut recalls a feeling of wistful nostalgia, peppered with upbeat, summery numbers laden with heavy rock flair. Though cohesive and well-produced, the album definitely gives leeway for growth in the future, as the group was still finding their footing, potential just seeping from the stereo as the record is played. The direction a band can take with their second release is crucial; did they produce a solid album on their first jaunt, and are they now unable to replicate this formula? Do they take their sound in an unprecedented direction that is not as well received?
Travis bafflingly never reached the heights of contemporaries like Coldplay or even Keane, though their history is rich with solid songs and plenty of hits. Fran Healy's voice has been perfect for their sugary Britpop and they've consistently churned out earworming melodies. But alongside those sweet sounds have always been lyrics that can cut deep. On their latest album, Where You Stand, the Glaswegian band tackles subjects like their career trajectory, discovered affairs and how far you'll go to show loyalty. And it's all done with the aplomb of seasoned vets who're comfortable in their role. Travis may not be pushing musical boundaries, but they know their fan base, understand how to use their strengths and are excelling at it.
Travis headlines the Vic on Friday, the 27th. Luke Rathborne opens at 8PM. The show's 18+ and $41. The Vic's at 3145 N Sheffield.
Chicago's resident punk marching band is becoming more comfortable sitting its collective butt down, but keeping still is out of the question. Known for wildly energetic performances at clubs and in the most unlikely of public spaces, the eclectic troupe (typically two-dozen strong) wrote a new show plainly titled Mucca Pazza Presents: Sitting In Chairs, which debuted in February and held a residency at Revolution Brewing on Milwaukee Avenue throughout April of this year.
Despite the seats, which they wriggled out of on occasion, the show was 100-percent Mucca Pazza, and now the band strikes sits again, this time in Evanston. SPACE, the renowned venue of the not-quite-suburb, hosts Sitting In Chairs tomorrow night at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and $27 at evanstonspace.com.
Read our interview with bandleader Mark Messing and review of the Revolution residency here.
Coming off a tour opening for Dawes, Shovels & Rope are no strangers to the road. Founded in 2010, they were previously tapped by Jack White to open some of his first Blunderbuss tour dates, and have been on a roll ever since. Hailing from Charleston, SC, the duo blow into Chicago to headline a Metro show on 9/26.
The band's 2012 album O' Be Joyful has racked up the acclaim for wife and husband singer/songwriters Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent. Their music has been praised for raising a "ruckus" at the Newport Jazz Fest, and there's nothing but high expectations as they head west and cross our city limits. This won't be your classic Folk Americana music set. Tunes by Shovels & Rope are at once dark and sinister, like a shot of whiskey that makes you smile after the burn.
The duo have a musical vibe reminiscent of great pairings like Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. Cary Ann and Michael's world is filled with love and not-so-thinly veiled threats of murder — like all great marriages. Their southern twang and delicious charm leaps off the album's grooves, leaving you with the feeling that this is a truly great working relationship. Songs like "Birmingham" and "Lay Low" bring feelings like this to light with a burst of raw emotion and passion (to the death). Or you can put on your boots and stomp and dance through title track "O' Be Joyful," relationship or no. Learn a little bit about it yourself, and see them grace the Metro's stage on Thursday.
Shovels & Rope perform at the Metro (3730 N. Clark St.) on Thursday, September 26. Shakey Graves opens. Music starts at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 and the show is all ages.
Back in 2009, I worked at a small public relations outfit owned and run by the sister of Chicago's own Ike Reilly (of The Ike Reilly Assassination). My employer invited me to go see her brother play one cold December night, and never one to say no to live music (and not wanting to stay at the office to work late), I agreed. Despite the fact that my former employer was always late, we arrived in enough time to see the opener, U.S. Royalty.
To say I was impressed would be an understatement. I was floored — who was this band and where did they come from?! They not only commanded the attention of the audience right off the bat, they rocked the house as if that night was their last on stage. U.S. Royalty left nothing to be desired.
Their first full-length album, Mirrors, is a great balance of music that you want to rock out to and songs that you put on your road trip list. Of the album, singer John Thornley says, "Because we traveled for about a year and a half before we recorded the album, there is definitely a travel vibe to the record."
U.S. Royalty produces a sound that has been likened to The Strokes, The Killers and Fleet Foxes. The band of four is composed of brothers John and Paul Thornley on vocals/piano and guitar, Jacob Michael on bass, and Luke Adams on percussion.
The Weekend (not The Weeknd, the R&B singer of the somewhat same name) are disciples of bands such as Joy Division, Sonic Youth, and My Bloody Valentine. They make aggressively loud experimental post-punk, and they do it rather well. Their latest album Jinx is a cathartic love letter full of atmospheric sonic brutalism and manic paranoia to the bands they clearly admire.
Listen to their blistering single "Mirror" below.
We're giving you the chance to check them out for free. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "The Weekend" and we'll pick a winner by 5pm today to go to the show with a friend. [Update: We have a winner! Congrats to John!]
The Weekend play at the Empty Bottle this Friday, September 20th, opening for local noise rockers, Disappears, as they celebrate the release of their new album Era (a show we just previewed). Outside World kicks the night off. Tickets are $12 adv/$14 door. You must be 21+ to attend.
Disappears need little introduction for anyone with at least half a lobe tuned to Chicago's music scene of the past few years (to speak nothing of Sonic Youth-drummer fanboys), and on Friday night the band celebrates the release of its excellent, post-punk caterwaul of a fourth LP, Era, at the Empty Bottle. The record was released on August 26th via Kranky, so by now you should have had plenty of time to practice your sneers to match that of unimpeachable frontman Brian Case.
On the quartet's newest, the band further explores its tendencies toward dub, minimalism and motorik repetition, each track imbued with an unmistakeable early-Rough Trade gloom and doom. Where previously the band traded in a sound reminiscent of a more jagged Spacemen 3, we're picking up more of Liars and even Swans this time around. Early press releases for the record declare Era as "the sound of the void looking back," and who are we to disagree with that? (Though their recent dead-on cover of U2's "New Year's Day" for A.V. Club, embedded below, is admittedly another matter altogether...)
This Saturday, The Hideout will host Scout Niblett — an eccentric musical pleasure of the highest order. The British singer songwriter offers an interesting blend of painfully beautiful vocals and sparse instrumentation that occasionally transitions to pulse pounding chords. The moments of silence between the notes are as powerful as the crushing arrangements themselves. Niblett has a way of linking these moments together wonderfully, as is evident on her last two albums The Calcination of Scout Niblett and It's Up To Emma. Her fascination with astrology and alchemy lends itself to her rocking guitar work and continually finds its way into her lyrics, evoking otherworldly sensations that deliver on all the right spots.
Today marks the release of the debut album by Whirlpool, the new collaborative effort by local jazz mainstays Caroline Davis, Charles Rumback and Jeff Swanson. The record is entitled This World and One More and is being put out by upstart jazz label Eyes and Ears Records today. The group will be celebrating the release tonight at multi-purpose art venue Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee Ave, where they will be performing music the from the record as part of the venue's Improvised Music Series. Following this evening's performance, the group will be setting out on a small Midwestern tour.
Given some of the other projects that these artists are involved with, not to mention that Whirlpool is uniquely composed of drums, alto saxophone and guitar (Rumback, Davis and Swanson, respectively), it's safe to assume that the trio will offer a refreshing take on what a jazz trio can accomplish via the group's unique collision of backgrounds, timbres and melodies. At the very least, we expect a night of dynamic, boundary-pushing genre expectation from some of the finer up-and-coming improvisational jazz musicians in Chicago today.
Whirlpool performs tonight at Elastic at 10pm. Tickets are $8.
I'm one of those music nerds who goes through the calendars of every Chicago music venue each month to check out the various bands that are coming to town to ensure that I don't miss a good show. I ran across a listing for The Wood Brothers, listened to their music and instantly knew I was hooked when I caught myself desk-dancing at work (something that I'm sure to my co-workers looks like a stress-induced muscle spasm more than anything else).
It seems like destiny that the Wood brothers, Chris (upright bass) and Oliver (guitar), would eventually become songwriters and produce music together. They grew up with a father who performed classic songs at campfires and family gatherings, and a mother who was a poet with a passion for storytelling. Leaving their parents in Colorado, Oliver moved to Atlanta and formed King Johnson, a blues rock band, and Chris studied jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music and later formed Medeski, Martin & Wood, a contemporary jazz outfit in New York City.
Fifteen years later, they found their way back to each other and released their first album "Ways Not To Lose" in 2006. More recently, they joined forces with percussionist Jano Rix to produce a sound that was more dynamic than ever. The Wood Brothers are everything that is amazing about Americana music — an impeccable balance of blues funk attitude and folk roots reflection.
Find The Wood Brothers this Sunday, September 15, headlining Park West (322 W. Armitage Ave.) to celebrate the release of their fifth studio album The Muse with special guests Piers Faccini and Dom Le Nena. Tickets are $20 (plus fees/taxes). The show is 18+ and starts at 7:30pm.
The feather in the cap of festival season, also known as Riot Fest around these parts, is this weekend in Humboldt Park. Riot Fest transitioned their event into a full three day large scale festival last year, and it was one of the more enjoyable festivals we attended last year. The location was a great fit, the sound bleed wasn't too awful, and booking it in September made for a milder weather experience in the mosh pit. We're back covering the festival all weekend, so we thought we'd share 10 tips on how to maximize your Riot Fest weekend.
2. Plan your transportation in advance. The second most annoying tweets that Riot Fest has responded to the last few months is a plethora of people that are utterly confused by transit. Let me break it down for you in the most simple way possible: Take the blue line to either Division or California. Take the California bus south or the Division bus west. Division bus drops you off right across the street from the festival, California bus drops you off at Division and you walk a few blocks. That's my best advice, Riot fest has other options as well. There is ample bike parking onsite as well, so that is another great way to get there. Even if you don't want to deal with the hassle of the bus on the way to the festival, a cab ride from either blue line stop will run you around $10 or less with tip. And last year I was able to immediately catch one of the Division buses lined up ready to go at the end of the night, so thanks to Riot Fest for wonderful planning, getting home was quick and easy. Like anything in life, just plan ahead. - Lisa White
Two years ago I caught Bare Mutants on a free Monday at the Empty Bottle. It was one of their first shows and I knew nothing of them ahead of time, but I recognized their solid pedigree immediately with people from the Ponys, Mannequin Men, 1900s, etc. in their ranks. Thirty seconds into their first song, I thought, "This is like a fuzzier Velvet Underground." The songs were laid-back and melodic, but definitely had bite within the reverb. Let's just say there was a lot of toe-tapping. Later during the band I actually went to see, I had those Bare Mutants riffs in my head. The next morning at work, I was still humming those songs non-stop. And that's become about the usual whenever I see them. On their debut album, The Affliction, the band captures that hazy earworming garage-rock sound perfectly.
Bare Mutants headline the Empty Bottle on Friday, the 13th, to celebrate The Affliction's release. Verma and VLLLAGE open. The show's $10 in advance, $12 at the door, 21+ and starts at 9:30 PM. The Empty Bottle's at 1035 N Western.
When the second bullet point on a band's website lists Jawbreaker, Elastica and the Clash, it's easy to breeze over it and think, "Sure, I like them too. But what does it say about your sound?" Well, in the case of Hard Kiss, it's actually pretty accurate. As a bonus, they're not just ripping off idols. A song like "This is a Stickup" has similar pop-punk melodies as Jawbreaker or even the Biters, but there's a glam-rock side not quite like where either of those bands would go. Plus, singer Johnny V sounds more like Ted Leo than Blake Schwarzenbach and uses it to convey a different mood across the band's super catchy Hot Trash album.
By now, though, the secret is most definitely out in the open. Reilly, who grew up in Marquette Park and went to college at DePaul University, is currently on tour as the lead singer and guitarist for his own group, John Reilly and Friends.
Roughly three years ago, Reilly teamed up with musicians Becky Stark and Tom Brosseau after bonding over a shared love for the close-harmony folk and country music of groups such as the Delmore Brothers and the Louvin Brothers. The trio initially played small shows for friends in living rooms around Los Angeles. More recently, they recorded a handful of singles for Jack White's Third Man Records in Nashville. And now, Reilly and Friends are on a worldwide tour with an entire band consisting of musicians from Old Crow Medicine Show, Soul Coughing, and more.
Reilly spoke to Gapers Block over the phone recently about his background in music, how he formed this band, and the epiphanies he experience while attending school just blocks from the Old Town School of Folk Music, where he'll be playing with his band this Saturday.
There aren't a lot of bands from Florida that sound like the Jacuzzi Boys. But maybe they're making up for the lack of similar bands by packing so much punch in their lo-fi power-pop/garage rock. Listening to them now is like hearing the Nuggets series updated. Their latest song, "Double Vision" (not a Foreigner cover), is a polished (by their standards) rocker that'll be stuck in your head for at least a day. They're young. They have a great knack for catchy hooks. Their songs are about girls, drinking and drugs. What's not to like? At their show here two years ago, they were loud, scuzzy (in the best possible way) and actually pretty funny. Expect more of the same this weekend.
They'll open for Man Or Astroman. The surf-punk band took some time off, returned for a handful of occasional shows through the years and now seem to be back to their old tricks. When they're on, there's hardly any band who's more frenetic. Plus, they have a Tesla coil.
Man Or Astroman headline the Empty Bottle with Jacuzzi Boys on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Big Smoke City opens. On Saturday, the Bingers play. The show's are $15, 21+ and start at 9:30PM. The Empty Bottle's at 1035 N Western.
If you're like many 20-somethings, you were probably really into the pop-punk scene of the early 2000s like I was. I would ride to high school on my bike listening to Taking Back Sunday in the morning and hang out on message boards talking about bands signed to Drive-Thru Records all night. I would fantasize all day about escaping the suburban projects and working for a label such as Victory Records or Touch and Go. (Oh, Bush-era awkward teenage youth, sometimes I miss you. But not very often.)
I romanticized working for Chicago labels because Chicago has such a vibrant scene of bands that I looked up to: Lucky Boys Confusion, Fall Out Boy, The Dog and Everything, Alkaline Trio, and of course, Spitalfield.
Spitalfield are a pop-punk band based here in Chicago. They formed in 1998 and acquired the attention of Victory Records back in 2002 with their EP The Cloak and Dagger Club. Ten years ago, Spitalfield released their album Remember Right Now, and it has since amassed a cult following. They toured relentlessly and recorded two more albums before going their separate ways in 2007, but they've been reunited since 2010 playing the occasional show here and there. For the ten year anniversary of their seminal album, they've decided to go on tour to celebrate, and will play for their hometown crowd this Friday at the Bottom Lounge.
Check out a video of them performing "Those Days You Felt Alive" at the Beat Kitchen in 2010.
The Oak Park native and sisterly half of The Fiery Furnaces dropped her second solo album, Personal Record, today on Merge Records. And this Friday, Friedberger plays two shows in Chicago: a headlining, full-band set at the Empty Bottle, and a free, acoustic in-store performance at Reckless Records in Wicker Park.
Personal Record is a lovely, double entendre of an album title, and the songs themselves form another solid exploration into Friedberger's music-savvy, stream of consciousness mind.
When news spread last May that legendary Milwaukee hardcore group Die Kreuzen was reuniting to play a handful of shows, fans of challenging American punk were understandably ecstatic, though it hardly registered a blip in the mainstream music news cycle. The band has always been more at home in the periphery, though, confronting the limits and capabilities of hardcore on their own terms while waiting patiently for everyone else to catch up. Now, 30 years removed from their '80s heyday, and with a string of live dates this spring including a stop at the Double Door, the band has history on its side.
In the midst of the '80s underground rock nostalgia campaign kick-started by a handful of high-profile reunion tours and books like Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life and, more directly, Stephen Blush's seminal American Hardcore, the reunion of Die Kreuzen is perhaps inevitable, if not more of a gem. But what's more, their reunion finally gives recognition to a long and varied career spent in the trenches that influenced everyone from Steve Albini to Thurston Moore, who is quoted as saying "there was a point there when Die Kreuzen were the best band in the USA." But Dan Kubinski, the group's vocalist, is still surprised by some of the names his band inspired.
"When we quit playing music, there was nothing written saying 'we lost Die Kreuzen.' Things just moved on. So to be removed from that, 20-plus years later, to have people say that we were an influence on them, it's amazing. I'm flattered beyond belief."
If you're a fan of soothing folk music, it's likely you'll be a fan of The Staves, too. Formed in 2008, this group comprised of three sisters, Emily, Jessica, and Camilla Staveley-Taylor. Their first full-length album, Dead & Born & Grown, was just recently released this past year after they received accolades for their several live EPs released in years prior. They were first featured as accompaniment for Tom Jones' Praise and Blame album back in 2010, as well as Fionn Regan's album 100 Acres of Sycamore.
Their name came about as they quite literally, made a name for themselves in their hometown of Watford, England. Performing at open mic nights at a bar nearby, they would write "The Staveley-Taylors" on a board noting their original band name. However, a friend changed that over to "The Staves," which really does reflect their gentle, beautifully harmonized folk sound. In bringing their sound to more attention, they've supported The Civil Wars, Bon Iver, and James Vincent McMorrow during their tours. Their sound is extremely pure and raw, no doubt garnering the same praise from their live recordings as their produced recordings, as both sound serendipitous and perfect. They've no doubt honed the three-part harmony, and blending them with their poetic lyrics makes for some powerful folk music. Take a listen to a live performance of "Winter Trees" below to understand just what I mean:
Catch The Staves at Schubas this Monday, with Musikanto opening. The 21+ show begins at 8pm, and tickets cost $14. Schubas is located at 3159 N. Southport, (773) 525-2508.
The lo-fi, fuzzy Wavves we've known and loved has become a little less rough around the edges these past couple years. While still maintaining the scuzzy aesthetic of their debut self-titled album, Wavves' latest release Afraid of Heights is a lot slicker and less brash. Even after four albums, Wavves' Nathan Williams seems as bratty and angsty as ever.
Afraid of Heights has been commonly hailed as the this generation's answer to Nirvana's Nevermind. Like Kurt Cobain, Nathan Williams seemingly couldn't care less about fame or commercial success. Like Nevermind, Afraid of Heights is dripping with nihilism and hopelessness wrapped up in catchy pop hooks. Unlike Nirvana, rather than conjuring images of dingy clubs, Wavves makes you feel like laying in the sun at the beach, drinking 40s out of a paper bag.
While we're all still in the early planning stages of who to see at Lollapalooza, over the past few days we've been highlighting a handful of bands on the Lolla roster to keep in mind. Lollapalooza is happening August 2nd - 4th in Grant Park, however all tickets besides Platinum passes are currently sold out.
Lo-fi indie pop band Guards originally came across my radar once I discovered the man behind Guards, Richie Follin, is the brother of Cults singer Madeline Follin (Richie himself was once Cults member as well). Cults' self-titled album is one of my favorite releases of 2011, so I immediately sought out Guards' album to check out what Madeline's brother had been up to. Turns out the siblings aren't the only musicians in the family, either - their step-dad Paul Kostabi was a founding member of White Zombie, as well as punk band Youth Gone Mad with which Madeline herself was briefly involved, along with Dee Dee and Joey Ramone. Pretty impressive background.
In February, Guards released their debut LP In Guards We Trust. While the album shares the same lo-fi aesthetic found in Cults' self-titled debut, In Guards We Trust focuses less on vocals and more on fuzzy guitars and eager hooks. The album is sprightly and optimistic, with choruses like "We're up and ready to go!" on the commercial-ready "Ready To Go" that seem almost crafted to sell coffee or insurance or something. Commercial or not, the band is downright fun, and perfectly suited for the Lollapalooza heat.
While we're all still in the early planning stages of who to see at Lollapalooza, over the next few days we'll be highlighting a handful of bands on the Lolla roster to keep in mind. Lollapalooza is happening August 2nd - 4th in Grant Park, however all tickets besides Platinum passes are currently sold out.
Despite receiving a good share of acclaim in the U.K. following the release of her debut album Devotion in August of 2012, Jessie Ware's music didn't get a proper U.S. release until just last month. The delay was due to some legal issues following a sample on the track "110%", which was edited for the stateside release. However, the postponed release didn't stop the buzz surrounding her from making its way across the pond, with several U.S.-based blogs and magazines placing the album on their 2012 year-end best albums lists.
Jessie Ware has a throwback style reminiscent of an 80's diva. Just check the video for her track "Running", where she's found with oversized jewelry, bold make-up, and an over-the-top hairstyle while her sultry voice guides her through exaggerated poses. With her elegance and the control she has of her stunning vocals, Ware is often compared to Whitney Houston and Sade. This particular track could have easily been released 25 years ago, but Jessie Ware is not living in the past.
While Ware leans more toward the R & B spectrum, her electronic influences cannot be denied. She started out as a vocalist in studio and on the road with electronic acts such as SBTRKT, Sampha, and Joker before stepping forward into the limelight as her own solo artist. The majority of Devotion is emotional, soulful downtempo tracks, but a few songs are straight up club-ready, like "Imagine It Was Us", a recent addition on the American version of the album.
While we're all still in the early planning stages of who to see at Lollapalooza, over the next few days we'll be highlighting a handful of bands on the Lolla roster to keep in mind. Lollapalooza is happening August 2nd - 4th in Grant Park, however all tickets besides Platinum passes are currently sold out.
Last January on a cocaine-fueled episode of Girls, Lena Dunham's Hannah Horvath snorted a line off a toilet seat in a club before hitting the dance floor and singing along to the perfect club anthem to recklessness. "I crashed my car into the bridge. I don't care!" The song is Icona Pop's 2012 summer jam "I Love It", which has been blowing up since its inclusion in the HBO television series. The song is now seemingly everywhere - just recently making its late-night debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, as well as Dancing With The Stars, Vampire Diaries, and Glee.
This Swedish DJ duo comprised of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo met at a party back in 2009. They immediately decided to make music together and booked their first gig before they had written even a single song. In 2012, after the success of their debut US release Iconic, the pair left Stockholm for New York and LA. They've been hitting the festival circuit this year after finishing up a tour with Passion Pit and Matt & Kim.
Once the Gleeks have gotten a hold of a song, you'd think at this point it would just be over-saturated. But "I Love It" is just too damn catchy. By all means this is a group I'd typically hate, but Iconic is so infectious I just can't help it. These dance-floor ready songs about ex-boyfriends and break-ups are the ultimate guilty pleasures.
While we're all still in the early planning stages of who to see at Lollapalooza, over the next few days we'll be highlighting a handful of bands on the Lolla roster to keep in mind. Lollapalooza is happening August 2nd - 4th in Grant Park, however all tickets besides Platinum passes are currently sold out.
Ian Svenonius, the man behind the fabled post-hardcore outfit Nation of Ulysses, current member of Chain and the Gang, and writer of Marxist-leaning gazettes will be appearing at Quimby's Bookstore, 1854 W. North Ave., to read from his newly minted treatise on the forming of rock bands, Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group. Svenonius's latest screed is a "bizarrely erudite" meditation on the hazards and resulting socioeconomic upheaval that occurs with the formation of rock groups (which are really just a natural progression from male street gangs of post-War Western society, he says.) Naturally, it's smart and meticulously crafted, but he gets some help: The book is framed by introductory interviews with dead rockers like Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, who proffer valuable and surprisingly pedantic advice that Svenonius expounds upon in greater detail in chapters such as "Drugs" and "Sex," and passages that discuss the importance of the Zodiac in choosing band members. Svenonius is no stranger to the firmly tongue-in-cheek interview, and his discussions with rockers from the Great Beyond are essential reading for anyone daring to pursue rock 'n' roll in its current, post-capitalist stage. Part cautionary how-to guide and part philosophical meditation on the current state of rock, Strategies exhumes rock's past to consider its present and help guide its future toward, hopefully, a more astrologically synchronous state.
Ian Svenonius will be appearing at Quimby's Bookstore tonight at 7pm. Admission is free.
DON'T MISS: The official afterparty for tonight's event will be at The Owl, 2521 N. Milwaukee, where Svenonius and fellow rock icon Calvin Johnson will be DJing from 10pm to 4am, and where Svenonius will have a mixtape soundtrack for the book for sale in a numbered edition of 100 tapes with silkscreened covers.
Venerable lo-fi luminary/folk-hero Bill Callahan will be appearing at the historic Garfield Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., on Monday, May 6, as part of a short spring series of performances that marks his first live return since touring on the back of 2011's excellent Apocalypse. Courtesy of Land and Sea Dept., Callahan will perform in the pastoral Horticultural Hall, surrounded by "festive flowers" and other assorted greenery, lest any of us forget he is a romantic of the highest, if not most inscrutable, order.
(Here, a break for those not yet poised or privy toward the Callahan cult: After penning the definitive Replacements fanzine Willpower from his childhood perch in Columbia, MD, Callahan rose to prominence in the early '90s under the (smog) moniker, and was an early beacon in the lo-fi indie-rock movement championed by label Drag City, Callahan's longtime home. Emerging under his given name in 2007 with the fantastic Woke On A Whaleheart, Callahan continued producing bracingly beautiful songs, gradually lending his evocative baritone a slight country-troubadour tinge. It suits him well.)
The man, myth (and, increasingly, legend) seems to grow in mystery, depth, and lyrical poise with each album, and Apocalypse in particular emerges as perhaps his best to date. Callahan will be playing material from that record and beyond on May 6th, but listeners should be advised for a stray (Buck Sergeant) Mickey Newbury cover or two. And because floral imagery colors his lyrics throughout Apocalypse, we fully expect his songs will feel right at home among the Horticultural Hall's azaleas and forget-me-nots (because you won't!)
What does a Chicago record nerd have to look forward to after April? The one-two punch of the CHIRP Record Fair and Record Store Day during consecutive weekends in April is probably the happiest time of year for vinyl collectors. But now it's gone.
Fortunately, Reggie's Chicago is trying to stoke Chicago's vinyl fever well beyond April and into the summer months with its new weekly Wax On Wax Off series.
Starting May 8, Wax On Wax Off will feature amateur DJs and music fans interested in sharing gems from their own rare, unusual, or just plain killer record collections in 20-minute slots at Reggie's Music Joint. Call it a record collector's open-mic night of sorts.
A group recalling nostalgic images of road trips, sunshine-soaked journeys and wanderlust, West Coast outfit He's My Brother She's My Sister will be gracing Schubas with their presence this Friday, 4/26. Their first self-titled, seven-song EP is more rugged, recalling a quality of live precision that can only be found in in-the-moment recording, while their first full-length album released this past year, Nobody Dances in This Town, presents their sound as beachy, full and groovy.
Hailing from Los Angeles, the influence of location is evident. The riffs are psychadelic, the vocals infused with pop, blues and beach-rock. The California sun clearly made an impact on their sound, which is rhythmic and energized. Their attire evokes a snapshot from another era, flanked with psychadelic, free-spirited influences, which filters directly into their sound. Though newer to the scene, they've traversed America over by touring extensively, including a West Coast tour and a SXSW appearance. Their glittery pop sound is meshed with unabashed folk twang, creating the perfect blend of rockabilly jams. Catching them in Schubas' intimate space will be a musical journey you won't soon forget.
Take a listen to their live recording for "How'm I Gonna Get Back Home Tonight" below, which showcases their effortless sound and carefree style.
He's My Brother She's My Sister plays Schubas this Friday evening. The 21+ show begins at 10pm, featuring opening act Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas. Tickets are $12 online or at the door. Schubas is located at 3159 N. Southport, (773) 525-2508.
A fan of any band who names an album Departure & Farewell after a 7-year break that was rife with rumors of intra-band tension would have a good reason to be skeptical about what that band's future holds. Browsing the tracklisting and noticing it starts out with a title track, "Walking Past the Graveyard, Not Breathing" and "Things Are Not Perfect In Our Yard" bookended with "Last Call" and "So Long" probably wouldn't instill much confidence either.
Luckily, though, Hem isn't going anywhere for now (at least, hopefully, not before Friday). On their latest, the band weaves chamber-pop and gospel into their airy yet lush folk that sounds like it was made deep in Appalachia rather than Brooklyn. Songs like "Tourniquet" and "Gently Down the Stream" showcase some of the best of Hem with intricate guitar arrangements, rousing strings and Sarah Ellyson's divine vocals leading the way.
Hem headlines Old Town School of Folk Music's Maurer Concert Hall on Friday, the 19th. The show's $22 for the public, $20 for members and starts at 8PM. Dawn Landes opens. Old Town School of Folk Music is at 4544 N Lincoln.
Before moving to Chicago, I lived in the Lehigh Valley. The area's had a strong punk and hardcore scene ever since I can remember. There seemed to always be a new band pushing limits and enrapturing ears. Pissed Jeans played their first show after changing their name from Gatecrashers a few weeks before I left and I thought nothing of it. It was only once I was in Chicago that I started hearing about their transformation. They were heavy with cacophonous melodies that were irresistible to ears that'd been honed on 80s hardcore. And once I saw what the fuss was about, it clicked - raw, energetic and wholly entertaining. Whether they were tearing their clothes, abusing each other or trying to incite a riot, they commanded attention. I don't see that changing any time soon.
Pissed Jeans headline the Empty Bottle on Thursday, the 18th. Their latest album, Honeys, doesn't let up on the angst and aggression they've shown in the past. Fake Limbs and Blizzard Babies open. The show's $12 in advance, $15 at the door, 21+ and starts at 9:30pm. The Empty Bottle's at 1035 N. Western Ave.
In addition to the local vendors and sidewalk sale that spans the length of the festival, there will be a new 'Do-Fashion' area, featuring pop-up shops that focus on the latest trends from the Division Street Corridor. It will also be home to several fashion shows throughout the weekend that will highlight stylish clothing for kids, teens and adults.
Do-Division is partnering with The Museum of Science and Industry and The Shedd Aquarium for the Do-Division Family Fun Fest. It will offer many educational activities to teach children of all ages about animals. There will also be bounce houses, face painting, pony rides, punk rock hairstyling, manicures, and many more fun activities. Proceeds from the Do-Division Family Fun Fest will go directly to Friends of Pritzker School and LaSalle II PTO, two local public elementary schools.
Taste of Randolph Street returns to the West Loop June 14-16. The three-day celebration, which occupies six blocks of the Randolph Street Corridor, boasts some of the best food, artwork, merch and music in Chicago.
Popular restaurants from the surrounding area, including BellyQ, Publican Quality Meats, De Cero Taqueria, Pork Chop, Grange Hall Burger Bar, Vivo and La Sardine, will serve as the festival's food vendors.
Music promotion company Silver Wrapper has booked an impressive selection up-and-coming indie rock and local bands to perform on three stages throughout the weekend. The Mid will also host a dance stage, featuring established DJs in Chicago.
The Black Dot Music Festival, hosted last September at Elastic Arts, 2830 N. Milwaukee Ave., was an inaugural gathering of Chicago's lively — if not always noticed — African-American rock music scene. The event boasted a diverse lineup, bringing together local funk-rock stalwarts Bushoong and BabyBrutha with grunge rockers The Moses Gun and introduced relative newcomers to the scene, including Milwaukee-based folk artist LeAnna Eden.
Eden's intimate acoustic performance quietly dominated a memorable bill of heavier rockers. Her songs seem to draw equally from folk, soul, and indie rock for musical inspiration - and her vocal style is ethereal without being overly delicate or twee. Check out "In My Dreams" below for a taste of her sound. LeAnna Eden returns to Elastic for another Black Dot hosted event, with genre-defying multicultural music collective Slowbots and singer/songwriter Kelly Campos.
The show starts at 8pm and doors open at 7pm. Tickets are $8 and available at the door.
As you've noticed this week, spring is finally upon us. Just when we Chicagoans though the sun would never shine again and we might have to continuously hibernate, our surroundings are finally beginning to change for the better. This weekend, revel in this news for a little while, get yourself out and take an opportunity to check out some fresh Chicago music acts, and fall in love with our local music scene all over again.
Ty Maxon has been a local songwriter for years, and his sophomore album Calling of the Crows has left me completely stunned. Recorded over a period of three years and released in February of 2012, the album's components resemble the gentle lyricism of Elliott Smith blended with the storytelling ingenuity of Bob Dylan. Maxon croons his way through eight folk tunes that blend seamlessly together, wrestling the most introspective and complex cards we are dealt with in life. Banjo and harmonica accompaniment adds to the exquisite vocals on the tracks, creating it as one masterpiece of a folk album. The album can be purchased for $8, and I can guarantee it'll hook you from the start. One of my favorite aspects of the Chicago music community is that venues allow us to frequently catch these acts newer to the scene and watch them grow, and I can't wait to see where Maxon ends up in a few years time. So take a break from the cold weather doldrums, go out to The Hideout on Friday, and discover a new group that'll wash your winter blues right away.
Ty Maxon plays The Hideout at 11pm. The music begins with Sean Hoots at 9:30pm, continuing with Small Houses at 10pm. Tickets are $8-$10, and doors open at 9pm. The Hideout is located at 1354 West Wabansia, (773) 227-4433.
There is often a small window for anyone to break big. Countless people with extraordinary talent have missed the window. However, sometimes persistence pays off. Lee Fields may not have been a star in the late 60s when his career started, but the R&B/southern soul singer kept at it, took advantage of cyclical trends and is now flourishing creatively. His latest two albums on Truth & Soul are dynamite efforts that evoke all of what Fields presumably wanted from his career 40 years ago, along with a few modern dashes. And, oh mercy, the man was born to perform. His voice has aged like a fine wine and his swagger is at its apex. He controls an audience's attention, but it always helps to have a tight band backing him and the Expressions are no joke.
Lee Fields & the Expressions headline Lincoln Hall on Thursday, the 28th. Lady, fronted by Terri Walker and Nicole Wray, open. The show's 21+, $15 in advance, $18 at the door and starts at 9PM. Lincoln Hall's at 2424 N Lincoln.
Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside is a group that developed together from opposite ends of the country; seemingly minute decisions in their lives allowed them to locate one another in this big world coming together from Oregon to Alaska, and create a rocking, retro sound that's sure to only become bigger and bolder with time. From Portland, Oregon, the group combines Ford's bold, brassy, lounge-soul vocals with a stellar blues-infused backing.
While the group's debut album Dirty Radio is a brilliant introduction into their unique sound - recalling images of crowded dive bars, huddled around the group and toe-tapping in unison as sound rattles the building's frame, this year's release, however, titled Untamed Beast, couples sound with a vengeance; Sallie Ford's voice packs even more of a punch, the rhythms are tighter, and that rockabilly feel is more cultivated. It's no surprise that this group went on tour with The Avett Brothers, a group who also has a sound that is simply unable to be replicated. Ford is able to effortlessly reconcile scintillating riffs with a powerhouse voice and attitude that simply screams rebellion.
The group's dynamic personality comes to life in their video for "Party Kids," a sassy ballad featuring a bar outing that turns into a bit of a brawl. Watch below for yourself, and catch Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside at Lincoln Hall this Friday evening.
Arriving just in time to assuage all whose fruitless searches for original Soft Machine or Verlaines records, for mono pressings of The Kink Kontroversy or Five Live Yardbirds, or for those early Roxy Music records that recently emptied the bank account of your tragically obsessed loved one, is the return of Chicago Independent Radio Project's (CHIRP) annual Record Fair on Saturday, April 13. Billed as CHIRP Radio's 11th Annual Record Fair & Other Delights, the fair will return to its site at The Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union, 1340 West Washington Boulevard, for the fifth consecutive year. Organizers smartly added extended shopping hours due to anticipated demand due to last year's increased turnout, with both early and regular admission offered at staggered prices.
The fair will include "over 80 tables of vinyl, CDs, posters, 'zines, artwork, crafts and other delights," and we can only imagine what that might include. The fair brings together independent vinyl dealers and collectors from all over the country, drawing everyone from genre specialists with rare records to casual collectors of singles and 45s. This year, CHIRP organizers aim to appeal to newcomers to vinyl fetishism/exhibitionism by launching their own "Guide to the Record Fair", which offers "the best tips on how to shop for and collect vinyl." (We're assuming "get out while you can, kid" isn't one of them.)
What happens when four musicians from some of Chicago's most experimental and forward-thinking bands come together for a night of improvised music at The Hideout?
Well, by nature, of course, not even the musicians should know. But if you're curious to find out, The Hideout hosts a rare evening of improvised music this Saturday from Califone multi-instrumentalists Jim Becker and Joe Adamik along with bassist Darin Gray and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche.
Ash's breakthrough came in 1996 with the release of their lauded 1977 album. The Northern Ireland band's proper debut album was a breath of fresh air during Britpop's apex. Unlike many of the other one-word bands who were grabbing headlines then, Ash was punchy, aggressive and exceptionally talented for teenagers. Their punk/power-pop/grunge sound struck a chord with anyone who didn't need their music to be serious all of the time. It was fun yet disciplined. Unfortunately, they never really broke very big in the U.S., even despite strong albums like Free All Angels and Meltdown later on. As a result, it's been a while since they've been in Chicago. But they've remained busy across the pond and all indications (and recent Youtube clips) seem to point to them still bringing the goods live.
Ash headlines Lincoln Hall on Sunday, March 17. Chicago's California Wives open at 8PM. Their latest album, Art History, is a delightful new-wave/pop effort. The show's 21+ and $20. Lincoln Hall's at 2424 N Lincoln.
This isn't the first time that British psych art quartet Django Django has performed in Chicago (they played Schubas last summer), but this time, they'll be hitting the Metro's stage to lay out their synth experiments for all to see. Cutting through samples in a style reminiscent of The Beta Band (drummer Dave Maclean is younger brother to Beta's keyboardist John Maclean) or (dare I say it) Animal Collective, Django Django offers up sonic landscapes that are infinitely catchy, addictive and fun. If there was ever a cure for a Chicago winter that just won't quit, the sweat you'll work up dancing to this band could be just what the doctor ordered.
The band's harmonizing over keyboard tones, amalgamated drum beats, guitar twangs and various bloops and bleeps may seem like aural overdose when you lay it out on paper, but their multi-layered approach to song building is warming. The songs on their self-titled full-length debut album feel constructed like colored sand in a bottle. Even if you were to shake them up out of order, you'd still be left with a beautiful set of notes to follow into the sunset.
Django Django plays the Metro at 3730 N. Clark St. on Friday, March 15. Night Moves opens at 9pm. 18+ The show is sold out.
There's a chance you've never heard of Anberlin before, but that hardly means they're "new." What started as a Florida punk-roots band has become a highly sophisticated rock act over the past decade. It's simply been a matter of finding their footing.
As digital music releases grow more and more prevalent, the process of composing an actual album -- designing the packaging art, arranging the track list, etc. -- seems to fall by the wayside. Even the title of a release is a key element.
Primary member and songwriter of Chicago four-piece Many Places Kevin Rieg seems to get that. The title of his band's new EP Home + Departed is an apt description of the five tracks on the release. Recorded in just two days, Home + Departed has the comfortable, homestyle appeal of many Midwestern indie/folk acts, however there is a decisive feeling of sadness, perhaps even withdrawal, in these songs.
Electronic music seems to be the current musical lingua franca, if one follows the business very closely. Acts like Skrillex and the Swedish House Mafia are playing arenas rather than basements, and the dance beats and synth-reliant riffs are truly becoming mainstream. Amidst the tide of new electronic music, it's easy to overlook the fact that, in many ways, this generation's electronic artists are kind of just reinventing the wheel. Fair enough, but Chicago is in for a treat next week, as CHIRP welcomes German IDM/Electronic duo Mouse on Mars to the Mayne Stage Theater in Rogers Park as part of their first U.S. tour in six years.
Formed in 1993, Mouse on Mars consists of Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma. Over a nearly two decade career, the duo has specialized in a very Krautrock-tinged version of IDM, often somewhat herky-jerky, occasionally challenging, but always thoughtful and well-composed. The result is often a kind of musical pointillism, somewhat disjointed in its individual components, but cohesive when appreciated in its entirety. The band itself released material on Chicago's Thrill Jockey records, and St. Werner has continued that relationship releasing material under the name Lithops, and has collaborated with fellow German avant-artist Oval.
Marissa Nadler's self-titled 2011 album and last year's The Sister are both folky, steeped in Americana and highlighted by her knack for drawing up memorable scenes and characters. The self-titled album was Kickstarter-funded and a little outside of the comfort zone Nadler had carved out over her previous few albums. The Sister has a gorgeous sparsity (barely more than a guitar for instrumentation on most songs) that gives her deceptively powerful voice room to shine. Put her in a good room (like Schubas or the Hideout, where I've seen her before) with a respectful crowd and it's a pleasure.
Marissa Nadler headlines Schubas on Tuesday, the 19th. Jesse Skyes & Phil Wandscher open at 8PM. The show's 21+ and $12. Schubas is at the corner of Belmont & Southport.
There are so many ways to describe Chicago using the "descriptor + town" formula, that it's almost a pointless cliche to even try. Chicago is a blues town, it's a jazz town, it's a comedy town, it's an anything town. We get it. But get specific enough, and things start to get a little more interesting. Did it occur to anyone, for example, that Chicago is also a thriving harmonica town?
Well, it is, and there's a concert this Sunday at The Hideout to help you understand why.
The bio on Angela James' website reports that she first started learning country music songs off the radio sometime in the '80s, "when country wasn't cool."
That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is proof that it's been a very, very long time since country music was ever "cool". Whatever happened exactly that made country music so uncool--or whether or not it even was cool to begin with--is up for debate, but something definitely happened. Nowadays, it seems like its mostly the "alternative" country music that's holding on the strongest to its own roots.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, in a move to continue its hot streak of cold-month showcases in recent years, will be featuring Peter Hook (Joy Division, New Order) and Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) in upcoming events on the museum's Streeterville premises. Mr. Hook will be appearing on Tuesday, February 5 via special invitation courtesy of the MCA, while Ms. Gordon will be appearing on Tuesday, March 26 as part of the famed, worth-its-weight-in-weirdness series known around these parts as Face The Strange.
Mr. Hook will be appearing to discuss his new career retrospective, Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division, which is described as offering "fascinating insight into the larger-than-life characters that formed a vital part of the Joy Division legend." Lots to chew on there, folks! He'll be appearing with Metro Chicago main-man Joe Shanahan, who will lead the conversation and hopefully provide fond anecdotes of New Order's first Chicago appearance at the Metro thirty years ago. Memories, make no mistake, will be the focus here — and lots of 'em!
Ms. Gordon will be appearing with Chicago psych-droners White/Light, whose members Matthew Hale Clark and Jeremy Lemos help coordinate the MCA's series (and who can also, most importantly, call up Ms. Gordon to sit in for one of their sets.) For those counting, this will be the second appearance by a member of (the late?) Sonic Youth for Face the Strange; drummer Steve Shelley appeared with kraut/drone locals Disappears and White/Light when he was still a member of the former in March 2011. White/Light, it should perhaps also be noted, is a current member of the Smells Like Records roster run by Shelley. So, really, it's all in the family.
Tickets for Mr. Hook's event are $10 at the MCA box office to reserve a seat, and the price of admission will be deducted from any audience purchases of Unknown Pleasures, which Mr. Hook will sign following his talk. Tickets for Ms. Gordon's Face the Strange showcase with White/Light are free for Ilinois residents or with suggested museum donation for all others. Capacity is very limited for both events, but you probably already knew that.
The Grateful Dead's reign in the world of rock music has spanned nearly five decades now, still as iconic to their fans as the day they formed back in 1965. I'm calling on all you Deadheads out there today - though The Grateful Dead may not be touring any time soon, this Saturday evening, you can expect to hear all of your old favorites from the closest thing to the Grateful Dead's signature sound.
Dark Star Orchestra will play The Vic Theatre this weekend, where you can hear perhaps an old setlist recreated from the Grateful Dead's tour archive in its exact form, or a new setlist drafted up by the group themselves. Dark Star Orchestra has been on the scene for 15 years, gracing national and international audiences alike with the recreation of a classic Grateful Dead show for old and new fans to revel in. The group is exact and deliberate in crafting their sound and stage setup to create the most accurate depiction of a Grateful Dead show for their fans, paying homage to the greats all the while. The seven-person group aims to embrace their inner hippie musician, presenting listeners with a portrayal of decades past.
If you're jonesing to take a trip down memory lane this weekend, or immerse yourself in an experience you haven't yet had the chance to be a part of, now's the time to head to the Vic this weekend to catch Dark Star Orchestra play your favorite Grateful Dead tunes. Take a listen to their version of "The Music Never Stopped" below, and get ready for a psychedelic good time on Saturday evening.
Dark Star Orchestra plays The Vic Theatre this Saturday, 2/2. The 18+ show begins at 8pm, and tickets are $24 plus additional service fees. The Vic is located at 3145 N. Sheffield Avenue, (773) 472-0449.
The Jordan Years is Wes Restless on vocals, Michael Andersen on bass and Roger Panella on guitar (guest musicians fill in details such as drums, keyboards and brass). The trio got together in 2008, practicing and recording in Anderson's Humboldt Park basement. According to press materials, Homemade Hustler "follows the story of a recent corporate castaway who decides to make ends meet on his own terms. He finds love, money, uncertainty, stress, and eventually trouble, but in the end he knows he wouldn't have it any other way."
The Jordan Years' record release show is presented by House Call Entertainment and Gapers Block, the show will also feature The Congregation and The Skinny, as well as DJ Intel spinning between acts and GB editor Andrew Huff (that's me!) emceeing. The Subterranean is located at 2011 W. North Ave. Doors open at 8pm. 21+
The last time James Murphy was in Chicago -- as far as I know -- he was at Montrose Beach, hanging out and getting ready to drop a highly anticipated DJ set on Wavefront Music Festival last Fourth of July weekend. The problem is that he never made it to the stage. An early afternoon thunderstorm tore through the city that Sunday and forced the first year festival to cancel several of its performances for time's sake. James Murphy's was one of those sets.
Now the former LCD Soundsystem frontman is coming back to town to spin at The Mid and rain nor, hopefully, snow can stop us from hearing him.
There's been a lot of buildup to the first big official announcement from Electronic Daisy Carnival Chicago (EDC Chicago). First the festival itself was just a rumor...then it was confirmed by dance music festival titans (and the company behind the flagship EDC in Las Vegas) Insomniac...and today (January 16) the festival announced its first details via Facebook and Twitter. However, with the "big news" was a bit disappointing in both quality and quantity.
Despite the fact that the festival is still months away (and more than likely materializing lineup-wise) the hype surrounding the announcement suggested we were finding out a little more other than the most general of information about venue, dates and ticketing. EDC Chicago posted a three-paragraph statement to its Facebook page just past noon. Here are the bullet points:
It's going down the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
It will take place at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
Camping grounds will be available.
The festival will be 18 and over and will go til 2am every night.
There will be "thousands of beautiful people" there.
Here's the thing: even though there will also be thousands of "pleasantly average" people there as well, I likely won't be one of them. Today's announcement brought some difficult news to a city of electronic dance music fans so used to their favorite festival being just a few L stops away. Joliet isn't attainable for a lot of us. Sure, the Speedway will provide plenty of space for the festival to truly embrace the "electric carnival" theme but - by the looks of the comments popping up on the festival's Facebook page - I'm not the only city dweller upset with the inaccessibility.
Tomorrow Never Knows, Chicago's own multi-venue festival, welcomes many a great band to our city for a weeklong extravaganza of shows, spanning the concert halls of Schubas, Lincoln Hall, the Metro, Smart Bar, Hideout and the Vic. On Saturday evening, Lincoln Hall will feature electro-pop favorites Freelance Whales, while introducing fresh openers Snowmine and Hundred Waters into the mix.
If you've already grabbed your 5-day pass to the TNK fest, make sure to head over to Lincoln Hall early to catch show openers. Snowmine, hailing from Brooklyn, have developed their own unique indie pop sound, with fuzzy, dream-pop layered beats surrounding crisp vocals, creating a deliberate ambient feel with their tunes. You can download their two-track album released this past year featuring "Saucer Eyes" and a remix of Twin Sister's "Meet The Frownies" by naming your price.
Hundred Waters, from Gainesville, Florida, have had a whirlwind year introducing us to their music, gaining exposure all the way through. Releasing their first EP, Thistle, and full-length album later on in 2012, Hundred Waters LP, their sound is mesmerizing and glimmering. Opening track "Sonnet" is hushed and haunting, ambling slowly along, introducing layer by layer of electronic sound to the steadily grooving vocal line. These slower ballads are juxtaposed against more abrupt, though still perfectly mixed electronica numbers such as "Me & Anodyne" heralding a tribal backing and synthesized beats, and percussive, surprising horn instrument-saturated "Theia." The group wasted no time after their album release by touring this past summer with Diplo, Skrillex, and Grimes. Their sound is folk interweaved with electronic elements, pop riffs, and tribal rhythms, creating an interesting and refreshing sound. Take a listen for yourself as you watch live recording of "Caverns" below:
Merchandise's members have done time with Tampa-area punk and hardcore bands, but their Children of Desire album doesn't sound like a product of their pedigree. It's more rooted in the Jesus & Mary Chain's melodic noise or the Church's oft-kilter alternative sound. There're hints of electronic and jazz sprinkled through, too. It's a fresh melting pot from a band that seems to have been filing away ideas that would be risky in punk and hardcore. On the standout "Become What You Are", singer Carson Cox broods through sweeping guitars and keyboards that never fatigue during its 11 minutes. "Satellite" carries the spirit of a somber country tune with its stirring "you'll never escape from my mind" refrain. Thursday's Schubas gig will be a bit of a change from the DIY spaces, like Mousetrap, that they've previously played in Chicago. Their sound may have been renovated, but don't expect them to have lost the DIY aesthetic.
Merchandise headlines Schubas on Thursday, the 17th, as part of Tomorrow Never Knows. Toronto's Dusted, Denton's Sundress and Chicago's Sybris open. The show's $15, 18+ and starts at 9pm. Schubas is at the corner of Belmont & Southport.
When a Niki and the Dove song plays, it's almost impossible to discern how many different instruments and which ones in particular are at work on the track. "Is that a didgeridoo?" you might wonder as their echoing tune "The Birth of the Sun" fills your ear. All the catchy art-pop noise that emanates from Niki and the Dove, aka Malin Dahlström (vocals) and Gustaf Karlöf (keyboards), encapsulates the brilliance of Swedish pop engineering. It's not a didgeridoo. It's a mixer, and Niki and the Dove have mastered it ... at least on record. Their avant-garde take on pop is infectious like Abba, strange like Bjork, and modern like The Knife. It's also greater than the sum of these compared parts. It's more ambitious and hearing grandiose, drum-driven tracks like "DJ Ease My Mind" takes a listener to the edges of himself and begs him to dance until he becomes an unrepressed, blurry mess.
But can a Niki and the Dove live experience be all that and more with such a minimalist approach? Performing lofty songs with just a mixer and a vocalist (and perhaps a drum kit) instead of an orchestra doesn't have to be a compromised affair-- Robyn proves that a thousand times over. Such a complicated endeavor could very well succeed in the hands of these inventive outliers whose backgrounds in performance art will come in handy as they attempt to build an energetic yet eerie enough mood fit for their sinister dance grooves. A killer light show would certainly elevate things but if that isn't present, close your eyes, use your imagination, and enter into a dance-induced hallucination in which you and your neon shadow are dancing on the edge of the Grand Canyon together ... or something like that.
Nicki and the Dove bring their experimentation to Lincoln Hall on 1/18 at 9 p.m.. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.
Wild Belle's awesome ear worm "Keep You" gave the duo plenty of mileage, but after six months of play the track's tank is almost empty and the brother sister duo's debut album, slated to release March 12th, can't come soon enough. Would-be fans want to feel affirmed in their likeness for Wild Belle's three songs currently available to the masses and would-be haters are dying to know whether the hype is deserved. But just as you can't judge a book by its cover, so to you can't judge an artist by a single.
It's undoubtedly a good single. It's thick with texture, rich in style, its influences are diverse and worldly (West Africa, the Caribbean), and it has surprising elements like a dusting of synthesizers on top of a reggae beat. Then again the song also rang loudly over the opening moments of the feature film, "Pitch Perfect," a complaint lodged against them by many Youtube commentators, and another Wild Belle song was in the CW show Vampire Diaries. The question that is raised by these complicated truths is simply, "On a scale of Lana Del Ray to Tame Impala, how legitimate is Wild Belle?" Answer that question for yourself at the local duo's Lincoln Hall show on January 17th.
Tickets are $15 and the show starts at 9 p.m. Buy your tickets for the almost-sold-out show here.
If you search about Willy Mason online, soon enough you will come across somebody calling him a "new [Bob] Dylan." This is unfair because nobody deserves that burden. But it's not completely out of line. The 28-year old Massachusetts native's bluesy folk invites comparisons to some of the best who've preceded him. His rich voice sounds years beyond his true age and he has a knack for descriptive scene-setting in his songs, whether it's lovely or the dregs. His most recent album, Carry On, has Mason moving in a slightly different direction with Dan Carey at the helm. (Carey has produced for Franz Ferdinand and Bat for Lashes, among others.) But all of the good stuff from his previous albums carries over. Gapers Block's giving away a pair of tickets to see Willy Mason at Old Town School of Folk Music with Paul Kelly on Thursday. Write to email@example.com with "Carry On" in the subject line for a chance to win. [Update: We have a winner. Enjoy the show, Kristin! And thanks for reading and writing in, everyone.]
Mason opens for Kelly at the Old Town School of Folk Music's Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall at 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. on January 17. The show starts at 7pm. Tickets are $22 for the public, $20 for members.
Coming just in time to remedy your post-New Years lull, the fourth annual Chicago Psych Fest returns to The Hideout's string-lit confines for two nights of star-gazing psych-rock on Friday, January 11 and Saturday, January 12 at 1354 W. Wabansia. Now in its fourth year, this year's fest is billed as a journey "Into the 4th Dimension," and features some of the best psych acts in the city, including Outer Minds, Energy Gown, Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, Miracle Condition, and more. (A full list of bands can be found on the event's Facebook page.) And just to make sure no one strays too far off the astral plane in between bands, each night also features some serious deep-cut record spinning in between sets courtesy of DJs Psychedalex and Psyche Prissy Pie, as well as some mind-melting projections behind the Hideout stage courtesy of local video artists Nick Barner and Nick Ciontea.
Building on three years of strong showings from the best of Chicago psych, this year's festival continues its momentum by tapping into some of the best acts in the city's already-booming psych scene. Each of the ten acts selected to play throughout the weekend were chosen by fest curators Steve Krakow (Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, Moonrise), Matt Ginsberg (Underground Symposium, ex-Dark Fog), Andrew Kettering (Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, Rabble Rabble), and with help from Karissa Talanian (Plastic Crimewave Syndicate, Strychnine) — all of whom are well-versed in what it takes to throw some of the grooviest freak-outs in town.
The show starts at 9pm each night, and tickets are $10 a night or $16 for both nights and can be purchased online here.
I started listening to Quicksand at the behest of a friend who worked at my hometown's one record store. Simply by their pedigree, they were a force in New York's (post-)hardcore scene with members having done time with Gorilla Biscuits and Bold. I heard them as crisper and more melodic than those bands. Yet they were still plenty heavy, like Fugazi for metalheads. The guitars were like jackhammers. The rhythms were pummelling. Walter Schreifels' voice exploded with rage (even sometimes on the songs I didn't think were attacks). Their two albums, Slip and Manic Compression, are full of brutal and well-crafted tunes that have aged nicely. And they could whip up a frenzy live when everyone was clicking. (In fact, my worst pit injury came at a Quicksand show in 1995.) On Saturday, they'll hit Metro on a reunion tour that'll bring some old fans out from the shadows and probably even make a few new ones.
Quicksand headlines Metro on Saturday, the 12th. Single Mothers, a band from London, Ontario and not actually women raising children on their own, open at 9PM. The show's 18+ and $29. Metro's at 3730 N Clark.
Let's hope for Christopher Owens sake that hard times inspire. Right after the dissolution of his beloved band Girls, Owens began to reminisce and record. What poured out of him, allegedly in a single songwriting session, is the album Lysandre, a heartbreaking and heartwarming homage to the former band's first tour that he has been promoting since early October. YouTube leaks and Pitchfork interviews reveal that the album is a collective of eclectic and genre-defying tracks that range from singsong acoustic love songs to saxophone-laced, slinky, surf rock that come together to tell a coming of age story. A story about love won and lost and the highs and lows that come with living out and moving beyond a lifelong dream.
With his new solo self at center stage, Owens has been reportedly confident and graceful and his seven member backing band help fill the room with layered sounds so his upcoming show at Lincoln Hall should be far from an acoustic, somber affair despite the break-up. Rather, expect to see the always forthcoming Owens excited to be sharing his fragile little story with you. Oh, and also expect a few covers. Lysandre clocks in at 30 minutes so Owens will have to fill time with something and it most likely won't be old Girls tracks. Ever the devout fanboy of the classics, Owens will instead probably choose to wax his stylistics on a few Dylan or Cat Stevens tracks which means that this concert should be an affair for listeners of all different tastes. Rockists and indie fans alike can unite around Christopher Owens and his new sound on Tuesday, January 15 at Lincoln Hall.
The show is 18+ and starts at 8 pm. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.
This is something to be excited for. Music producer/Mad Decent Records founder/Gwen Stefani collaborator Diplo is bringing his dancehall-inspired electronic dance music outlet Major Lazer to the Congress Theater on March 2 for the group's biggest Chicago show to date.
Between Major Lazer's absurdly raucous and raunchy live shows, their infectious rhythms and sporadic touring in light of Diplo's increasingly busy schedule they've built a bit of a mysticism around their live shows. Their first real splash in this city was at Pitchfork 2010 -- a performance that brought way more booty clapping than you'd ever expect to find at an indie rock fest. They returned the following summer for a similarly insane set at North Coast Music Festival.
Paper Arrows had a modestly successful 2012. They inked a deal with Madison, Wisc.-based Slothtrop Records and pressed a compilation album of their favorite tracks off of the band's first three albuma. But they're not quite done with this year yet.
Recently, the local group put out a seven-track EP titled Days of Getting By and will celebrate its release with a headlining show at Martyrs on Saturday, Dec. 8.
It's that time of year again: that holiday-laden time where an emphasis is placed on giving thanks, and giving back to others and the world around us. Enjoying a weekend concert at one of Chicago's most cozy venues is something to be valued immensely, and when the concert benefits a good cause as well, it's an event to celebrate further.
Schubas Tavern will be hosting the 6th annual "Covers for Cover" benefit concert this Saturday evening. Comprised of tribute groups and ensembles, many who have formed solely to perform at this specific benefit, include covers of famous songs originally sung by groups ranging the spectrum from The Violent Femmes to Janet Jackson. The lineup features The Divine Hammers covering music by the Breeders, Permanent Records, who will be playing songs by The Violent Femmes, The Lady Sentinels as Janet Jackson herself, and Miss Fits and the Astro Zombies as The Misfits. Highlighted this year in the evening's lineup is Girl Group Chicago, a 21-member ensemble playing classic '60s women-led ballads, with an attire to match.
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful. Not only for good friends and family, but also for live music. Every year this delectable holiday provides a long, wonderful weekend filled with fun. The festivities begin on Black Wednesday, the biggest party night of the year. Since many people return to their hometowns for the holiday, it is a common time of reunion that is apparently best celebrated with binge drinking.
On Thanksgiving Day you can sleep off your hangover and then later refuel with a massive turkey dinner. Whether you choose to continue the party after grandma and grandpa go home is entirely up to you. Many people choose to get a good night's rest so they can wake up at the crack of dawn for some notoriously American shopping on Black Friday, but this year you might want to consider spending your money on memories instead of material objects. There are plenty of deals at local bars and venues that will help you do so.
Here's a preview of a few of your many musical options before and after Thanksgiving.
Recently named one of "Paste's Top 10 Illinois Bands You Should Listen to Now," Exit Ghost has steadily been building a following around town playing traditional venues along with galleries and theater spaces over the past few years. Their recently released album Move Alone (which can be heard in its entirety on their soundcloud), hits a sweet spot between Springsteen's anthemic pomp and Harvest's nonchalant, folky swagger. On Tuesday, November 20th, the local country-rockers will be playing the Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee, after capping off a late-summer tour of the Great Plains.
On record, lead songwriter Evan Holmes takes on the many disparate strains of mournful Americana blazed by artists like Neil Young and Springsteen with renewed optimism, giving each song a pop sensibility similar to peppy indie-poppers like Tegan and Sara and an attention to atmospherics on loan from The National. The result leans more toward classic pop than dust-bowl Americana, but the songs pack plenty of gnashing guitars, densely layered production and sincere lyrics throughout to keep listeners guessing. On stage, the newly minted five-piece band gives the tracks from Move Alone a three-guitar attack, with as many as four members offering harmonies to help each chorus swell. The band often plays new and unreleased material from show to show, the result of constant demoing and Holmes's workman-like approach to songwriting. Tuesday's show continues their upward streak, showcasing the band's attention to contemporary detail and reverence for their past.
Check out their video of "Delicate Man" on Show Me Shows, a monthly music video series based in St. Louis, MO:
Exit Ghost will be followed by headliners Rah Rah, with Violet Lights and Parallels and Lies opening at the Double Door on Tuesday. Tickets are $5 at the door and $7 online, and can be purchased here.
Friday evening at Lincoln Hall welcomes a band that's garnered a strong following over its decade-long reign in the world of alternative rock music. Four full-length albums round out The Whigs' extensive catalog for a group that seems to bolster their songwriting abilities and musicality with each release, maturing and altering in ways that further enhance their cultivated sound.
Energized, gritty garage rock is a part of The Whigs' musical identity, who delved into recording sessions for their debut album Give 'Em All A Big Fat Lip in 2006 at their University of Georgia campus in Athens, as sound reverberated from the walls of the abandoned fraternity house that original members Parker Gispant, Julian Dorio, and Hank Sullivant deemed their temporary studio. Three albums later, and they've opened for groups such as Franz Ferdinand and The Killers, with an extensive fan base following along all the way. High-octane numbers mesh with more mercurial, soft ballads that seem surprisingly opposite from their signature sound. Note the unexpected hum of stringed instruments opening for full guitar chords in "Ours," the subtle country twang backing in "Sleep Sunshine," the darker grunge vibe given off by "Hundred/Million," and you've got more than your typical rock band. Take a listen below:
Amid the inescapable comeback of American soul music in recent years, which has produced a handful of popular neo-soul acts--and, in Chicago, two separate monthly soul-centric dance parties--is a more explicitly "revivalist" soul movement centered around imitating not just the sound of the genre made popular in the '60s and '70s, but also everything else down to the production and distribution of the music. Brooklyn-based Daptone Records, for example, has made a splash releasing 7" vinyl singles of its contemporary artists in nothing more than white paper sleeves, almost intending to confuse record crate diggers into thinking they've unearthed a lost, dusty single from a forgotten soul label.
This weekend, Soul Summit Chicago hosts the Menahan Street Band as the live guest for its monthly dance party and reunion of Chicago soul DJs at Wicker Park's Double Door. The Menahan Street Band is the "house band" for Daptone sublabel Dunham Records--a concept that is in itself another highly specific throwback to American soul music, when "house bands" such as Booker T. & the M.G.'s, for Memphis-based Stax Records, were about as famous as the individual singers they backed on their label's releases.
Dan Deacon and I had a whirlwind relationship. Two years ago, I'd never heard of the guy. Now I have his phone number. That's not to say we're friends, or that Deacon has my number — he doesn't, I don't think — but in a very short time, I went from not recognizing the guy on the street, despite the balding baby-face he keeps hidden behind that red half-moon beard and those huge hipster glasses, to asking him how much money he still owes SUNY Purchase. (The answer: "Some.")
There is so much legend and backstory around Daniel Johnston that it's almost hard to believe he's still a real guy on the road playing shows. For several decades already, he has self-released an extraordinary catalogue of strikingly stark, imaginative songs and illustrations despite the ups and downs of his continuous struggles with mental health.
Yet Daniel Johnston's uniquely genuine music has managed to have an irreplaceable influence on much of today's artists without Johnston himself ever really having a direct presence in the scene. In fact, a typical way to discover Johnston isn't even through his own recordings, but through the many covers he has inspired among some of the bigger names in indie rock.
But Johnston has continued quietly producing his art all along. Even now in his 50s, Johnston's playful creativity seems to be flowing out of him as much as ever, both through music and illustration.
A classic tale: two brothers, both musically inclined, yet going down two different paths to acheive their dreams. Attending two completely different colleges on opposite sides of the country, forming new bands without the other. 15 years passed before they began their direct musical collaboration. One day, these two brothers realized they could communicate via music in a totally intrinsic and instinctive fashion, and perhaps they should create their own group together. Oliver Wood and Chris Wood, Boulder natives, are now successful folk outfit The Wood Brothers, and they'll be making a tour stop this Thursday evening at our own Lincoln Hall.
Oliver, the guitarist component of the group, formed King Johnson, funky blues outfit, while Chris opted to take his bass skills to Medeski, Martin & Wood, largely successful for hits like the scintillating "End of the World Party" and opting for a jazz-blues-improvisation fusion sound. Blending these styles together, Oliver and Chris Wood have honed a style that's all their own: they've been recording together for seven years now, all the while developing the precious sound they've created together.
Though Halloween is on a Wednesday, you shouldn't let that stop you from getting your freak on. It only comes but once a year so you might as well do it right. There are several shows occurring throughout the city, but Beats Antique at Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., will surely make for a bewitching evening.
Two supporting acts are set to open the show before Beats Antique. Both bring slightly different genres to the table, which should coincide with the featured band's hybrid sound very nicely. Local jamtronica band The Coop will start the night off with their funky tunes. Singer-songwriter, producer and beat-boxer Lynx will further the musical diversification with her genre-bending sounds.
"Post-rock" is the term that most often gets thrown around when discussing bands like The Sea and Cake, but while it suits their more experimental tendencies to a point it's certainly something of a misnomer. Where "post-rock" can easily be mistaken as an outright dismissal of the rock form itself ("rock is dead" tropes notwithstanding), it seems that what bands like The Sea and Cake are really doing is simply broadening the definition of "rock" and fashioning it within a more global context. Perhaps they continue to get stuck with the tag because they, along with Chicago peers Tortoise, were one of the first bands in the indie sphere of the '90s that sought to push beyond the confines and clichés of Western punk- and guitar-based rock'n'roll in favor of more eclectic things like West African pop, dub grooves, and third-world funk. With ears craned more toward these types of sounds, bands like The Sea and Cake certainly seemed post-something. Interestingly enough, almost two decades in, they still do.
The Sea and Cake features a clutch of veteran Chicago musicians in Sam Prekop, Archer Prewitt, Eric Claridge and drummer John McEntire (also of Tortoise), each of whom has been synonymous with the more experimental and collaborative side of Chicago's independent music scene for well over 20 years. With a new album in this fall's Runner; to support, The Sea and Cake will be appearing this Monday, October 29, at the City Winery, the latest addition to the Randolph St. strip. Matthew Friedberger, an Oak Park native best known for his brother-sister duo Fiery Furnaces, will open with a set featuring tracks off his latest, the Parisian-inspired Matricidal Sons of Bitches.
A little less than three months from Tomorrow Never Knows 2013 and the initial lineup's out there. So far, it's just a peek at Schubas and Lincoln Hall, but the full lineup including Metro and Hideout shows will surely be released soon for the "festival" that runs January 16 through the 20th. Tickets for this first round of announcements are on sale Friday, so we thought we'd run down a few of the early highlights. Born Ruffians headline the first night at Lincoln Hall. The Canadian indie rockers have sort of been quiet south of the border since their 2010 Say It album, but they've had a few shows up north recently and are undoubtedly preparing for a new record in 2013. Merchandise graduates from DIY venues in Chicago to play Schubas on Thursday. Their Children of Desire has been with a hit with anyone pining for ex-hardcore band members from Tampa who're now writing smart and catchy alt-rock. Philly power-poppers Free Energy return to Schubas for a show on Friday night. And British R&B/soul up-and-comer Jessie Ware will close out Lincoln Hall on Sunday. Her Devotion album is fresh and she's poised for stardom. For more information, see the Tomorrow Never Knows website.
[Update: This show has been moved to The Vic Theater, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave. All tickets will be honored.]
Chan Marshall, better known as Cat Power, has a reputation for live performances that follows her as closely as her own shadow. She has had more than a few uncouth moments and her mercurial disposition has caused her to miss just as much as she has hit. Though even when she misses, she's enchanting. Right or wrong, it has become a part of her mystique. Plus, she is on the mend. With Sun, a brighter Cat Power prevails and makes a moot point of her former somber self and the associated foibles. Of course, a few rehab stints here and there and all that vitamin D that life in Miami can provide help as well.
Still, she is going into this show with something to prove: That this time around, the $35 audience members spent to attend was well worth it. One can only hope that Cat Power will be able to reverse the trend and rein in those vices (insecurity, self-loathing, stage fright, and a dash of neuroticism) that tend to hold her in their grip as she performs. If she can do so, she has a good shot at endearing the audience to her simply by being sincere and enigmatic, never showy. She's not Neil Diamond. If she can't, history tells us that concertgoers might be in for a night of erratic behavior, incomplete songs, and perhaps even, a cowering Cat Power crying awkwardly over something nobody in the audience understands. This is worst-case scenario though and unlikely. What is more likely to be seen is a thin-skinned and reactive singer being herself- which could be somnolent and uncomfortable or approachable and engaging. Mystifying, nonetheless.
Consider yourself warned: with Cat Power, it's a gamble.
Cat Power, takes to the stage at The RivieraThe Vic Theatre on Sunday, October 28. X-Ray Eyeballs and Willis Earl Beal will open the show. Doors open at 7pm, and music starts at 8pm. Tickets are $34, 18+. The Riviera is located at 4746 N. Racine Ave. The Vic is located at 3145 N. Sheffield Ave. (Note: Due to a change in venue, all tickets purchase for the Riviera Theater show will be honored.)
React Presents continues to flex its muscle beyond festival season this Halloween by pulling in top names in the bass music game for back-to-back Freaky Deaky shows which hit Congress theater the weekend prior to Halloween.
With low ends rumbling louder than the scariest of stormy nights, ear-jerking melodies that rival the high octave sounds in Psycho's shower scene and drops more dramatic than anything in a Scream movie, there's already something a little eerie about dubstep. Throw in the fact that there's typically enough neon, fur and glitter at EDM shows to count as a costume party anyway and you've got a pretty perfect Halloween weekend.
The talent isn't anything to brush off either. Night one -- Friday, Oct. 26 -- gets underway with a more danceable pace. Local dubstep loveables Midnight Conspiracy are on the bill followed by Wolfgang Gartner whose styles range from traditional house to aggressive bass. The night pinnacles with a DJ set from electro dance-punkers the Bloody Beetroots.
Night two -- Saturday, Oct. 27 -- includes top billing from two of North Coast Music Festival 2012's highest energy acts, Knife Party and Tommy Trash. Knife Party drew a surprisingly huge set at the fest and delivered a crushingly heavy set. Tommy Trash is a versatile DJ who draws influences spanning both the electronic music as well as world music spectrums. Rounding off the billing is Kill The Noise. Look no further than the rising EDM star's video for his self-titled track (below) for a glimpse into his insane ability to highlight the visual and rhythmic qualities of electronic compositions.
Friday's show begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are still available for this 17+ show starting at $35 a pop. Saturday's show is sold out.
Whether or not you know much about no-wave, about its seedy origins in the late-'70s East Village as a formless, art-damaged half-response to the thriving CBGB scene a few years earlier; whether or not you heard about it word-of-mouth or mentioned via passing references to Thurston Moore and Lydia Lunch; or if you've ever heard the canonizing compilation by Brian Eno, and even if you were actually there more than 30 years ago, what you probably do know is that it's going to be loud, that the normal rules of songcraft, tone or musical "talent" don't apply, and that it's gonna be a mess — albeit a beautiful, ramshackle one. Since the beginning, Michael Gira and Swans have always been on the more aggressive and technical side of no-wave, but they've also stacked up plenty of moments among its most transcendent highs in their 30-plus-year history.
When Michael Gira reactivated Swans in 2010 without the help of seminal original member Jarboe, you might be forgiven for questioning whether he still had it in him to crank out the same kind of pummeling industrial poetics that made his group a legend. But then you hear the two records they've released since, including this summer's epic (and excellent) double album The Seer, and kick yourself for even asking. Yeah, they've got it just fine, and Gira's still not sugarcoating — let alone explaining — much of anything.
Last year I flipped for Chad Valley's Equatorial Ultravox EP. Its dreamy Balearic pop was fresh, crisp and ethereal yet also made for dancing. Now Hugo Manuel is returning with a full-length under the Chad Valley moniker. Young Hunger builds on Equatorial Ultravox by flooding ears with synths, complex beats and a slew of layered vocals. And it doesn't hurt to have similarly-minded guests like Active Child, Glasser, El Perro del Mar and Twin Shadow scattered through the album. (The latter's "I Owe You This" is especially delightful.) On stage, Manuel's voice shines. It's easy to hear how someone would think there's some studio trickery/manipulation going on, but his voice carries as smoothly in person as on the record.
Chad Valley headlines Schubas on Saturday, the 20th. Chicago's Mister Lies opens at 10PM. The show is 21+ and $10. Schubas is at the corner of Belmont & Southport.
For years, it's sounded as though experimental, prog-rock Pennsylvanians Circa Survive have been searching for something. Anxious guitar melodies slice through songs like a machete cutting into a forested unknown. Anthony Green's vocals call to mind feelings of discontent, wonder and uneasiness and the band's rhythms possess the endurance and strength that has carried their career through a eight year journey. So it's no surprise their newest album Violent Waves' cover art features a caricature-sized ship sailing across a cloudy and ominous globe surrounded by the depths of space.
It's still not clear if Circa Survive has found what they're looking for but with the release of Violent Waves it's clear they've reached creative transcendence in the most literal sense. Tired of the music industry rat race, the band cut the chord on record label or producer ties with this new album, recording, producing and releasing the it all on their own (and with a tempting $5 price tag).
There was an episode of WBEZ's Morning Shift a few weeks ago in which host Tony Sarabia spoke with the members of a local jazz quartet about the differences between improvising and composing, and whether or not the two are mutually exclusive. The conversation particularly grabbed my attention, as one of the things that often turns me off to classical music is its seeming lack of spontaneity or overwhelming sense of perfection.
"I would like to suggest that every musician is an improviser — or can be," clarinetist James Falzone ended up arguing in the episode. That also seems to be the argument the Latino Music Festival will make when it brings a showcase of Experimental and Improvised Music by Chicago Latino Composers to the Elastic Arts Foundation this Sunday in Logan Square.
The event features work from composers Marcos Balter, Gustavo Leone, Elbio Barilari, Pablo Chin, and Guillermo Gregorio — all of whom are currently active in some form or another in the Chicago classical music scene. But given the festival's focus on classical and traditional music from Latin America and Spain, Sunday evening's showcase offers a rare change of gears with a focus on more unconventional music in an intimate setting.
One of the benefits of living in Chicago is that with the slightest effort, the city will deliver up on whatever scene you could possibly desire. While seemingly not quite as well-publicized as some other, perhaps more indigenous genres, the bluegrass scene is surprisingly vibrant, owing to talented home-grown bands such as Sexfist and Flatland Ramble who keep the scene interesting with regular performances around town, and the occasional guerrilla jam at random illegal back-alley microbreweries. For devotees of the bluegrass scene, and there are plenty in cultural Mecca that is Chicago, this weekend will provide a special treat as Colorado-based neo-bluegrass jammers Yonder Mountain String Band play a two night stand at The House of Blues this Friday and Saturday.
To look at the band, made up of Adam Aijala on guitar, Dave Johnston on banjo, Jeff Austin on mandolin, and Ben Kaufman on bass, one might expect them to stick to the script and play traditional bluegrass, or perhaps to dabble in the sort of pyrotechnic "newgrass" of legends such as New Grass Revival, but that would be selling them short, as their latest album, 2009's The Show amply demonstrates. While the band is indisputably technically proficient, and is capable of delivering on that promise on more traditional leaning numbers such as "Out of the Blue," Yonder's music really gets interesting when the songwriting dips into the group's rock influences, lending a funked-up swing to the classic instrumentation. Songs like "Steep Grade, Sharp Curves" seem an obvious tip-of-the-hat to classic mid-'50s country music, while others with a more obvious modern feel such as "Belle Parker" and "Complicated" sound a little like what you'd get if you crossed indie-rock with a front porch jug band. While there is nothing at all wrong with their recorded output, Yonder Mountain's forte has always been the live show, where they can truly blend their extremely diverse musical influences and launch on interesting excursions and distractions highlighting both their chops, and their whimsy.
I change shapes just to hide in this place
But I'm still, I'm still an animal
These personal, quixotic lyrics hooked us on Miike Snow in the first place, way back when their initial single "Animal" emerged in 2009.The beats are light, yet mesmerizing. However, the lyrics present us with a look into insecurity and an honest framing of human struggle. The vocals and instrumental layers weave through the track in a perfect fashion, blending together with equal weight. Their sound is not ostentatious, but builds layer upon electronic layer, permeating the air space with its cohesive elements. Their tunes remind us that there lies a niche realm of indie electronica that combines glimmering synth-rock sounds with strong vocals to form a beautiful piece of music. Take a listen to catchy single "Paddling Out" below:
A band that manages to create a unique sound to become all its own, and continues to follow consistently album after album, is a true force to be reckoned with.
Heartless Bastards, who originally hail from Cincinnati, are one of these bands. Their rock 'n' roll sound is very dynamic, incorporating many different elements, from indie, to blues, to country.
They are often times compared to the Black Keys. In fact, Patrick Carney's promotion of Heartless Bastards' demo helped them get signed to Fat Possum Records in 2004.
Lead singer and guitarist Erika Wennerstrom is reminiscent of a female Bob Dylan. Her distinct voice is raspy and full of emotion. She also writes songs for the band, many of which are about love and loss.
The band has been gaining a lot of momentum throughout the past several years. They have garnered more recognition from music critics and more coverage on late night talk shows, including The Late Show with David Letterman. Most recently, they have harnessed a lot of energy from their most recent full-length studio album, Arrow, the band's first release with Partisan Records.
According to the Heartless Bastards' website, it boasts their "latest and greatest line-up" since their humble beginning as a garage band. The original drummer, Dave Colvin, and bassist, Jesse Ebaugh, returned to the roster for the band's third album, Mountain. The most recent addition is a second guitarist, Mark Nathan, who considerably enhances their live sound.
Heartless Bastards will return to Chicago to play a show at the Metro on Monday, Oct. 22 at 9pm with Futurebirds and Dana Falconberry. Tickets are $17 in advance, $19 day-of. But Gapers Block has a pair of tickets to give away. To enter for your chance to win, email firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, Oct. 19 at noon. Please include your full name and phone number in the body, and put "Heartless" as the subject line. We'll select one winner at random from the entries received. [Update: We have our winner! Congrats to Bob!]
There's a reason why we call this genre the blues - a collection of music that is so wrought with emotion, it mirrors our greatest struggles that arise as a result of merely being human. It's powerful, it's bold, and never is it a banal sound, but mercurial and daring. It manages to capture our greatest triumphs, and stories of heartache and pain, creating an effortless vibe through the marriage of instrumental accolades and song lyrics that depict a striking, personal tale.
Shemekia Copeland blends all of the best aspects of the blues together into one funky assembly of sound - bass slapping, the riffs of a grooving guitar, and a whispering snare accompany her velvety vocals. Her rumbling voice shines in tracks off of her recently released album, 33 1/3, such as on "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," unraveling her vulnerability, yet she is able to command powerhouse ballads such as "Hangin' Up" a song drenched in confidence and pure soul. The album showcases Shemekia's knack for communicating the heartache, the struggle, the raw emotion present in the blues. She's played with the greats; she's shared a stage with the legendary B.B. King, played with Buddy Guy, and headlined our very own Chicago Blues Festival. Shemekia is well on her way to becoming a blues legend that aspiring talents will yearn to share the stage with someday.
Chicago-area Phish phans may still be coming down off from what was widely heralded as their best tour in at least a decade, but for devotees of the jam juggernauts, there is no respite in the month of October. For followers of the band and frontman Trey Anastasio the next couple of weeks should prove productive, to say the least.
First, local landmark and former hole-in-the-wall dive Tuman's is one of eight locations chosen nationally to host a listening party for the debut of lead guitarist and singer Anastasio's solo album Traveler, which drops October 16th. In addition to an ATO records supported listening opportunity, fans will be able to take in an optional parking-lot-food-inspired tasting menu served up by head chef, and noted local Phish enthusiast, Jim Day.
Second, a mere three days after the release of the album on October 16th, Anastasio brings the circus to town for a solo show at the historic Chicago Theatre. Attendees can expect a show heavy with tracks off the new album, which ventures further into modern pop than many of Anastasio's previous efforts.
Calexico does so many things well. While some bands need entire albums to try on different genres (a "country album," etc.), the members of Calexico tend to pull off multiple style shifts in the same song — and always within the scope of an album. Named after the small town on the U.S.-Mexico border in California, the band writes music that soundtracks desert landscapes while often opening up in the most unexpected ways.
Even in their first few albums and EPs in the late '90s, core members Joey Burns (guitar and vocals) and drummer John Convertino were using their South-of-the-Border sound as a platform to sneak into jazz, post-rock, or other times straight-up Mariachi. And if that seems like an impossible combination of sounds, just listen to their 1998 EP Even My Sure Things Fall Through. It worked. Since then, the band has consistently churned out solid albums that refuse to take on one specific shape stylistically.
Calexico's John Convertino and Joey Burns (photo courtesy of the band)
You might have heard glimpses of Dry The River's songs when their music career first began, a fledgling group situated across the pond in the UK as they formed their first album release. Or, you might have seen them this year, either at The Metro with Alabama Shakes during a Lollapalooza pre-show, or at the fest itself. You might have taken a listen to the group's stunning full-length release Shallow Bed. Whatever way they caught your attention, Dry The River's tunes are drifting across European waters and into our American airwaves at a rapid pace, permeating the airspace and floating their melodies and lyrics into our minds as they gain a larger fan base around the world.
Dry The River's music is zealous and impassioned, and makes you wish you were in a small British pub, crowded together and singing at the top of your lungs. It also could be the soundtrack to a morning walk on an overcast day, refreshing and thought-provoking. Frontman Peter Liddle's voice ranges from a deep croon, to a nearly falsetto pitch that is reminiscent of The Antlers frontman Peter Silberman. Their vocals present listeners with a beautiful archive of Dry The River's work as time passes, and their music becomes further substantive and developed with each release.
Can you still call it a comeback when you might be better than ever? The kind of hard-won legacy that Boston noisemakers Mission of Burma made for themselves in the years since their early hardcore salad days is rare: As a band that was only together for about four years at the turn of the '80s and with only one album to its credit, the story went that Mission of Burma crashed before it ever really had the chance to get off the ground. But that album, the now-legendary Vs. — with help from the band's infamous ear-splitting live shows — gained near-mythic status among the independent underground scene in the decades that followed. With hype and nostalgia finally reaching a breaking point in 2002, the band reunited in with all of its original members (sans tape manipulator Martin Swope) including Roger Miller (guitar, vocals) Clint Conley (bass, vocals) and Peter Prescott (drums, vocals). And unlike other marquee post-punk reunion acts like Pixies, Pavement, or (as of yet) My Bloody Valentine, the band found enough inspiration in their reconstituted form to actually write new material. It could be said they had some unfinished business that needed a tending-to.
Mission of Burma (photo by Jesse Jarnow)
Now in the midst of one of the better second acts in rock, and with a steady stream of new records that easily eclipses the band's original material at least in terms of output, Mission of Burma returns to Chicago on the back of its new album, Unsound. Over the course of the past decade, the band has been lauded for its spectacular (not to mention age-defying) return to form. Since its first post-reunion release, 2002's ONoffON for Matador Records, the band has enlisted Shellac's Bob Weston to man the mixing boards and commandeer the band's pioneering form of live tape manipulation in place of the departed Swope. Though Weston only makes casual encore appearances with the band (most of his contributions are in-studio), Chicago scene vets will no doubt be on the lookout out when the band heads to the pristine Lincoln Hall stage this Saturday.
Three is not a large number, no matter how you slice it. So it's a mystery how the members of the Dirty Three have, in the past decade, wound up at Le Bataclan in Paris backing Cat Power; exhibiting oil paintings at the Kilkenny Arts Festival in southeast Ireland; scoring some of the best films of the past decade, including The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and The Road; on records by Bonnie "Prince" Billy, P.J. Harvey, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Grinderman; and maintained an intercontinental, instrumental post-rock-meets-free-jazz trio. Given that the jury is still out on cloning humans, we can only assume that violinist Warren Ellis, guitarist Mick Turner, and drummer Jim White are really just three people. Three very busy people.
John Cale's resume can be overwhelming. The Welsh musician has been prolific in musical genres from experimental rock to classical composition since the mid-1960s. He also plays a wide range of instruments, including the harpsichord (which he notably played on Nick Drake's Bryter Layter) and celesta (which I had to look up). Oh, and he was in a pretty good band called the Velvet Underground. His legacy is safe, but that's no reason for him to stop playing music. Through his career, he has rarely taken a break and always pushed boundaries.
His upcoming Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood album is the result of home recordings and finds Cale working with Danger Mouse on the single "I Wanna Talk 2 U." At the Riverside on Friday at 8pm, with a full band in tow, expect a chunk of new songs with old favorites mixed in.
John Cale headlines Friday's presentation of Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements. Wisconsin native Zola Jesus opens at 7pm. Following Cale's set is free comedy show hosted by You, Me, Them, Everybody's Brandon Wetherbee and featuring Seaton Smith, as well as locals James Fritz and the Puterbaugh Sisters.
Even a decade later, Conor Oberst still suffers the stigma of being associated with the emo resurgence of the early '00s (second or third wave emo, depending on who you talk to). To dismiss him would be a mistake. His work with Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, Monsters of Folk, and his solo material far exceeds the label of whiny music for teenagers. After wrapping up the Bright Eyes reunion last year (including a stop at Lollapalooza 2011), Conor began touring with a reunited Desaparecidos last month, and is concluding his tour with a handful of solo dates — including Brilliant Corners. While Conor is typically known for playing folksy acoustic shows, these past few years he's also moved on to bombastic rock performances as well. It will be interesting to see what kind of set we'll be hearing Saturday night. While Brilliant Corners is going through a few changes this year, if the festival is anything like last year's event the chance to see Conor Oberst perform in this setting will be a real treat. Opening the night is 69-year-old singer-songwriter Van Dyke Parks, best known for his work with The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson.
Conor Oberst headlines Saturday evening with Van Dyke Parks opening at 7pm. A ticket to this show also includes a matinee performance of El Circo Cheapo at 5pm. (Otherwise, El Circo Cheapo runs $10.) Brian Babylon (Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, The Moth Story Slam) hosts the free comedy show with Jon Benjamin, Drew Michael and Megan Gailey after Conor Oberst. - Stephanie Griffin
Well folks, the time has come again. The 16th annual Hideout Block Party/A.V. Club Festival is upon us, and this year we are presented with some fantastic acts that are going to bring high-caliber indie rock music to (just outside) one of Chicago's most unique music venues. We here at Gapers Block have decided that there are several new acts that you should be sure to catch, and familiar acts that you should consider catching up with.
In the past I've never made it out to Riot Fest. It's right up my alley, musically, but running across the city to catch shows at various venues all week just seemed a little overwhelming. Naturally, I was thrilled when I heard that things had centralized this year... without foregoing any quality in the lineup picks. And carnival rides?! Count me in.
Aside from the bands, I'm most excited to see the crowd that this diverse lineup and new location in such an eclectic part of the city will turn out. How will fans of legends like Iggy and the Stooges interact with fans of the younger, more emo bands -- let alone screamo acts like A Day To Remember? Time will tell. But one thing is definitely for sure: whatever you're looking for, you'll probably find it at Humboldt Park this weekend.
A Certain Trigger was a bolt of lightning in 2005. Maximo Park's debut album found a lovely meeting place for angular rock, melodic punk and heartwrenching lyrics. A Mercury Music Prize nomination validated its freshness. In the years since, these Geordies have continued to churn out similar high energy tunes, especially on 2007's Our Earthly Pleasures. Now they're back with The National Health that comes across as a dig at the current economic situation. That doesn't mean they've ditched their penchant for songs about confusing love interests or lovelorn tales, though. There are plenty of those, like the single "Hips and Lips." Singer Paul Smith's been described by his bandmates as a "lunatic jumping around in a suit" when they play, which should give you some indication of what they're like live.
Maximo Park headlines on Monday, the 17th. The Neighbourhood and Bloomington's Stagnant Pools open. The show's 18+, $15 in advance, $18 at the door and starts at 8PM. Lincoln Hall's at 2424 N Lincoln.
In each of the last two years, Chicago's California Wives have had releases (Affair and Tokyo) that, in hindsight, hinted at what to expect from their debut album Art History. The indie/new wave sound that they're harnessing is loaded with dazzling pop hooks, blistering rhythms and a catchy edginess. In the past, I've compared them to a more synth-driven Pains of Being Pure at Heart. It wouldn't be off to say there's a little Wild Nothing in there, too. With Claudius Mittendorfer (Interpol, Lower Dens, Neon Indian, etc.) behind the boards, they've punched up some of the highlights from the earlier EPs. A biting "Blood Red Youth" kicks things off and leads into "Tokyo." But it's not just older songs with extra oomph that make Art History a winner, especially with the stylish slow burn in "The Fisher King." It may not be the perfect debut, but it shows California Wives' development and capitalizing on potential they've shown over the last couple years.
California Wives headline Lincoln Hall for Art History's release show on Wednesday, the 12th. Later in the month they'll be on tour with Stars and Diamond Rings. (Unfortunately, that tour doesn't stop in Chicago.) Santah and Deserters open. The show starts at 8PM. It's 18+ and $10. Lincoln Hall's at 2424 N Lincoln.
It's back again: North Coast Music Festival, one of our favorite festivals of the summer. In fact, it's one of the last until we're engulfed in cold weather once again. If you've got tickets to "summer's last stand" this weekend you'll want to make sure you do it right and find exactly what you're looking for amidst the heavy hitting lineup. We've got some recommendations on how to do just that:
Best chance of getting onstage: Girl Talk
It's a known fact that Girl Talk puts on the kind of show that feels more like one big,
communal dance party. Greg Gillis--the man behind the mashup moniker--doesn't like to
feel left out. In addition to toilet paper guns and confetti, a mob of dancers--handpicked
from the crowd--is also a part of nearly every Girl Talk show. Keep yours eyes and ears
out before his headlining slot as his onstage dance mob is often selected throughout the day leading up to the set. It's been a couple years since Gillis dropped All Day so--if you don't wind up lucky enough to join him onstage--you can still be hopeful for some new cuts. Gotye vs. Chief Kief, anyone? - Katie Karpowicz
Are you a fan of folk music? Do you enjoy listening to crooning singer-songwriters who sport hearty beards? If so, it's likely that you're no stranger to Ray LaMontagne's tunes. Whether you listened to his debut album, Trouble, sang along to "You Are the Best Thing" one too many times (I am guilty of this one), or checked out his solo material featuring the Pariah Dogs, Ray LaMontagne's versatile, timeless music is one that can speak to all ages for years to come with its universal quality.
With his four albums and dynamic material ranging from bluesy "Three More Days," to solemn "Be Here Now," to country twang-induced "Beg Steal or Borrow," LaMontagne's music spans many musical styles naturally. You can hear Ray LaMontagne this November at a special solo acoustic show at The Chicago Theatre. This venue will be the perfect spot to showcase his music with its stellar acoustics, and LaMontagne's raspy, booming voice will be a perfect fit. If you're new to his music, preview his folk style below as you take a listen to "Empty":
Ray LaMontagne will play an acoustic solo show at the Chicago Theatre on Friday, November 30, 2012. The show begins at 8pm. Tickets range from $49.50 to $69.50 for reserved seating, and will go on sale Saturday, August 25 at 10am. The Chicago Theatre is located at 175 North State Street, (312)462-6300.
If a person camped out at the Empty Bottle for seven nights straight, they'd almost be guaranteed to see seven shows that shared nothing but the same small, corner stage. It's a venue known for its eclectic taste and a bent toward the fiercely independent, and yet on Saturday it will open its doors for an event that will be somewhat of an outlier to its already fantastically peppered scatter-plot and will make Empty Bottle history.
You've got a lot to choose from this weekend at Lollapalooza. Here's our Transmission staff's picks for some of the best sets to catch (or skip) at the festival this weekend. And don't forget to keep an eye here later on for reviews from Grant Park.
Friday, August 3, 2012
2:15pm-3pm - The War on Drugs vs. Dr. Dog vs. The Black Angels
Maybe Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, but two Philly bands at Lollapalooza will be battling for your attention as the festival gets its momentum started in the early afternoon on Friday. The War on Drugs with their keyboards, harmonicas, and earnest drumming (served with a side of Springsteen comparisons) and Dr. Dog, with their (for the most part) happy-go-lucky DIY lo-fi recording prowess, will perhaps be happy to split the difference of mellower rockers in attendance. Afterall, they'll be up against the neo-psych rock of Austin's Black Angels in the same time-slot Friday afternoon. The Black Angels' gritty fuzz is so thick and syrupy, you'd think you were drinking hot motor oil, not water, as the sun beats down on that free bandana you just tied around your head. Basically, here's how it breaks down: if you're toting your own hula hoop, head for Dr. Dog. If you'd rather pogo around and do some head bobs with alternating fist pumps, head over to The War on Drugs' set. But if you wanna see how that first taste of rock tastes after you've thrown your tie in the trash, kicked off your shoes in the grass, and nodded knowingly at some band new best friends, then by all means, head over to The Black Angels and let them blow your hair back a bit. -Anne Holub
Into the final stretch at Lollapalooza, and now you really don't want to waste a moment. Here's our best take on what to catch, and what to skip in favor of a bathroom break, on Sunday.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
3:30-4:15pm - The Walkmen vs. Dum Dum Girls
The late afternoon is often a difficult time for me to choose between festival acts; I consistently think to myself, is there an act I'm clamoring to see, or would I rather just sit this hour out and cool off in the shade before the evening's headliners? These two acts, however, are forces that should be paid the attention that they are due, even if it is during that awkward late afternoon stretch. The Walkmen are no strangers to Lollapalooza; heck, you might have even, like me, seen them two years ago during their first Lollapalooza appearance. Though I promise you, you won't feel like you're watching the same set this time around; The Walkmen have developed their style immensely since their last Lolla appearance. Each of the group's albums have displayed the band as consistently honing in on their sound, refining and updating their style each time. Their latest album released this year, Heaven, is a glimmering indie rock gem, an emerging cornerstone of The Walkmen's musical catalogue, and will be a great addition to The Walkmen's second Lollapalooza set.
For Dum Dum Girls, this will be their very first Lollapalooza appearance. This group emits an infectious '60s pop vibe, which will send audience members into a toe-tapping frenzy with their sunny, lo-fi beats. For me, this choice is an easy one; The Walkmen have a beautiful sound, but one that is much better suited for an open, cavernous venue in which each soft sound can be amplified for a hushed, watchful audience. I'd much rather put on my dancing shoes and listen to Dum Dum Girls, who will get the crowd moving and energized for the last night of the festival's reign. -Sarah Brooks
It's day two at Lollapalooza before you can blink an eye. Don't live with regrets, just move onward into the weekend with some loose plan of attack. To help you out, the Transmission staff has culled together our picks for the most head-scratching sets scheduled for the festival. Here's our take on Saturday's most conflicted sets.
Saturday, August 4, 2012
1:30-2:15pm - JEFF the Brotherhood vs. Bear in Heaven
If you want to start off your Saturday with body slamming and headbanging, head on over to the Playstation stage for JEFF the Brotherhood. This garage rock-inspired guitar/drums duo of actual brothers knows how to rock hard. If you need something a little more mellow so early in the afternoon (or, let's face it, morning for most of us), prog rock/electro group Bear in Heaven will fit the bill over at the Sony Stage. Having caught live sets from both bands, I can say Bear in Heaven and JEFF The Brotherhood are perfect opposites — Bear in Heaven's studio work far exceeds their live performance and JEFF the Brotherhood is exceedingly more enjoyable live than on record. Your best bet is to catch JEFF the Brotherhood and save Bear in Heaven to enjoy in the comfort of your own home. -Stephanie Griffin
Three days of rocking ahead of you, it might prove difficult to figure out how to prioritize your day when you hit the gates at Lollapalooza this year. The Transmission staff has culled together our picks for the most vexing sets of music happening this weekend, and we're more than willing to tell you all about it. We'll start off with Friday's most conflicted sets, and give you a bit more to ponder each day as we head towards the festival's start.
Friday, August 3, 2012
2:15pm-3pm - The War on Drugs vs. Dr. Dog vs. The Black Angels
Maybe Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, but two Philly bands at Lollapalooza will be battling for your attention as the festival gets its momentum started in the early afternoon on Friday. The War on Drugs with their keyboards, harmonicas, and earnest drumming (served with a side of Springsteen comparisons) and Dr. Dog, with their (for the most part) happy-go-lucky DIY lo-fi recording prowess, will perhaps be happy to split the difference of mellower rockers in attendance. Afterall, they'll be up against the neo-psych rock of Austin's Black Angels in the same time-slot Friday afternoon. The Black Angels' gritty fuzz is so thick and syrupy, you'd think you were drinking hot motor oil, not water, as the sun beats down on that free bandana you just tied around your head. Basically, here's how it breaks down: if you're toting your own hula hoop, head for Dr. Dog. If you'd rather pogo around and do some head bobs with alternating fist pumps, head over to The War on Drugs' set. But if you wanna see how that first taste of rock tastes after you've thrown your tie in the trash, kicked off your shoes in the grass, and nodded knowingly at some band new best friends, then by all means, head over to The Black Angels and let them blow your hair back a bit. -Anne Holub
You may have heard about Ashley Pruneau, a cook at Mana Food Bar who was assaulted in her home on July 1. A benefit to help support her recovery takes place on Wednesday, August 8 at The Dark Room (2210 W. Chicago) featuring music by DJ White Shadow, Casa del Sol, and Lightfoils. There will be food and drink from Mana Food Bar, among many others, and a raffle and silent auction for goodies from a slew of area businesses. $15 gets you in, for more info visit Infoonashley on Facebook. Event begins at 7pm.
There's something magical about music that references styles from all around the globe. Even if we don't speak the language that forms the song or are unfamiliar with its rhythms, the unexpected and refreshing quality of global music's spontaneity is something to be cherished for its sacred purity and precise musicianship. Sidi Touré, Malian singer/songwriter, has dazzled listeners with his two full-length albums that have been released in the U.S.: Sahel Folk, Touré's 2011 debut, and most recently, Koïma, which emerged this past April. He'll be making a few stops in the Chicagoland area this weekend for shows, during which he will no doubt stun listeners with his eccentric and intricate African folk numbers.
Touré resided in the Malian city of Gao, where his musical style influenced many fans in Mali as he was the lead member of the popular and influential Songhai Stars orchestral group. His musical popularity is beginning to reverberate throughout the U.S., as his unique musical style is intriguing countless listeners. Not only does his music reference classic African folk styles, but Koïma also features grooves located in traditional blues music as found in "Kalaa ay makoïy (I Must Go)" and tender ballad "Euzo," which stands in contrast against the more quick-paced folk numbers on the album. When translated, Koïma literally means "go hear." Touré exemplifies superb artistry, as we don't need to understand the words to be able to feel the emotions and soul immersed within his music. Take a listen to one of his songs, "Mon Pays," here:
While the weather looks downright seasonal and pleasant this weekend, it wouldn't be a Pitchfork Music Festival 2012 line-up if there wasn't a little something in store for everybody. Read along and check out the Transmission staff's best picks for sets to catch on each day of rock, rap, and thrash.
And hey, while you're around Union Park this weekend, don't forget to stop by and say hello to Gapers Block staff manning our table once again at the CHIRP Record Fair tent. Get yourself a cool free button, some free stickers, or buy a sweet I (star) Chi tee. While you're there, browse some record bins from indie labels and record stores/sellers, shop the Coterie craft fair, or just escape the sun for a while.
It's that time of year again, folks; the Taste of Chicago frenzy has descended upon us. Countless numbers of individuals filling our city streets, the all too delicious food options that I always overindulge myself with, and my personal favorite part of the Taste, the stellar concerts that come along with the event, are back in full force. Even though the Taste will be emerging in a new format this year due to a condensed time span, this doesn't mean that there isn't the same caliber of music options for fans to enjoy from the Taste's run from July 11 through July 15.
This year, the Taste of Chicago headlining concerts each day present listeners with two ticketing options. Lawn seating is available for free as always, but this year, tickets are available for purchase for each of these concerts that give listeners access to general admission seating closer to the Petrillo Music Shell. Tickets can be purchased via Groupon links for each of the individual shows costing $25.
The first night of the Taste, July 11, opens the festival with some crooning from pop up-and-comer Luke James beginning at 5:30pm, followed by powerhouse singer Jennifer Hudson. This Chicago native is loved by her numerous fans, and she'll put on a sensational, soulful performance for her listeners.
Do you like that ethereal electronic sound that toes the line between Balearic pop and chillwave? Think Delorean, Toro y Moi, Washed Out, etc. Yeah, that's a good sound. Well, let's add Beat Connection to the list. The Washington (state) foursome is a step down from being too techno and a step up from what should be regarded as chillwave. But they sound very comfortable in that niche on their debut The Palace Garden. It bounces around a lot, like any band still finding their bearings, but never dips too far. Peaks like the self-titled track and "Further Out" keep it from ever losing momentum and the catchiness keeps it in heads all day. They're on their first US tour and will serve as warmup act for Pitchfork this weekend.
Beat Connection headlines Schubas on Thursday, the 12th. White Arrows and Teen Daze open. The show is 18+, starts at 9PM and admission's $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Schubas is at the corner of Belmont & Southport.
The Hives broke in America at a time when every band whose name started with "The" and ended in "s" were touted as saviors of rock'n'roll. Some reached tremendous heights before imploding. Others just never got above, like, the second floor. It's 2012 and the Hives are alive and even pretty strong. They're still one of the most entertaining live shows anyone can see, due in large part to Howlin' Pelle's high marks as a frontman. His swagger mixes a bit of Iggy Pop's crowd-rousing and some of Mick Jagger's strutting. But he nor the band are gimmicks. They pump out catchy garage rock hooks and fall back on a lot of early punk signatures. Their latest album, Lex Hives, doesn't veer much from what's made them successful and their shows are just as fun as ever.
The Hives headline the Vic on Saturday, the 30th. FIDLAR and Flesh Lights open at 7:30pm. The show's 18+ and tickets are $27.50. The Vic's at 3145 N. Sheffield.
The Fader and vitaminwater have teamed up for their uncapped series of mystery shows that'll come to Chicago on Thursday, June 14. Last week's performance in Los Angeles featured Rick Ross, The-Dream and Zola Jesus. Hmm, who might it be in Chicago... ? If you're the curious type, you'll want to RSVP. Even if you're not, it might be a good idea. Afterward, vitaminwater's Youtube channel will be updated with exclusive content. The show starts 8PM at 1052 W Monroe.
Chicago welcomes its very first all dance music festival this weekend. Spring Awakening Music Festival hits Soldier Field Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17.
It's safe to say that electronic dance music -- or EDM for short -- has finally jumped the pond and adapted the same mainstream status it has enjoyed in Europe for years here in the U.S. Though many Chicagoans are already old pros at dance music shows and festivals, Spring Awakening will prove to be the first headfirst dive into the bass-tastic pool that still more have only dipped their toes into thus far.
Either way, here are a few things to keep in mind while you're getting down this weekend.
Deer Tick, five member folk rock band originating from Rhode Island, is making a tour stop in Chicago this Saturday evening at the Metro. This dynamic group will take concertgoers on a musical journey by way of their songs wrought with heartache, struggle, and life lessons. Infused with feeling, their songs present the most authentic snapshots of the events we are presented with in our lives.
Their musical style is effortless, and listeners become captivated by their gritty, alt-country style. The group released their latest album, Divine Providence, in 2011, which received countless accolades, and an EP, Tim, this past February.
One of the many reasons that I enjoy listening to Divine Providence is due to the fact that Deer Tick's sound hinges upon many different musical genres, from alt-country "The Bump" to whimsical "Let's All Go To The Bar" featuring a punk rock sound, to confessional ballad "Electric," yet the group still manages to keep the album cohesive. Their sound is so versatile and engaging, and with their latest releases Deer Tick proves that their sound is consistently developing. Take a listen to an acoustic performance of "Cake And Eggs" from Deer Tick lead singer John McCauley below:
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.
Summer is officially here, which for many of us means the kick off of festival season here in Chicago. Whether you are buying Mexican popsicles over the fence while hiding in the shade at Pitchfork or making bad decisions while dancing in a football stadium to Skrillex, whatever poison you pick guarantees you'll have many a fun summer night. And if you didn't sleep on it, you'll probably be attending Lollapalooza. Tickets officially sold out this past week, so if you plan on spending early August in Grant Park, I suggest you plan on standing outside with a sign asking to buy an extra ticket. But if you planned ahead, you are probably starting to check out the acts playing that you aren't familiar with (or you should be doing this), and that's where we come through with some suggestions. Sure, we'll take a deeper look closer to Lolla, but why not plan early? There are the obvious bands to see, the reunited darlings (At The Drive-In, Bloc Party), the band that always makes me cry live (Sigur Ros), the best live act around right now (M83), and the acts that always put on solid shows (Justice, The Black Keys). But we've got some deeper picks and surefire good acts to suggest checking out now so you'll be ready to enjoy come August.
Just a few days ago, the lineup for Chicago's beloved Wicker Park Fest was announced, set to take place on July 28 and July 29. If you're unfamiliar with the event, Wicker Park Fest is set to gain 65,000 visitors over its two-day span, which is impressive in itself. Beyond its established attendance records, this street fest is located in one of Chicago's most treasured artsy neighborhoods, featuring distinctive restaurants, unique shops, and a diverse art and music scene.
Beyond the innovative and expansive art and performance aspects of the event, Wicker Park Fest always delivers by establishing a stellar music lineup, and this year is no different. The acts announced to play sets on July 28 begin with Cursive, indie rock band that just released their energetic album I Am Gemini on February 12. Next is Brooklyn-based band The Drums, who emit an upbeat, percussive, and perfect-for-summertime sound. Take a listen to their song "How It Ended" below:
If you haven't heard the music of Maps & Atlases before, the band is going to be a bit hard to describe without taking a listen. I say this because their music is unique, deliberate, and dynamic, so much so that I can't categorize them to fit an exact musical genre. Hailing from Chicago, their sound has developed immensely over time, and they are making a stop on their tour here this Friday.
Their first release, Tree, Swallows, Houses, arrived on the scene back in 2007 and gives a great snapshot of the heart of the band's sound. Eccentric and inviting, Maps & Atlases has a sound based in math rock at its core, combined with indie-folk-rock elements. Their music thrives on unconventional tempos and beats that immediately draw listeners in, and keep them listening.
The harmoniously wailings of Brooklyn trio Pearl and the Beard will once again be echoing throughout Chicago. This Saturday the band will jam out at Schubas, a venue known for its close quarters and intimate feel and the perfect place fans to experience the band's intense performance as well as their quirky sense of humor.
Although this band hasn't launched into indie fame along with the likes of other soulful vocally deep bands such as Mumford and Sons or Of Monsters and Men, they clearly have the raw talent to continue to draw crowds to their shows. This Saturday they will be joined by Chicagoan, Brendan Losch, who just released his new albumn "Low" in April. Expect a night full of full harmonies and fuller beards.
The show starts at 7:00 p.m. at Schubas. Tickets are $12 and can be bought on Schubs website.
Everybody likes a comeback, especially when it's better than the first go-round. That's the case with Lee Fields, blessed with a voice that could've shot him to stardom forty years ago and plagued by bouts with bad luck. But passion and persistence won out. His latest record, Faithful Man, picks up where 2009's My World left off -- gut-wrenching vocals over sublime southern soul and funk instrumentation. It's smooth, but with an edge that only a survivor could provide. Even if Fields had some rough patches, he's been performing more or less non-stop since his debut and it shows on stage. He's a bona fide performer basking in the glow of his renaissance.
Lee Fields & the Expressions headline Lincoln Hall on Wednesday, the 9th. The O'Mys open, along with Dave Mata from Soul Summit. The show's 21+, $15 and starts at 9pm. Lincoln Hall is at 2424 N Lincoln.
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 Stubhub.com. The Park West is located at 322 W. Armitage Ave. Music begins at 7:30pm with The Stepkids. 18+.
Six studio albums, endless touring, and a dynamic onstage presence are just a few of the elements that contribute to folk/alt-country band My Morning Jacket's immense success. A fan for years, I waited at Lollapalooza last summer to gain a front row spot to their headlining show, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best performances I've ever seen. Their energy and ever-changing music style instantly captivated the audience and kept everyone begging for more. Enjoy highlights from the Lollapalooza show below, which showcases their vivacity and unique onstage performance style.
Elegance. It's the overwhelming quality that's present in the music of The Damn Choir. Take the band's lead single from their newest album, "Noah," for example. An electric guitar line dances between the simple strumming of an acoustic rhythm. Singer Gordan Robertson's brawny croon is softened by the haunting swells of co-vocalist Katy Myers. The sound of a snare drum rolls softly in the background and the steadfast strumming of a cello plays backbone to it all.
Hopefully this song is an indication of what the rest of The Damn Choir's sophomore release You're My Secret I Called Fire will bring. Any speculation will end this Friday, May 4 though when these Chicagoans play their record release show at The Hideout. Paper Thick Walls and Kingsley Flood kick off the night at 9pm. Tickets are $10.
[This piece comes to us from reader Rachel Angres.]
After Rabble Rabble played Psych Fest last year, it was months before anyone heard anything from them. Now, after a brief hibernation, the Chicago four-piece is returning to the stage with a free (with RSVP correction: straight up FREE) show at the Empty Bottle. Rabble Rabble is one of those bands with shameless stage theatrics, whose sound is a mix between The Kinks and Pavement in the '90s, with smoothed out sharp edges of skuzzy guitar riffs and messy yet hooking arrangements.Their live sets are exciting and at times borderline offensive ("Fuck you" is often an opening comment from the band when introducing a song). They have their shtick — performing with a tone that's abrasive and wildly unabashed. This is what they do best and they're sticking to it.
The band got their start three years ago, after they met at a DIY basement show and decided to collaborate. Tonight, Rabble Rabble will return to the live stage at the Empty Bottle, where they plan to play some new songs from their upcoming sophomore album.
Over the last decade, collaborative group Mice Parade have cultured a somewhat mysterious, textured sound that places the sum of the parts ahead of any single voice or instrument. Their last full-length album, 2010's What It Means To Be Left Handed (FatCat Records) blends beats from South America, Africa, and Europe with electronic touches reminiscent of '80s pop and synth. It goes along to show the group's ongoing challenge to parse musical influences wherever they might be found, and cook them together in a delicious auditory stew. Check out a track below:
Their upcoming album, Candela, will be released later this fall. In a twist, Mice Parade has embarked on a small U.S. tour as an acoustic trio in advance of this studio album, and while they might play new songs, there's no telling exactly what this paired down, acoustic show will become, based on the band's history as a large-scale electronica outfit. On the tour, group founder and multi-instrumentalist Adam Pierce will star on stage along with classical guitar virtuoso Dan Lippel and a special guest Icelandic female vocalist, to be announced at a later date (I've been told it's not Bjork, but honestly I never even suspected it would be). The threesome hits the Hideout tonight for an intimate show. Tickets are a mere $8. Chicago band Cloudbirds open at 9:30pm.
If you'd like a chance to enjoy this show for free, and hear some of the group's new licks, we have a couple of pairs of tickets to give away to some lucky readers. Just email us at email@example.com with the subject line "Squeak" and you and a friend will head to the show tonight, gratis.
You can't fight the times. Or technology. Most genres have come a long way since planting their musical roots. Many of them have even spurred new sub-genres as responses to social and technological changes over time.
That said, there is something refreshing about bands that favor antiquity when writing their music. That's exactly what Chicago act Akasha do with their reggae sounds. Their songs stick to the upbeat, chugging rhythms that first popped up in the '60s. It's traditional, but that doesn't mean it's a sound that's gone out of style.
Akasha play the Tonic Room (2447 N. Lincoln Ave.) on April 20. They'll be sharing the bill with Mos Scocious and Root Cause. The show starts at 8pm and it's $7.
The last time Transmission gushed over Disappears it was in praise of their New Year's Eve show featuring cover songs from clear influences. However, what made more of a lasting impression was the encore of new tunes (and a spectacular "Marigold") that were driving, heavy and more psychedelic than Disappears have sounded on their first two albums. Their third album Pre Language begins with a trio that hammers ears (like "Replicate" out of the gate) before easing up a little bit. The Kraut/garage rock elements that Lux introduced and Guider capitalized on are still prevalent, but it's clear (perhaps due to the formal addition of Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley on drums) that Disappears is branching out a little more. Some tracks are more instantly accessible while others like the sprawling "Joa" demand some attention and time to grow. But no matter how you hear Disappears on a record, their live show is pummelling, raucous and always tight.
Disappears headlines Lincoln Hall on Friday, the 13th, before heading out on tour. Deerhunter side project Lotus Plaza and local rockers Implodes open at 10PM. The show's 18+ and $14. Lincoln Hall's at 2424 N Lincoln.
A recent performance by the PHJB on The Late Show With David Letterman.
Legendary New Orleans jazz group the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues its celebration of 50 years and running with two back-to-back performances tomorrow night at S.P.A.C.E. (1245 Chicago Avenue, Evanston.) Tickets run from $26-$46, shows are at 6:30 and 9:30. They probably won't be this far north again for a long time, so catch them while you can.
The Oxford-based Jonquil are currently on their first US tour that brings them to the Empty Bottle on Wednesday. On their latest record, Point of Go, the band delivers a sound that's somewhere between a lush Vampire Weekend and a more mainstream Miike Snow. It has a tropical/calypso-like sound molded with electropop vibes, all highlighted by Hugo Manuel's terrifically lilting vocals. The album doesn't spend a lot of time off course as it clocks in at 38 minutes, but it packs a lot in its 11 tracks that are catchy, breezy and full of subtle surprises for ears. Singer Hugo Manuel's side project Chad Valley played Schubas last year and one Transmission writer (okay, it was me) was straight-up blown away by how strong his vocals sounded live. I wouldn't expect any different on Wednesday.
Jonquil plays with Keep Shelly in Athens at the Empty Bottle on Wednesday, the 4th. Chicago's Speck Mountain opens. The show's $12, 21+ and starts at 9:30PM. The Empty Bottle's at 1035 N Western.
[This piece comes to us from reader Sarah Brooks.]
Chairlift, an electronic-pop duo combining Caroline Polachek's stunning vocals and musical effects from Patrick Wimberly, are set to play at the Empty Bottle on Friday, March 30. Their catchy, playful sound is inventive and enjoyable, and if you're new to their music, it's likely you're more familiar with them than you may think; Chairlift's first hit single "Bruises" was featured in an iPod commercial back in 2008 (you can refresh your memory below).
Since their breakthrough onto the music scene, Chairlift has released a plethora of their futuristic, innovative tunes. Their music, which utilizes a variety of instruments, synthesizer effects and vocal techniques to create a range of different listening experiences, has one thing in common: it makes you want to stop whatever you're doing in the moment to get up and dance. Their latest album, Something, was released in January, which produced more of their funky beats and infectious rhythms.
Check out the music video for "Amanaemonesia" featured below to gain a feel for their unique sound. The song is not only extremely catchy, but the eccentrically awesome video resembles a cross between a music video from the future and an '80s workout tape.
Chairlift plays The Empty Bottle on Friday, March 30, 2012. Tickets are $13 and the show is 21+. In addition to Chairlift, the show features bands Nite Jewel and Moon Furies and begins at 10pm. The Empty Bottle is located at 1035 N. Western Ave., (773) 276-3600. This show is sold out.
[This review comes to us from writer Rachel Angres.]
A Place To Bury Strangers released their latest album Onwards To The Wall on Dead Oceans in early February. The album was produced, mixed and mastered by the trio, which now after a six year swap includes front man Ollie Ackermann (guitar/vocals), Dion Lunadon (bass guitar) and Jay Space (drums).
Using the "wall of sound" technique and some DIY instrumentation, (they nerd out by building their own amps and various instruments to take on the road with them) APTBS has spent the last couple years preparing for what they love most — being on the road. The band brings a volatility that is more malleable when compared to the typical shoe-gazing method of compression, blending and reverberating slurred and sullen vocals.
[This preview comes to us from reader Rachel Angres.]
The harmonies in Bowerbirds' most recent release, The Clearing, on Dead Oceans Records, are magnificently subtle. Vocalist Phil Moore often leads his finely crafted falsetto into a harmony accompanied by his female counterpart, Beth Tacular. The polarity in their vocals is distinct and dichotomous. Little bits and pieces meticulously gather together and build a melodious abode, nuzzling in one's ears.
The Clearing is an album that can remedy even the coldest of hearts — it is a haven of warmth and symphonic solace. Lyrics swarm in as percussion builds on the hinges of a grand piano leading into an intense bellowing of seduction. Hailing from North Carolina, the duo's Southern charm enriches the lyrics, which are simply a series of sonnets to nature. It is an ode to the unknown.
The Clearing moves into the meadowlarks and valleys, as the sun slowly settles. The words reflect the triumphs of braving each season. The Clearing was recorded initially in Beth Tacular and Phil Moore's Wisconsin Cabin, with minimal recording equipment and the incredible outdoors that inspired their lyrics. Rare Book Room Recordings soon picked it up where it was mastered in NYC by Nicolas Vernhes.
Sometimes it's a little surprising how little press electronic music gets in Chicago, given the city's long and rich history with the genre. That seems to have been changing as of late, and this weekend, you don't have to be in Ibiza to get satisfy that international superstar DJ jones you've been harboring, as The Mid hosts Paul Oakenfold.
Oakenfold has been DJing, remixing and producing since before electronic music was really a blip on the radar, throw in his stewardship of influential label Perfecto Records and you've got a more than convincing argument that he was central in fostering it into the mainstream. These days, the kids are going nuts for Skrillex, but for those of us old enough to remember the good-old days, but still young enough to stay up late listening to trance DJs, this weekend promises to be enjoyable.
[This preview comes to us from reader Sarah Brooks.]
Dastardly, Americana/folk/country hybrid band hailing from Chicago, has a sound that is bold and enjoyable. Described as "experimental enough to feel fresh but traditional enough to feel familiar even to first timers" and frequently appearing on lists of bands to watch in 2012, Dastardly is quickly permeating the music scene. They released their second album, Bury Me in the Country, on January 31, which showcases their eclectic country sound and was recorded in a studio with just a handle of whiskey to keep them company. With a combination of their unique sound and their candidly fun atmosphere, Dastardly shows are easily some of the most enjoyable around.
Dastardly shows are unpredictable, lively, and anything but boring. Back in October, Dastardly staged their first variety show at the Hideout, which included comedy sketches interspersed amongst their music set. Due to its success, they're doing it again folks, and you won't want to miss it this time around.
Below, enjoy the music video for "Fever," a song off of Bury Me in the Country, which showcases their unique sound and style.
Dastardly's "Megachurch" variety show is at the Hideout on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. In addition to Dastardly, the show features several Chicago comedians. Tickets are $10 in advance or at the door and the show is 21+. Doors open at 8:30pm and the music starts at 9pm. The Hideout is located at 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., (773) 227-4433.
Astronautalis is coming through town on tour, which is a solid show alone, since the Minneapolis based rapper doses out thoughtful lyrics over a blend of electronic infused hip hop beats. His delivery is smooth, and ladies, he's pretty easy on the eyes as well. But I'm more excited about the artist he picked to head out on the road with; Busdriver. If you catch the show Sunday night at Schubas, I implore you to get there early to catch his opening set.
Busdriver has been making music since an early age, releasing his first album when he was 13. His music has grown into a funky chopped up hybrid of everything from classical piano samples to thick and heavy wall shaking bass beats. And his lyrics flow from intellectual touchstones to pop culture shout outs to over-the-top sexualized wordplay. All of this is delivered with perfect (possibly over the top) pronunciation, while at breakneck speed. His latest album, Beaus$Eros, shows a more melodic side, but live you'll still get to witness the frenzied style of his work. Even in the underground and experimental world of hip hop, he still stands out as someone clearly focused on pushing his own work out of a comfort zone and manipulating what many perceive as hip hop.
Busdriver opens for Astronautalis, Sunday March 11th at Schubas. The show starts at 8:00pm, is 18+ and tickets are $14. You can purchase them here.
[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).
The Queen City isn't exactly the first place you think of having a vibrant music scene, but the list of bands with roots in Cincinnati is pretty impressive. Despite being overshadowed by other projects that some of its members are associated with, the Greenhornes stand just fine on their own among the city's best. The band takes British Invasion influence, piles of garage rock and a little R&B. Craig Fox's gritty vocals shine and Patrick Keeler's raucous drumming highlights a rollicking sound. There's no good reason why they weren't a bigger part of the garage rock resurgence of 2001ish. (In fact, the first time I saw them they were opening for two bands who took full advantage of that era.) Their last album, ★★★★, followed a long hiatus, but had the band right back in their wheelhouse of tunes with a very Nuggets-like feel.
The Greenhornes headline the Empty Bottle on Saturday, March 3. Two Chicago bands, Royal Pines and Ornery Little Darlings, open. The show's 21+, $12 and starts at 10PM. The Empty Bottle's at 1035 N Western.
Do you like that new stuff from Cam'ron? It's not too bad, right? Well, one guy behind the return is Providence's AraabMuzik, who's also produced for Lloyd Banks and Jim Jones, among others. On his debut album, Electronic Dream, he rolls through samples and shows off that he won't be pigeonholed into hip hop. Trance dominates, but the record glides through all sorts of electronic music and features out of left field timing, sharp cuts on samples and frequent reminders that "you are now listening to AraabMuzik," just in case you might forget 'cause it's all over the map. When AraabMuzik is on a stage, the biggest pull is his tremendous skill with an MPC sampler. The drag on that is it he can get so wrapped up in putting on a performance with his fingers that dancing (for the crowd) becomes a secondary issue, but everyone needs a breather sometimes.
If the number of sell out club dates on their current American tour is any indicator, North London's Bombay Bicycle Club are finding their legs on this side of the pond. Last year's release of their third album, A Different Kind of Fix, which benefited from the production touch of Ben H. Allen, who has recently worked with notables like Animal Collective and Washed Out, showed the band moving in a different direction from its previous, mostly acoustic release, Flaws. Bombay Bicycle Club's music isn't particularly groundbreaking, it certainly bears the hallmarks of a fairly standard strain of British guitar-based indie, but the new album successfully showcases the band's strengths in frontman Jack Steadman's appealing vocals, and well-crafted, catchy tunes.
Of equal interest is opening act The Darcys, a Toronto-based act on indie uber-label Arts & Crafts. Of recent note, the band had the audacity to cover, in its entirety, Steely Dan's 1977 masterwork Aja. Steely Dan, of course, is legendary for their studio neuroses, and fortunately, The Darcys did not attempt to slavishly recreate Aja's emotionally cool, measured perfection. Rather, the band deconstructed the album and built from the ground up, working with the fundamentals and ending up with a sort of contemporary yacht-rock (think fellow Canadians Destroyer) inspired take. Is it as good as the original? Nah, but the album manages more hits than misses, and certainly merits points for ambition.
Crocodiles embody a sound that harks to shoegaze, 60s girl groups, southern California pop and noise. Their songs are built from solid melodies buried underneath a ton of fuzz. On both of the San Diego duo's albums, Summer of Hate and Sleep Forever, they wear their influences on their sleeves, but also pool those those influences effectively. The Jesus & Mary Chain never relied on keys this much and Echo & the Bunnymen never sounded so beautifully trashy. The band (accompanied by some extra members on the road) is seemingly always touring and it shows. (They were in Chicago twice last year, in April and October.) As performers, they pull off cool disinterest better than many, but play with a terrific fervor.
Crocodiles headline Schubas on Saturday, the 25th. Philadelphia's Bleeding Rainbow (formerly known as Reading Rainbow), who call Hozac Records home, opens at 10PM. The show's 21+ and $14. Schubas is at the corner of Southport & Belmont.
To someone like me, whose taste in electronic music developed at a time when wafting ambient acts like The Orb drew a lot of water, and even the "heavy" dance stuff wasn't much more than speedy disco with more low-end bump, a fair share of the modern electronic music being produced sounds something like R2D2 being shoved down a metal staircase. I'm solidly on board, however, with the lineup at the Congress Theater this Friday, which brings together Lotus, Conspirator, and Emancipator, three acts which manage to carve their own space in the spectrum of electronic sounds, while keeping a firm grip on the fundamentals.
Lotus is a band with its feet firmly in two different worlds. On one hand, they are a traditional rock group, with traditional instrumentation, and have long been stalwarts of the jam band and festival scene, appealing to the patchouli-scented masses with comparatively long-form songs and an obvious virtuosity. At the same time, the band has from its late-90s inception been at the vanguard of incorporating available electronic gadgets and gizmos to shape their sound into something like a live techno production, there on the stage, sans-studio. While their latest album, self-titled Lotus, gives a good taste of what the band is all about, they truly shine in a live setting, where their improvisational genius can come through.
Chicago bluegrass outfit Sexfist are unlikely to be accused of taking themselves too seriously, but there are a couple of reasons that you should pay attention to them. First, the band itself is extremely serious about their music, and second, they are one of the more entertainingly self-promoting bands in the city. Fans can fill in their Sexfist Club Cards at shows (a clever nod to the Subway Club of yore) and posters featuring their distinctive homunculus logo are staples on Chicago's post boards. This spring, fans of their Facebook page can vie for a chance to win dinner with the band, VIP treatment, and a merch package for their St. Patrick's Day show at Rogers Park's Mayne Stage theater. Beginning today, fans can check in on Facebook and play the "Would you rather. . ." game to win deluxe treatment by answering questions between now and March 9.
So maybe it's not the most traditionally romantic Valentine's Day lineup at Schubas, but if you and your sweetie can agree on a Cate Le Bon show with support by Talkdemonic, then you probably have picked the right significant other in terms of musical leanings.
Le Bon first gained attention touring with fellow Welshman Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, and has since gone on to release a Welsh language EP and an intriguing debut album, Me Oh My that was influenced, in her words, by "early experiences with a string of pet deaths." Lyrically dark, the music has an edgy folk-rock feel, mixing light, drifting melodies and Le Bon's lilting voice with more aggressive passages.
Portland's Talkdemonic began as the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Kevin O'Connor, and has reached full flower with the addition of viola player Lisa Molinaro to the band's touring incarnation. The band's latest release, Ruins is on a label run by fellow Portlander Isaac Brock (of Modest Mouse fame), and benefits from his work behind the boards, lending music that could lapse into the twee a welcome dose of angular heft. While the band is often lumped into the "post-rock" camp, elements of electronica and artsy hip-hop create a solid foundation that channels the work of Steve Reich as much as any particular rock influence.
Cate Le Bon, Talkdemonic and Bone and Bell play at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, this Tuesday, February 14 at 8:00 pm. Tickets are $10, $12 at the door and are available at Schubas.com.
It's easy to see why you might doubt Down With Webster's formula. They're a mostly white Canadian rap collective. But sometimes breaking the mold is just what a band needs. Give these guys a shot and you'll come to find that their songs are catchy as funk!
Following suit with colleagues like Travie McCoy's (of "Billionaire" fame) Gym Class Heroes, DWW is only one part rap troupe. They're also a live band and--if we're being honest here--it's just more entertaining to watch a full band back an MC rather than one lone DJ and his tables.
It wouldn't be too much of an overstatement to say that British space-rock powerhouse Spiritualized owned the genre during it's heyday in the 1990s. 1992's Lazer Guided Melodies signaled that band leader Jason Pierce was going to continue to effectively mine the psychedelic vein of his former band, Spacemen 3. Spiritualized reached their critical peak with 1997's Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space, an album that dropped at a time when both Britpop and their particular brand of drone rock were big both here and abroad.
Spiritualized has made a few short touring forays over the last few years, but this outing has all the characteristics of a proper world tour. Chicago gets a not-to-be-missed club date at the Metro on May 3. Tickets go on sale this Saturday, February 4 at noon.
Say what you will about the Grateful Dead but few if any bands in the history of rock have engendered their level of fanatical devotion. Need proof? Look no further than the fact that Dead cover band extraordinaire Dark Star Orchestra has the truck to play two shows in Chicago in the next week, this despite the fact that kids born after legendary lead-man Jerry Garcia died are in high school and working on getting their driver's licenses.
Dark Star Orchestra, or simply DSO to those in the know, have made their bones by shadowing the fountainhead band through a slavish, completest knowledge of the original band's catalog, and shows which attempt to recreate particular historic shows song by song. Don't be fooled into thinking that they are strictly a nostalgia band, however. Any given DSO show looks remarkably similar to any late '80s or early '90s Dead show, with a mix of aging baby boomers and their teenage children who missed the circus the first time around. The band is comprised of virtuoso musicians who share with their fan base a wide-eyed love of the source material, and play to the level of that devotion.
It may be cold and dark and (occasionally) snowy, but there's nothing chilly about the warm sounds coming from Greensky Bluegrass. The band hits the stage at the Park West this Friday night, co-headlining with the ever-animated Chicago band Strange Arrangement. Greensky's latest album, Handguns, was released just this past fall (with an additional limited vinyl edition just made available recently). Check out five songs off Handguns below.
Last year's performances at Bonnaroo and Bumbershoot gained Greensky Bluegrass some more crunchy followers to their newgrass sound, and as a veteran of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, the band also brings in bluegrass devotees as well. Greensky's lineup includes guitar and banjo, but also dobro, mandolin, and upright bass (and occasional horns, even). The band is, at first glance, a quintet that could just as likely play a college quad as a mid-size major market venue like the Park West. A recent resurgence of olde timey music like that mastered by the Carolina Chocolate Drops or the Black Twig Pickers sets up newgrass pluckers like Greensky with a window of opportunity to get airplay somewhere other than college radio Sunday morning shifts. Even the multi-instrumentalist approach by bands like the Decemberists, Arcade Fire, or Fanfarlo speak to how Greensky's sound has room to stretch its legs these days, and gain audiences that can really fill a room. So if you're a fan of harmonies, exuberance, and sheer indie band touring fortitude, my best advice is to strap on your mittens and make your way to the Park West Friday night for what's sure to be a sweet warm-up.
Music starts Friday at 8pm. 18+ Tickets are $15 (plus fees) and are available online or at the door. Greensky Bluegrass will also be joined by Strange Arrangement and opener Chicago Farmer. The Park West is located at 322 W. Armitage Ave. (773) 929-1322.
Canon Blue's Daniel James hails from Nashville, but the music on his latest album Rumspringa is taken care of nicely by friends from Denmark and Iceland. From its onset, the orchestral arrangements are reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens' Illinois and some Owen Pallett. Backing James' lithe vocals are an array of instruments that each have their moments in the sun, whether it's the brass that kicks off the record, the strings on "Heavy Heart (Minneapolis A)", the hypnotic and frenetic percussion of "Fading Colors (Bloomington)" or the subtle woodwinds throughout. Even better, it sounds meticulously crafted with every moment carefully performed and produced by someone with a grand plan in their head. Unpredictable arrangements and warm production also contribute to Rumspringa as a catchy and delightful listen.
Canon Blue plays with Plants & Animals at Schubas on Thursday as part of Tomorrow Never Knows 2012. Herman Dune and Cloudbirds open. The show's $15, 18+ and starts at 8PM. Schubas is at the corner of Southport & Belmont.
Ratasucia is also playing, singer/guitarist Dan Hanaway (The Honor System, The Broadways, Slapstick), bassist Chris Carr (The Honor System) and drummer Tim Scare. You can get their full-lengh album "White Noise Pollution" on Asian Man Record's website.
Eagle Rock's Milk Carton Kids are two gentleman who play 1950s models of Gibson and Martin guitars. On the surface, they make folk music. A little deeper than that is a lush tranquility highlighted by intricate guitaring and stories that lay hearts on the table. It sounds straight off porches from any Appalachian hollow, but perhaps with a little different enunciation. With such a natural and spotless sound, it may be surprising to learn that they haven't existed prior to 2011. But the year's been busy for them: recording 2 albums and touring non-stop since April; first with Joe Purdy, then on their own, and now with Over the Rhine. (They even squeezed in a Daytrotter session.)
Milk Carton Kids open for Over the Rhine at Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturday, the 10th. (I can't think of a more appropriate venue for them, especially because their desolate sound won't be drowned out by chatterboxes.) They play 2 shows at 7PM and 10PM. Tickets are $28, $26 for members, $24 for seniors and children. Old Town School of Folk Music is at 4544 N Lincoln.
Or don't -- they're probably a peaceful group. At least, it's hard to envision The War On Drugs as anything other than blissed-out dudes in Ray Bans as you listen to Slave Ambient, their latest eye-catching album. The former musical home of Kurt Vile, the band brings their country-stomp-meets-shoegaze guitar licks to Lincoln Hall next Wednesday, Dec. 7. Openers include Still Corners and Arc In Round.
Rock styles certainly seem to have a certain cyclical wax and wane, and it seems that psychedelia is currently on something of an upswing. While there are some great acts feeding the current tide of freak-out rockers, few seem to have gained as much traction, both popular and critical, as Bay Area quartet Wooden Shjips. Fine purveyors of droney space rock since their formation in 2006, the group has reached a new level of exposure with the release of their third album West released on Chicago's own Thrill Jockey label. With mastering by Sonic Boom of Spaceman 3, stand outs in the droney psychedelic rock of the late '80s and '90s, the album is a fuzzy, but focused sonic excursion. The album features a few more straight ahead rockers, which makes it more accessible than some of the bands earlier work, but doesn't muster enough sheen to disappoint garage rock fans who've followed the band to this point.
Formed in North Carolina a scant six years ago, the now Baltimore-based Future Islands have become critical darlings on the strength of several solid releases on local label Thrill Jockey. On their latest LP, On the Water, the band continues the development of their signature "post-wave" sound, channeling bits and pieces of the best of '80s synthpop without succumbing to the overindulgence that plagued many of the genre's first-wave acts. Richly textured soundscapes develop slowly over loping Peter Hook-esque basslines, while frontman Samuel T. Herring's vocals swing from plaintive to almost menacingly growly. There are plenty of identifiable influences, but the songs are shimmering and immediate. Lyrically, On The Water deals with love and loss, somehow managing to sound deeply personal to Herring while remaining universal enough to be applicable to anyone's tale of heartache. Herring is a riveting stage presence, and their act keeps getting better, no doubt due to their tireless touring over the past few years.
Over the last year, numerous publications have reviewed Kvelertak's debut album. There's been a lot of praise, but not a lot of agreement on what to call it. Some metal sites love it and claim it for the genre. Others say, "This isn't really metal." The latter lump it in with hardcore punk, as if that's a bad thing at all. However it shakes out, the Norwegian band's self-titled record is a tour de force of devastating riffs, pummeling rhythms, a hell of a lot of melody (all things considered) and exuberant screaming. Did you ever listen to the Blood Brothers and think they should have been way heavier even at their most psychotic? Do you like Enslaved but wish half their songs were streamlined? Kvelertak is the band that answers those yearnings. Whether it's thrash or black metal or hardcore or garage rock you want, Kvelertak covers it without harping on any of it too much. For a preview of what you might hear, check out the video for "Mjød." (Note: Unless you work for a morgue, that video is probably NSFW.)
Amon Tobin has a great name for a noir detective. In some alternate reality he's a superstar gumshoe who finds lost kids and protects New Orleans' eccentric family secrets. In our reality he's a sleuth of sound. Since his premier under the name Cujo in 1995 he's been known for possessing an uncanny sense of finding the best parts of forgotten records. Amon Tobin has become a post-modernist sound hero. He reclaims discarded pieces of sonic art and revitalizes them. In the past Amon has relied on a traditional DJ approach to present his music. For the ISAM show tonight at the Congress Theater, an army of mixed media artists have been brought into the fold to create an interactive museum-grade installation on par with the bombast of Daft Punk's rave pyramid or Deadmau5's ecstasy Rubik's cube.
When it comes to bands who name themselves to be a Googling challenge, there are few who make better music under a blander name than the Sounds. The Swedish indie-pop band has built up their fanbase in the US through energetic live shows, famous fans and word-of-mouth. On their albums up through 2009's Crossing the Rubicon, they channeled a Metric-like sound with strong female vocals, earworming guitar hooks and blasting synths. However, on their latest album, Something To Die For, the band mix up their formula and dive headfirst into straight electronic and synthpop. It's a little jarring of a departure at first, but it's not entirely a surprise that a band who values a frenzied performance would graduate to a style that accommodates it more. As guitarist Félix Rodríguez (what, that doesn't sound like a Swedish name?) puts it, "Our shows are pure energy." With Something To Die For, the Sounds have created a record that packages the intensity of those shows.
The Sounds headline the Vic on Saturday, the 22nd. The Limousines and Natalia Kills open at 7PM. The show's all ages and $20. The Vic's at 3145 N Sheffield.
Wednesday's Boris show at the Metro isn't sold out yet and if you're still on the fence about buying tickets, you might want to consider the whole bill.
Boris--the Melvins-inspired trio hailing from the far off land of Japan--are bringing highly experimental rockers Tera Melos and bold and brash punk rockers Coliseum out with them for their current American tour, which hits the stage at the Metro on Oct. 19.
While I sung my praises for Tera Melos earlier this year when they played Subterranean, Coliseum is a more recent blip on my radar. The band is gearing up to release an eight-song EP titled Parasites on Nov. 15 and already have three full lengths under their belt. Older fans of Coliseum will have their first shot at hearing the band's new material on Wednesday and newcomers to the Louisville-based three-piece should get ready for an opening set with enough kick-to-the-rear energy to make it feel like a headlining slot.
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.
Somebody described Colleen Green as Belinda Carlisle fronting the Ramones. Yes, one of her songs is called "I Wanna Be Degraded" and has a very familiar-sounding riff and chorus, but it's just one song. Admittedly, having heard that, Green's voice does remind me of the Go-Go's singer during her heyday. But add a drum machine, toss in fuzzy power-pop riffs and drag it through some sludge to get closer to accurate. Hints of Best Coast pop up, as well, on a few breezy lo-fi covers like the Descendents' "Good Good Things" and the Rentals' "Naive." The overt DIY approach to recording leaves a question as to whether the sound's solely a product of the environment, but Green seems content to stick with the status quo during her shows since it's just her. She's on the road in support of a new EP, Cujo, that was just released last week.
Colleen Green opens at the Empty Bottle on Friday, the 14th. It's a 10PM show. Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles are co-headlining. The show's 21+ and $14. The Empty Bottle's at 1035 N Western. She'll also be playing a free in-store at Permanent at 6PM on Friday. Permanent Records is at 1914 W Chicago.
[This preview comes to us from writer Jason P. Olexa.]
Tomorrow night, Lincoln Hall will be filled to maximum volume by the haunting, swirling, operatic vocals of Zola Jesus in her first Chicago performance since Pitchfork Festival. On that sweltering day last summer Zola Jesus, a blonde former Wisconsin now Los Angeles resident born Nika Roza Danilova, emerged with her pixie frame encased in a metallic dress that visually provoked memories of elaborate French ballet costuming to H.R. Giger's Alien designs. Reflecting the sunlight cast around her Zola Jesus transformed from the musky suffocating rural gothic of her earlier performances and into a sharper synthesized emotional bombast of solid white emotional triumph.
Zola Jesus' latest album Conatus (released Sept. 26th on Sacred Bones) continues this cycle of solar rebirth. Nika's soaring vocals depart from the cold isolationist forest of her previous work and into urban environment. But, this is still Zola Jesus and the picture she paints of urban living is one of giant LEDs, underground dance music played by chamber musicians, and harsh utilitarian concrete monolith architecture with all corners bathed in artificial illumination. This city constructed of her mind has no place to hide and every emotion from the most embarrassing defeat to rocking triumph is exposed to the harsh light of Zola Jesus' judgment. The classical aria come ambient house thump of "In Your Nature" serves as a bed for Nika's influence of French naturalistic writer Emile Zola. References to Emile's scientific opposition of free will are brought into the airy chorus about learning to let go. Like Zola Jesus, Emile Zola was a conflicted human being. He was a cold scientist and an optimistic humanist at the same time. "Seekir" reflects this dogged optimism. Atop its agit pop beat is a brave young songwriter devoted to putting past transgressions behind her and liberating herself from herself. The continually evolving Zola Jesus pushes past the din of her past and into a bright new world of Conatus where she's no longer hiding.
Florida isn't exactly known for its output of rock music and it's conspicuously absent from a lot of rock'n'roll band itineraries. But that doesn't mean there aren't some bands making their mark in the scene. Miami's Jacuzzi Boys are one of those outliers with a lo-fi power-pop/garage sound that's reminiscent of Wavves, Smith Westerns and Woven Bones (the latter with whom they've split a 7"). Songs with silly lyrics about girls and drugs are highlighted by earworming hooks and melodic choruses. (Just try not having "Cause I found you and you're my crush, crush, crush" in your head for a day after hearing it.) Their latest album, Glazin', is a half-hour of fast-paced jangly riffs recalling high school rock'n'roll bands that were all over the Nuggets followups.
Jacuzzi Boys headline Ultra Lounge on Thursday, the 13th. Local garage rockers Mickey and Hollows, at least one of whom seem to be on every really good bill lately, also play. Thunders opens at 9PM. The show's 21+ and $10. Ultra Lounge is 2169 N Milwaukee.
Riot Fest returns for their seventh year in Chicago next week, bringing in a large number of big-name acts to five venues around the city. I've been covering Riot Fest for Transmission for the past couple years, and I've never been as fired up about a line-up as I am for what they have in store for us in 2011. What makes Riot Fest the highlight among the massive list of Chicago music festivals are its almost unheard of reunions of legendary punk acts, its secret shows in tiny venues, along with its exposure for local talent. Keep reading for a Riot Fest 2011 night-by-night run down.
For most of their career, St. Louis' Bottle Rockets have languished as something of an alt-country wallflower. While their formation in 1992 certainly qualifies them as one of the genre's seminal groups, their bio at times reads a little a hard-luck depression era novel, filled with near misses close calls. It's fortunate for us, then, that a band that has rightfully flirted with fame and just not quite gotten there to date is still around for us to enjoy.
Often criminally overshadowed by contemporaries Uncle Tupelo, the Bottle Rockets' earnest folk rock style remains an exemplar of the genre. More or less, they inhabit the live space like the Platonic Form of what a bar band should be. Recently, the band has rolled back the chicken wire cage and retreated a bit from its honky-tonk roots with an acoustic album Not So Loud - An Acoustic Evening with the Bottle Rockets on Chicago's Bloodshot label. The album showcases the group's tight songwriting, which draws comparisons to Woody Guthrie, and stands up to the work of any working folk songsters of the modern age.
The Bottle Rockets are opening the show at the Old Town School of Folk Music for singer, songwriter, DJ, and general musical yeoman Marshall Crenshaw. Crenshaw has penned songs for a bevy of other artists, and know inhabits an interesting space as a DJ for New York station WFUV, drawing from his personal record collection.
[The following preview comes to us from writer Davis Inman.]
Laura Marling, the young British singer-songwriter who came up alongside the London folk ranks with Mumford & Sons and Johnny Flynn, will play Lincoln Hall on Thursday.
Marling's new album A Creature I Don't Know puts her more firmly in the spotlight, having gained steam off last year's I Speak Because I Can, as well as a nice Jack White-helmed cover of Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done" for Third Man Record's blue series.
Since the advent of digital music files and sites like MySpace and bandcamp, it's become easier than ever to start a band. Ergo the extremely high turnover rate of popular musical acts and the fickleness that many music scenes have come to experience in recent years. With so much turbulence in the music industry today, a band's ten-year anniversary is not something to be taken lightly. This year, alt-indie rockers Minus the Bear are celebrating the big ten with a special anniversary tour that hits the Metro on October 11.
With a sound that's obscure enough to have steered MTB away from an abundance of radio success, this Seattle-based crew has spread their musical dabblings across the indie, alternative and experimental spectrum, gaining a highly dedicated fanbase along the way. Minus the Bear have continued to dominate the field of alternative rock with a constant array of velvety guitar lines interwoven with a driving rhythm section and soulful vocals.
As a special commemoration of the band's history, Minus the Bear will be playing its debut full length, 2002's Highly Refined Pirates, in its entirety at each stop of the tour.
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed with your typical street festival, look no further for something truly original and enchanting. The Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements held in Chicago's Eckhart Park seems like it will provide just about everything to concert goers and thrill seekers alike. The weekend festival boasts a delightful and eclectic lineup musically as well as rides, games, circus acts, a farmer's market and the Renegade Craft Fair (which on its own typically draws a large amount of traffic). The Brilliant Corners website states, "Some might say that Brilliant Corners of Popular Amusements hopes to reinvent the traditions of Vaudeville for a 21st century audience..." and considering what it's offering, this sounds quite accurate. Plus, if you're still on the fence, the festival has partnered with local non profits including Girls Rock Chicago to make this truly a feel good experience in all ways.
Head over to Panchos - 2200 n. California Ave - tonight for The Treasure Fleet (includes members of Smoking Popes, The Arrivals, Sass Dragons and The Lawrence Arms). The Treasure Fleet play with Canadian Rifle, Witches and Holopaw.
Doors open at 8 pm, is 18+ and is $8.
You can buy tickets and get more info of this show here.
[This preview comes to us from writer Kyle Sparks.]
Hunx, aka Seth Bogart, is not afraid to let it all hang out. With his Punx by his side, the flamboyant frontman writes catchy, Ramones-esque melodies about cute parties and cuter boys, shouting all of his most intimate romantic yearnings for all to hear. But it's just as likely that most readers will recognize his face (or something else...) from his nude cameo in the "hardcore" version of Girls' "Lust For Life" video in 2009 (link NSFW, obviously).
Photo courtesy Hunx & His Punx
But it's important not to think of Hunx & His Punx as simply a gimmick of homoerotic fantasy housed in the musical talent of others. The group's first outing, last year's Gay Singles, is an eclectic collection of singles and EPs that introduced an ethos better fleshed out on this year's To Young To Be In Love. The contradiction is apparent, because nearly every song is about falling in love. But Bogart's point has more to do with the other half of it--the falling out. Because no matter how many boys woo him, he never comes away from a relationship without some nagging regret. Love is only exciting so long as it is regenerating.
Likewise, the boy-girl vocal interplay between Hunx & His Punx supplies their lively tunes with a dynamic backdrop. While they tear through the same styles of San Fran punk rock like Nobunny, Hunx & His Punx deliver four-chord pop songs like they owe it to themselves. They add elements of doo-wop and '50s candy shop pop. At their best, they sound like a great group of friends who can't get over how great life would be if it weren't for all these other people. Everyone can be reduced into two categories: fun and miserable. For the former, Wednesday's show at the Double Door will be a great time. Those of the latter need not apply.
Hunx & His Punx headline the Double Door this Wednesday, September 14. Natural Child opens. Doors open at 9pm, and the show is 21+. The cover is free with an RSVP. The Double Door is located at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago label Bloodshot Records is getting out and having themselves a bit of a party Friday night, and you're very much invited. Two years ago, they went all out for the 15 year mark with their own Hideout Block Party and earlier this year, they released a live CD from the day of rock called No One Got Hurt: Bloodshot's 15th Anniversary — a true enough title, for sure (currently on sale at the Bloodshot site).
This weekend is still a big party, even if they're not putting up a tent about it. With prime Bloodshot acts the Waco Brothers, The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, Danny Black and Nora O'Connor, and Deadstring Brothers (solo) on the bill, it'll be a night packed with super alt-country and rock favorites. Better yet, there's beer from Goose Island and food specials, including yum yums from Dangerously Delicious Pies. Tickets are $10 and music starts at 7pm. The Hideout is located at 1354 W. Wabansia. 773-227-4433.
We'll be at Union Park (1501 W. Randolph St.) all this coming Labor Day weekend for the second annual North Coast Music Festival, but before we slather on the suncreen and grab a corndog, here are some best bets for sets that can't be missed, and info on the prime Chicago talent on the bill as well. Single day tickets ($60) are still available (will call info.), so come on down and join us! (Download a PDF festival map.) We'll be reviewing the best and bounciest beats all weekend long, too.
I received a welcome surprise at the Paper Machete on Saturday when Chicago's own Briar Rabbit took the stage for the show's musical portion. I had heard of Briar Rabbit (also known by his given name Philip-Michael Scales) before but had never quite committed to seeing a show. Luckily fate stepped in and I finally had the chance to hear the singer-songwriter perform his sweetly sung stories of heartache, heartbreak and the never-ending search for true Indie love.
I've wracked my brain for two days now trying to find the appropriate comparison for Briar Rabbit but all I can come up with is a poor comparison to Jason Mraz with more head bobbing and a twinge more soul in the edge of his voice. As Paper Machete's host Christopher Piatt said "That is pretty music right there."
If you would like a chance to hear the pretty music along with a bunch of other Indie prettiness, check out Briar Rabbit along with Josh & The Empty Pockets , Band Called Catch and Snow 'n Charm at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday, August 31, 2011. Show starts at 8pm and will only set you back 8 small ones. Briar Rabbit promises it will be a show filled with Indie goodness. When questions what Indie goodness is, B.R. shrugged and said "It's like gumbo; you're not sure what's in it but you know there will be rice." Sounds delicious.
It would be easy to compare the music of this four-piece instrumental act to the sludgy, heavily distorted churns of Chicago brethren Pelican or Russian Circles, but then you'd be ignoring the playful, mathy guitar lines that flow seamlessly in and out of BTMOOS, the types of fretboard-tapping breakdowns that call to mind yet another set of Chicago veterans, Maps and Atlases. Case in point: "Fortune Animal Cookie." And, if you focused too heavily on the influences these bands had on AAA's first full length, you might not be able to appreciate the seemingly effortless theatrical reveries that its songs possess--the types of sonic beauty that are most commonly traced back to genre standouts Explosions in the Sky.
[This preview comes to us from writer Lee Zickwolf.]
Victims have been going strong as D-beat punk legends for about 15 years now with a recipe of non-stop touring and recording. With substantial influences such as Discharge, Motörhead, Totalitär, and Skitsystem you already get the impression that once this band starts they don't let up until the lights come back on. The perfectly gritty amp sounds coupled with lead singer/bass player Johan's voice are not to be reckoned with. Many bands sound "angry" but it's usually sounds practiced and therefore forced. The way Johan sings gives you the feeling that he's 100% honestly pissed about the things he's singing about like how ridiculous the idea of borders are, human rights, and different government issues amongst other things.
With their fifth full-length release A Dissident comes a U.S. tour in August, with a stop in Chicago tonight at Panchos. This album has, dare I say, a more matured almost progressive feel compared to their other releases. It is the first time on an album that two songs have gone over the 3:30 mark. All the rage and bile is definitely still apparent with songs like "Victims in Blood part 6" and "Broken Bones." One song, "In Control" has a more rock feel that will have you banging your head instead of the usual thrashing. A band that thrashes this hard usually burns out or gets stale after about the third release, but Victims somehow add a little something different to each album but keep the ferocity they are known for. Usually a band has this "vision" of how they're going to change the world single-handedly but Victims know "No, we're not the future, but we'll keep fighting 'til the end."
Supporting Victims are Chicago's Eunuchs (members of Hewhocorrupts), Full On, and Tension Generation. If you are looking for a night of people belting out songs as if they were on fire, people jumping off things, and general discourse — this show is for you.
Music starts at 7pm tonight at Panchos (2200 N. California Ave) and it's all ages.
[About the author: Lee Zickwolf is a music nerd to the highest degree and newly transplanted from the east coast.]
Pearl and the Beard is all the good things you would expect from a hipstery indie folk band from Brooklyn. They have well-thought-out lyrics, woven harmonies, instrumental experimentation...all wrapped up in a lovely ugly handmade sweater. In addition to beautiful voices and exceptional glockenspiel-playing talent, they also seem to have a sense of humor and adventure with music. One of their most popular YouTube videos, a tribute to Will Smith, is a testament to this. In more traditional Brooklyn style, they also have a video at the 57th Street subway stop.
Hopefully, by now these videos have convinced you that you need to see Pearl and the Beard live. Well, luckily they will be at the Darkroom in Ukrainian Village on Thursday at 8pm along with Bob Dey's Tank Engine Man, The Great Crusades, and Andy Lund. Tickets are $8 and available at the door. Darkroom is located at 2210 W. Chicago Ave. (773) 276-1411
Chicago band All Eyes West play at Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., with emo/post-hardcore band Braid this Saturday. AEW is vocalist/bassist Justin Miller, guitarist Jeff Dean (The Bomb, Noise By Numbers), and Rick Fast (Dialogue) on drums. Doors open at 8 pm, is 18+, and is $16. You can get tickets and more info about this show here.
Head over to Double Door - 1572 N Milwaukee Ave - on Friday, September 9th for an acoustic set by Brendan Kelly (bassist/vocalist of The Lawrence Arms, former bands include Slapstick and The Broadways). Supporting him are Swayback from Denver, CO. and Ratasucia featuring Dan Hanaway and Chris Carr of The Honor System.
Doors open at 8:30 pm, is 21+ and is $8.
You can buy tickets and get more info of this show here.
We get going with a set of posts this week to help you decide how to spend your three days at Lollapalooza this weekend, August 5-7, 2011 in Grant Park. Today's breakdown pits bands in clashing time slots on Friday, and helps you decide where to point your flip-flops. See the full 2011 schedule options.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 5th
12 noon - 1pm TAB The Band vs. Wye Oak
You may want to ease into what will be an epic festival weekend in Chicago this weekend, but that doesn't mean you necessarily want to start out quietly. While grabbing some (yet untrampled) grass by the Sony stage and enjoying Lollapalooza opener Wye Oak would garner you some sweet songs by this dreamy duo, that may or may not be how you want to go. The Baltimore band (whose name, incidentally, comes from the official state tree of Maryland) has occasional fuzz and drums and powerful lyrics, but at the end of the day they are pretty (often very pretty) but not rock n' roll dirty. TAB The Band, on the other hand, might just be the drink of choice as you're psyching yourself up for what's a marathon, not a sprint. While their lead singer/bassist is a member of a royal rock family (Adrian Perry is Aerosmith Joe Perry's kid), he's also got a backup career option that has nothing to do with his ability to play bass &mdash he's an attorney. Adrian's brother, Tony Perry, is also in TAB The Band and the group's 2010 release, Zoo Noises, brings a kind of Southern Rock sensibility to the stage, with some loud harmonies and amplified jangly lyrics. It's likely to be the stage where you first feel the bass in your collarbones this weekend, and that goes a long way to making you wake up, now doesn't it? - Anne Holub
There aren't a whole lot of indie-rock superstars who have English degrees. But Ted Leo's one and he certainly uses it to his advantage. Across albums with Citizen's Arrest, Chisel and the Pharmacists, Leo's lyrics have always had the flavor of an academic and the catchiness of a pop-punk mastermind. And when he plays live, he's sure to let everyone in on his gift of gab. Whether it's answering every heckle or discussing New Jersey's finest local newspapers (Star-Ledger, baby!), he's constantly keeping a crowd entertained with anecdotes between songs that'd be fulfilling enough on their own.
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists headline Pritzker Pavilion on Monday, the 25th. It's the last edition of New Music Monday in 2011. Rachel Ries opens at 6:30PM. The show's free!
I was excited to get an actual hard copy of Gillian Welch's latest album The Harrow & The Harvest in the mail to review a few weeks back. Even more intriguing was when I went to research the work on her website, I found not one but two videos available — not for the songs on the album, but for the actual creation of the beautiful letterpressed CD insert.
I can't say that this album is one to pep you up when times are tough, but, much like the tradition of Americana and folk from whence it came (not to mention the longstanding "times are tough" themes of the Blues) these are songs that let you revel in the pain of everyday life. Like playing a break-up song on repeat for days on end, I couldn't get enough of these songs, though they didn't necessarily make me feel all bright and shiny. On the contrary, they're dark, sticky and hard to wash off your hands.
But know that The Harrow & The Harvest is a pleasure to listen to, even though it's dark on the inside. In a way, there's hope in the wide-open reality of her songs. There's a lot of talk of resignation that times can be hard (like when a friend steals your man) and sometimes you're in control of it (like when you break up with your boyfriend) "That's the way the cornbread crumbles." In the end, you're still alive, you're still around making your life what you will, and that ends up being the important part of it all. Take a moment and dive in. The album's perfect for lazy, warm afternoons on the couch watching the dust motes sail around the sunbeams, and lord knows we're having a few of those lately.
Watch Gillian Welch and David Rawlings perform on Conan back in June:
[Learn more after the jump including a lengthy video on the creative process behind the letterpressed CD cover.]
It's time: The US Air Guitar Championships National Finals arrive at the Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., Saturday night. The finalists are chosen (except for one -- the "Dark Horse Invitational" at Parlour Thursday night will settle that), with an amazing three Chicagoans in the lineup. Past champion Romeo Dance Cheeta, who supplied the amazing intermission performance in the Chicago regionals, joins them in this video:
After a few summers of experimentation, The Hideout Block Party is returning to Wabansia Avenue this September with a nod back to Hideout favorites of years past and a lineup that works best for the popular event — they're keeping it varied, (for the most part) local, and totally awesome.
Béla Fleck (second from left) and the Flecktones (L to R) Victor Wooten, Howard Levy, and Roy "Future Man" Wooten (photo credit: Jeremy Cowart)
While rock music and the electric guitar certainly steal the limelight when it comes to discussions of American contributions to global culture, it pays to take a moment to consider the humble banjo. The banjo has a quintessentially American origin story, having been derived from an amalgam of several different African instruments, primarily with gourd or shell bodies, hide coverings and stick necks. These primitive stringed instruments gained western-style fret boards and increasingly sophisticated construction as they gained popularity, initially as a part of black minstrel shows of the 19th century. Gradually, the banjo found a home in white Southern traditional music and bluegrass, which formed the basis of what we now know as country music.
After seeing a long period where the banjo was somewhat relegated to the niche genres of bluegrass and country, which of course had its adherents but lacked significant mainstream exposure, the banjo as of late has seen something of a comeback. Throughout the '90s and early 2000s, acts such as Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band used bluegrass, employing banjo as an integral instrument, as a launching point for projects that integrated elements of rock and improvisational music to appeal to a much wider fan base and steer many back towards the traditional music source material. In this day and age, it has become almost de rigueur for twee indy rock bands to trot out the banjo, and the humble instrument seems to have made something of a comeback.
There is a lush darkness simmering throughout Other Lives' latest album Tamer Animals. The Stillwater band lets its strengths in multi-instrumentation take the bulk of the focus with strings and brass finding their way into the mix. Opener "Dark Horse" comes out of the gate to establish a tone: the vocals are brooding; the keys are plodding; the guitars are methodical. Yet Other Lives rarely veer into some type of Black Heart Procession-like territory where death seems imminent. (And I say that with great respect for BHP's wrist-slitting style.) Gorgeous harmonies provide aural breaths of fresh air to devastating stories and enough glimmers of hope get through to make Tamer Animals a supremely engaging listen. With songs popping up on popular television programs, Other Lives seem well on their way to bigger things.
Other Lives headlines Schubas on Friday, the 22nd. Thomas Dybdahl opens. The show starts at 10PM. It's 21+ and $10. Schubas is at the corner of Belmont & Southport.
For years now, the Sword has thrived on a thrashy brand of metal with lyrics that wouldn't be out of place as soliloquies in Game of Thrones. (By the way, how boss was the first season of that show?) Gargantuan riffs and throttling rhythms are epitomized on their records and come through monstrous when they play live. Think of thrash-metal pioneers like Metallica and Slayer without heavy growling vocals. Then toss in some slick-but-not-too-slick production values that don't sacrifice aural carnage and you may have a pretty good idea of where the Sword falls on the metal chart.
On their third album, Warp Riders, singer and writer J.D. Cronise sets aside fantasy subject matter in favor of a science-fiction theme that is obvious from the cover art. Although the first song with lyrics references MacBeth, the concept album soon moves into territory that makes you wonder whether Cronise has been reading/watching a lot of Dune. (Perceptive listeners may catch a Warhammer 40k reference, too.) With lyrics like "immortality through artificial transformation to rule a world that soon will die" and "to cross a universe in hyper-spatial flight, we ride the warp of space into the womb of night", it's difficult to not be transported into a sci-fi mode when listening. But fear not, they're as heavy as ever on Warp Riders.
Introductory perceptions can stick around and then make you feel like a fool when they're later overturned. When I first heard Robert Ellis' music, I was completely convinced that he was an older singer who'd slipped under my radar and was hanging onto a crisp voice. Then to find out he's only 22... well, that was quite a wallop. Ellis' new album Photographs harks back to a time when LPs were split into themes among sides. The first half is concentrated around folk, country and bluegrassy tunes. His voice is accompanied only by an acoustic guitar for these. To some, they may come off sounding like Sufjan Stevens' Seven Swans or early Bon Iver. To others, they could be reminiscent of early country pioneers. The back half (beginning with "Comin' Home") is full of the rollicking rhythms and guitar licks that are most associated with the Bakersfield sound. A long-term residency in Houston showcased Ellis and his band constantly tinkering with styles and set lists that led to a band prepared for anything. In an interview last week, Ellis remarked that he hoped to find "patient" audiences on this tour. Based on what folks are saying in other cities, he's being seen by a lot of patient people.
Robert Ellis opens for the Old 97s at Lincoln Hall on Monday and Tuesday, the 18th and 19th. Tickets are $25. The shows are 21+ and start at 8PM. Lincoln Hall's at 2424 N Lincoln.
I have to admit that Times New Viking frustrated me for a long time. The Columbus trio's lo-(lo-)fi rock'n'roll came off as disjointed and abrasive to my ears far more than once. But when they finally clicked (at Metro when opening for Super Furry Animals in '08), they clicked in a big way. Gone were the unintelligible vocals, tinny guitar and muddy percussion. In were the otherwise buried harmonies and pummeling hooks. And the energy... oh, mercy; they had it in spades. 2008's Rip It Off is where all of the elements really fell into place, but it's 2011's Dancer Equired that sounds like a major turning point. Now, yes, it's a bit more streamlined and accessible than TNV's been in the past, but it's also the best documentation of their live strengths where what was lost behind the distortion is nowup front. And no matter what their records sound like, they always bring the goods live.
Times New Viking headlines the Empty Bottle on Wednesday, the 29th. Local garage rockers Tyler Jon Tyler and Dusty Bibles open at 9:30PM. The show's 21+ and $12. The Empty Bottle's at 1035 N Western.
Graham Van Pelt, who's done time with Think About Life, heads up Montreal's Miracle Fortress. His first album under the name was 2007's guitar-driven pop surprise Five Roses that mixed 60s pop, lush soundscapes and psychedelic undertones. Those who've been waiting for the sophomore effort... well, they need to keep an open mind. Was I the Wave?, released in April, marks a style shift as Van Pelt pulls the synths from the background up front. Now, instead of sounding like Yo La Tengo, Miracle Fortress calls to mind the Radio Dept. or a more rock-based Lindstrøm. Even though there is a noticeable difference between Five Roses and Was I the Wave?, Van Pelt's innate pop sensibilities are on full display throughout both. A fan of the debut wouldn't have any trouble finding the same earworming hooks on the followup, especially once they get to the back half and get a hint of "Miscalculations."
Miracle Fortress opens for Junior Boys at Metro on Friday, the 24th. The show starts at 9PM. It's 18+ and $16. Metro's located at 3730 N Clark.
Up and coming Chicago pop-rock darlings Holdfast are playing the this Saturday, June 12 in continued support of their EP Like The Sun which dropped earlier this year.
The unmistakable screeching of an El train that Like The Sun opens with is about the only sound on this short, but oh-so-sweet disc that is Chicago-born. This EP plays more like something that would hail from the West Coast, a smooth-rocking surfer's nightcap. With twinkling guitar lines, warbling vocals and folky breakdowns, every song off Like The Sun could be the soundtrack to the picturesque scene that's splashed across the EP's cover.
For anyone who might be a fan of music that is vital, expressive, and unique in a world filled with indie copycats, Parenthetical Girls are the band for you! Lead singer Zac Pennington's strange and wondrous swooning voice occupies his records and stage presence in a way like none other. It's unforgettable and visceral and it makes you feel like you're dancing. It would be wrong and dismissive to label it only as experimental or as pop music but it contains the best qualities of both worlds. In a whole new way, it reinvents something particularly enchanting.
Ratasucia is the newest project from Dan Hanaway, (The Honor System/The Broadways/Slapstick) Chris Carr, (The Honor System) and Tim Scare. You can order their record "White Noise Pollution" on Asian Man Record's website.
Doors open at 8 pm, is 18+ and is $6 in advance / $8 day of show.
You can buy tickets and get more info of this show on Ticket Web.
Crystal Stilts is back on tour following the release of their latest album, In Love With Oblivion. Oblivion is the ideal noise-pop album, weighing heavier on the pop than noise. The vocals are droning and nearly demonic — and yet, they complement the static dreamy guitar riffs floating between each word.
Oblivion contests the quintessential "Brooklyn psychedelic" sound that has much stigma attached to it — like the reverbing, echoing sounds of Animal Collective, or the lo-fi meanderings of Thee Oh Sees. This album is neither reverb-dense nor deliberately roughened to the point of discomfort and perspiration — it has funk, punk, pop and rock all rolled into one. The one element that has given Crystal Stilts their unique sound is the eerie descant vocals, which layer over lack-strung guitar, pop organs and a chipper tambourine to keep their cold baritones from droning in and out.
There is a hint of Jesus and Mary Chain in Oblivion, yet with crisp cohesion and whimsicality. Nevertheless there is a consistent theme in the album that intoxicates the listener with nostalgia — the rhythm. It's as if one were in a state of deep slumber, walking through their subconscious, fighting off the urge to wake up.
Eternal Summers, a Virginia two-piece band, opens with dreamy pop and swelling vocals sure to warm your heart. Their new Prisoners EP was released mid-April. The starry eyed lovers of Eternal Summers are a captivating scene to see live.
Crystal Stilts and the Eternal Summers will perform at Empty Bottle on Friday, May 20th at 10pm. Tickets are $12. The Empty Bottle is located at 1035 N. Western Ave. 773-276-3600.
In addition to their Empty Bottle show, the Crystal Stilts will also play an in-store performance at Permanent Records (1914 W. Chicago Ave.) on Saturday, May 21st at 1:30pm. (FREE, All-Ages, and BYO)
It's been a few years since David Vandervelde's been based out of the Chicago area, but he's never stayed away for very long. Once he was a sort-of protege of Jay Bennett; living, writing and recording with the ex-Wilco multi-instrumentalist. Some of the results from that arrangement ended up on his fantastic ethereal glam-rock debut album, The Moonstation House Band. But it was soon clear that Vandervelde had no intention of recreating that. A June '07 show at Darkroom sounded like Moonstation's airiness had been injected with a solid dose of chunky southern rock. On the followup, Waiting for the Sunrise, he took a page out of 70s AM rock records. And last year's Summer Time Hits went for a walloping power-pop sound. (Try listening to "Checkin' Out My Baby" and not having it stick in your head all day.) Earlier this week, Vandervelde released a single "More Than You Can Feel" that's yet another example of him effortlessly toying with his influences.
Vandervelde headlines the late show at Schubas on Saturday, the 7th. Expect to hear some new songs from his forthcoming album on Secretly Canadian. Detroit's High Strung open at 10PM. The show's 21+ and $10. Schubas is at the corner of Belmont & Southport.
The term post-rock seems to get a lot of mileage these days, effectively becoming a catch all term for people with traditional rocker gear making actual music with a little texture, the kind of thing that would have been labeled prog, or avant jazz, or simply popular music, depending on how far back you want to go. Fans of quirky music that still sounds, well, musical, could do no better this weekend than to head to the Bottom Lounge this Friday for El Ten Eleven.
The L.A. based duo, consisting of bassist/guitarist/loop master Kristian Dunn and drummer Tom Fogarty manage with their two instruments and a suite of electronic toys to invite comparisons to Explosions in the Sky, only punchier, or Tortoise, only more organic and slightly more grounded. The recipe is fairly straightforward, Dunn energetically wields a double-necked bass/guitar combo, layering riff upon riff with various pedals and effects, creates a counterpoint to Fogarty's capable rhythms, supplied by both machine and the use of a real drum kit. Even with a somewhat limited palette, the band manages to overachieve, creating nuanced, yet insistent songs that clearly demonstrate the value of experimentation. The duo manages to dodge any of the obvious pitfalls of the genre, or the band's makeup, managing to pull off dynamic songs refreshingly free of pretense or pomp, and managing to make a duo sound surprisingly big, but not overwrought. The band's music, composed by Dunn, was chosen to score much of the 2007 font-fetish film Helvetica, boosting the band's exposure. As of the band's latest album, El Ten Eleven's early work was more atmospheric, but as of 2010's It's Still Like a Secret, their music has more of driving dance element. Though the band is still, to a certain extent, woodshedding in smaller venues across North America, and has yet to make the hop across the pond, reliable sources have told me that the band is in fine form. Their show at the Bottom Lounge will, if nothing else, be different from anything else you've seen this year in Chicago, and possibly better.
L to R: Whitney White, Aaron Holland, Jayson "JC" Brooks, Osiris Khepera, Sharriese Hamilton, and Stephen Perkins in the Bailiwick Chicago production of Passing Strange. Photo credit: Jay Kennedy.
If my life story ever gets made into a musical, I want it to be narrated by JC Brooks. Even if the lyrics are composed entirely of lines describing boring everyday things: brushing my teeth; clocking in at work; making dinner; JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound would transform it into a gorgeously memorable journey.
Bailiwick Chicago has taken on Passing Strange, a Tony-Award winning rock/soul musical that premiered in New York in 2008, and was filmed by Spike Lee in a 2009 documentary of the same name. The results are stunning.
Even after seeing the Spike Lee documentary (I watched it directly after seeing the Bailiwick production) I can't imagine anyone but JC Brooks narrating, nor can I imagine any actors cast other than those in the Chicago production. Stephen Perkins plays the role of "Youth", the young man whose journey is being narrated by JC Brooks (who is narrating his own story, he is the grownup version of the Youth), and his take on the character has the perfect balance of self-consciousness and soul-searching that defines the story. Brooks' presence is at once omniscient and so perfectly blended into the story that the one never upstages the other.
Anders Trentemøller is becoming a force to be reckoned with. It isn't just that he has nearly 30 releases under his belt and has done dozens of remixes from top-notch electronic artists. It isn't just that his live show has stunned audiences around the world. (He blew folks away at Ultra last month. Not a bad place to pique interests, you know?) It's that he doesn't leave anything behind when he puts tracks together. He's clearly comfortable all over the map from minimal ("Vamp") to bangin' ("Killer Kat"). He also doesn't perfectly fit into either category. Some electronic musicians may drop everything plus kitchen sinks into their jams; Trentemøller does the same, but streamlines it.
Anders Trentemøller headlines the Mid with a full band on Thursday, the 21st. Dorit Chrysler and Decimal also play. Doors open at 9PM. The show's 21+ and $15. The Mid's at 306 N Halsted.
Tobacco is a guy that keeps the personal details to the minimum. All the more reason for us to focus simply on the music. We do know that he is also the leader of the band Black Moth Super Rainbow, and there are imprints of that ethereal psychedelia on his sophomore solo album, Maniac Meat. But don't be misled, manic better describes the material on this new album, sort of a music fountain suicide. Instead of a messy sludge though, we get a compelling mix of hip hop rhythms, electro fuzz and plenty of grit. Oh, and Beck. Beck guests on two of the more accessible tracks on Manic Meat, leaving his unmistakable stamp.
Familiar rolling synths appear throughout the album on tracks like "Six Royal Vipers," "Creepy Phone Calls" and "Lick the Witch," but feel much more 'sweaty basement club' than 'open air amphitheater.' With song names like "TV All Greasy," you get the idea.
Tobacco will be in town playing Lincoln Hall tomorrow night with special guest, Dutch punk band, Beans. Local band Shapers is also along for the tour and will play first. Tickets are $14. Show starts at 10pm. 18 & up. 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
Ratasucia is the newest project from Dan Hanaway, (The Honor System/The Broadways/Slapstick/Whale|Horse) Chris Carr, (The Honor System/Whale|Horse) and Tim Scare (Prosperity Wallet). All three members are longtime friends and plan to release their debut record on Asian Man Records this summer.
Ratasucia will be performing some of their new songs from their not yet released full-length album, entitled White Noise Pollution at Pancho's, (2200 N. California Ave.) on April 30th. They are performing alongside Lenin/McCarthy, Vacation Bible School, The Anchor and Dirty Bird. The show is all-ages and doors are at 6:00 PM.
[Submitted by Rachel Angres -- a music enthusiast and creative writing teacher. She is also a three time thumb war champion.]
Cults, the boy-girl pop duo, recently announced the release of their highly anticipated self-titled album, which will be available in May 2011. The track titled "Go Outside" off the 7" Cults: Go Outside quickly became an anthem for the indie community. The style is campy, with delicate layering of woodblocks, glockenspiels, marimba and other bells and whistles that add to their distinctive style.
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York and signed to Family Forest Records, Cults have cultivated a similar following to Peter, Bjorn & John, with a frenzied single that hooked listeners immediately. This modish movement could be accredited to the catchy harmonies of lead vocalist, darling Madeline Follin, who sings triumphantly to the shock and awe of the audience. Many are beguiled and baffled that her fragile figure can resonate such a strong voice. She sings alongside Guitarist Brian Oblivion, whose vocals amalgamate with Follin precisely. The two are notorious for energetic, poetic and endearing live performances and the cadence alone will generate such immediate warmth to the audience.
Cults will be performing at the Empty Bottle with openers Magic Kids and Superhumanoids on Thursday, April 7th. Tickets are $12. Showtime is 9:30pm. The Empty Bottle is located at 1035 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL, 773-276-3600.
Sharon Van Etten at Pitchfork Music Festival, 2010 (Photo by George Aye)
Love and loss are popular lyrical themes. OK, that may be a complete understatement and possibly too broad. Rephrased: lost love is an extremely popular lyrical theme. Despite the overuse of the theme, very few female vocalists are able to authentically portray romantic melancholy like Sharon Van Etten portrays romantic melancholy — and certainly without her acute self-examination. She prettily sings of betrayal, obsession, egotism and all the other emotions people hate in themselves and see in others. Her songs are simply structured, letting the impact of the words fill the space.
Sharon Van Etten credits such singer-songwriters as PJ Harvey and '60s-'70s singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan and the British folk singer Anne Briggs as being influential in her sound. More modern reference points tend to be the aforementioned Harvey and Cat Power.
Van Etten will be singing at Lincoln Hall with openers Little Scream and In Tall Buildings on Saturday, April 9th. Tickets are $14. Showtime is 9pm. Lincoln Hall is located at 2424 N. Lincoln Ave, 773-525-2501.
If the point of an album is to leave the listener with an image, then The Builders and the Butchers' 3rd album, Dead Reckoning, wants you to see this: mustachioed men grimacing over dirty, whiskey-filled cups while darkly clothed women carry dusty Bibles to frenetic Sunday services. The Builder's Gothic, backwoods folk/bluegrass sound lends itself perfectly to the period-crafted lyrics etched out by lead singer Ryan Solle. The songs are full of power struggles between God and the Devil above feverish devotes bordering on the occult. And Solle's twangy vocals evince Kentucky back porch revivals, especially during the chants of "There's a big white hand in the sky" over what sounds like a found-in-the garage-drum-set in "Blood for You."
Overall, The Builders And The Butchers sound a lot like The Decemberists. Which of course makes sense since not only are both bands from Portland, Oregon, but also because the band paired with The Decemberists' Chris Funk (for their 2nd album Salvation is a Deep Dark Well) and Adam Selzer (engineer for both The Builders' 2nd and 3rd albums). The Builders, however, manage to do their thing without ripping off The Decemberists. There's urgency in their tempos. They're raucous and passionate where The Decemberists often linger — they have a lot more rock. The Builders get there in part by splitting their drum set up between drummers Brandon Hafer and Ray Rude, with one on the kick drum and the other the snare. They also make it a point to impart on the audience the same sort of urgency.
While I work on my final wrap-up of all things SXSW and Austin, TX related (also catching up on sleep and returning to my normal job/life), I wanted to point out one of the bands we really enjoyed down in Texas will be at Lincoln Hall tomorrow night.
One of the high points of SXSW was the glittery disco dance party that was started during MillionYoung's set at the BirdDog party. Their blissed out dance music was upbeat yet chilled out, creating a sun soaked soundscape that made Austin feel even more like summer.
Like most SXSW bands, MillionYoung are now back out on the road post Austin, and they'll be opening up for Miami Horror tomorrow night at Lincoln Hall, alongside Brookyln electro-pop outfit Class Actress. If you are yearning for some warm weather dance music that is full of pop hooks, grab a ticket to tomorrow night's show. Tickets are $12, the show isn't sold out (yet), and for that price it's a steal for those three bands together. Then spend the night dancing away the Chicago winter blues. Remember, Pitchfork Festival is only four months away, so it can't keep snowing forever!
MillionYoung open up for Class Actress and Miami Horror tomorrow, March 25th, at Lincoln Hall. Tickets are $12, the show is 18+ and it starts at 10pm. You can purchase tickets online at Lincoln Hall.
Detroit's Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. were omnipresent at CMJ Music Marathon last fall, playing an inordinate number of shows to crowds of people whispering, "I'm here because I have to know what a band with that name sounds like." And let's just say a couple people were surprised. But the duo has more than just a memorable name. With electronic beats sampled underneath ethereal harmonies, calmly poppy guitars and other effects, their music is catchy without being overbearing. You might hear "Nothing But Our Love", think nothing of it and then find yourself humming it over and over and over for a week straight. (That's from a voice of experience.) At the moment, the band has a 4-song EP, Horse Power, teasing their sound. A full-length, It's a Corporate World, is on tap for June 17.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. headlines Schubas on Friday, the 25th. Athens, Georgia's Reptar and Chicago's Northpilot open at 10PM. The show's 21+ and $12. Schubas is at the corner of Belmont & Southport.
To say that Dex Romweber "still has it" would be a rather perfunctory way to sum up a 20-year career that's lit up so many stereos while still flying under the radar of others. Romweber's a powerhouse of rockabilly, honed in the garages of Athens, Georgia in the '80s with his former band, Flat Duo Jets. He's influenced the lo-fi sound of not only fellow-Athenians R.E.M., but also made a lifelong fan out of one Detroit-native, now Nashville resident, Jack White, who brought Romweber and his sister Sara on tour to keep them close. The Dex Romweber Duo is a family affair, but don't think that the drummer got her gig on anything other than sheer talent (she kicks some serious ass).
Dex's sound is a little surf, a little soul, a whole lot of the heart of rock's southern roots. The Duo's last album, Ruins of Berlin (Bloodshot, 2009), was full of moonshine-worthy voice and passion, and their forthcoming summer release Is That You In The Blue? (Bloodshot, 2011) was recently produced in North Carolina by Southern Culture on the Skids frontman Rick Miller. With fans stemming back to the cassette days (please don't ask what those are), there will sure be a throng of folks bellying up to the stage at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday night. Just don't mess with their hair, their shoes, or their rock n' roll. Dex is doing it right, and has been, for long enough to know how to deliver just the song and strut you need to make it through the night.
[mp3] Dex Romweber Duo "Lookout" from Ruins of Berlin
The Dex Romweber Duo opens for "Queen of Rockabilly" Wanda Jackson at Lincoln Hall on March 22, 2011. Jackson, who's been rocking for far longer than likely anyone in attendance, also caught the eager attention of Jack White, who produced her 2011 album The Party Ain't Over (Nonesuch). Tickets are $20 (adv), $25 (door). 18+. Lincoln Hall is located at 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-525-2501. Music starts at 8pm.
Over the past decade experimental rock has gradually taken the backseat to power pop and indie. It seems as though bands like At The Drive In are fewer and farther between than ever before. That's exactly why fans of current incarnations of the genre such as Circa Survive and Coheed and Cambria should take note of up and coming Chicagoans Goodbye Good Sense.
After two years of writing and just under a year of playing shows, Goodbye Good Sense are finally ready to record and release their brand of riff-heavy rock. The band has posted a free 3-song teaser EP for download to tide fans over until its first full-length is released this summer. If the songs on this EP are any indication of what's to come from these newcomers, expect some seriously technical musicianship and an inventive disregard for traditional 4/4-time rhythms.
The essential part of The Modern Lovers, Jonathan Richman's distinctive vocals and music have been haunting the wealth of bands that have popped up since the first self titled Modern Lovers release back in 1976. One can find a similar quirkiness at times in the lyrics and delivery of Stephen Malkmus. Furthermore, Jens Lekman's sincerity seems entirely reminiscent of Richman's own style.
If I were to say that there was a Parisian electronic group churning out a slew of bonkers remixes and carefully releasing their original music in the wake of those remixes, I wouldn't be surprised if you said, "Oh, you're talking about Justice circa 2006." While that would be accurate, today we're talking about Chateau Marmont. The foursome is responsible for remixes of Peter, Bjorn & John, Royksopp, La Roux, Midnight Juggernauts, Ladyhawke, etc. They also have a few EPs and a new mix called C-M-X. Devotion to synthesizers, electronic music pioneers, vocoders and clear adoration of a lot of thumping beats tie Chateau Marmont together.
Chateau Marmont's first US show is Wednesday, March 9th, at the Abbey. They open for Tahiti 80. Chicago locals Gemini Club and the Nurse Novels open at 8:30PM. The show's 21+ and $15. The Abbey's located at the corner of Elston & Grace.
Keithen Terrell performs outside the Chicago Cultural Center.
Chicago Street Musicians, an organization founded in 2009 that celebrates Chicago-area street and subway performers, is bringing a number of CSM musicians to House of Blues for a concert on Thursday.
CSM Founder and Director Gabriel Chapman, who is a musician himself, listened to street and subway musicians regularly on his commute on the Blue Line, and thought it would be great to get people to actually listen to them, rather than breeze right past them on their way to work or home.
"One of the things we realized early on as we started to work on the website and video was the misperceptions that people have about street musicians," Chapman says. "Changing those perceptions has become a goal of ours. So often I hear people remark that street musicians are homeless. It seems to me that that is the prevailing understanding -- even among my close friends -- which could not be farther from the truth. Thinking briefly about the musicians that I know -- and I may only know a half to two thirds of those who play in Chicago -- there are people who work full-time jobs outside of performing, people in grad school, people making a living as full-time musicians, people who have recorded multiple albums, people who have music books that you can buy on Amazon.com, etc."
When Nicole Atkins last played Chicago, her backing band was called the Sea. When she returns on Friday night, it will be with the Black Sea. (No, they're not from Yalta. They're actually a few Ambulance Ltd refugees.) With that in mind, it shouldn't be a surprise that she's had a couple rough years lowlighted by some personal and professional breakups. But if not for those, her new album Mondo Amore most likely wouldn't be terrifically devastating. The jibes begin right away in the first track called "Vultures" (sample lyric: 'take all they can get until you're dirt and bone') and barely let up through "The Tower" (not exactly about building one). Atkins' superb voice carries pain, regret and freedom through tunes that cover stomping blues, twangy rock'n'roll and pop ballads.
Nicole Atkins & the Black Sea headline Subterranean on Friday, March 4. Pepper Rabbit opens at 9:30pm. Cotton Jones also plays. The show's 17+ and $13 in advance, $15 at the door. Subterranean's located at 2011 W. North Ave.
Chicago's Tiger Bones have a new EP Go Over Here that was produced by the Ponys' Jered Gummere. Thirty seconds into the first track, that melodic Ponys-like guitar sound comes up. But Tiger Bones has darkness, too - pulling angular post-punk influences into surf-rock and tying it up with some reverb in a lo-fi aesthetic. Catchy? You bet! Something like if the Soft Pack were from northern England instead of southern California. "Kill Them" sets the mood as it builds into a frenzy and the EP continues in that vein. However, the most interesting tune might be the closer: a live amalgam of Nilsson's "Jump Into the Fire" and Joy Division's "Transmission." (As someone who thinks Harry Nilsson was a genius and Joy Division's greatest achievement was New Order, I hear a little too much "Transmission", but there is an admirable attempt to incorporate Nilsson's wailing. Still, I can't wait to hear this live.)
Go Over Here will be available on a 12" and digitally on March 8. The release show is Thursday, March 3, at the Whistler. Tiger Bones headlines. Village opens at 10PM. There's no cover, but it is 21+. The Whistler's at 2421 N Milwaukee. Tiger Bones is also playing the Hideout's SXSW Sendoff Party on March 12.
Paul Collins' latest album is one of the most accurately titled records ever - King of Power Pop. From the Nerves to the Breakaways to the Beat, he's made his mark on the genre like few people on any others. Every band he's been in has had a knack for a catchiness that always sounds similar, but never the same. From the rapid drumming to the tight hooks to the universal subjects, his bands have been planting earworms in brains for 30+ years. He and his band are on a quick Midwest tour at the moment, playing hits from across his career.
"I don't consider myself a singer, I consider myself a performer who sings." says Future Island's front man Sam Herring in an LA Times blog interview. Herring has been described as intense, captivating and one of the most interesting front men in indie music. Maybe that's because, as a performer, Herring is so able to recreate the energy, passion and pain that existed when his songs were first felt.
Future Islands' genre-defying sound is something like a conjugal combination of New-Wave and Post-Punk, it having the emotion and synth of the former and the power and drive of latter. They have self-described their sound as "post-wave". If anything, Future Islands' 2010 album In Evening Air (released on Chicago's Thrill Jockey label) is an autobiographical, yet universally applicable, chronicle. It's moody, jarring and distorted with layers of synth, pulsating drums and the occasional industrial electric guitar riff. Herring's voice quivers and growls with Waits-like roughness through each song's relatable struggle. It's perfectly raw.
Future Islands are at the Empty Bottle Saturday, February 19th, and promise to put on an intense live show. There are threats that this will be an Empty Bottle sell out so get tickets pre-show. The Show starts at 10:00 pm and tickets are $8. Empty Bottle is at 1035 N Western Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60622, (773) 276-3600.
As a warm up, Check out Future Islands' live in-studio sets at KCRW or KEXP .
Bay-area rapper Lyrics Born (Tom Shimura) hits the stage at the Abbey Pub this weekend with no less than a full band and hopefully some fresh batteries in his microphone. The maestro has rocked stages at Lollapalooza, and almost all the venues in town — he tours so much he must have mastered the science of packing a suitcase. But this isn't just your ordinary "Hip-Hop Hooray" rap artist. Blessed with a gift for enunciating the most complicated of rhymes, and for the good sense to bring a solid live band into the studio, Lyrics Born is as entertaining to listen to as he is to shake your booty to.
His latest album, As U Were is no exception to a series of energetic solo releases which began back in the late-'90s with singles, and really took off with 2003's ...Later That Day and the widely successful remix album, 2005's Same !@#$ Different Day. He followed up with a live double album in 2006, another studio release in 2008 and this fall's latest album, As U Were. This one isn't just rap beats, but LB takes a lot more funk into the studio to create some pretty groovy songs like the more sung than rapped "Lies X 3" and the disco-influenced "Coulda Woulda Shoulda". Songs like "Oh! Baby" are classic Lyrics Born with machine gun-fast lyrics alongside piano and brass horns, oh, and some vocoder too.
[mp3] Lyrics Born - Lies X 3 (Keys N Krates remix)
Lyrics Born performs at the Abbey Pub along with Keys N Krates, The Opus, Abstract Giants, and Vapor Eyes on Saturday, January 29th. The doors open at 8pm, music starts at 8:30pm. Tickets are $18 (adv), $20 (door). 21+. The Abbey Pub is located at 3420 W. Grace St. 773-478-4408.
Ólafur Arnalds is a 24-year old multi-instrumentalist whose piano-based compositions weld electronic and classical music. The Icelandic performer had previously been in little-known hardcore bands, but it's his solo output that has garnered the most attention. His most recent album, ... and they have escaped the weight of darkness, adds strings and more influence from pop music than he's let in before, but where his music really excels is in its crescendos. Many songs begin with simple piano and slowly work in strings, percussion, guitars and effects/programming to the point where it's eventually a melodic cacophony.
2011 is shaping up to be a big year for Arnalds, most notably because of three film scores, including for the much-discussed Another Happy Day that premiered at Sundance this past Sunday. On this tour, Arnalds' performances will be assisted by a light and visual show as he grinds out music from all phases of his solo career. (Sorry to anyone expecting hardcore.)
Ólafur Arnalds has two shows in Chicago on Sunday. At 3pm, he'll play at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of their Sunday Salon series. Admission is free. At 7:30pm, he'll play at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Admission is $10 for students, $13 for members and $15 for everyone else. Chicagoan Paul Giallorenzo opens at the MCA. Both shows are open to all ages. The Chicago Cultural Center is at 78 E. Washington. The MCA is at 220 E. Chicago.
Starting this February 13th, hungry music lovers of all ages can head to Schubas' music room on Sundays at noon to gobble their fill of hearty fare and low-key country, blues, and folk at the weekly Acoustic Brunch Series. Local string-pluckers The Pickin' Bubs kick things off on the 13th with a mix of traditional ballads and original compositions for the mandolin, guitar, fiddle and banjo. The folky flavor of tunes like "Sweet Bird" and "Long Black Veil" go great with a two-egg country breakfast from the Harmony Grill's extensive brunch menu. Also on the schedule: Goldmine Duo, Birdy, the Kettle Moraine String Band, and Sleepy Lou.
Schubas is located at 3159 N. Southport Ave. (at Belmont). 773-525-2508.
Ever since her debut with the Fugees in 1993, there have been two distinct ways the public has viewed Lauryn Hill. For the first part of her career, she was seen as a driving force in the hip-hop community. With her intelligent rhymes, intense delivery and excellent singing voice, she represented something exciting and fresh. Ever since 2001, Hill has been portrayed as inconsistent performer, showing up to shows with incredible lateness and performing unrecognizable versions of her songs.
In 1996, Hill and The Fugees released The Score, featuring hit remakes of Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" and Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly With His Song." In 1998 Hill released her solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The hit single "Doo Wop (That Thing)" went to #1 on the pop charts and won a Grammy for album of the year.
2001 marked the release of her live MTV Unplugged album, which was full of erratic ramblings and unfinished songs. Since then, Hill has mostly been absent from the live scene except for a handful of shows with the Fugees and a few solo gigs.
R&B crooner Otis Clay is a native of Mississippi who moved to Chicago as a child. Clay joined the gospel group Blue Jay Quartet of Birmingham at the age of 15 and worked with a variety of gospel groups throughout the late '50s and early '60s. Clay was a very influential soul artist during the '60s and '70s and his hit "That's How It Is (When You're in Love)" is a classic in the soul and R&B world.
In 1971, Clay began recording for Hi Records, where he wrote the soul hit "Trying to Live my Life Without You" which was later covered by Bob Seger and made it to #5 on the pop charts.
Otis Clay takes the stage at SPACE in Evanston on Saturday, January 15 at 8 PM. The show's all ages and tickets are $15 in advance, $20 the day-of and $25 for reserved table seating. SPACE is located at 1245 Chicago Ave.
Last year, Minneapolis' Jeremy Messersmith completed his third album, The Reluctant Graveyard, that followed up on two other albums of singer/songwriter tunes evoking power-pop ("Violet") and chamber-pop ("A Girl, A Boy, and A Graveyard") like if Liam Hayes and the gentler Brendan Benson collaborated. Folky elements dot his music and with those come sad moments, but listening to Messersmith is mostly an uplifting experience. He's clearly comfortable jumping genres and adept with an olio of instrumentation. Even when the subject matter is grim (as you might imagine it would be on an album titled like his most recent), the music is bouncy and his voice is warm so you could choose to listen to it simply as another instrument.
Jeremy Messersmith opens for Markéta Irglová at Schubas on Thursday, January 13. Sam Amidon and Bone & Bell also play. The show's 18+ and starts at 8PM. It's sold out, but someone will probably be trying to get rid of a ticket. Just be sure to get there early for Messersmith. (Personally, I'm interested to see how he fits a string ensemble on that little stage with him and his band.)
It's the first week of January and you're coming out of that post-listmaking funk when you've shelved Kanye West, Deerhunter and Autre Ne Veut for a little while. So why not kick off your year of showgoing (if you haven't already with Chuck Berry or Nobunny or Holdfast) with a couple Chicago bands? With numerous 2010 releases, Secret Colours and Apteka (not the Polish band) have anchored themselves as local names to keep an eye on. Secret Colours' debut album showcases them establishing psychedelic-like moods with cool detached vocals, reverbed guitars and a range of percussion. Apteka dial it up a notch with pummeling rhythms and guitars like jackhammers. Both have a keen understanding of their ideal atmosphere and keep listeners locked in.
Secret Colours headline the end of a short tour at Subterranean on Saturday, January 8. It's an early all ages show at 6PM. Admission's $10. Apteka and Indianapolis' We Are Hex open. Subterranean's located at 2011 North.
The Chicago Zine Fest is now fund-raising for its second year, and you can help them raise money by attending their benefit show this Saturday, December 18 at The Juicer (house show), 1238 N. Noble St. It is near the Division stop of the Blue Line and it will be from 7 to 10:30pm.
Listening to Northpilot's song "Naked Before My Captors," you can feel the onset of another Chicago winter. Snowflakes practically swirl from the track's twinkling pianos as lead singer Travis Shaver metaphorically exposes parts of himself to the listener. Perhaps it's Michigan's brutal winters or Detroit's economic woes that echo through the urban angst of Northpilot's work. It's the sort of decay and dystopia that underlies the movie 8 Mile and BBC's 2009 documentary about the city. Originally from Michigan, friends Shaver and Mark Colwell discussed the band's history and Chicago's scene over hot tea at Lakeview's LooseLeaf Lounge Wednesday night.
As the founding members of Northpilot, Shaver and Colwell migrated to Chicago in early 2003 after college. Since then, they quickly added others to their collective. The band is now comprised of other fellow Michigan transplants, including Matthew Cragnolin on bass, Dan Julian on drums, Danielle Schnurer on keyboards and Justin Vittori on guitars and whistling. Just as they added members to the band, Northpilot has also been adding fans.
The 1900s' second full-length is a bit of a departure from their debut. Whereas seemingly no one who wrote about it didn't mention a correlation to early Fleetwood Mac, the connection on Return of the Century is tenuous at best. Now they're more steeped in light, breezy and terribly hooky pop music. ("Zerkalo" sounds like it could be a Dear Catastrophe Waitress outtake.) But it's not like they've lost the ability to rock out. They can tear off at a good clip just as well as ever, as displayed with the rollicking rhythms on "Babies." Between the myriad of instruments, the great strides made with their male/female vocal dynamic and excellent use of space in sound, Return of the Century has a little something new to hear on each listen.
The 1900s headline the Empty Bottle on Friday, December 3. Tyler Jon Tyler, who also have a recent album out, and ex-Chicagoan/current Nashvillian Tristen, whose new album is slated for release in 2011, open at 10PM. The show's 21+ and $10. The Empty Bottle's at 1035 N Western.
Blitz & Glitz: that's one way to describe Diamond Rings live aesthetic, it also happens to be the name of one of the many M.A.C. makeup colors singer/songwriter John O' wears during a show. Diamond Rings is the solo pop-synth-based side project of John O', also singer to the Canadian indie rock band The D'Ubervilles. Solo John O' burst onto the Internet scene in the summer of 2009 with the DIY video for "All Yr Songs" to positive blog and Internet buzz. He followed the video up with a series of singles and videos featuring green screen camera trickery, over the top choreography, and daring androgynous outfits and makeup.
With his combination of Bowie like aesthetic and catchy electro-synth-pop songs, Diamond Rings promises to at least make your body move (especially if you grew up in the 80's) and hopefully get you to sing along too. But that description alone may sell Diamond Ring's music a little short. Despite his affinity for glammed-out makeup and flashy leggings, singer-songwriter John O' doesn't seem to be the next Gaga-like pop phase. His catchy songs are grounded by his iconic baritone voice (which has drawn comparisons to Ian Curtis of Joy Division and Magnetic Field's Stephin Merrit) and themes of pain, personal growth, evolution, finding oneself and love. There is substance underneath the glam.
Every now and then a city comes out of nowhere spewing a style of music with relatively so much ease that you can't help but think, "How did this happen? And why there of all places?" It's been New York, Seattle, Austin... even Omaha had a few good years. Now it's Atlanta with power-pop/punk. Black Lips and Gentleman Jesse & His Men have been churning out jams for a few years, but the Heart Attacks, Barreracudas and the Biters are on their heels. Two EPs and a lot of touring have certainly gotten Biters' name around in 2010. The quartet wears their influences on their sleeves, sounding reminiscent of Cheap Trick, the Humpers, the Exploding Hearts, etc. and looking the part. Gigantic hooks, fast and tight rhythms and whiny vocals combine for a power-pop time capsule.
The Biters open for Chicago's Downtown Struts, who remind me of, say, Rancid and Jason & the Scorchers, and the Non-Believers at Subterranean on Tuesday, November 23. Prim Roses open at 8PM. The show's 17+ and $10. Subterranean's at 2011 W North.
This Saturday marks the live debut of Chicago rockers The Shakes. However, the members of this four-piece are no strangers to the stage. Bassist Joe Lussa and singer Jimmy Lopez, spent time with Chicago-based rock outfits The Audition and The Highlife, respectively.
Lussa parted ways with The Audition in early 2009. After taking a break from music, he was asked to play several shows with Lopez's then-current band. The two began writing new music together and eventually added a guitarist and a drummer to their line-up.
The Shakes have since written eight songs and are ready to showcase them. The band members hope to prove that they aren't relying too heavily on their previous bands' sounds.
Danielle Anderson of Fort Collins, Colorado is a YouTube video star. She released a new record this past summer called Two Bedroom Apartment (Youngest Daughter Records), and if you liked Juno or Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, her music and album art appeal to youth sensitivities via acoustic pop aesthetics. Anyhow. She is cute and she has charm. I was watching this particular video of her performing "On the Planet Earth," and within four minutes, I was convinced that I could be cute with charm if only I had a ukulele like hers, which is how I bought one, and now I know how to play a sparse and flawed cover of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." But still, what I am trying to say is that Danielle who ate the sandwich possesses soft humor and small stories that can easily inspire anyone to feel warm, and since we can expect tomorrow to be partly cloudy and partly windy, it will be a good time to catch her all-ages show at Schubas, 3159 N Southport, for only $10. The show begins at 7pm.
DJ SHADOW is live in Chicago Friday! That exclamation should be all the instigation you need to pop open a new browser, type in www.parkwestchicago.com and purchase a concert ticket.
If, for some reason, you still need to be persuaded -- DJ Shadow is a legend. He's credited with creating experimental instrumental hip-hop style associated with the London-based Mo' Wax label. Maybe you remember his album Entroducing from 1996? It won a Guiness award for being the first full length album to be created entirely from samples. It has also made hundreds of "best album ever" type lists. And it's really, really awesome.
Freak folk outfit Ariel Pink have kept busy this past year, charming Pitchfork with their brand of sunny pop of a bygone era and touring with the likes of the Flaming Lips. The band (a brainchild of reclusive leader Ariel Pink) have won over critics with their lo-fi release Haunted Graffiti, a mix of hazy West Coast sound with a backbone of old style soul and pop. For a taste of their work, check out the video below for "Bright Lit Blue Skies."
The band have been traveling across Europe recently, documenting their life on the road online, and are now back stateside to co-headline a tour with Tropicalia legends Os Mutantes. If you want a perfect double bill of fuzzed out psychedelic rock, then you'll want to be at the Metro this Friday when the tour rolls into town. Haven't grabbed a ticket yet? You're in luck because we have a pair for one lucky reader! Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Pink!" and you and a friend might just be checking out the show. [Update! We have a winner! Congrats to Mike!]
Ariel Pink and Os Mutantes play the Metro this Friday, November 19th. The show is 18+ and doors open at 8pm with the show starting at 9pm. Tickets are $21.
A singer/songwriter plays guitar-based music but yearns for more accessibility. A producer remixes one of her songs. The singer contacts the producer to say she really enjoys the mix and to see what else can be done with her voice and his beats. A band is formed. Class Actress has its roots all over the country, but their base is now Brooklyn. Elizabeth Harper, Mark Richardson and Scott Rosenthal turned a few heads earlier this year with their electro-poppiness and synthesized beats highlighted by Harper's seductive vocals. Think Figurine, Barcelona (the DC band), a brighter Ladytron, etc. Their Journal of Ardency EP is the precursor to a forthcoming album next year.
Class Actress plays with Jagjaguwar's Small Black at the Empty Bottle on Monday, November 15. Chicago's Shapers open at 9:30PM. The show's 21+ and $10. (Yeah, I know; I thought the Bottle was free on Mondays, too.) The Empty Bottle's at 1035 N Western.
Ann Arbor native Mayer Hawthorne draws his influences from soul heavyweights like Holland-Dozier-Holland, Smokey Robinson and Curtis Mayfield, as well as some of the less popular yet powerful voices of 60s soul like Eddie & Ernie and Arthur Conley. His debut album A Strange Arrangement is highlighted not just by sublime songwriting, but a solid grasp of the feeling of the era that this retro-soul harks back on. (It's been said that even Peanut Butter Wolf thought Hawthorne's tracks were covers on first listen.) While Mayer Hawthorne's voice may not evoke the depth of a contemporary like Sharon Jones, he's still a young man in the game, exemplified by an excellent falsetto that isn't overused. It was just a few years ago he was best known as a hip hop DJ, but he's made major strides since committing to performing. And as he continues on, his confidence grows, as evidenced last week in Boston when he announced, "This will not be a concert; this is a show." Now, that's someone you should trust to entertain. It might also be good to pack your dancing shoes.
Mayer Hawthorne & the County headline Subterranean on Wednesday. The show starts at 7:30PM. Tickets are $17 and it's open to all ages. Subterranean is at 2011 North Ave.
No two people will describe The Arrivals' sound the same way, though many have tried; "Naked Raygun trying to revisit The Kinks," from their bio, does well. Keith Harman from Exclaim! magazine accurately describes Volatile Molotov as "a Billy Bragg-meets-Futureheads new wave synthesis. These songs couple the former's penchant for storytelling, slightly off-tune vocal delivery and overtly socio-political slant with the latter's innate sense of dynamic, passionate, emotive choruses that even Robert Smith would have to admit are beyond his spectrum." Other reviews even mention Refused, all trying to put their finger on it. But The Arrivals are their own animal. Filled with classic rock and punk references, they have called Volatile Molotov their "love letter to their favorite music," and Todd Congelliere, of Recess Records, says it "listens like a classic novel."
Opening the show are The Intelligence (In The Red Records) who play reverb-drenched psychy-garage. Toys That Kill (ex. FYP) are San Pedro, CA legends with a signature punk/psych stomp, and The Gateway District (ex. Soviettes, Rivethead, Salteens), a female-fronted Minneapolis power house of great songs filled with punk passion, country heart, and everything in between.
Doors are at 9pm and the show starts at 9:30. Tickets are $10 and the show is 17+. In any case, it's not to be missed.
The early punk band DA! performed for the first time in over 20 years this past May at the Empty Bottle, and will be performing on Saturday at the Abbey Pub with Radar Eyes and the Green Lady Killers. The quartet formed in 1978, and broke up in 1982. The film You Weren't There, which focused on the late '70s/early '80s punk scene in Chicago, featured DA! I spoke to bassist and vocalist Lorna Donley, who, among other things, has been working as a librarian in the years since DA!
GB: I just watched the videos for the song "Next To Nothing", was that shot on the brown line?
DA!: Yes, that's the old Fullerton station. Dave shot that a long time ago, when he was in film school.
It's cool to see footage of the CTA from 1981.
As an archivist, it makes me cry to see the state that my stuff is in, hopefully there will be more ephemera to come -- I have a lot of fliers, I've found some lyric sheets written in my 17-year-old handwriting.
I can only explain Swedish experimental pop band Miike Snow's likability in so many terms: hooky, adventurous, playful - for starters. The band is a pleasure you don't have to feel guilty about, because underneath their sometimes-discotheque beats come a set of insightful lyrics that proves some real sensibility.
Their 2009 self-titled debut record takes pop-friendly songs and fractures them into shards of ambient and often-improvised mixing. After working with top-notch producers like Mark Ronson, the band has been expanding its repertoire by putting its own spin on tracks by Passion Pit, Peter Bjorn And John and Vampire Weekend.
Their live shows require an arsenal of digital equipment, which they use to elaborate on their already hard-wired songs. But the best part about Miike Snow is that their sound never feels calculated - some of the best tracks (i.e.: Animal, Sylvia) feel like they were discovered by accident, in the midst of a playful romp on the synth.
Miike Snow will perform at The Riviera Theatre, 4746 N Racine Ave. The show begins at 8pm and tickets are $24
English ex-pat Jamie Lidell began his musical career with some undeveloped ideas before catching on with Christian Vogel as part of the electronic duo Super Collider. However, in 2005, Lidell released an ode to funk and soul, Multiply, that saw his popularity swell. Its combination of funk, soul and electronic music drew raves as Lidell stood up from behind the laptop to showcase his impressive vocals and prove that "revivalist" isn't synonymous with "copycat" by integrating digital techniques that weren't available to his funk and soul inspirations. On the proper followup, Jim, the styles meshed smoother to sound not far from Jamiroquai or southern soul.
Compass picks up in 2010 where Jim left off. Now, without reading anything about the album beforehand, its sound (especially the effects on Lidell's vocals) instantly reminded me of Odelay. (So it was no surprise a couple read interviews later to learn that Beck was one of many guests that also include Nikka Costa, Feist, James Gadson, Grizzly Bear, etc.) That whole kitchen sink approach to songwriting is on display throughout Compass. It's a little messier (in a good way) and downtempo than its predecessors, but still a sonic whirlwind. However, as good as Lidell's albums are, they pale in comparison to his energetic live show. Even as he becomes a bit more eccentric (um, did you see what he was wearing at Lollapalooza?), he's at heart an entertainer; bounding about the stage, putting his electronic roots on display, wowing with his full voice and seemingly having a blast every second.
Jamie Lidell headlines the Bottom Lounge on Saturday, October 9. Zeus, formerly the backing band of Broken Social Scene's Jason Collett and contributors to Compass, open at 9PM. Tickets are $20 and the show's 17+. The Bottom Lounge is at 1375 W. Lake.
Not too long ago, Atmosphere announced plans for a fast North American tour with their Rhymesayers label-mates Blueprint, Grieves & Budo, and DJ Rare Groove--and tomorrow night--they are bringing their unpredictable live energy to us with songs from their new double EP, To All My Friends, Blood Makes the Blade Holy. Their final show of the tour.
Ever since the Minneapolis group formed in 1995, Sean Daley aka Slug and producer Ant have independently sold thousands of records. Quite popular, they seem. As they have been likened to the "hip-hop equivalent of the 1992 Olympic men's basketball squad," there is no doubt tomorrow night's show will gather fans like a game with everyone clapping for the same party.
Atmosphere and friends will perform at the Congress Theatre, 2135 N Milwaukee Ave. The show begins at 7:30pm and tickets are $23.
We have no shortage of music festivals here in Chicago, but Riot Fest stands out from the rest by bringing in punk acts spanning generations, reuniting legendary bands, and supplying a plethora of "secret" shows around the city. I had a blast at last year's festival, and this year they've really outdone themselves with an over-the-top line-up.
One of the most unstable bands in terms of members as well as sound Swans takes the place as being the most uncategorizable bands still making music today. Michael Gira the band's founder and only continuous member has a cult like following of fans who thrive in the band's course and abrasive sound as well as dark themed songs that takes you beyond the edge of comfort.
Gira has written some of the scariest lyrics that when combined with a blunt force of the extreme sound has the potential to leave you happily blacked out in a puddle of your own drool. The band was thought to have dissolved in to obscurity but according to their Myspace page "Swans Are Not Dead" and My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky, the band's twelfth album was just released September 27th.
You can see this legendary band when Swans plays at Bottom Lounge October 5th. The adorably unique harpist and singer Baby Dee opens for a night of conflicting sounds that will be the end of the world if it is missed. Tickets are $25 and the music starts at 8. Bottom Lounge is located at 1375 W. Lake St (312) 666-6775.
There was a time in 2007, just after Field Music's second proper album Tones of Town was released, that there was uncertainty about the rock band's future. It seemed that Field Music as a band didn't interest its sibling creators as much as Field Music as a brand. In the hiatus, David and Peter Brewis went off on their own roads with Field Music-sponsored side projects School of Language and the Week that Was. The results were in the same neighborhood as when an established band member makes a solo record. It's clear where they're rooted; it's just a little different, like someone's enjoying the freedom to do what someone else in the band must loathe.
But as with all artists looking for a change of scenery, eventually the Brewis brothers returned to Field Music as a band. That return led to their second self-titled album, nicknamed Measure. It picks up where they left off, but shows progress in tighter arrangements and richer harmonies. Where Tones of Town was practically twee, Measure has edge to its pop. It's still easy to hear XTC in their music, especially in the superb "Effortlessly", but now it's a later era (think Oranges & Lemons) that comes to mind most. Although, it's easy to hear a lot of influences across the 70-minute 20-song album that never wanes in quality or amusement.
Field Music headlines the Beat Kitchen this Sunday, October 3. It's the last show of their US tour. Local bands Death Ships and Canasta open at 8PM. Admission's $12 and the show's 17+. The Beat Kitchen is at the corner of Belmont & Hoyne.
The Acorn began as a one-man project, but soon its sound expanded to a point beyond where just one man could contain it. Their first album was inspired by bandleader Rolf Klausener's mother - a Honduran immigrant to Quebec. It has a breezy indie-folk sound. Its followup is the rockier No Ghost for which Klausener drops Yo La Tengo, Talk Talk and Crazy Horse as influences. Judging from that progress and the excellent execution, it appears that the Acorn are well on their way up the ladder.
The Acorn headline Schubas on September 30 with Toronto's folk autoharpist Basia Bulat, whose music you might know from a Subaru commercial. Thursday's show starts at 9PM, is 21+ and $12. Schubas is at the corner of Belmont & Southport.
Brisk air, light jacket season, a time to grow a full beard if I could: it seems like Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and the Cairo Gang are coming to town just in time with their slow reflection songs--very American, very sad sometimes--to suit the drop in temperature. The songs can also be called poems, or stories, or vignettes, or I don't know. Sometimes I think of John Steinbeck while I'm listening to this music.
With all the albums and singles and collaborations and monikers in which Will Oldham has been involved, it might be too much for someone new to decide how to approach him, but there are repeating pastoral images running in his music and lyrics, like themes, as if you might be able to enter this narrative in progress at any time because it's not quite linear. If that makes sense. I think it does.
Like tomorrow night would be a good time to check out Bonnie 'Prince' Billy who will perform with the Cairo Gang from their collaborative album, The Wonder Show of the World. If it sounds like a carnival, it isn't, but still, I wonder what Will Oldham and Emmett Kelly have planned. They will play at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. An early show begins at 7pm and a later one at 10pm. Tickets are $20.
Portland Oregon band Tu Fawning was once an interesting small project consisting of Joe Haege of 31Knots and vocalist/musician Corrina Repp. With bigger ideas in mind, the group doubled in size to pursue a more complex sound. The comparisons range from Portishead and Tom Waits to Liars and Cab Calloway it is hard to imagine what they might have been thinking with their first full length release, Hearts On Hold due out October 5th on Polyvinyl Records, but they made a record with beautiful dark elements that grabs on and strives you to keep listening. The eerie, creep filled exploration is lyrically poetic, rhythmically driving and will send shivers down your spine when they play live.
All members of Tu Fawning are skilled in many of the same musical mediums, so there might be some Menomena-esque instrument swapping when the band opens for them at the Metro Saturday night. Suckers also plays for an unbelievable night of great music.
The Metro is located at 3750 N. Clark St. Tickets are $16 and the music starts at 9pm. (773) 549-4140.
Go to Ronny's - 2101 N. California Ave - this Saturday, September 25th for a very special record release show for The Brokedowns new record Species Bender and Bust! new 10" Suck Kuts.
The Brokedowns are Johnny, Kris, Moose, and Grozzy from Elgin who have been playing and touring together since 1998. They recently signed with Red Scare (Sundowner, The Menzingers, and The Falcon) and put out their fourth full length last week. You can stream Species Bender free here on Punknews.org.
The general description of Shonen Knife ( 少年ナイフ) is that they are an all-girl Japanese rock band that formed in the early 80s and were influenced by 60s girl groups and punk bands like the Ramones. The attention they had received led to a double-album tribute featuring bands like Sonic Youth, L7, Babes in Toyland, which led them to receive more attention. I haven't been around to keep up with their long music career, but they seem to have made a lot of impressions and once toured with Nirvana. Apparently there is only one original member of the band left, but the music is still the familiar high energy almost garage pop rock that fans like.
Among their most popular songs are titles like, "Top of the World," "Twist Barbie," "Bear Up Bison," "Flying Jelly Attack," "Riding on the Rocket." I hope they play all of these on Tuesday, Sept. 21, when they return to Chicago to promote their new album, Free Time (P-Vine) at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, at 9pm. It is the kind of show that promises to feed you positive energy so that you are refreshed with bright, child-like visions of the world, a little bit more fun and naive, and you might go back home as a better, more endearing person. Tickets are $14. 21+.
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+
So it would appear as if Laura Granlund (guitar, vocals, keys) and Curt Swank (drums, nice name) of Chicago's Chew Heart have been in hiding for more than six years while they recorded music together, a collaboration which started after Swank had given Granlund a 4-track recorder for her birthday and they discovered their mutual appreciation for 60's pop, 80's new wave, 90's indie rock.
Their debut album, Messy Snarls (Loose Tooth Records), introduces us to their "treetop pop" in six songs, asking us to give them just 15 minutes of fame. With the help of Brian Zieske at the Gallery of Carpet, Messy Snarls was recorded live to analog tape with minimal overdubs and zero computer manipulation, which is supposed to sound nostalgic, according to reviews elsewhere.
The latest in the long line of bands with geographic names that aren't from anywhere near that location is Miami Horror. The Melbourne-based quartet rides an electropop sound not unlike fellow Melburnians Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts. Frontman Benjamin Plant made a name for himself as a DJ and producer before putting together Miami Horror's debut EP Bravado in 2008. The new full-length Illumination branches out to some creepy and psychedelic electronic music, but mostly takes its inspiration from synthpop. Currently, the band's on their first tour of the US and initial reports from the west coast last weekend sound pretty promising with members apart from Plant coming to the forefront to showcase their talents.
Miami Horror headlines Double Door on Thursday. Chicago's Kid Color and Midnight Conspiracy open with DJ sets. Codebreaker opens with a live set. The show starts at 8:30, admission's $10 and it's for a 21+ crowd. Double Door's located at 1572 N Milwaukee.
The last day of a festival is always a little bittersweet. You're tired, possibly sunburned and/or dehydrated, and part of you wants it to be over. But at the same time you don't want it to end. The hours spent basking in the sun with good music as your soundtrack, nodding to the fellow festival goers you keep running into, consuming the same outdoor festival nosh from the day before. And since North Coast is the last big destination style festival of the summer season, it means we're coming to a close on the last few weeks of summer. So enjoy your last day in Union Park, and check out some of our favorite picks of the day.
Before we dive in for a closer look at the schedule for North Coast Festival on Saturday, we've got some important information about will call if you're heading out to the festival this weekend.
Will call will be located at Bottom Lounge at 1375 W. Lake St. You'll need to go to will call if you are one of the following:
All 3-day ticket holders
Single-day ticket buyers NOT received in the mail
Groupon ticket buyers
Contest winners and complimentary ticket holders
Purchasing a ticket day of the festival
Will call opened Wednesday, and will be open the rest of the weekend at the times below:
Thursday, from 5pm-10pm
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11am-9pm
Go early, maybe stop by and grab a beer and some dinner Thursday, to beat the rush. And if you pick up your ticket before heading into the festival, no need to walk over to the Ashland entrance, because North Coast has opened a second entrance to the festival grounds on Ogden just south of Lake St and closer to the will call.
Now on with our breakdown of the acts to check out Saturday at North Coast!
The summer festival season is drawing to an end here in Chicago. We sweated it out through Pitchfork and Lolla, spending a lot of our weekend hours in a field with a few thousand of our closest friends. Have forked over our $5 suggested donation to the plethora of neighborhood festivals, got a few nasty tan lines, and drank a lot of mediocre beer. But this year we'll get a few more weekends to laze in the sun and soak up great music, with the addition of two new festivals in September, Sonar and North Coast Festival.
North Coast Festival is the brainchild of a group of independent promoters in Chicago, who decided to collaborate and produce a festival "to celebrate the merging of all music and walks of life that enjoy it as much as we do." Those walks of life mainly being the jam band and electronic scene, with a good dose of hip-hop and local exposure thrown in. Over the news few days I'll be breaking down the festival by each day, so you're ready for the weekend. Haven't grabbed a ticket yet and now wishing you could spend one more festival weekend in the sun? You're in luck! The lovely folks at North Coast have given Gapers Blocks five pairs of weekend passes to the festival, which means 5 lucky readers will win a weekend pass for them and a guest! Just email us at email@example.com with the subject "North Coast" and you might be spending your weekend in Union Park, enjoying good music as summer starts to come to a close. [Update: We've selected our winners and they have all been notified. Thanks to everyone who entered!] Now, on to the meat and potatoes of the festival.
The days are getting cooler, the cicadas are dying off, and it's totally time to party! Start off your Labor Day weekend right with your friends at Gapers Block and CHIRP radio at the Metro as we celebrate the end of summer with some of our favorite Chicago bands! And best of all, it's FREE with a flyer in your hand.
Headlining is The Hudson Branch, bringing their rich tones and soothing heartache to the stage, and the evening will include the deliciously dark rock of Camera, the up-and-coming talent and blissful harmonies of psych-poppers Reds and Blue, and the rollicking dance pop of My My My.
Tickets are $6 adv/ $9 day of show (or FREE with this special flyer [designed by GB staffer Antonio Garcia] before 9pm, $6 if you bring the flyer after 9pm) 18 +. Doors open at 8pm with My My My starting the night off at 9pm. The Metro is located at 3730 N. Clark St. 773-549-4140. RSVP on Facebook if you like!
Metal was once a very isolating category musically. The brand, filled with a gorgeous weighty sound is not everyone's cup of tea and metal was given a bad rap as well as stood alone for a long time unable to make friends with the mainstream. Coliseum is a band that was able to look outside of the genre, but still holds on to the integrity and pride of the metal identity.
Their newest release House With A Curse incorporates classic face melting sound with edgy harmony. It is vastly different than past Coliseum efforts, the change being more than just sound. The band has changed labels, producers and has collaborated with musicians far outside the metal scope. Will Oldham and J. Robbins from Jawbox are two of the many friends the band worked with on this album.
While the this new one is a must listen, not much can beat seeing them play some of this new sound live. Coliseum plays at Reggie's tomorrow. Sweet Cobra, Burning Love and Fight Amp open for a night of music that fills up every free spot in your brain. The show is $10. The Music starts at 7. All ages. Reggie's is located at 2109 S. State St. (312) 949-0121
Remember that special person in your life who helped guide and shape the person you are today? We all think about the people who took time out of their lives to mentor and teach us during challenging times in our youth. When we look back, our lives are richer because of them and our place in the world, a bit more clear.
The Tutor/Mentor Connection knows how important this relationship is and is throwing The Tutor/Mentor Jam happening this Sunday, August 29th at Darkroom. It is a back to school benefit for the non-profit that helps provides an organized framework to empower and encourages adult volunteers to contribute their time, effort, ideas and advocacy toward creating life-changing solutions for children in educationally and economically disadvantaged areas.
The event includes bands, entertainers, and local businesses as a communal music filled experience to draw public attention and foster support toward volunteer-based, non-school tutor/mentor programs in high-poverty/high-crime neighborhoods throughout the Chicago region. The line up includes a variety of local sounds featuring The Usual Suspects,The Black Temple 21, Alexander Webb and Trakan. Carnivore collective Man B Que will be providing complimentary food to those hungry to participate.
This unique and worthy cause is worth checking out, hearing some awesome music and finding out your role in helping change an at risk child's future.
Darkroom is located at 2210 W. Chicago Ave. The benefit is $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Doors and food at 5. Music starts at 6. For more information call (312)492-9614.
Diesel is teaming up with Mad Decent to throw a pre-party tonight at their downtown store, which will include free drinks, Diesel dollars to buy merchandise at the festival, and tunes provided by Willy Joy. The pre-party is also free, with no RSVP required, tonight at 923 Rush Street from 4-8 pm.
The Mad Decent Block Party starts tomorrow at 1 pm (with gates open at noon) and runs until 8 pm. The Hideout is located at 1354 W Wabansia. The festival is all ages.
In a time when there are more rock bands than ever, it's become common to see bands do whatever they can to stay in the minds of their fans. There's always a new release (even if it's a re-release) or a tour (even if it's just a long weekend) to keep people from wondering, "Did they break up?" Yet somehow a few bands skirt the issue. Autolux is one of those.
The Los Angeles trio began in 2000 after two members met while scoring a play. They quickly caught the attention of the well-traveled T-Bone Burnett, but it wasn't until 2004 that their debut Future Perfect was released. The album's experimental rock/shoegaze sound drew favorable comparisons to titans like Sonic Youth and Lush. They blew up, toured with Nine Inch Nails and the White Stripes, then retreated. A demo would pop up every now and then, but just as a tease to the frustrated fans who pined for more. And now after some heavy rumblings, they're back with another record. Transit Transit is a little more toned down than the debut, but it holds a similar sound and showcases the band's methodical technique, especially in drummer Carla Azar's time-keeping that pops at the listener. It's a good time to see Autolux because who knows what the future has in store for them now. Let's just hope it's not another six years before they return.
Hey look: it's a new video by Screaming Females called "I Don't Mind It," which premiered a couple days ago.
If you haven't heard them before--like me, until recently--Screaming Females is a do-it-yourself trio led by Marissa Paternoster's cool, aggressive vocals and "guitar heroics" with Jarrett Dougherty on drums and King Mike on bass. They started out in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 2005, creating their own basement shows, sleeping on floors, and self-releasing their first two albums. Power Move, their third album, was released by Don Giovanni Records and received critical acclaim, landing them spots to open for Dinosaur Jr., Throwing Muses, and Jay Reatard.
Screaming Females is good music for troublemakers, as if the distortions, noise, anthem voices, rolling guitar solos, and punk aesthetics invite a temptation within us toward guerilla behavior like all of a sudden I want to spray paint Jenny Holzer truisms on billboards while wearing a clown mask then dash away, laughing, screaming. Or is that just me. Anyhow--the band's forthcoming Castle Talk (Don Giovanni Records) will be out next month and in the meantime, they are returning to Chicago this weekend for an all-ages show at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, on Aug. 21 at 9pm. Tickets are $8. Excellence.
The past decade has been filled with a sweeping progressive change in Chicago music. The drone filled textured sound has now become synonymous with our city has gained popularity and escaped purely experimental status. Pelican can be credited to a large part of the post-rock instrumental metal movement giving not only a name, but also a place to the epic, awe inspired music they make.
The band announced that they will be playing a very special show on October 23rd at Bottom Lounge to celebrate their 10 year anniversary and also are releasing a wooden box set which incorporates the quartet's four full-length releases and three EPs. It has a limited run of 500 copies and will be released by Germany's Viva Hate Records (Yes, the same guys who did the gorgeous Agalloch set) on October 19th . For more information keep checking the band's website
Three Floyds Brewery has joined in on the love fest by announcing a yet to be named Pelican-inspired Beer. The Doppelbock, which like their music is strong and dark will be available in local bars and specialty spirit shops for a limited time.
The Bottom Lounge show opens with A The Life and Times and Swan King. The show is $14. Bottom Lounge is located at 1375 W. Lake st. (312) 666-6775
Be sure to head over to Ronny's - 2101 N. California Ave - this Thursday for a night of some of the best punk rock that Chicago has to offer. Long-running Chicago band, The Arrivals, headline and feature guitarists/vocalists Lil Dave Merriman, (Textbook Committee) and Isaac Thotz, (Treasure Fleet) as well as Paddy Costello, (Dillinger Four) on bass and Ronnie Dicola on drums.
The Arrivals are on the verge of putting out a new record, their fourth full-length overall, entitled Volatile Molotov early this October on Recess Records that they recently recorded at Atlas Studios with recording engineer Matt Allison (Alkaline Trio/Less Than Jake/Smoking Popes). You can listen to a track off The Arrival's new record called "Frontline" here.
Even more fun than tearing down a sophomore slump album is praising the followup that slays a debut. It's exhilarating to hear a band with promise graduate from raw and disjointed to refined and orderly.
From the beginning of the Mercury Prize-nominated Two Dancers, Wild Beasts exhibit coming into their own. Where the debut Limbo, Panto often sounded like a lesser Elbow (not that a hundred bands wouldn't love to achieve that), Two Dancers finds singer Hayden Thorpe confident in how best to use his distinctive falsetto while the group hones in on a pop-oriented theatrical theme. Lust dominates the album's subject matter, getting progressively darker with seemingly amusing lyrics like "Any rival who goes for our girls will be left thumbsucking in terror and bereft of all coffin bearers" to the more serious "I'm left here, and I'm here on my own." It's a mighty effort and the band should be drawing heavy from it as they roar through Chicago for three shows.
Wild Beasts play with the Boxer Rebellion at the Apple Store (679 N. Michigan) at 6PM on Thursday afternoon. Friday night they'll headline the Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western) with the Kissaway Trail and Lone Wolf at 10PM. Tickets are $15 and it's 21+. They'll wrap up the weekend with a set at Lollapalooza on Saturday before heading off to complete a short tour on this side of the pond.
There's a lot of animal-themed bands out there. If this year's Pitchfork Music Festival was any indication, you can build a whole afternoon of sets based around some sort of crazy zoological diagram. With Lone Wolf, an artist out of England making his American-tour debut, incorporates elements of much that's in vogue these days: sentimental lyrics, facial hair, and a bit with the guitar. Come out when doors open Friday night and hear his earnest singer-songwriter tunes reverberate around the warm walls of the Empty Bottle — get in close and smell the heartache.
Lone Wolf takes the stage first Friday at Empty Bottle right before tour-mates and Lolla performers The Kissaway Trail bring their pleasant pop to the hot lights. They'll both precede another great set of Lolla artists, Wild Beasts, who'll put the grrr into the line-up before last call. The show starts at 10pm, and tickets are $15. (21+). The Empty Bottle is located at 1035 N. Western Ave.
Check out The Kissaway Trail's lovely Danish popitude:
So, we have a pair of tickets to give away to the show on Friday night. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Lone Wolf!" and you and a friend just might get to check them out for free. The lucky winner will also receive Lone Wolf's debut album on vinyl (with a bonus CD version as well), The Devil & I. [Update! We have a winner! Congrats to Tim!]
With the Pitchfork Music Festival so recently behind us and Lollapalooza only a week away, it's difficult for most concert goers to even think of planning their September festival agendas. Electronic and experimental music lovers, however, are already booking days off work for the upcoming inaugural Sónar Chicago, slated for September 9-11. Already in its seventeenth year in its native Barcelona, this legendary celebration of synthetic sounds hopes to establish an annual autumn home in our fair city.
Veterans of avant-garde audio in Chicago no doubt associate September with the annual Adventures in Modern Music festival co-presented by the Empty Bottle and UK music magazine The Wire. This year will see this tradition continue, but now it's occurring as part of Sónar Chicago. Fear not, however, for although these two events are coinciding, Adventures in Modern Music won't lose its identity. You'll still get the full amazing line-up of experimental acts that you've come to expect from the combined efforts of The Wire and the Empty Bottle, you'll just happen to have a world-renowned electronic music festival on your doorstep as well - for free.
So, you already know all the music there is to know. There's nothing new under the sun. Right, sure, but answer just one question: How much Argentinean "cumbia digital" music have you checked out recently? Are you intrigued by its looping of indigenous rhythms and instruments and its frequent use of computerized beats and effects? Who's your favorite artist in the genre? Yeah, we thought so.
Fear not though. ZZK Records, a label directly connected to the Zizek Urban Beats Club in Buenos Aires, is bringing a quartet of South American acts through Chicago as part of a larger North American tour. The show is meant to generate awareness of a music scene few people here in the states even have an inkling of, and it includes artists such as Chancha Via Circuito and Tremor. The tunes vacillate between something you'd hear at a beachside tiki bar and the sort of intense percussion you imagine would play just before a virgin is sacrificed to a volcano, so the show might be worth checking out with some sort of small-umbrella-bedecked drink in hand. Music starts tonight at 10pm and costs $5 at the door.
If you need a good dose of bluegrass soaked rock 'n' roll with some of the smoothest vocals around, then head over to Lincoln Hall tonight and start your weekend off right with Ha Ha Tonka. Ever since I heard their Bloodshot Records release, Buckle in the Bible Belt, I've been in love with their style of storytelling and dreamy four part harmony. It doesn't hurt that they are easy on the eyes and sweet as pie to boot. If you appreciate good American roots music, and love a live cover of Ram Jam's "Black Betty" then you know the place to be this evening.
Ha Ha Tonka play Lincoln Hall tonight, Friday July 23rd, with Young Man and Langhorne Slim. The show starts at 10pm, is 21+ and Ha Ha Tonka is the second band to play. Tickets are just $14 and you can purchase them here.
Brought to prominence by word-of-mouth in the blogosphere back in the mid-2000s, Tapes 'n Tapes plays an off-kilter brand of indie-rock where lush melodies are forgotten in favor of a little reverb and some lo-fi vocals, where the concept of rhythm is occasionally flouted by the staccato squeal of guitar distortion or a sudden slam!-bang!-slam!-slam! drum attack, tossed off like a splotch of paint across the canvas. Comparisons to Pavement and Pixies have been made, but the claim seems a bit of a stretch. Tapes 'n Tapes tends to have a more sinister air (at least on 2005's The Loon), as if singer and guitarist Josh Grier is delivering bad news and maybe enjoying it a little.
The Minnesota-born band hasn't released an album since the somewhat lighter sophomore LP, Walk it Off, in the first half of 2008. And a trip to the group's MySpace page shows no new songs in the works (but a "new record coming soon!!!"). Is it too much to hope the show Thursday night might showcase some upcoming material? Maybe even just a few songs off an EP? Looks like the only way to find out is to show up. The concert is 21+, and tickets are $15. Music gets underway at 9pm on July 22 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N Lincoln Ave.
Hey! We're excited to have a pair of tickets to pass along to one lucky reader, thanks to the kind folks at Lincoln Hall. Just email us at email@example.com with the subject line "Cassettes!" and you just might be a winner! (21+) [Update! We have a winner! Congrats to Katie!]
Our staff is pretty excited about the upcoming Pitchfork Music Festival. We'll will be in the mix, with an ear on the stages, along with a table at the CHIRP Record Fair tent. (We fall under "other delights." Come on over and say Hi, buy a GB t-shirt or one of our fabulous anniversary party posters.) Remember to check out all the other non-performance activities this weekend including Flatstock, the Rock for Kids' auction booth, the Coterie craft fair, and more. Transmission writer Lisa White be bringing you daily coverage, as well as a festival wrap-up after the weekend's over from Michelle Meywes (all paired with photos by George Aye), but for now, here's our thoughts on what you can hear in Union Park on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Having grown up in Spain, toured the U.S. as a guitarist with Calexico and traveled throughout Mexico, Jairo Zavala's solo project, DePedro, is a bluesy, boozy patchwork connecting the Spanish old country to the American West to everything south of the border. Elements of Madrid, Texas and Tijuana can be heard throughout, and Zavala's voice has the sweet, sad lament of a Mariachi three drinks in and reduced to singing alone.
The Spaniard and his backing band will take the stage Tuesday night at Schubas as part of a larger tour in support of the band's self-titled first album, which you can hear portions of on the DePedro MySpace page. Standout tracks include the accordion-heavy "Te Sigo Soñando" and the eerily, dreamily pedal-steeled goodness of "Two Parts in One." The show is 21+, and tickets are $12. Music starts at 8pm on June 13 at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave.
Our friends at Schubas gave us two pairs of tickets to give away to two lucky readers for Tuesday's show. Just be one of the first two to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "DePedro!" and you and a friend can have fun for free tomorrow night. [Update: We have our winners! Congrats to Bryan and Kevin!]
As the city gears up for another solar pummeling this weekend — with forecasts predicting hazy sun and humid, mid- to upper-80s weather — Millennium Park is set to host its latest bash of the outdoor festival season. The Great Performers of Illinois 2010 show runs Friday through Sunday, bringing together everything from classical acts for your inner-aristocrat to sun-drenched, California-inspired pop that's sure to fit your wardrobe.
Friday kicks off with an old-fashioned square dance and a Xian Zhang-conducted rendition of Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 (a sweeping dose of Finnish nationalism from the early 1900s — you can catch a snippet of it here if you're not familiar). Saturday and Sunday feature more modern fare, including performances by local acts such as Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra, Canasta, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, Plastic Crimewave Sound, Pretty Good Dance Moves, rock /classical violin virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine and Chicago native Greta Morgan, returning from the West Coast to play with her new band, Gold Motel. The entire event is free, and other activities, including wine tastings and chainsaw carving, will also be on hand. So if you're already braving the heat, here's a good reason to head downtown.
Dex Romweber is a force of nature. A legend in his own right, Dex's sound lies somewhere between rockabilly, surf guitar, and pure rock — a testament to his earlier years with psycho-surf guitar-punk band Flat Duo Jets. You might have seen them perform in the '80s and '90s or alongside R.E.M. and other Georgians in the indie film Athens, GA Inside Out in the mid-'80s. Joined on stage by his sister, Sara Romweber, beating the hell out on drums, these two make a super duo emitting sparks of rock from their fingertips.
The Duo's recent albums sum up their sound so well, the first, 2009's Ruins of Berlin has a polished though still rough sound, something like a well-made cocktail that burns so good on the way down. The second, 2010's limited edition vinyl Live at Third Man was recorded in February at none other than Jack White's Third Man Studios in Nashville for a extremely lucky crowd of a couple hundred. This one is raucous, fast, and sweaty. It hits you like a slug of whiskey straight out of the bottle, and leaves you begging for more.
Super contest time! Bloodshot Records has graciously provided us with a pair of tickets to the show and a signed copy of Ruins of Berlin on CD. Be the first to email us at email@example.com with the subject "Dex!" and you and a friend will be in attendance for zero dollars (and you'll get something fun in the mail, too). Must be 21+ to attend. [Update: We have a winner! Congrats to Holly!]
the ChristMisfits in full regalia at their Songs of the Season show last December at Lilly's, photo by Marie Kelly.
Misfits tribute bands are a longstanding tradition that includes bands like Crimson Ghosts, The Nutley Brass, and The Misfats, who bill themselves as "the fattest Misfits tribute band ever." In recent months the list has grown by at least one: The ChristMisfits, a Chicago-based tribute band who made their debut over the holidays at Lilly's dressed in Santa hats that fell over their faces in a metaphorical devil-lock hairdo. They came armed not only with instruments and vocals, but with songbooks printed on faux parchment paper so that fans could follow along to altered Misfits songs with titles like: Gratitude; Where Reindeer Dare; and I Turned Into a Snowman.
The band returns to Lilly's this Saturday for ChrisMisfits in July, and have added six never-before-heard songs to their repertoire. The ChristMisfits are comprised of Bret Tanzig on "vocals & gifts", Jonny Only on "bass & scream", Jeff Wolfgang Von Frankenstein on "guitar & tights", and Lizzie "Robo" Cook on "drums & tinsel". I spoke to them by phone and email to get some perspective on their upcoming show.
I am an very open about my dislike for showing up at shows on time. It is not only that I have a cool factor to maintain, but there is also the probable chance that the opening band will take up a large portion of my life that I will have to fight to get back. This was not the case last year when I misunderstood the start time of an Archer Prewitt by an hour and saw local band Big Science open. I was taken to a delightful as well as complex musical place. I was severely disappointed when the set ended and thought what a tragedy it would have been if I had been on my game that night and showed up when I had planned to. Doing that, I would have missed a band with such a multi-sound effect that gives a sober synesthesia allowing you to see their music. Maybe this is because they combine so many different vibes in to each song that the senses become overloaded and instead of shutting down, explode in all the right ways. In any regard, they need to be seen live to really understand this experience.
The band (made up of three Jasons and a Jeremy) just released their second effort last month entitled Skyscraper Sound and plays this Friday, July 2nd at the Double Door. I had the chance to ask Jason R. some questions their unusual sound, their super hip, geek-tastic name and good old fashioned band togetherness.
For Chicago native Jody Watley, there really is no place like home. With over 20 million solo records sold worldwide and Billboard chart-topping hits that include "Looking for a New Love," "Everything," and "Real Love," the Grammy-award winning singer and songwriter, performing in a special homecoming concert this week in Chicago, talks about returning to her Windy City roots, her record label and upcoming album, Chameleon, and why performing in Chicago will be extra special this time around.
Gapers Block: Transmission: Your godfather, the legendary Jackie Wilson introduced "Jody Watley" to the world — was that when the bug hit you?
Jody Watley: Well I think I always had the desire to be a performer from my love of Motown and Diana Ross and the Supremes. Jackie Wilson was very close with my mother and father. At one time, my father was a gospel radio personality on WVON before I was even born, and he always had a lot of friends that were in show business. That's how the relationship with Jackie Wilson came to be.
GB: Describe for us what that experience was like, being exposed to Jackie Wilson and his music at an early age.
JW: The first concert that I remember attending was Jackie Wilson at The Regal Theater, which of course is where the Harold Washington Cultural Center is now located. That was one of the reasons [I chose this venue for my show] is because when I did some research on it, I realized this was simply meant to be because I haven't been on that spot since I was a little kid. My first time on stage was with Jackie Wilson at his show and it definitely had a profound impact on me; the people — and the women — were going crazy! He was such a phenomenal performer and even at a young age, you know when something is really special. So that is a little known fact [about me]. Jackie Wilson was definitely very influential and whatever my desires were, experiencing that time with him probably sealed the deal in many ways.
Looking to get out of that mid-week slump? Try a little marching band action! Our hometown 30 piece circus punk ensemble extravaganza Mucca Pazza plays Lincoln Hall tomorrow to give a little boost that will make you glad you went out on a school night and will help you reach your excitement quota until the weekend comes. The extremely visual band is known for being an outlandish spectacle that at times have turned shows into parades and the most introverted band geek into part of the scene.
Local indie rock faves Canasta open the night. The show is 18+ and the cost is $12. Music starts at 9. Lincoln Hall is located at 2424 N Lincoln Ave. (773)525-2501
When the news broke last fall that our hometown darlings The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir were in a major bus accident that injured all six members, some very seriously it was a shock to the music community. Many of us were trying to gather pieces of information, sending what we could to help and hoping for the best. There were numerous benefits for music equipment and medical bills, and many were wondered what would become of the beloved band.
Less than a year later SYGC shows us the true spirit of perseverance and recovery and that we can get through life's most difficult times if we have the drive and passion to keep going and do what keeps us alive. In this band's case it is to fill rooms with distinct quirky songs that make you laugh, cry and dance at the same time. Tomorrow at the Subterranean there will be joy in the air when the band plays a long awaited comeback show. Their third album ...And The Horse You Rode In On was released last year on Bloodshot Records and now can finally be celebrated!
When a community is brought together on stage it becomes a sight to be heard. Lost In The Trees is folk music brought to a whole new level in ways that differ from other with larger member acts. With soft driven songs that slowly melt and blend a lush string based cacophony of sounds, their music is complex, but still comes from a simple place at heart. The North Carolina band releases All Alone In An Empty House on August 10th on Anti Records, their new home as of March. This is a a follow up to last year's EP Time Taunts Me.
If you don't get a chance to see them Saturday at Schubas you will be missing a very intimate musical experience with a band that has been making waves that will no doubt get bigger in the not too distant future.
Here's the band performing with the North Carolina School of Science and Math orchestra on January 15, 2010 in Durham, NC:
Thanks to the generous folks at Schubas, we have two pairs of tickets to give the first two people who emails us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "I'm Found!". [Update: We have our winners! Congrats to Jacob and Jeremiah!]
Chicago-based Americana band Dastardly have released a live performance video for their song, "Villain." The video can be viewed below. Dastardly play Lincoln Hall (2424 N Lincoln) this Saturday, June 19 with Aktar Aktar and Automata. The show is at 10pm, $8 in advance and $10 at the door.
With their soul and psychedelic rock influences, The Phenomenal Handclap Band were clearly born in the wrong decade. This eight-piece group even looks like a roving band of hippies. Hailing from Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, the band operates on the same wavelength as MGMT or the sorely-missed Apes & Androids, employing a hodgepodge of nostalgic '60s and '70s sounds. With their wide array of classic influences, it is no surprise that this band started out after two DJs (Daniel Collás and Sean Marquand) started writing music together. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a large collective of musicians performing on stage at once, especially when they wear matching outfits. Their clever band name certainly doesn't hurt, either.
Check out The Phenomenal Handclap Band's new Dario Argento-inspired video "Baby":
Hey, why buy when you can win! We have a pair of tickets to Friday's show just for you (if you happen to be the first to email us at email@example.com with the subject line "Claps!"). You must be 21 and over, please! [Update: We have a winner! Congrats to Melissa!]
Though Phyllis' Musical Inn is the oldest music venue in Wicker Park dating back to its incarnation as Phyllis Jaskot's polka venue in 1950s, the quality of music varies wildly from night to night. However, due to proprietor Clem Jaskot's hands-off supportiveness of local music, it's a place where some more established acts return time and again, precisely for the low-key vibe that appeals to do-it-yourselfers seeking their very first gig.
For the last few years, Phyllis' has been the venue of choice for Chris Darby's bimonthly songwriter showcase, which began in his Logan Square apartment in 2004. Over the years the quality of these showcases has steadily improved, and the June 9th bill looked particularly promising — featuring four Chicagoans who recently made appearances at Schubas, alongside two veteran troubadours from out of state. It so happened that June 9th was also the most exciting night in Chicago ice hockey in nearly 50 years. Jaskot, smiling broadly, yelled, "Hey look up in the sky!" before disappearing through an unknown exit in the patio, just as fireworks shot up into the sky from all directions.
Inside, while Blackhawks revelers continued celebrating over a few more drinks, Patrick McGuan warmed up the songwriter night on banjo. Banjo turned out to be a particularly good choice for the moment; the instrument's natural volume and timbre once made it the instrument of choice in rowdy bars in the days before electricity boosted the guitar's prominence. As McGuan cranked through a series of old time standards better known in the years following the Hawks' previous championship in 1961 ("Colorado Girl," "Ballad of Hollis Brown," "Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor"), a growing group of folk music supporters constructed a human wall between the straggling Hawks revelers and the stage. McGuan, whose music recalled a bygone era, attributed the death of his computer to an increasing affinity for the simplicity of times past ("When you don't have internet, the whole world opens up to you").
There is a fine line in children's music between the monotonously boring and the oh my goodness get me out of here. Laura Doherty however never comes close to this place. She nurtures adults with inner children present, as well as children themselves. With a full understanding of the demand that comes with being a children's performer as well as an adult at a kids show she has the ability to appease all ages. Laura also has a has a massive a quirk factor. She can be seen wearing a hot dog hat explaining the toppings of a Chicago style hot dog for one of her songs and refers to "Wheels On The Bus" as the "Freebird" of kid music which is completely correct. Getting the kids groove on in full swing is a task she easily masters and seeing her play is a great way to chill and get silly with fun music.
The former director of the Wiggleworms program at The Old Town School Of Folk Music took a daring leap and decided to go full time at the kids music gig showing an intense passion for bringing joy in the world via sweet folk inspired kids songs. Her latest release Kids In The City has a beautiful cover of the Bachrach classic "Raindrops Keep falling On My Head" which allows everyone to sing along with a smile.
Laura and her band are throwing a Pajama Party this Tuesday in Welles Park to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Wiggleworms! Bring the kids to this one of a kind event where everyone is invited to come in appropriate attire.
The event is all ages and starts at 6:30. Welles Park is located at 2333 W. Sunnyside Ave. For more information call 773-728-6000
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
In addition to being the subject of the 2008 film Cadillac Records, the Chess Records Studio, located at 2120 S. Michigan Avenue, is the historic site where luminaries such as Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Watters recorded tracks. Chicago Public Radio Presents a rare tour of the studio, which includes a blues harmonica workshop taught by musicians Doktu Rhute Muuzic and Fernando Jones (harmonicas included in the ticket price). Ticket holders will also have the chance to meet Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, hosts of WBEZ's Sound Opinions, who will share their thoughts on the Chess Records legacy.
If you follow the hollowed advice of Ted Nugent like I do, then you're a true weekend warrior. And what does every warrior need? An epic theme song to headbang your way into the weekend of course.
Thankfully the perfect band for that soundtrack is rolling into town Friday night to provide you with ample amounts of over-the-top glam metal action. Coheed and Cambria bring their massive sound (and hair) to the Congress to promote their fifth studio album, Year of the Black Rainbow. The album follows the running Sci-fi story theme of all Coheed and Cambria albums, but this time Year of the Black Rainbow is a prequel to events from their debut album, The Second Stage Turbine Blade. The whole theme borrows from a story written by lead singer Claudio Sanchez, and a deluxe edition of the new album actually comes with a 352 page novel co-authored by Sanchez. That's a lot of concept album for one band, and an impressive dedication to an ongoing theme.
Add together the somewhat nerdy storyline, a blistering howl of vocals, and a high count of behind the neck guitar solos and you've got Coheed and Cambria in a nutshell. It's loud, it's flourished, and it's fun. It's not stand against the wall music. It's epic anthem of metal and rock glory. And If you head out to the show, be prepared to pump your fist in the air and get a bit sweaty. Moshing is acceptable. So is a decent air guitar solo. And make sure to wear your hair down. You'll want it headbang ready.
Coheed and Cambria play the Congress Theater with Circa Survive, Friday May 14th. Doors open at 6pm, and tickets are $29. To get a taste of them live, check out their bombastic closer from their Coachella set of "Welcome Home" with the USC marching band backing them below.
We're so excited once again to be dusting off our fancy dancing shoes for our Gapers Block 7th Anniversary Party and bringing together a slew of great Chicago talent for your listening pleasure. The Metro is our gracious host on Friday, May 21st as we invite the soulful R&B stylings of JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, the British pop-influenced rock of Blah Blah Blah (celebrating their record release at this show!), beautiful harmonies dripping with '60s pop by Hollows, and the rollicking punk guitars of Lasers + Fast + Shit to make you shake it till it falls off.
Check out JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound's cover of Wilco's "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart":
Our awesome poster for this year's party (pictured above) was handsomely created by Chicago artists Mig Reyes and JoeVW. Posters will be $10 and available for purchase at the show in Metro's store.
To reward you for planning ahead the Metro is offereing a pre-sale special 2-for-1 deal will get you admission for two people for just $7 total (single tickets will be $10 at the door). Order advanced tickets here [Note: if you choose will call you must have your ticket buddy with you at the door]. The show is 18+ and doors open at 8pm with music starting at 9pm. The Metro is located at 3730 N. Clark St., 773-549-0203. RSVP via Facebook if you like. We can't wait to see you there!
[Update!] If you're a ticket holder to the Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings show at The Vic Friday night, you can get in to our party for free! Just bring your ticket stub from the show, or your Vic wristband and head on up Clark. It's double-down soul night!
When something is right you just know it. They guys in The SDS Trio know this all too well. They were serendipitously brought together by another project. The band met while scoring the independent film American Legacy, realized they had amazing chemistry and decided to stay together and take over the world with a comforting blend of classic jazz and bass heavy post rock sounds. When starting to collaborate they only had about four songs that they played over and over again. With further commitment the end result was more music and the band put out their debut release, This Is The SDS Trio this year.
In true jazz tradition, the band composed a lot on the fly and the album includes "Red Line", a studio improvisation and ode to the frequently traveled "L" line. The album also includes a charming Radiohead cover of "Everything In Its Right Place".
You can get to know this band as well as the film that sparked their creation this Saturday when they play a two set show at The Edgewater Beach Cafe. The price of admission gets you a copy of their CD, a copy of American Legacy and a free drink. The event is $30. ($40 for couples) The Edgewater Beach Cafe is located at 5545 N. Sheridan Rd. Doors open at 7pm, the show starts at 8pm. 773-275-4141
This Friday marks the Chicago debut of Japanese sound poetry and electronic music composer Tomomi Adachi. Adachi will present a work in three parts at Columbia College (916 S. Wabash Avenue, Room 214). Tickets are $10 ($5 for students), and the performance begins at 8 p.m. The event is sponsored by Lampo.
Adachi (b. 1972) works on a 3-dimensional chessboard of avant-garde influences, at once hyperactive, hysterical, and frequently hilarious, but also reverent to the roots of his art, pushing both technique and technology in engaging directions. Starting the night with a program of his own text-sound poetry and seldom-heard pieces by Japanese text-sound poetry performers from 1924 through the late '70s, Adachi will then create a second set with his home-built electronic devices, included equipment built into tupperware. For the third act, Adachi will perform his most beguiling musical device, an infrared sensor-adorned shirt that interacts with attachments on Adachi's hands, creating a network of filters and gates through which his vocal ululations will be stretched and drizzled like hot sideways caramel. Take a look at his videos for the double truth, ruth. This is some serious insanity. As usual, the Lampo web site and Adachi's own artist page can provide more information if you weren't already sold by the infrared shirt.
San Francisco trio Mi Ami has always been a band that skims along genre walls. Their sounds can range from punk to dub to hardcore to reggae all creating some awesome noise. While we don't always know which way their music is going to shift, the band was given a sudden surprise the last time they played in Chicago when hearing that Touch and Go Records with whom they were currently signed was going under. The sad news may have given motion for transition. Since it is impossible to break a heart that was meant for breaking boundaries, the band relocated to Thrill Jockey Records where their last effort Steal Your Face was recently released. Below is a little taste of their latest.
If you haven't had the pleasure of hearing Dark Dark Dark yet, you're in luck: They're streaming their impressive EP, Bright Bright Bright, in full here. Between the haunting piano and the stark vocals of Nona Marie Invie (who could be thought of as an even quirkier, darker Regina Spektor) they've created a folk-inspired chamber pop sound that I haven't been able to stop listening to for the past few weeks. The aptly-named band explore themes of despair and loneliness, and I can just picture sitting in the corner of a dark bar cradling a whiskey and seeing them play.
If you're already a fan (or really even just intrigued) by Pittsburgh-based Black Moth Super Rainbow, you'd best get your tickets and your dancing shoes ready for this weekend's Tobacco show at the Empty Bottle. Tobacco (a DJ pseudonym so tightly guarded one wonders if he puts it down on his taxes) made a fine name for himself with BMSR — but this DJ likes his air of mystery and that's best a one-man show. With less than a handful of dates left on his tour, Tobacco's latest album Maniac Meat (due out 5/25, Anticon) and his past work with BMRC gained the attention of perennial music mixer Beck who guests on the track "Fresh Hex". Replete with a "swampy analog aesthetic", Maniac Meat is truly dark and nasty when it comes right down to it. Gritty, glitchy, screaming with cymbal rings and squeedly synth guitar, Tobacco's songs would make a great soundtrack to your favorite kick boxing movie or maybe some sort of ridiculous parkour video. (Which isn't really so surprising given T's adolescent interest in freestyle BMX.) This is a mixer who loves his vocoder, a scratcher who likes to sniff (at least when it comes to album art). In the intimate, setting of the Empty Bottle, I couldn't imagine a stage more set for auditory magic.
There will of course be a troop of Hood Internet fans at the Bottle who had no idea who this Tobacco fella is, but just keep in mind that the duo have been sharing van space with big T since SXSW and a little might have rubbed off either way. Nearing the end of their tour together, and standing firmly on the Hood's home turf, the evening will either be the sonic equivalent cat fights and hair pulling or inside jokes and flour bombs. Just you wait.
It is hard to place music that is heard of, yet not heard. The Appleseed Cast is one of those bands people raise eyebrows to, but can't place. They seemed to slip in and out of rock consciousness, only to appear on mix tapes and have people who know the name, but don't know their music. The reason that they are heard of so much is that there are fans that have been there all along. While the band is not the most prolific, they are strong enough to stand the test of time and genre. Coming from a punk/emo background, the band progressed to a more post rock/showgaze-y sound since their first release, The End Of Ring Wars back in 1998 and has made music that said goodbye to angst and hello to beauty. Last year's Sagarmatha kept their amazing transition alive.
The band plays a much anticipated and unusual show Friday at the Bottom Lounge playing their 2001 releases Low Level Owl Vol. 1 and 2 back to back in their entirety. The albums are considered a classic and The Appleseed Cast's masterpiece works.
The epic night starts with local experimental band Dreamend which features Black Moth Super Rainbow member and Graveface Records owner, Ryan Graveface. The Appleseed Cast just signed to this label. The show is expected to sell out and melt minds.
The Bottom Lounge is located at 1375 W. Lake St. The music starts at 8 and the show is $15. Tickets can be found here.
If we were going to play word association and you said Califone, my first response would be to say "Red Red Meat". I know this response is a bit dated since Califone has proven again and again that the idea of the band as a side project failed and that they are a real deal very much separated from where they begun from. They are actually ages away from those days.
After supporting Wilco last month they are home playing two shows tomorrow and Wednesday night at Lincoln Hall. Tomorrow night they will play live along with the film that shares the name of their last release, All My Friends Are Funeral Singers. The film has been accepted in to Noise Pop, SXSW and Sundance Film Festivals. Frontman Tim Rutili wrote and directed the film. Wednesday the band plays a traditional rock show. The album is gorgeous, creepy and worth getting lost in.
Here is the trailer for the film All My Friends Are Funeral Singers
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.
I love head music, the kind that goes on seemingly for days and leaves you soothed yet unsure of what just happened when the song ended. I also love indie rock with a progressive edge. They meet from time to time and local band Hail The Black Dragons creates a great sound using both these elements.
The band should get the Blue Ribbon at the Indie Rock State Fair for their brave, awesome name. For newcomers calling themselves Hail the Black Dragons, one better have a sound that matches in epic quality and in my opinion, they do.
While more rock than anything else, some songs give a trance like mood, while others go more punk dance party. HTBD mixes progressive rock, punk and a bit of space rock with a feel that lets you have all the numbness of cerebral centered music, but with a groove factor, loud vocals and infectious songs that had me singing along. I'm excited to see what they are like live when they play tonight at Reggie's. I'm expecting an Iggy Pop/J. Spaceman hybrid sound that will be talked about for awhile.
Their upcoming January 20 stop in Chicago comes hard-won for the members of Goatwhore. Among them, the road traveled from New Orleans has been paved with everything from black ice and flood waters to drug addiction and death. But moving relentlessly through several serious van accidents and one Katrina-interrupted album, they keep coming back.
In 2009, Goatwhore released their fourth studio album, Carving Out the Eyes of God. It's their first release not accompanied by a major disaster since 2000. And it's a punishing display of what can be accomplished with a little determination. Carving Out the Eyes of God finds the band progressively focused on the roots of black metal. It's a prodigious fusion of black metal and rock, or black n' roll as it's been described.
Goatwhore returns to the House of Blues this Wednesday, as part of the Bound by the Road tour with DevilDriver, Suffocation and Thy Will Be Done. Doors open at 5pm. The show starts at 5:30pm and is all ages. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 day of show.
I'll be there interviewing the band and photographing the show. Stay tuned for apost-show report.
The man who might very well be the Latino reincarnation of Elvis (Robert Lopez, better known as El Vez) will once again grace Chicago with his presence on Friday night at the Double Door. He's bringing the very special, the very rock and roll, the very fabulous El Vez "Viva Christmas!" Show to town, and he's got some new friends in tow this year. Backing band (and stars in their own right) Nashville's very own, Los Straightjackets, will be on stage along with the L.A. performer (and the fabulous El Vettes) who's bound to bring it harder than The King himself to the intimate setting on Milwaukee Avenue. But that's not all. El Vez, who's been known to throw costume changes, giant inflatables, and dance routines rivaling Ike and Tina, is also a witty lyricist, rewriting Elvis classics with Spanish lyrics (like "Suspicious Minds" re-visioned as "Immigration Time" or "In the Ghetto" as "En El Barrio"). Not just an Elvis aficionado, he's also a serious political performer, working to aid the struggle for Latino rights as well as other organizations. Friday's show will likely have a very Santa, a very Latino, and a very fabulous vibe. It's Viva Christmas! after all, and it's definitely time to party. It's all about bringing people together. As Lopez says, "When you come to an El Vez show, you walk away proud to be a Mexican," he says. "Even when you're not."
Tickets for the show are $15 and doors open at 8pm (showtime 9pm). Knuckle Dragger opens with surf/metal stylings. 21+ The Double Door is located at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-489-3160
Will Hoge, a Tennessee native, is no stranger to hard work behind the guitar and a demanding tour schedule. But it seems that he's really been tested over the past few years. On the mend, even now, months after a serious traffic accident in Nashville left him broken and nearly blinded, he rolls back into Chicago for a Friday night show at the Double Door this week, and we couldn't be luckier. Bearing his still hot new album, The Wreckage, Hoge also serves up his enticing heartland rock-infused Americana to the stage. With a backing band that includes harmonica, pedal steel and mandolin, this will be no whispered folk show, but instead a loud, throw up your hand and testify roots rock show. Songs on the album like "Long Gone" and "Where Do We Go From Down" are soulful testaments to hard roads of recovery (you can stream the whole album at the band's My Space page). While "Hard to Love" and "Highway Wings" smack of an almost Springsteen-esque vein-straining urgency and desperation. These are songs to drink longneck bottles of beer to. Lucky for you Double Door has those, too.
Nestled within the crowded heart of Brooklyn lives a delicate soul. Not unlike the gems of Sibylle Baier, Sharon Van Etten's songs are filled with both solitude and longing. Van Etten has played Chicago twice before, both at The Empty Bottle, most recently as part of the Wire UK festival. Her stage presence may seem subtle at first with usually just her singing with an acoustic guitar. Yet, the more you listen, the more disarming it becomes. It isn't just indie folk, it's genuine and makes you want to devote your attention to it. Even those who are not fans of lo-fi may find her stripped down style appealing because she's such a talented singer and songwriter. In a sense, the songs succeed in wrapping around you where you hurt and providing you with a warmth and reassurance that it's not just you who feels that way.
Some may also be pleased to know that Sharon Van Etten is part of a bill that also includes Rain Machine, which is the side project of TV on the Radio's guitarist Kyp Malone. Some may feel that Rain Machine shows off an interesting creative diversion from the TV on the Radio tracks and allows more of Malone's songwriting to develop. It's quite possible that TV on the Radio are much too famous to play a venue this small so fans of the band should see it as a rare treat.
In Chicago's contemporary club culture, it is easy to forget that house and industrial could once be heard at the same club on the same night. Bands such as Nitzer Ebb and Front 242 took as much of their influence from punk and new wave as they did from
Chicago house. One year ago, promoters Mr. Automatic and Adam Black decided to create Front 312, a night dedicated to this time in Chicago's club history.
For its one year anniversary on October 9th, 2009 , Front 312 will take a turn toward techno and house, with DJ Gant Man headlining. KHA and Mikul Wing of Members Only AV will be play separate solo sets as well, throwing down anything from classic italo tracks to extended versions of 80's new wave dance classics.
From releasing his earliest 12″s on Dance Mania, to rocking clubs and raves worldwide alongside legends such as Paul Johnson, Gant has been pushing his signature Chicago sound for almost two decades. Mixing up rapid-fire juke beats while referencing all the house and disco classics that first paved the way. His recent work includes a remix for Fool's Gold of Kid Sister's "Damn Girl", production on "Switchboard", and his new solo single debut on Fool's Gold, "Juke Dat Girl." For Front 312, however, he will be bringing out the classics.
KHA and Mikul Wing have made a name for themselves as Members Only AV over the last year, playing with anyone from Le Castle Vania to The Rapture. For Front 312, however, they will be playing two rare solo sets of all new wave and italo disco.
Mr. Automatic will be playing classic Razormaid tracks, 80's new wave, classic industrial, acid house, and new electro tracks prior to the headliners. Expect anything from Meat Beat Manifesto to The Presets and Frankie Knuckles. DJ Adam Black will open the night with punk rock, new wave, and alternative rock.
Doors open at 9pm. Admission is Free before 11pm with RSVP to Front312@gmail.com and $5 without RSVP or after 11.
Drink specials include $2 PBR, $3 Goose Island IPA and $4 well drinks, and plenty of other reasonably priced options are available at the bar.
Liars Club is located at 1665 W. Fullerton in Chicago. at the intersection of Fullerton and Ashland.
Grab your Chuck Taylors and safety pins, kids -- Riot Fest 2009 is coming to Chicago October 7th. The festival that brought us reunions by the Blue Meanies and Naked Raygun, among many, many others, is back at it again with more reunited punk heroes and local talent. Besides the five days of punk music spanning generations going down at venues around the city, they've also got a bowling tournament and film screenings planned for the week. This year marks Riot Fest's fifth year in Chicago, and each year they've only been expanding and bringing in more and more exceptional acts.
Just a reminder that tomorrow night Moby will be coming into town with a full band (a somewhat rare treat) to play at The Vic. Ever since his rise to popularity with the release of his album Play, which sold over 10 million copies worldwide, Moby has been a key figure in helping to bring dance and electronic music into the mainstream.
With his latest album, Wait For Me, we see one of the most personal pieces of work he's released to date. And he recorded the entire thing in his own apartment by himself in New York, giving a new meaning to having music feel like home. The video for the first single, "Shot in the Back of the Head" was done by director David Lynch, and you can take a peek at it over on Moby's website.
Moby plays The Vic tomorrow night, Wednesday September 30th at 7:30pm. Tickets are $34 and can be purchased online.
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.
Extra Golden rolls into Chicago this weekend on the tails of the Chicago World Music Festival and boy are we in for a treat. They're playing not one but two shows at the Hideout so you get a doubleshot of one of the most entertaining half Kenyan/half American rock bands out there (well, to be honest, it's likely one of the few Kenya/U.S. musical matchups you're likely to hear at the Hideout, but it's a real good time, nonetheless). A member of the Thrill Jockey label, Extra Golden brings a booty-shaking, finger snapping, hand clapping beat straight from the streets of Nairobi to your eardrums (via D.C.). Currently promoting their latest album Thank You Very Quickly, you might remember Extra Golden from their jubilant song release last fall when Obama clinched the Presidency. Beautiful harmonies, happy guitars, and a truly rump-shaking rhythms are a staple of their new release and a real motivation to see this band live. Their latest effort once again features East African guitars, polyrhythmic drums and songs sung both in English and Luo, but also has a special vibe and more of a polished tone than previous albums. A believer that "tight quarters = tight grooves", the album was recorded mostly in the third floor hallway/laundry room of guitarist Ian Eagleson's parents' house. Given that success, I don't see how a show at the intimate space at the Hideout could be anything but a prime locale for this band.
And hey if you want to follow Alex Minoff (the "second best guitarist in Extra Golden") or Thrill Jockey on Twitter. You can do that, too.
Act now and go for $0! We have two pairs of tickets (one for each night) to give away courtesy of the Hideout! Just be the first to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org the subject line "Extra Extra!" and you and a friend can get your dance on for free! First who emails gets to pick their night! Update! We have our winners! Congrats to Eric and Chris!
[MP3]: Extra Golden - Anyango from Thank You Very Quickly
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 email@example.com with your full name and "Niblett" in the subject line, and they're all yours. UPDATE We have a winner! Congrats to Dan B.
One of my favorite films growing up was Little Shop of Horrors, although, looking back on it now, maybe it wasn't the most appropriate movie for a kid to love. Nevertheless, there was singing and dancing and I thought Audrey was so pretty (the girl, not the plant) that I wanted to be just like her (again, not the best role model for a kid).
A week before Halloween, popular Chicago venue The Hideout plans to bring the musical to life. The cast and crew will be made up of Hideout employees, musicians, friends and regulars. As Hideout owner Tim Tuten says: "This is true 'Community Theater.'" Come and see if Hideout employee Tyler Myers lives up to the legend of Steve Martin as "The Dentist" (no pressure, Tyler) or if musician and regular Marvin Tate makes a believable man eating plant. No matter what, a fun time is sure to be had by all, and it's the perfect way to get geared up for playing dress-up yourself a week later.
Showtimes are: Thursday, October 22 and Friday October 23 at 8pm, Saturday October 24 at 3pm and 8pm, and Sunday October 25 at 3pm and 7:30pm. Tickets are $15.
Spektor uses her voice as an instrument (along with the piano) to add coughs, squeaks and hiccups to her already unusual sound. One element of her music that is admirable as well as confusing to her fans and critics is her ability to be a storyteller outside of her vision and experiences. It is rare in a world of autobiographical songwriting and the excessive need to purge and confess through songs that someone like her can stand alone and share small pieces of songwriting fiction with such confidence and conviction.
Regina Spektor will be at The Chicago Theatre tomorrow night. The show starts at 8:00 and tickets are still available through The Chicago Theater's Website. 175 N. State St. (312)462-6300.
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.
The Ettes add a sexy '60s swagger to punk rock that sounds like they could soundtrack a Tarantino B-film all on their own. Think of them as a modern version of Nancy Sinatra--with fuzz pedals. The trio started off as an all girl group, but Jem joined the ladies before they put out their first album, Shake the Dust, in 2006. They have a new album coming out next month, but you can see them live here in Chicago on Friday night at Subterranean.
What's that you say? You want to go for free? Well, you're in luck because we're giving away a pair of tickets to Friday's show. Just be the first to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org the subject line "Ettes!" and you'll be going with a friend for $0. [Update!] We have a winner! Congrats to Emily!
After the hullaballoo that was last week's Lollapalooza, be thankful that this week's hullaballoo is as fun and crazy, but less wiltingly warm. Mucca Pazza, Chicago's own premiere 30-odd-piece marching band, is playing tonight at the Jackhammer (6406 N. Clark St.), the gay bar that knows no musical boundaries. Mucca Pazza have made a name for themselves for their frenetic shows -- think the best marching band music with a punk energy and cute, smartypants cheerleaders -- and its led them to appearances across these United States of America, on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and hell, on Chic-A-Go-Go. Local rock heroes Detholz! opens the show, and they're fantastically fun as well.
What I'm saying is: It's going to be bananas and you should go. It kicks off tonight at 9 p.m., tickets at the door will set you back $10. For more, and for other shows hosted by The Flesh Hungry Dog Show, check here.
The Breeders are a nostalgic treat for anyone who grew up in the '90s. Anytime I hear the opening riff to "Cannonball" I'm brought back to my high school days watching videos on MTV's "120 Minutes". But they certainly haven't been the easiest band to keep tabs on in recent years. Between the sometimes long gaps in albums, the drugs and the record label issues it is hard to know when the next time we will get to see them will be.
Thankfully, the alternative superstars just kicked off a summer tour, leaving 4AD and self-releasing their newest album Fate to Fatal. This follows last year's Mountain Battles. The twins rockThe Metro this Thursday for the post Lollapalooza show week with with indie soul band Whispertown 2000 opening. Doors open at 8. Show starts at 9.
Lucky for you, we have a couple of pairs of tickets to give away, courtesy of the Metro. Be the first two to email us at email@example.com with the subject line "Cannonball" and you and a friend will be headed to the show on Thursday night. [Update: We have our winners! Congrats to Oscar and Sarah!]
Ding Ding! Imagine this: It's Sunday night at Lollapalooza. You're tired and sweaty and dirty and yet totally charged up and ready to rock. Our team of writers has the picks of which what stages will be bliss and which stages are best to miss. Read on for more.
The Arctic Monkeys have come a long way from their humble days of Myspace darlings back in 2005. With the rise of their brash and infectious hit "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," the band found themselves touring around the world, including a plethora of festival dates. The band should feel right at home this weekend when they head into town to play Lollapalooza.
They're also one of the many acts this weekend playing small intimate shows while in town. The band is headlining a show Friday night at the Metro before heading to Grant Park Saturday. Obviously the show is sold out, but Gapers Block has a pair for one lucky winner. Just be the first to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org the subject line "Monkeys!" and you'll be on your way to the show Friday night at the Metro. Update! We have a winner! Congrats to Gordon!
The band is getting ready to release their third album, Humbug, and have been listening to a lot of '60s psychedelic rock and working with Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), and these factors show in their new dark and lush sound. Check out the first single "Crying Lighting" below.
Day three in our previews of what to hit and what to quit at Lollapalooza this weekend. The forecast is looking hot and steamy, and so are some of these bands! Keep reading for more on our favorite upcoming stage clashes on Saturday night.
Here we go with the second installment of our set-to-set matchup of Lollapalooza's bands. Today's battles rage on as Friday and Saturday's music starts to heat up. Keep reading for our picks on what to hear when.
I've often said that music festivals are a marathon, not a sprint, and should be eased into with much pre-festival calf stretching. That being said, we're going to give you a full week of Lollapalooza performer previews, each geared to help you choose which stage to spend your time during which set. We're not going strictly chronological here, but we're kind of teasing it out each day this week so check back often.
OK, here we go: It's Lollapalooza 2009: Band vs. Band!