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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Feature Thu Dec 14 2006

Chicago Music You'll Love to Give

We've taken some of the guesswork out of your gift list this holiday season, by applying our love of Chicago and all of it's musical offerings to some common (and not-so-common) gift giving situations.

For that friend who thinks all world music comes from Starbucks

If you've ever caught the NPR music program Afropop Worldwide with Georges Collinet on Chicago Public Radio, then you've likely heard some rollicking tunes by Konono No.1 from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The band, founded over 25 years ago, uses found objects, scrap metal and likembés (a traditional instrument sometimes called "sanza" or "thumb piano", consisting of metal rods attached to a resonator) that have been hooked up to handmade microphones built from magnets salvaged from old car parts and plugged into amps. Their latest album Congotronics: Konono No.1 is electrified percussive glory straight from the streets of Kinshasa. Konono No.1 innovates as much as any of your favorite bands like The Ex, Notwist, Aphex Twin or even Tom Waits. Trust that your friend will love it and get a pair of tickets right now to the Konono No.1 show at the Empty Bottle on April 24 ($20).
-Anne Holub

For the dance monkey

Toward the end of their career, local art-funk-punk group Trenchmouth started to delve into dub. Singer/ keyboardist Damon Locks, flanked by fellow Trenchmouth expat bassist and guitarist Wayne Montana, soldiered on, creating the addictively bizarre dub troupe The Eternals, with Dan Fliegel on percussion and guitar. Much like Trenchmouth, however, The Eternals infuse plenty of noise, jazz and rock elements to keep rock critics scratching their heads and audiences dancing. High Anxiety is a remix EP, snagging songs from their two previous full-length releases and handing them over to the likes of DJs Prefuse 73, A Grape Dope and Exercise Tiger. Munch on this tasty morsel while you anticipate their next full-length, Heavy International, due out early next year.
-Kara Luger

For that friend who champions My Bloody Valentine and Wire and then has the nerve to say no local music is good (Don't you have that friend?)

Featuring Chicago bands Airiel, Arks, Rhineland Bastards, and Walking Bicycles, along with Humboldt, CA's Monster Women, Welcome to the Future boasts some of Chicago's promising post-punk and shoegaze bands. Released by Walking Bicycles' frontman Julius Moriarty on his Highwheel label, this compilation (only available on 10" vinyl) is evidence of the strong independent scene in Chicago. (And Arks, Airiel, and Walking Bicycles will play a free show at Empty Bottle on January 22.)
-James Ziegenfus

For your friend who still goes to Bar Mitzvahs for the dancing

Do you have a friend who won't stop singing the dradle song in July, or who actually likes drinking Manischewitz? If so, then here's the perfect holiday treat for them. Afterall, it's that time again for food and dancing and for every day to feel like one big happy wedding — that's right kids, it's Chanukah, and this year the band Golem is going on an eight-day tour to shine a little light at a small independent club near you.

This is not your mother's, your father's or your Aunt Ruth's klezmer. This is what happens when punk rock and Passover collide! Catch all the best Eastern-European Folk-Punk-Dance music you've ever heard this year at Heeb Magazine's first ever JEWLTIDE: A Chanukah Bash. One listen and you'll be doing the hora till your feet fall off. Golem and Socalled are playing at The Empty Bottle Wednesday, December 20. Music starts at 8pm. Tickets are $12 advance, $15 at the door.
-Catherine Rigod

For your friends who had kids a couple of years ago

Your old rock show buddies, now all grown up, won't mind driving the pre-school carpool with the Wee Hairy Beasties album Animal Crackers playing. The group, made up of Mekons members Jon Langford (billed as "Cyril the Karaoke Squirrel") and Sally Timms ("Monkey Double Dippey"), singer/songwriter Kelly Hogan ("Marjorie the Singing Bee"), and Hideout regulars Devil in a Woodpile (Rick "Cookin'" Sherry, Joel Paterson, and Tom Ray) fill this latest Bloodshot Records release with songs "by animals"/about animals/for kids. Songs like "Ragtime Duck" and the cover/re-vision of "I'm a M.A.N." titled "I'm an A.N.T." will plant the seeds of roots Americana in your kids faster than you can say Bo Diddley! Buy it from Bloodshot ($15) and check out their money-saving bonus as well. Remember, good music taste begins at home.
-Anne Holub

For the friend upset that Wilco hasn't released another Being There: Capital by Riviera

It's pretty easy to categorize Riviera as alt-country and Americana, especially since they hail from Chicago and sometimes have a bit of twang. On Capital, the band does borrow from the aforementioned genres, but also channels a wide range of rock-related music. For instance, there is a lot of power-pop in with the splendid harmonies and raw riffs that carry the album. Frontman Derek Phillips leads listeners through some of the best driving music of the year, especially "Snails."
-James Ziegenfus

For your mom and your little sister to enjoy together

Why not knock out two gifts with one pop-punk prettyboy? As lead singer and songwriter of the California band Something Corporate, Andrew McMahon was something of an anomaly: his piano-driven, somewhat Billy Joel-y AOR melodies were almost contradicted by lyrics that referenced high school dramas and New Found Glory. Of course McMahon was barely out of high school, but he may have just been ahead of his time by a few years—much of the material on Leaving Through the Window, the band's 2002 debut full-length, would fit right in next to The Fray on an episode of Grey's Anatomy. McMahon's new project, Jack's Mannequin, has had a very slow build with its 2005 debut Everything in Transit—partly because McMahon had to cut short promotion due to his diagnosis with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. While McMahon underwent treatment, first single "The Mixed Tape" found a following with a video on VH1 and as a soundtrack cut on One Tree Hill (the Grey's Anatomy of the CW set, one supposes). McMahon's successful battle with cancer can only increase the swoon factor, and the new Jack's Mannequin winter tour in support of the repackaged and re-released Everything in Transit is sure to be a prime moms-and-daughters destination. The band's February 16 date at the Riviera is on sale now.
-Kris Vire

For Those About to Rock...Olde Tyme-Style

So you dig indie rock, pop, and snatches of funk but still yearn for the more pristine, olde tyme days of yore? Don't worry — the boys of Skybox have captured their brand of ridiculously catchy and often kitschy (in a 1920s sort of way) music on one of those new-fangled recording devices, and offer it to the masses in their first release, Arco Iris. Hailing from Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, Skybox has garnered a healthy following due to their rousing live shows, and though Arco Iris is very produced and almost a little too clean at times — the bouncy ditty that is "Various Kitchen Utensils" almost demands to be backlit by a neon PBR sign — it's still a good deal of fun.
-Kara Luger

For the person who thinks music festivals only happen in the summertime: tickets for Tomorrow Never Knows @ Schubas

With Chicago spoiled by Intonation, Pitchfork, and Lollapalooza presumably inked in to each summer for a couple of years now, not to mention numerous street fairs and festivals, it's sometimes difficult to remember that good music festivals also occur during the winter. The year's first, Tomorrow Never Knows, is a bit expanded in 2007 with seven shows over five days. Featured will be a healthy dose of national and regional acts. French Kicks (New York), Margot & the Nuclear So & Sos (Indianapolis), The Ponys (Chicago), Mucca Pazza (Chicago), and Bound Stems (Chicago) headline the evening shows, while School of Rock tackles Pink Floyd's The Wall during weekend matinees. It should be a tremendous 5-day event and hopefully an excellent start to a new year, so treat your special someone to a pass. And while you're at it, buy some earplugs.
-James Ziegenfus

For the pal who just moved to Chicago

Why not give your rookie Chicagoan a musical walking, erm, listening, tour of the city? For the jazz-ear, you can mine recent releases from local imprints Atavistic or Delmark; indie rockers will find something to listen to in the Flameshovel or Thrill Jockey catalogs; and hip-hop label Chocolate Industries was the first to release the pint-sized UK spitfire Lady Sovereign in the US. Or, there's the all-inclusive Chicago comp: In the mid-'90s, Sweet Pea Records released a Who's Who of Chicago music at the time called Dig This, and features Jim O'Rourke, Scissor Girls, Sea and Cake, Number One Cup, Waco Brothers and Coctails. Tracking a copy of Dig This down may prove to be tricky, but Touch and Go's Lounge Ax Defense and Relocation comp covers much of the same timeline. A more recent release, but also calling on nostalgia, is Undergound Communique's tribute to Pegboy, while WLUW and WNUR's benefit CDs cover the current crop of Chicago artists.
-JP Pfafflin

Most importantly, while you're getting ready to head out shopping this year, don't forget to support your neighborhood record store (like our favorites here and here), your neighborhood rock (or jazz, or punk or electronic) band, and your favorite live music venue in Chicago.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

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

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

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


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

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

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

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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