MEIOTIC CHICAGO

ELECTRONIC MUSIC LOVERS & OPTIMISTS ~ est. 2002

ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/01/2015

October 1st, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Chicago Is Turning The CTA Into A Surprise Lending Library For Chicago Ideas Week
    There will be books spread throughout the various train lines for people to read as they commute around town. [ more › ]
  • Want To See Mucca Pazza?

    Our favorite indie punk rock marching band group here at Gapers Block, Mucca Pazza, will be playing a show at the Metro on October 10, and we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away! Our friends over at CHIRP will be moving their online station to radio on 107.1 FM, and as a benefit, Mucca Pazza will be putting on a show alongside other standout acts. CHIRP Radio has remained solely volunteer-driven since its advent five years ago, broadcasting music from 6am through midnight daily from its North Center studio. In focusing on a diverse array of musical offerings, CHIRP also works to introduce us to local up-and-comers, cementing its status as an important arts fixture within the community.

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    To enter, comment below (make sure to use your email!) with your favorite Chicago artist (besides Mucca Pazza, of course). Winners will be announced Thursday, October 1, at 2 p.m. Happy entering!

    Mucca Pazza will play the Metro on Saturday, October 10. This all ages show is $21 in advance, and $23 at the door, with the show beginning at 6:30pm. Mucca Pazza will be joined by support acts Brother Starrace, Jennifer Hall, and Spaces of Disappearance. The Metro is located at 3730 N. Clark St., (773) 549-0203.

  • Pitchfork Review Editor Jessica Hopper Explains Why She Stays In Chicago
    This interview withJessica Hopper is one of the best discussions we’ve heard concerning her life and work. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/24/2015

September 24th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • If Actual Rent Prices Were Motivational Posters
    Paying rent sucks, especially when you live in such a tough housing market. But did you know it’s actually possible to buy a house here before you hit 30? At the end of this post check out how a newer, better lender is making it possible, but first, scroll through some motivational posters of a different kind. If this doesn’t make you want to buy, we’re not sure what will. [ more › ]
  • Le Révélateur Cruise the Back Alleys of Retrofuturism @ Siskel Center

    For the inauguration of its 19th(!) year of programming cutting-edge experimental music events in Chicago, Lampo is hosting a rare weeknight event Thursday, Sept. 24 at the Gene Siskel Film Center. As part of its Conversations at the Edge series, the Siskel will host Le Révélateur, the duo of video artist Sabrina Ratté and Godspeed! You Black Emperor/Fly Pan Am’s Roger Tellier-Craig.

    Even a cursory glance at the project’s various video and audio works will detect gestures and references to previous eras of electronic audio and visual experimentation. Tellier-Craig’s analogue synth work avoids the cough-syrup murk of Tangerine Dream in favor of an ecstatic, lonely, sparkling tone, closer to Popul Vuh’s work on Herzog’s film Heart of Glass. It achieves that rare combination of eternity mixed with melancholy, the heart-hurt realization that the afterlife lasts a long, long time. Meanwhile, Ratté’s visuals use ’80s visual iconography as their starting point — black fields with grid lines, hallways, gradient-prismatic color squares, juxtapositions of slate gray and sherbet swaths all creatively distorted, doubled, and magnetically interrupted for your edification. Elsewhere, watery textures cut into hard geometric shapes suggest badly sun-faded New Age meditation videos, a Calm Blue Ocean that just happens to be neon orange and electric chartreuse. The mix of the two is both charmingly nostalgic and also interested in pushing toward the future — you’ve seen these types of images before, but they’re presented here with legitimate urgency and palpable menace.

    Tickets for this event are $11, $6 for Siskel Center members. The event begins at 7pm.

  • A Good Cast Keeps The Familiar Fresh In ‘A Brilliant Young Mind’
    Add ‘A Brilliant Young Mind’ to that list of recent movies to explore genius via drama. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/17/2015

September 17th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Chicago’s dance-music community says good-bye to Phil Free Art

    Plus: Jack Black drops in on Mikal Cronin at the Bottle, Marc Arcuri makes “disco grunge” as Orphan Schlitz, and more.
    by Leor Galil and J.R. Nelson
    Gossip Wolf is sad to report that Phillip Pelipada—better known to Chicago’s dance-music community as Phil Free Art—died last week at age 44. Pelipada was well-known in town for his inimitable positivity, for giving out copies of his intricately hand-drawn rave zine, Free Art, and for DJing scorching sets of house, freestyle, and jungle in clubs and on Vocalo and WHPK, among other places.…
  • Jazz grows under Ernest Dawkins’s feet

    By staying put in his hometown, this Chicago saxophonist has nurtured generations of musicians—and a south-side festival that’s now in its 16th year.
    by David Whiteis
    Chicago saxophonist Ernest Dawkins has pursued music professionally for nearly 40 years, and in that time he’s built a legacy that’s among the city’s richest. Over the decades his New Horizons Ensemble, active since the late 70s, has included some of modern jazz’s most gifted stylists and innovators, among them bassist Yosef Ben Israel, guitarist Jeff Parker, drummer Avreeayl Ra, and trumpeter Marquis Hill (who won the Thelonious Monk Competition this year).…
  • Yonatan Gat With Local Openers The Avantist and Crown Larks 9/20 @ Schubas

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    Yonatan Gat took the stage for five frenzied years with the raucous, rampaging Israeli rock trio Monotonix in the late 2000s. Now he’s flying solo, but the freeform, ecstatic energy remains, and he’ll be bringing it to Schubas Tavern on Sunday night alongside local favorites The Avantist and Crown Larks.

    Gat’s prowess as a guitarist has been widely acknowledged by sources from The Village Voice to The New York Times. In his Monotonix days he was known for his rabid garage-punk aesthetic, but since leaving the band his playing has diversified to include strong Brazilian and jazz influences. Raw distortion still pervades his songs, but now it shrouds deft and playful melodies rather than jagged power chords. On his latest LP, Director–which consists of live recordings of Gat and his new bandmates improvising–Gat finds a tone that harkens back to the great avant-garde players of the late 1960s, his riffs laced with a warm reverb over a tight, frenetic rhythm section.

    That Director was recorded live is hardly a surprise, as chaotic MC5-esque performances have been a hallmark of Gat’s work since his days in Monotonix. His band typically sets up on the floor, among the audience, and everyone in attendance loses themselves in a sweat-soaked conversion of matter into energy. It’s unclear at this point how Schubas will make such a setup work, but the gorgeous all-wooden interior of the venue makes bad acoustics a near impossibility, no matter from whence the music comes.

    Opening the evening will be The Avantist and Crown Larks, two of the city’s better rock outfits. The Avantist blends new wave and punk aesthetics with modern indie production to craft dance-y songs reminiscent of Kings of Leon, while the Crown Larks blast off into cosmic territory with the proggy, psychedelic intensity of a present-day King Crimson (minus Robert Fripp’s signature sound). Both bands put on lively shows that should provide the perfect prelude to the wildman who is Yonatan Gat.

    The show starts at 8:00 pm on Sunday evening. You can buy tickets for $10 here, or for $12 at the door.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/10/2015

September 10th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Vendors, Food & Local Brews Return For Andersonville’s Third-Annual City Made Fest
    Come to Andersonville and celebrate local! City Made Fest is the one-and-only festival where everything is made in Chicago. Find 15 local brewers serving 32 different beers—plus cider and sangria!—11 Chicago bands and 40 artisans and makers who really do produce their wares within city limits. [ more › ]
  • Riot Fest’s hip-hop undercard

    Even if you ignore the festival’s marquee names, you can find plenty of rappers with top-shelf skills.
    by Leor Galil
    Hip-hop has a bigger presence at Riot Fest this year than ever before—hugely influential acts such as De La Soul, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and Cypress Hill are sure to steal some of the spotlight from the lineup’s army of guitar heroes. But some of the best rap artists at the festival are less well-known.…
  • Serj Tankian vs. Mike Patton: Fight!

    Who would win a Mortal Kombat bout between these two inimitable front men?
    by Sasha Geffen
    Faith No More and System of a Down boast two of the fiercest baritones to spring from early-90s rock, and both bands are back on the festival circuit—which means their front men will face off at Riot Fest. It’s not a literal showdown—they perform on different days—but that means you can see both Serj Tankian and Mike Patton bellow, howl, and roar to the heavens.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/03/2015

September 3rd, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Gloria Steinem And Roxane Gay Are Coming To Chicago To Talk Feminism
    Authors, activists and feminist icons Gloria Steinem and Roxane Gay are planning a very special one night only event in Uptown on October 29th and everyone’s favorite feminist bookstore is hosting. [ more › ]
  • Your comprehensive guide to the 37th annual Chicago Jazz Festival

    Previews of every act in Millennium Park and beyond, including Fred Hersch in his overdue festival debut and AACM cofounder Muhal Richard Abrams leading a historic reunion of the Experimental Band
    by Peter Margasak, John Corbett and Bill Meyer
    Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians turned 50 in 2015, and celebrations of this influential collective have been popping off worldwide all year—here in town, exhibits honoring the AACM’s impact have opened at the DuSable Museum of African American History and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The 37th annual Chicago Jazz Festival marks this auspicious anniverary with performances by four AACM-related groups: Douglas Ewart & Inventions, the Jeff Parker Trio, Steve & Iqua Colson, and Muhal Richard Abrams’s Experimental Band.…
  • Closed Sessions throws cofounder Alex Fruchter one last party as a single man

    Plus: Troubled Hubble reunite after a ten-year hiatus, and Varsity and Lord Snow release new music.
    by Leor Galil and J.R. Nelson
    Closed Sessions honcho Alex Fruchter, aka DJ RTC, is getting married! Those of you who never got a “save the date” card can come to the party at East Room on Thursday, September 3, that the Closed Sessions team is throwing in Fruchter’s honor (if you’re at least 21).…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/27/2015

August 27th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Laughing Eye Weeping Eye cast an ancient spell with a brand-new cassette

    Laughing Eye Weeping Eye cast an ancient spell with a brand-new cassette, dance-music label Nite Owl Diner releases its first compilation, and more.
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Local duo Laughing Eye Weeping Eye play buzzing, ancient-sounding tunes whose stately harmonies and compelling drones remind this wolf of Dead Can Dance and Nico. It can’t hurt that singer and harmonium pumper Rebecca Schoenecker is also a tarot reader—she can definitely cast musical spells, especially with help from the band’s other half, Patrick Holbrook, whose arsenal of stringed instruments includes Turkish spike fiddle and ukelin.…
  • Playing Atop the Hotel Lincoln, Widowspeak Embraces The Serenity Of Nature

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    The J. Parker Rooftop at the Hotel Lincoln is packed at 6:00. On an ordinary Tuesday evening, you’d probably see a few 20-somethings stopping by after work to drink up a stunning view of Lincoln Park, the lake, and the Near North Side skyline as well as a cocktail. But on this occasion, a PA system and a slew of microphones invade a square space at the east end of the roof, and people cluster in a semicircle around them, keeping up a garrulous chatter between glances at the makeshift stage.

    At 6:30, a woman in a black top and floral skirt and a man with long dark hair, a massive beard, and denim from head to toe step up to the mics with acoustic guitars in hand. And after a quick introduction from the mustachioed event manager and some enthusiastic cheers, Brooklyn-based indie folksters Widowspeak smile and launch into an eight-song set with the greatest of the Great Lakes providing a stunning backdrop.

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    Off to the side of the stage, in a U-shaped booth that was absolutely intended to make its occupants feel like VIPs, Suzanne Thomas beams at her boy Rob and his friend Molly Hamilton, the two core members of Widowspeak. For the Thomas family, the show is a fabulous homecoming event. The apartment where Rob grew up, and where his family still lives, lies about six blocks from the Hotel Lincoln. And for a band that’s been as busy as Widowspeak has lately–they finished up a sojourn opening for Lord Huron in July, their third studio album All Yours drops on September 4, and they’ll set off on a headlining tour in October–a stop at home is a wonderful change of pace.

    “It’s kind of strange, I guess,” said Thomas, who spoke to me on the phone as he biked to his grandma’s place earlier in the day. “I love Chicago, I come back here to see my family, but after I moved away, it’s like nobody cares that you’re from Chicago…I go out east and people are like, ‘Oh, that’s a place I’ve heard of.’ So for me, I get to be like, ‘Hey dudes, this is what I’m all about here, this is what I love, this is where I come from.”

    Robert Earl Thomas played in bands throughout his high school years at St. Ignatius and then shipped off to Brooklyn at age 18 to go to college. It was there that he met Molly Hamilton and Michael Stasiak, two kids from Tacoma who were playing dreamy folk-rock infused with relaxed, reverb-heavy Pacific Northwest vibes. What began as a hobby for Thomas quickly morphed into a full-time project, and since its 2010 founding, Widowspeak has put out two full-length albums, 2011’s Widowspeak and 2013’s Almanac, and an EP called The Swamps. “We started this band as a kind of friends-dragged-me-in thing, a weekend project, and then it took off,” he told me.

    Since its inception, the band’s shoegaze-folk sound has infused a subtle, sleepy melancholia with a quiet determination to push forward. A lot of that has to do with Hamilton’s voice, which sounds like a dream-angel soaring through REM clouds, but it also has to do with the slight unease she and Thomas both felt in Brooklyn.

    “It was a form of homesickness or yearning for something,” she said of Widowspeak’s early style. “For all the years I was in Brooklyn, I very much enjoyed myself, I met a lot of amazing people, I had a lot of great experiences, but I think that I had a hard time feeling settled, and I moved around every year. When I looked back at my time there, there was never really a sense of home.”

    Some lineup changes in the band’s first couple years added to the feeling of instability–Stasiak left Widowspeak in 2012, rendering Hamilton and Thomas a duo, as the urge to discover a new creativity led them to up and leave Brooklyn entirely in late 2013, moving to a cabin in the Hudson Valley three hours north of the city that they affectionately described as a “hobbit hole.” There, isolated and amidst nature as Thoreau was at Walden and The Band was at Big Pink, they were able to take a deep breath of the fresh rural air and approach both life and songcrafting more leisurely.

    “It’s weird because Rob has always been a city boy, he’s never lived in a house,” Hamilton told me. “For me, it’s not like you need enough room in your house, but the idea of the outdoors as another room, like an extension of your living space…it’s really important to be able to walk outside and get a different perspective, whereas in the city you’re always in earshot or eyeshot of another human being.” It isn’t as if she and Thomas are completely isolated–they can walk or bike to a small town nearby–but the band’s new base opened up a channel to relaxation and authenticity that comes from an intense focus on their relationship to the natural world. For Thomas, the best part of that new relation is Ruby, the dog he and Hamilton bought when they moved. “We almost named the record Ruby, but instead we just dedicated it to her,” he said. “To care for something else, other than a human, helps you feel less self-centered, and then there’s that philosophical saying about touching an animal helping you feel relaxed.”

    The result of the band’s stay in the Hudson Valley is All Yours, which Widowspeak pegs as their realest, most natural effort to date. “I think with our previous records I was taking these ideas of scenes and trying to illustrate them with songs and have them be more like a project,” Hamilton told me. “This one’s just about moving upstate and leaving some things behind, and so I think without some overarching theme, it felt more natural singing them and not having to force them all too much.” Her lyrics throughout the album possess a serenity to match her ethereal voice, combining just a hint of plaintiveness with the surreal beauty that lies on the boundary between dreams and wakefulness. On songs like “Girls,” inspired by Hamilton comparing herself to younger peers, there’s the familiar gentleness of Widowspeak’s dream-country soundscape topped by Hamilton’s voice at the level of a breathy whisper, but the song, like most of the others on the album, communicates the positivity of the band’s current state of mind–in their house in the woods, they’ll overcome anything.

    Back on the J. Parker rooftop at the Hotel Lincoln, there’s a popping sound every once in a while as Hamilton and Thomas play through a set that includes “Girls,” “All Yours,” “Calico,” and a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game,” among others. It turns out to be Hamilton’s small acoustic guitar bumping into the mic as she sways in time to the music, and she’s visibly amused by this phenomenon: “I’m used to moving around while I play,” she explains to the audience. The overall effect just amplifies the realness of the music.

    Meanwhile, Thomas barely moves over the course of the eight songs, eyes on his guitar as he brings to life the spirit of some of the 70s’ greatest folk-rock six-stringers. Obviously Robbie Robertson and The Band had been on Thomas’ mind when he and Hamilton moved into their cabin (they were “okay falling into that lineage” of Big Pink, he told me) and Robertson’s understated playing informed Thomas’ style throughout the composition of All Yours. But there’s also a lot more Neil Young here than on Widowspeak’s previous works, as Thomas was listening through Young’s 1974 LP On the Beach for much of the recording process. “On ‘Dead Love,’ there’s some little guitar solo in the middle of the song where I just jam on one note, and that’s very Neil Young,” he said.

    On the rooftop, Thomas brings out the harmonica on “Girls” and, combined with his intense acoustic soloing on that song, the Young influence becomes immediately evident. Then his slide guitar on “Harsh Realm” brings to mind George Harrison. A small group of obnoxious women talks throughout the performance 10 feet from the band, but for the most part the audience’s attention remains fixed on Widowspeak’s atmospheric music and the tranquil Lake Michigan behind them. This ambience suits the band perfectly–it’s a cooler evening, one that foretells the coming of autumn, and their hibernal songs seem to let everyone know that the turning of the seasons is a welcome part of nature.

    This isn’t the only special event Widowspeak will play in the coming weeks. On September 3, they’ll be hosting a release party for All Yours on a boat in New York. “People in New York, their attention is so fought over,” said Thomas. “My friends come, but there’s so many things going on any given night in New York that going to see a show isn’t always a priority. So why don’t we do something that’s fun and cool to do that our friends and other people might like?” They’ll follow up the album release with an October tour that will bring them back to Chicago on October 13 at the Chop Shop, and that point they’ll have a full band in tow.

    The idea of headlining a tour will be exciting to Thomas and Hamilton, given the experiences they had in July opening for Lord Huron across the Southwest. “The idea behind that tour really fit the landscapes we were driving through,” Hamilton told me. “You could see the line where California ends and Arizona begins. And even just driving from Tucson to Albuquerque, being able to drive through these tiny little expanses of mountains and then you go into the desert and then back into more mountains, you can see the landscape changing as you drive through.” The vast expanse of Widowspeak’s sonic landscape seems to fit well with the wide open spaces of places like Arizona, New Mexico, and Zion National Park in Utah, the band’s favorite place they visited on the July tour. But in October, their focus will be on the East Coast and the Midwest.

    Atop the Hotel Lincoln, Thomas and Hamilton finish their set to hefty applause and immediately walk over to embrace the Thomas family in their U-shaped booth. This is the intersection where Widowspeak resides–at the meeting point of wide open sky and wide open arms, of expansive lakes and expansive feelings, of the big city and the green space outside. They’ll be visiting indoor venues on the All Yours tour in October, but the emotions the music generates will be the same. They found their happy place in the woods, and their songs exist to spread that serenity to the world.

  • Black and brown punks unite

    A radical Chicago collective throws a loud, inclusive party every summer that celebrates and supports queer, trans, and intersex people of color.
    by Erin Osmon
    The Chicago punk scene wasn’t very kind to Donté Oxun after the 29-year-old moved here from Washington, D.C., in 2007. “These punk dudes gave me the name ‘the faggot’ or ‘culero,’ meaning ass fucker or ass man,” Oxun says.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/20/2015

August 20th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Yo La Tengo dials it down again, to great results

    When Yo La Tengo released its fourth album Fakebook in the summer of 1990, the celebrated indie-rockers from Hoboken, N.J. were a very different band—not yet the ferociously electric-guitar-driven noise/drone powerhouse now beloved by two generations of underground music fans, and searching for their identity. Turning toward a then still unique “unplugged” concept, they built on their roots as the coolest cover band to ever take the stage at Maxwell’s, tackling a wide array of songs they loved (by John Cale, Daniel Johnston, the Flamin’ Grooves, and others) the way that low-level gigging pros would open their fake book of chord charts to fulfill a request at a wedding or bar mitzvah.

    Unemployed and more than a little homesick after newly relocating to Minneapolis, Fakebook arrived as a gift from old friends: “I don’t think there’s ever been a more welcome package from home,” I wrote at the time, and the band crashed on my floor while touring. But I’ve returned to that album more than any other Yo La Tengo disc in the years since and enjoyed the occasional echo of it in work to follow, and not only because of memories of the time and place. The way the band shined new light on familiar sounds from very distinctive voices, the interplay between Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley’s quiet, heartbreakingly intimate vocals, and the spot-on contributions of rootsy guitarist Dave Schramm are more subtly insinuating and enduringly resonant than anything the band has given us over a now storied career.

    Stuff Like That There may well be a 25th anniversary sequel to the idea of Fakebook, but to my ears it makes a case for simply returning to what moved Yo La Tengo to make things in the first place: embracing the people who they still hold close and making a spirited noise about it,” the band’s pal, Lambchop leader Kurt Wagner, wrote in some pre-release hype, though there’s actually nothing hyperbolic about his well-deserved praise for the album. As on Fakebook, the group, once again expanded to a quartet thanks to returning guest Schramm, reimagines deftly chosen covers from well-known names “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank Williams, “Friday I’m in Love” by the Cure) as well as lost heroes and heroines (“My Heart’s Not in It” by Darlene McCrea, “Before We Stopped to Think” by Great Plains) and some of its own songs (“The Ballad of Red Buckets,” “Deeper Into Movies”).

    The result is something much greater and more personal than that simple summation of its parts might indicate. No doubt it will come as a surprise for fans who came on board post-Painful or Electr-O-Pura, and as another timely Care package from old friends for the rest of us. Either way, it offers another welcome perspective on a great band, and a reminder of why we love it.

    Yo La Tengo, Stuff Like That There (Matador)

    Rating on the 4-star scale: 4 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast or stream Sound Opinions.

  • Get Your Cosplay On At Wizard World Comic Con This Weekend
    Chicago’s largest pop culture and comic con takes root all weekend long. [ more › ]
  • Shame That Tune rides off into the embarrassing sunset

    Shame That Tune rides off into the embarrassing sunset, Owen and Into It. Over It. release a split EP, and more.
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Last November, Gossip Wolf hailed the talents behind improvised live game show Shame That Tune—including pianist and songwriter extraordinaire Abraham Levitan and novelist and Reader contributor Brian Costello—for reaching their 50th episode. Sadly, on Fri 8/21 this wolf’s favorite oddball entertainers will sign off with one last show, turning the tables with “shameful anecdotes from the performers themselves,” including Costello, Levitan, and cohost Jeanine O’Toole.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/13/2015

August 13th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/06/2015

August 6th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Buke and Gase and Landlady: A Primeval Movement of Human Spirit

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    Someone once told me that music is the language of the soul, and that’s a mantra I’ve taken into every concert I’ve seen. Some aspects of the soul are neatly arranged, rational, mathematical. Others–the more primordial parts–seek to move in time to the irregular, chaotic nature of the universe. Last night at Schuba’s, it was that latter half of the soul that was activated by Buke and Gase, Landlady, and Crown Larks. Although each band painted a vastly different soundscape, they all filled the chest with a Dionysian energy that reveled in the beauty of primal urge.

    IMG_5661.JPGI arrived at Schuba’s about ten minutes before Crown Larks, a local four-piece outfit, took the stage and blasted off their set with a dissonant mix of hypnotic guitar, alarmed synth, and a patter of drums that sounded like a super-intelligent cat was walking deliberately across the kit. It made no sense, but in the same way that the Big Bang doesn’t make sense–we can’t understand how energy turned into matter any more than we can understand how Jack Bouboushian’s droning guitar solos fall neatly into the frantic, freeform rhythm of Crown Larks’ music, but we can accept its stark beauty. As the band played through its five-song set, the music remained hazily focused on a feel that ranged from the lullaby acid trip and waterfall cymbals of “Chapels” to the schizoid spiral toward a neural black hole that characterized “Overgrown.” Bouboushian’s vocals were tough to pick out but that’s because they blended seamlessly into the other instruments, combining with the stellar rhythm section–I’m still not sure how they moved so easily into and out of even time–and the superb textures laid down by keyboardist/saxophonist/flutist Lorraine Bailey, whose sax solo on “Satrap” stood out. At times, Crown Larks’ music verged on nonsensical and rambling, but the moments when all the avant-garde puzzle pieces came together in a wall of vicious electromagnetic, kaleidoscopic waves made the chaos worth it. Ummagumma-era Pink Floyd (and Syd Barrett) would have been huge fans of this group.

    IMG_5662.JPGOnce my brain had recovered from Crown Larks’ “Circus,” a nightmarish trance of synths over an extended drum solo, Landlady took the stage and changed the mood immediately. The psychedelic trappings came off, replaced by baroque melodies and light, artfully splashed guitar riffs. The most striking aspect of Landlady was its dual drummer setup of Ian Chang and Booker Stardrum, without whom the band’s sound would risk falling back into the muddled legions of Vampire Weekend follow-ups. Chang and Stardrum work together to craft intense, complex rhythms that stayed within the highbrow milieu of the genre but powered each song with a bounding vivacity, breathing earthly life into the music. Among their percussive elements was a battered-to-hell old cymbal that added a trash can clang to the breakdowns that led out of “Solid Brass” and the band’s soulful cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “If This Room Could Talk.” Meanwhile, Adam Schatz carried the show forward with a voice that sounds like the lovechild of Donald Fagen and Randy Newman, articulating his words in a way that made their already anxious message more poignant. For a man who writes songs like “Dying Day” and “Girl” –respectively a meditation on aging and a plaintive call for support–he expressed unexpected joie de vivre on stage, staring into the crowd with bright eyes and becoming a single entity with his keyboard. Perhaps the takeaway was that only through music can humanity ditch the apprehension that comes with everyday life and ascend to some higher, calmer plane of existence. That message shone through clearly on “The Globe,” a highlight of the set, which featured a bustling, straightforward depiction of earthly worry in the verses but then leapt into a spacey journey in the chorus, replete with heavenly vocal harmonies and a cosmic canvas of shimmering chords and airy drums, before ending with a “God Only Knows”-esque layering of the hook and a bleak guitar solo echoing out into the void. By the time Landlady was ending its set with an ecstatic rendition of “Above the Ground,” which featured Schatz and guitarist Will Graefe having a sort of guitar-tapping revival that finished with both on the floor as Chang and Stardrum carried the song to its conclusion, the band had communicated with an ancient part of the human psyche and lifted it out of the doldrums of existential dread.

    As if my heart wasn’t breathless enough from Landlady’s set, Buke and Gase moved it in an entirely different and more primal direction. The Brooklyn-based duo of Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez has stated in interviews that their music strives to combine the familiar and the unfamiliar. The most obvious example of this is their homemade instruments: Dyer’s buke, a six-string converted electric baritone ukulele, and Sanchez’s gase, a guitar-bass hybrid. The bodies of the instruments look ordinary at first, but upon closer inspection the modifications become readily apparent. Both make sounds unlike any I had heard before, particularly with Dyer’s use of effects on her buke, which variously cackled like a hyena, sliced with a razor sharp Tom Morello fuzz, and pumped out some alien version of musical Morse code. Dyer also played around with other electronic effects, using vocal modifiers to comically lower her voice to a baritone whilst talking to the audience between songs and then raising it to a helium-ingesting timbre on the band’s latest single, “Seam Esteem.” Her clipped delivery reminded me of CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry, particularly on the melodic runs of “Hard Times,” albeit in the very different context of tribal electronic pop noise. As Dyer delivered her ghostly lines and her buke shrieked away, Sanchez held down the fort with a stoic expression on his face, monolithic gase lines that evoked memories of Tool, and a pounding synthetic bass drum that he powered with his right foot. These lower registers provided the foundation of Buke and Gase’s music, creating the feeling of a séance or a bonfire revival that accessed the deepest trance impulses of our species, regardless of cultural background. As I tore my eyes away from the fascinating display onstage–remarkably, Dyer and Sanchez were able to hypnotize the crowd even though they sat for the entire performance–I noticed people grooving to the often irregular beats as if the music matched their own biorhythms. Above this bedrock of human movement, Buke and Gase laid riffs that ranged in feel from the uneasy comfort of a flaming bedtime story (“Wanna Dance”) to twisted ghosts of Americana (“Houdini Crush”). The unfamiliar tones became the fabric of life, and Dyer and Sanchez succeeded in accessing the crowd’s innermost sanctum of soul.

  • Dark Matter and Jump Up Records throw a party for Pressure Drip coffee
    Dark Matter and Jump Up Records throw a party for Pressure Drip Jamaican-inspired coffee, Absolutely Not and Rat Hammer celebrate a new split LP, and more.
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Gossip Wolf is a big fan of septuagenarian harmonica player and unsung reggae hero Charles “Organaire” Cameron as well as of Dark Matter coffee—and both turned up in the Reader’s latest Best of Chicago issue. You can get a dose of them on Sat 8/8 at Double Door: Organaire performs at Simmer Down Sound, a vinyl night dedicated to reggae and dancehall that this time doubles as a release party for Dark Matter’s Pressure Drip, a Jamaican-­inspired coffee the roasters made with Chicago’s Jump Up Records.…
  • Chicago Is Getting Its First Big Halloween Festival
    Maybe it’s too early to say, but it sounds like this festival will be arty and family-friendly more than an excuse for costumed debauchery in the streets, based on the sponsors alone. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/30/2015

July 30th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • These Premium, Chicago-Made Jeans Are Only $39
  • Yoni Wolf and Serengeti End Their Rap Tour at Schubas

    yoniwolf.jpgYoni Wolf’s musical output has consistently straddled the line between hip hop and indie rock. His band Why? is a great amalgamation of the two genres, never settling on either one. I was introduced to Wolf through acts like Greenthink and cLOUDEAD. Those groups definitely leaned heavier on the hip hop genre their influence is very apparent on Wolf’s current work. So seeing him embark on a solo tour not only makes sense, it’s a necessary treat. This weekend he brought the end of his tour with the Chicago favorite Serengeti to Schubas, where they put on a pair of crowd pleasing alternative hip hop sets.

    daveserengeti.jpgOver the past year I’ve seen Serengeti perform quite a bit and in that time his stage presence has grown progressively. The first couple of shows had him rapping over instrumentals off his iPod, which had a quirky charm to them. When he last opened for Yoni Wolf’s band Why?, he had a live drummer accompany him on stage. It added a very audible depth, allowing a little more improvisation and change ups to his verses. This time around he had an even fuller set up that included guitar, drums, and live beats that really made Serengeti stand out. “Devotion”, the first song of the night, was particularly affected by the added instrumentation. It’s actually a little ironic because it was stripped down from its louder and more complex original. It was slowed down and turned to a loving and emotionally gripping ballad of a track.

    daveserengeti2.jpgSerengeti stuck to some his best and most well-known tracks throughout the night, eventually finding himself turning into his oddest and greatest creation, the simple man known as Kenny Dennis. He let out a taste of this persona early on in the evening, yelling into the crowd in the heavy Chicago accent Dennis carries with him. He lead his persona through crowd pleasers “No Beginner” and “Dennehy” with an effortless cool. I’m pretty sure the audience could have rapped the entirety of the tracks themselves as Serengeti let them take over the choruses. There nothing sweeter than Chicago sports teams being roll called by an entire room after declaring their daily diet: “Hotdog for lunch/hotdog for dinner/Don’t eat breakfast”.

    yoniwolf2.jpgYoni Wolf’s set was reminiscent of the earlier Serengeti shows I’ve seen. Wolf stood alone on stage with only his MacBook by his side. It was incredibly minimalistic, putting the spotlight solely on Wolf. He went straight into a reworked version of the why track “The Fall Of Mr. Fifths” that completely took every off guard. Wolf paraded across the stage so determined and spat out the verses in such rapid succession that it was impossible for the not to fall into a similarly determined sway. Everyone could tell it was going to be a fun set once the song ended and he began to riff like a madmen while is mic and cord were replaced. The fun continued at end of the very early Why track “Bad Entropy”, Wolf did quick karate kicks to add an exclamation point to the song. Wolf’s stage presence has always been great, but as a solo act he’s stranger and somehow more affable.

    yoniwolf3.jpgThe entire crowd was intimately familiar with Wolf’s tracks, with whispers of approval at the beginning of nearly every song once they realized what the beat and lyrics were heading to. So it’s safe to say they didn’t need to hear old cLOUDEAD tracks, but they surely wanted them. The two back to back cLOUDEAD songs “Jimmy Breeze” and “Rifle Eyes” were met with mesmerized attention. “Good Friday” was introduced as a remix, one that focused hard getting a quicker flow on it. Wolf maneuvered through the lyrics like the pro that he’s, casting far away from the version I saw him play last year with Why. The same amazing flow happened with the version of “Waterlines”. It’s not that the rhythm of the originals is off, but Wolf’s transition to more straight forward rap pieces lets a different side of them shine.

    Yoni continued his set and antics for a few more songs, relishing in the crowd’s response. When he introduced a song off Hymie’s Basement, an old project from 2003, the majority of the crowd cheered. “You guy know way too much about me” he quipped but one could tell it was the reaction he knew he’d get. Wolf ended his set with “Deceived” and immediately headed straight to his merch table along with Serengeti to meet what he likely knew would be a long line of fans. He talked with everyone for quite a while, giving his attentive audience his time after a great set.

  • The essential guide to Lollapalooza 2015

    The Reader‘s essential guide to Lollapalooza 2015’s 30 best acts.
    by Reader staff
    Most music festivals have more than one stage these days, but when it comes to scale, Lollapalooza has few peers: this year it’s booked nearly 150 acts on eight stages. It’s difficult if not impossible to see more than a small fraction of the weekend-­long bill, unless you’ve got access to a jet pack or teleportation technology—the northernmost and southernmost stages are nearly a mile apart, which would be a 15-minute walk even if you didn’t have to maneuver through a crowd of 100,000 people.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/23/2015

July 23rd, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Eleventh Dream Day Returns To Their Roots On New LP
    Why fix it if it ain’t broken? [ more › ]
  • Eleventh Dream Day Beats the Future in a Staring Contest with New Album

    Eleventh Dream Day - Works For Tomorrow Cover - 395-CD 1600-300dpi.jpg

    For a band that’s fast approaching the thirty year anniversary of its debut release, Eleventh Dream Day still rules the Chicago alt-rock scene with the energetic, feedback-laced fist of a twenty-something. This is nothing new. But what’s different about the band’s latest release, Works for Tomorrow (available in stores July 24), is that there’s the experience of an aging rocker added to the pre-existing defiance. Over the course of the album’s ten songs, the five-piece group grounds its sound firmly in its tumultuous past but points confidently into the unknown future, spitting hypnotic, fuzzy riffs and rebellious words into the wind without regard for which way it’s blowing.

    For the first time since the 1980s, EDD has brought in a second guitarist, and James Elkington — formerly of Tweedy — adds a Foo Fighters-like depth to the album’s sound, particularly under Rick Rizzo’s blistered-raw solos. As usual, Rizzo brings a devil-may-care attitude to both his vocals and his guitar playing, noodling all over the place like a thrashing shark in distorted sound waves and singing with a brutal Neil Young-esque honesty. Age hasn’t detracted from his abilities, and in fact has given his voice a world-weary wisdom perfect for delivering Works for Tomorrow‘s message of persistence in the face of crushing nihilism. On songs like “Cheap Gasoline” and “The People’s History,” a detuning chorus effect on Rizzo’s vocals adds a vintage punk kick of anarchy to accompany lines such as “Driving with no destination/Cheap thrills and cheap gasoline” and “There is no end and no design.” After all that Eleventh Dream Day has been through in its long career — fights with Atlantic, lengthy periods of inactivity, and the determination to keep rocking even without commercial breakthrough — its latest album carries an authentic weight that the band bears with rabid energy, serving as an inspiration to anyone who has tired of the mainstream.

    Eleventh Dream Day by Sam Prekop -  SDI3415.jpgSome of the most powerful words on the album, though, are delivered not by Rizzo but by drummer Janet Beveridge Bean, who brings Riot Grrrl into the 21st century with her best Dave Grohl screaming impression on “Vanishing Point,” the album opener. She also adds haunting octave melodies to the chorus of the title track–really more like shrieks that convey the mood of driving a car off a ramp over the edge of a cliff with both middle fingers raised to the sky–and more earnest dual vocals with Rizzo on the soulful, rootsy “The Unknowing.” Overall, the album strikes a nice balance between head-banging punk rock and a Wilco-inspired bluesy, shimmering sound that verges on psychedelic at times. But no matter the style, the theme of taking charge of the uncertain future carries across the work’s entirety, right up to the very last words out of Rizzo’s mouth: “It all has to end with me, end with me.”

    If you’re looking for evidence that you can still find youthful spirit in your middle ages, Works for Tomorrow will give you that faith. If you’re just in the market for some good hard-rocking music, the album works just as well. If you’re taken by the songs, you can see Eleventh Dream Day perform live this Friday at The Hideout, located at 1354 W. Waubansia. Doors open at 9:30pm and tickets are just $12.

  • Stargazing in the mud at Pitchfork

    Stargazing in the mud at Pitchfork, plus new records on the way from RLYR and the duo of Ryley Walker and Bill MacKay
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Like a lot of folks at the Pitchfork Music Festival, Gossip Wolf checked out bands, made new friends, chilled with old friends (and fake friends!), and kept an eye out for famous faces around Union Park. On Friday the Haim sisters grooved to Iceage alongside the Blue Stage, and on Saturday actress Marina Squerciati—aka the plucky Officer Burgess on NBC’s Chicago P.D.—made the scene with a group of pals.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/16/2015

July 16th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. Finally Gives Up On Their Confusing Band Name
    The indie-rock duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has announced today that they are dropping the name of the famous NASCAR driver from their band name, and will now be known simply as JR JR. [ more › ]
  • Electronic dance music shows its many faces at Pitchfork

    Some look forward and some look back, and not all may benefit from the outdoors—but the genre’s vigorous diversity can only be a good thing.
    by Tal Rosenberg and Sasha Geffen
    The best dance-music performance I’ve ever seen at Pitchfork was in 2005, the festival’s inaugural year, back when it was the Intonation Music Festival. At the end of the last day I sauntered into a tent where I heard a DJ mixing Brazilian booty bass, southern rap, and indie rock (most memorably Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon”).…
  • Pitchfork Music Festival cage match: Tobias Jesso Jr. vs. Panda Bear

    What to do when the festival drops two of your favorite acts into the same time slot?
    by Peter Margasak
    Like most festivals with more than one stage, Pitchfork sometimes books two great acts to play overlapping sets, forcing fans to make a painful choice. Reader writers found quite a few of those conflicts on the fest’s schedule, and thought long and hard about who they’d go to see.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/09/2015

July 9th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Kehlani Re-Invents Sultry R&B @ Lincoln Hall

    “You guys know this is my first show right?!”

    Under the stark spotlights at Lincoln Hall on July 7, a bubbly Kehlani smiled wide to a crowd of squealing fans, as if she had been waiting to ask that question for awhile.

    Tonight, the sunny, soulful R&B up-and-comer is kicking off her inaugural headlining tour in Chicago to promote her impeccable new mixtape, You Should Be Here, featuring vulnerable ballads and confident kiss-offs. Bringing us on her emotional journey through relationships long lost, she provided her bright, cascading melodies, and breezy, shimmering synths to the eventful live show, proving there’s a new 20-year-old face to the evolving genre.

    As more types of music dipped their toes in R&B over the years, most mainstream iterations fell into one of three categories: glamdolls singing sultry pop melodies (Banks, Broods), emotional vocal runs sampled atop EDM beats (Rihanna, Tinashe) or rappers mumbling sensual hooks (Drake, The Weeknd) –all featuring slowed tempos and murky, hypnotic croons.

    Kehlani has brought this trend back to its signature delivery, pairing a modern approach with a talent well beyond her years.

    With a sprightly pair of backup dancers at her side, the Oakland, Calif. native and “America’s Got Talent” finalist soared through her popular kiss-off tracks such as “N—-s” and “Jealous” at full force. To complement her ’90s-inspired production, she brought back nostalgic staples of a pop/R&B concert: cheeky choreography, intermittent skits and even backing vocals. However, she modernized these techniques to appeal to an audience filled with selfie sticks, by keeping the lyrics resonant, moves smooth and jokes relevant.

    After all the dancing, Kehlani asked the audience if she could take a break. “OK this is the part when I go back and eat a bunch of food and DJ Mama Noodles plays you a bunch of tracks,” she said as she smirked and sauntered across the stage.

    A few seconds into the intermission, Towkio, a rapper from local SaveMoney crew, appeared onstage, leaving the crowd to erupt in applause. That is, until, a familiar squawk was played throughout the speakers, as Chance the Rapper peeked in from backstage, forcing the selfie sticks to wave around in sheer hysterics.

    Later, Kehlani reappeared to perform some of her more intimate tracks, often only backed by just a piano chord. On “The Letter,” she sang the ambiguous lyrics “Your words were supposed to get me through my heart ache/ Maybe I didn’t deserve you. Maybe I just couldn’t cure you” until she suddenly gets more specific with whom she’s addressing, leaving a heart-wrenching detail to near the end of the song: “Every girl needs a mother.” While it was even astounding to witness her ability to belt bouncing scales across the massive venue, the crowd was still buzzing over the surprise cameo that no one could take it seriously enough to stay quiet.

    Eventually, Chance was signaled to join Kehlani back onstage to perform their energetic duet, “The Way,” while they both flirted with each other, winking and batting their eyes.

    While she’s able to show us her wounded side, she’s not weak. She’s simply bringing us back to the genre’s main purpose: emotion.

  • Photographer Makes Stunning Fashion Statements With Metal, Paper And Snakeskin Bow Ties
     

    Justin Barbin is a bow tie fashion alchemist—turning materials like brass and feathers into fashion-forward suit-and-bow tie combinations. [ more › ]

  • Footwork crew the Era teaches dance workshops in Pilsen

    Footwork crew the Era teaches dance workshops in Pilsen, a Wax Trax! Records documentary hits its Kickstarter goal, and more.
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Do you love footwork music but despair of ever being able to bust moves like the masters? You’re in luck!…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/02/2015

July 2nd, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • An oral history of the Chosen Few Picnic, the ‘Woodstock of house music’

    How a family Fourth of July party grew into an annual event that attracts more than 40,000 fans
    by Leor Galil
    South-side DJ collective the Chosen Few, which Wayne Williams founded as a high school student in 1977, played an instrumental role in popularizing disco and house music in Chicago during the late 70s and early 80s—at first, both styles were largely confined to gay clubs. Given the huge influence that house has had on pop’s subsequent development, its embryonic years have acquired a mythological glow that rubs off on any artist active in the field at the time—and the Chosen Few have found a way to share their slice of that glory.…

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  • R&B Goddess Kehlani Kicks off Inagural Tour at Lincoln Hall

    Kehlani, 20-year-old Oakland R&B up-and-comer, is having a pretty decent year. After the “America’s Got Talent” ex-contestant left a sizeable dent in last year’s soundscape with her trippy debut Cloud 19, she signed to Atlantic Records, released an even more impeccable R&B mixtape You Should Be Here and is headlining her first tour to celebrate.

    Her flow, blotchy vibratos sewn along the beat in a Kanye soul-rap cadence, elevates contemporary alternative R&B with a dynamic and textured swagger. Paired with glossy, ’90s-inspired production, her honest, progressive rhymes about maneuvering relationships run circles around the album’s rap features–local hip-hop soulsters BJ The Chicago Kid and Chance the Rapper.

    Kehlani’s You Should Be Here tour, with “dream rapper” Pell, will premiere right here in Chicago on July 7 at a sold-out, all-ages show at Lincoln Hall, 7:30 p.m.

  • Best of Chicago winners Melkbelly drop a new single

    Best of Chicago winners Melkbelly drop a new single, the Velcro Lewis Group makes an album with John Forbes, and more.
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Mighty Chicago noise-rock outfit Melkbelly, named “Best cross between the Breeders and Lightning Bolt” in the Reader’s recent Best of Chicago issue, are dropping new tunes! On Thu 7/2 they’ll release a seven-inch called “Bathroom at the Beach” b/w “Piss Wizard,” and this wolf is willing to bet it’s gonna kick a metric crap-ton of ass.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/25/2015

June 25th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • U2’s Innocence + Experience tour reminds you why you used to love this band

    U2 has got its mojo back.

    Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. As readers of this blog and listeners of Sound Opinions know, I was not a fan of the long-running Irish rockers’ 13th studio album Songs of Innocence, to say nothing of being highly dubious of its business transactions in recent years, from the partnership with monopolistic concert giant Live Nation to cramming its new music into all of our iTunes accounts.

    I liked No Line on the Horizon (2009) quite a bit, but was left so cold by that stadium tour with its ridiculous “claw” stage set and many bouts of pompous preaching that I figured I was done for good with the band as a live entity—and this from a fan who’d caught every tour since War (1983) and who’d rank the Achtung Baby and Zooropa-era shows among the best concerts he’s ever seen.

    Nevertheless, there I was for the opening of a five-night stand at the United Center on Wednesday. And damned if the four-song opening salvo—“The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone”), “The Electric Co.,” “Vertigo,” and “I Will Follow”—didn’t convince me that U2 is as ferocious, focused, and no-nonsense committed as it’s ever been, while the four-song closing of the set proper—“Bullet the Blue Sky,” “Pride (In the Name of Love),” “Beautiful Day,” and “With or Without You”—was enough to negate any accusation of bombast and make the hardest-hearted skeptic once again surrender to the majestic rattle and hum of yore.

    “Bono dedicates ‘Elevation’ to the Blackhawks,” The Chicago Tribune’s wiseass cheeseburger bureau chief tweeted midway through the show. “@JimDeRogatis sitting next to me rolls his eyes so hard his head tipped backwards.”

    True enough. But as I responded, that was because it was the only clichéd and pandering arena-rock moment of an otherwise stripped-down, gimmick-free 23-song set that didn’t need a shout-out to the local sports champs to prompt an easy cheer.

    Talk about rolling my eyes: I did a lot more than that when I first started reading that the current show was planned with an eye toward theatrical storytelling, and that the high-tech video screens spanning the arena were inspired by some of what Bono and the Edge learned during their foray onto Broadway with Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.

    But the thematic arc of “Iris (Hold Me Close),” “Cedarwood Road,” “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” and “Raised by Wolves” worked without pretensions, especially since the new songs were much harder-hitting and far more emotional than in the bland, over-produced versions on record. And while the snapshots on the big screens of the Dublin streets where the musicians grew up weren’t really necessary, they weren’t obnoxious distractions, either.

    Add to this the enduring groove of “Mysterious Ways,” always a reminder of why Larry Mullen, Jr. and Adam Clayton are one of the best rhythm sections in rock; the several eruptions of pure-noise Edge guitar; powerfully minimalist acoustic readings of “Ordinary Love” and “Every Breaking Wave,” and Bono’s poignant evocation of the ongoing battles for the soul of America represented by Ferguson, Staten Island, and Charleston, and… well… this band has got its mojo back, and I can’t really say it any better than that.

    (U2 performs at the United Center again tonight, Sunday, Monday, and Thursday, and some tickets remain for several of these shows.)

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast or stream Sound Opinions.

  • Around Town: Train Trackers
     

    Around Town is following the trains and tracks today. [ more › ]

  • Best of Chicago 2015: Music & Nightlife
    Best new music blogger
    Best musical anniversary Best honorary member of Chicago’s footwork scene with a day job at a steel mill in Gary…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/18/2015

June 18th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/12/2015

June 12th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • ‘Live From New York!’ Is A Shrugworthy Portrait Of SNL
    So does the world really need a documentary about SNL? The answer is yes. Just not this one. [ more › ]
  • Catching up on some of the best Spring releases, pt. 1

    As we hit the midway point of 2015, it’s high time to catch up on this blog with some of the finest albums of the year so far—the topic of this week’s episode of Sound Opinions—which I’ve yet to mention here, starting with the bounty of riches in the worlds of hip-hop, R&B, and neo-soul from Kendrick Lamar, Shamir, and Van Hunt.

    Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly (Aftermath)

    Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5.

    Though Lamar’s first two albums were by any measure huge critical and commercial successes, they left me cold, with too many of the violent and misogynistic stereotypes that plague mainstream hip-hop. (His defenders argued he was just playing different characters, but none of these characters struck me as particularly deep or portraying anything we had not heard many times before.) But the Compton native’s third release finally justifies his boosters’ enthusiasm as the rapper shows us a much deeper political consciousness, arriving at a tense point in racial relations where such a voice is very much needed. The characters here are much more deeply drawn, and they are coupled with a wide-ranging musical vision that encompasses free jazz, funk, electronica, and indie-rock. Listen to our review on Sound Opinions here.

    Shamir, Ratchet (XL)

    Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars.

    Like Lamar, 20-year-old Shamir Bailey offers valuable insights on racial and class divisions—the dark underbelly of the American dream—by looking around his ’hood, which happens to be Northtown, the side of Vegas that nobody sees or celebrates. He adds yet another dimension thanks to what he calls his fluid sexuality; you’d be hard-pressed to tell his gender as his voice caresses the sometimes seductive, sometimes celebratory Brooklyn hipster update of old-school Chicago house grooves; think LCD Soundsystem meets Green Velvet as produced by Frankie Knuckles. Listen to our review on Sound Opinions here.

     

    Van Hunt, The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets (Godless Hotspot)

    Rating on the 4-star scale: 4 stars.

    Finally, while the Dayton-bred, Atlanta-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Van Hunt has much less buzz than both of the artists mentioned earlier, given years of uneasy relations with his record labels and an ardent refusal to be genre-stereotyped, his fifth studio album is the most impressive of a strong career that I’d place second only to D’Angelo’s in stretching the boundaries of what modern R&B can be (and Van Hunt has been much more productive than D’Angelo). Boastfully seductive but full of self-deprecating humor, a rich listening experience that rewards close study but which also compels you to lose your crap on the dance floor, The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets is a stellar accomplishment. Listen to our review on Sound Opinions here.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast or stream Sound Opinions.

  • Fest Curated By Wire DRILLs Into Chicago This Weekend
    Wire channels their restless artistic curiosity into a mini-festival line-up with great potential. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/04/2015

June 4th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • MCA & Pitchfork Debut Conversation Series Events

    unnamed-3.jpg

    In exciting music news for the city, the Museum of Contemporary Art has partnered with Pitchfork in order to present a series of curated talks, In Sight Out, which will focus on music, art, and culture. Guests will speak of their creative process and their artistry over time, much to the delight of attendees.

    The first two artists participating as part of the series are the revered Jeff Tweedy and Carrie Brownstein. Tweedy will be discussing his time in the influential Chicago rock group, Wilco, as well as collaborations as part of Uncle Tupelo, singing with Billy Bragg, and his latest project, Tweedy, with his son, Spencer. He will be joined during the talk by Pitchfork’s Editor-in-Chief, Mark Richardson.

    Carrie Brownstein, notably a member of the groundbreaking indie-rock band, Sleater-Kinney, will take the stage to discuss her forthcoming memoir, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, as well as her time in the band, developing the notable television show, Portlandia, and more throughout her journey as a standout musician. Jessica Hopper, Pitchfork’s Senior Editor and the Editor-inChief of the Pitchfork Review, will moderate the talk.

    Tickets are on sale for Jeff Tweedy’s event, which occurs on July 16 at 7 pm, while the tickets for Carrie Brownstein’s talk will go on sale on September 15 at 10 am for an October 30 event. Each conversation will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Tweedy’s event tickets cost $10 each, and are available via Museum of Contemporary Art or at their Box Office, at (312) 397-4010.

  • Finding Indie’s Soul with Gina Bloom and Paul Gulyas at Stars Align

    StarsAlign-BloomAndGulyas.jpg
    Paul Gulyas, Gina Bloom & Chuck Sansone perform at Stars Align

    This month’s Stars Align brought together Gina Bloom (The Congregation) and Paul Gulyas (The Shams Band) for a stripped-down night of collaboration.

    This collaboration almost didn’t happen. The Shams Band’s Donnie Biggins was originally slated to perform, but a family emergency forced him to cancel. Facing minimal time to prepare, Gulyas and Bloom had to improvise.

    “Chaos is what breeds creativity,” Gulyas said, speaking before the show.

    A great collaboration was born from that chaos. For most of the show, the two took turns covering each other’s bands, sprinkling in their own songs. The Congregation’s Chuck Sansone accompanied Bloom on the keyboard.

    Bloom is usually backed by a full band in The Congregation, but her powerful vocals stood strong atop Sansone’s keys. Her performance carried The Shams Band to new heights while bringing out the blues and emotion at its core.

    Gulyas is no slouch on the mic either. His twangy singing and acoustic guitar took The Congregation down a country road while still teasing out the nuanced emotions of their songs.

    This performance by Bloom and Gulyas reveals the common threads between rock and roll’s many offspring. And those threads become more apparent when the Stars Align.

    Be sure to check out the recording of their collaboration at the top of this post. And thanks to our sponsor Begyle Brewing for making it all possible.

  • Around Town: Full Moon
     

    We celebrate the full moon today in Around Town. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/28/2015

May 28th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/21/2015

May 21st, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/14/2015

May 14th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Video: Eddie Vedder Continues 7th Inning Stretch "Tradition" At Wrigley
    Longtime Chicago Cubs fan and lead singer of Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder, was back at the Friendly Confines to continue an informal tradition the musician and baseball fan likes to indulge in almost annually. [ more › ]
  • Towkio Set to Electrify The Metro on May 16

    If you haven’t heard Towkio’s fresh beats, now is the time. A member of the talented, much-loved SaveMoney crew alongside Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa, 21 year-old Towkio’s eccentric musical stylings are drawing listeners into the unique world he is able to curate. Seamlessly blending hip hop and electronic dance genres, Towkio’s music keeps listeners interested and engaged, as well. Adding layer upon layer of production, rhythmic effects, and one-of-a-kind phrasing, Towkio’s tunes make us want to dance and stop to listen to his rapid fire lyrics, all at the same time. The beats comprise a sensuality that allows each ballad to contain a rampant emotional tone, which seeps into the production of his newly released album, .Wav Theory.

    Take a listen to his new album below, and if you enjoy what you hear, Towkio will be performing for a packed house at The Metro on May 16. My personal favorite? Free Your Mind, with its summery vibes and horns by Donnie Trumpet. A part of Chicago’s strong hip hop scene, Towkio is sure to impress during his upcoming hometown show.

    Towkio will be at The Metro on Saturday, May 16, with Kehlani and DJ Spinn as support acts. Tickets are $18 in advance, and $21 at the door for this all ages show, with sets beginning at 7pm and doors opening at 6pm. The Metro is located at 3730 N. Clark Street.

  • Pulling Strings: For Classical Music in Chicago, You Got a Guy – May and June 2015

    Special edition double month column to kick off the summer’s music!

    fy15thirdcoastpercussion5-975x648.jpg

    Third Coast Percussion: Wild Sound
    TCP hits the MCA with an explosion of Glenn Kotche music, including the Wilco drummer’s “Wild Sound.” Composed for the TCP, “Wild Sound” incorporates field recordings from nature and urban life; during the performance, the ensemble constructs and performs on instruments designed by Kotche. The program includes works by Steve Reich, Joao Gilberto, and pieces performed by Kotche himself. Get tickets fast to to the May 21 performance — the May 22 concert is already sold out. Tickets are $28 nonmembers, $22 MCA members, $10 students. Thursday, May 21, 7:30pm. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. (Photo: Saverio Truglia)

    Spektral Quartet: Comic Cadences
    What’s the deal with classical music? Have you ever noticed how sometimes you clap, but sometimes you don’t? Spektral Quartet closes its 2014/15 season with jokes in Comic Cadences. The Spektrals debut “Hack,” an ambitious new work by Chris Fisher-Lochhead, using rhythm and pitch from comedians Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Tig NOtaro, and more. Read an interview with the composer and dig this sample featuring Richard Lewis. The program leads off with Sarah Macklay’s “Many Many Cadences,” and Haydn’s “The Joke.” No word on whether Doyle Armbrust will tell viola jokes during intermission. Tickets are $12; age 18+ only. Saturday, May 30, 7:30pm. Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.

    Rush Hour Concerts
    Rush Hour Concerts launches its 16th summer of popular early-evening concerts featuring some of Chicago’s best-loved artists and ensembles and wide-reaching programs. The season opens with an unlikely pairing of music for trumpet (the CSO’s Christopher Martin) and organ (Nathan Laube), and continues with the Civitas Ensemble (members of the CSO), Fifth House Ensemble, Haymarket Opera Company, and Axiom Brass. Still the best deal in summer chamber music: 30 minutes of free music every week in the lovely St. James Cathedral. Doors at 5pm, concert at 5:45pm. Every Tuesday, June through August, corner of Huron and Wabash.

    Grant Park Music Festival
    Jerks who say classical music is dead haven’t seen the crowds who flock to the GPMF. Witness it for yourself when GPMF and music director Carlos Kalmar open the 2015 season with a couple of war horses: Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Yevgeny Sudbin, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. Throughout the summer, you can hear favorites by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Mendelssohn, as well as Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 6, and William Walton’s Viola Concerto from 1929. Bring your friends, a blanket, and all the food you can eat and experience some of the best programming in downtown classical music. You can also attend the orchestra’s free open rehearsals throughout each week. Admission is free. Opens Wednesday, June 17, 7:30pm. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park.

    ~*~

    About the author: Elliot Mandel photographs classical concerts and you should hire him for your next show. He also writes reviews and plays cello.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/07/2015

May 7th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/30/2015

April 30th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • This New App Is "Netflix For Books"
    This post is brought to you by Oyster. [ more › ]
  • Dastardly Releases Music Video for New Single "The Hollow"

    If you haven’t listened to local favorite Dastardly yet, I am here to urge you to do so. With a unique sound that is unparalleled and unable to be located anywhere else, their music has only grown richer and more innovative with each release, keeping us listeners hooked on the offerings from this four-member outfit. Lilting accordion ballads from the talented Sarah Morgan permeate their one-of-a-kind sound, blending Americana with folk undertones, while frontman Gabe Liebowitz embodies the unique persona of each song, within it, a delicate story to tell. Themes of despair, struggle, and triumph abound amid vocal accents that constantly surprise, from exquisite harmonies, to urgent speeches, and even a bit of yodeling.

    After a three year hiatus, the group is back with a more unique sound than ever before, as they took a break to hone in on their music and refocus. Liebowitz, who is also a music producer, has merged his passion for production with the creation of Dastardly’s tunes, and has allowed Dastardly to create vibrant, cinematic ballads for their new material. Dastardly has released their newest single, and its music video. “The Hollow” begins with an ethereal, haunting opener, which leads into lush harmonies and beautiful accordion, string, and guitar backings. This intriguing storyline is showcased amid gaze-catching shots and dancers. A dreamscape is created effortlessly, drawing you into their unique world of music. Here, Dastardly emerges, more confident in their unique craft than ever before.

    Take a listen to “The Hollow” and catch the mesmerizing music video below. If you dig what you hear, they’ll be playing Lincoln Hall on July 10, so mark that date on your calendar: you won’t want to miss their hometown show after what is poised to be such a triumphant return.

  • Ben Acker And Ben Blacker Talk ‘Thrilling Adventure Hour,’ ‘Deadpool’
    We catch up with the creators of Thrilling Adventure Hour at C2E2 and discuss all the big developments the podcast has had recently. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/23/2015

April 23rd, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/16/2015

April 16th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Beat Kitchen Rocked Out With Colleen Green and Upset

    colleengreen.jpgWhen this show was first announced it was only the pairing of Collen Green and Upset, who had just released I Want to Grow Up and ’76 EP respectively. The lineup for this show at Beat Kitchen slowly grew larger as the date crept up. Two local acts, Sam Vicari and Impulsive Hearts, were added to the already worthwhile show. Little did I know that I would walk away from this show with a couple new bands to follow and a greater appreciation of the ones I already loved.

    sam vicari.jpgIt would be fitting to say that Sam Vicari, who opened the night, was the odd man out considering he was the sole male frontman of the night. Luckily the pressure did nothing but let him shine with his guitar driven power pop songs. At times I wished he had a full band backing, especially after hearing some of the songs on his album Giving Up. Even so, Vicari was able to hold his own with just his electric guitar and songs filled with lovelorn lyrics. Vicari finished off his set with a surprising gentle cover of The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be your Boyfriend”, which he dedicated to Colleen Green and Upset.

    impulsive.jpgI was out ordering a drink during opening moments of Impulsive Hearts, but I quickly abandoned that pursuit after hearing them through the swinging door of the venue. Frontwoman Danielle Sines had an great presence on stage, belting out her songs while guitarist John Paul rocked out beside her and Dan Julian trounced the drums. Their songs have an almost surf rock sound to them, but with a surprising harder edge to them live. Their final song MDB solidified the band’s place in my heart. The song had the whole band at their best, with Sines voice reaching a beautiful peak singing “I can’t sleep when I’m wit out you.” They were a great highlight of the night and pretty much stealing the show for me.

    Collen Green began her time by adjust her levels, teasing out the beginning of a song. The tease never really came to fruition as she checked the tune of her guitar and prepared her drum machine, asking the crowd if everything sounded alright. Not too long after she donned her sunglasses, completing her onstage persona and quickly jumped into “Pay Attention”. Green doesn’t need much to come off as one of the coolest people in the world as everyone in the crowd clung to her every move. She sang every song with an effortless precision, catching the perfect mood of her dreamy songs. “Wild One” Her set was entirely made up of her latest album I Want to Grow Up and the crowd was completely charmed by the affair.

    colleengreen1.jpgGreen finished off her time at Beat Kitchen with an inspired final three songs. She played both parts of “Things That Are Bad for Me” back to back. The first half rattles on as a self-betterment ode while the second half slows down to a hazy crawl with its opening lines of “I wanna do drugs right now/I wanna get fucked up, I don’t care how/I wanna feel high right now”. Green’s resolute strumming of her guitar, with its multicolored scrawling of “Happy Bifday Jeff” across the front, sent chills down my spine during the song change between part one and two. It’s such a sudden shift of tone that parallels the differing ideals and produced one of the most rocking moments of her set. The back and forth of these sentiments is prevalent throughout I Want to Grow Up. The eponymous song of that album followed, full of desire and need to find something more beyond those constant but necessary vacillations. It was a great cap to the fantastic solo set.

    Upset finished the great lineup with the most punk drenched songs of the night. Unfortunately, a few audience members had filed out after Colleen Green and missed a tremendous, albeit short set. Ali Koehler, formerly of Best Coast and Vivian Girls, cracked jokes and lead the band through the rapid fire set. Bassist Rachel Gagliardi and and guitarist Lauren Freeman were a joy to watch but as amazing as the strings were it was near impossible not to gaze toward the back of the stage at Patty Schemel who was completely thrashing her drums. When all these elements linked together Upset seamlessly played songs off of ’76 EP with furious speed. The Charlie Brown linked “Linus” was incredibly amped up and careened to its finish. Covers of Jawbreaker’s “Do You Still Hate Me?” and Green Day’s “J.A.R” were made completely their own.

    upset.jpgBetween songs they bantered with a certain casualness reserved for close friends just hanging out. They deftly referenced Louis CK bits and recalled a tale of throwing up pot chocolate bars at airports to ease the fear of vampires. There was also a lot of honesty with Koehler lamenting the thought of playing “Wonder” live, noting the difficulty of playing one string at a time. Nonetheless she played on, proving how uncalled for her misgivings of her ability truly were. Upset’s set came to end only two songs later, which was slightly disappointing, but at least what was presented was a fantastic example of pure punk fun.

  • Record Store Day 2015: Sales, giveaways, in-stores, and more

    Including an interactive map that details the festivities at participating shops

    It’s fitting that Dave Grohl is the spokesperson for Record Store Day this year—both once seemed cool, but overexposure and declining quality have alienated tons of onetime fans. That leaves an RSD crowd skewed toward diehards—people whose susceptibility to limited editions and gimmicky packaging makes them collectors first and supporters of independent record stores second.…

    [ Read more ] [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
  • Record Store Day 2015: Chicago’s Best Shops and More

    rsd 2015 small.jpgOnce more into the breach, dear friends, as Record Store Day is here again! Perhaps the biggest day of the year for audiophiles and vinyl hoarders, it’s also a time to show local shops some love, and maybe discover a new place you’ve never shopped before.

    As always, check out the special Record Store Day releases in PDF or web form, then make a plan to hit your local Chicago store on Saturday! Most shops not only offer what limited edition RSD items they were able to get in stock, but also discounts, and a general atmosphere of celebration.

    RSD wide large 2015.jpg

    Chicagoland stores participating in Record Store Day 2015

    Audio Archaeology – 1324 W. Devon Ave. – 773-856-3472 – @vintageaudiochi
    This relatively new record and vintage audio stop in Rogers Park is also breaking into the RSD game with some deals and celebrations. Opening at 9am for the early bird shoppers. RSVP to be entered in the raffle.

    Beverly Records – 11612 S. Western Ave. – 773-779-0066 – @BeverlyRecords
    Things get started early on Thursday night at the Rock Island Public House in Blue Island with a good ole fashioned brew and view to watch the official movie of Record Store Day: Records Collecting Dust. They’ll also be collecting donations at the door for Special Olympics – Illinois.

    Saturday at 7am – Doors open and 20% used vinyl sale begins
    All day long – Snacks for hungry shoppers
    2pm – Live entertainment from Wailin’ Waylon “the best Waylon Jennings tribute artist to ever come out of Midlothian”

    Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records – 2307 N. Milwaukee Ave. – 773-715-5901
    They will open at 10 am with select vinyl titles on sale, free food and drinks, and giveaways throughout the day! Plus, they’ll have a few limited edition art prints by John Mellencamp (yes, that John Mellencamp). Details on the giveaway. Details on RSD specials. They’ll also be giving away goody bags to early arrivers and having give aways through out the day — plenty of swag for all: tshirts, koozies, buttons, cds, posters, etc. They’ll be spinning vinyl all day and serving up Mexican food and treats — tamales, pastries, candy, chips/salsa, etc., PLUS adult drinks for 21+ guests!

    Dave’s Records – 2604 N. Clark St. – 773-929-6325 – @davesrecordschi or see Facebook
    Dave’s opens at 11am on Saturday, in honor of RSD. As always, observe Dave’s Record Store Day rules (which are plentiful and newly revised for 2015). Dave plans to release his official list of RSD items that he’ll have in stock (again, read the rules) on Friday night on his blog. The early photos look promising. Tshirts will be 50% off, and Molly’s Cupcakes will be plentiful (though limited in number), among other deals and perks. Also, free candy!

    Dusty Groove Records – 1120 N. Ashland Ave. – 773-342-5800 – @DustyGroove
    At Dusty Groove this year, there’s lots to win! Here’s the skinny:
    — the first 100 people get a special prize bag
    — everyone gets a spin on a giant wheel of fortune for swag from record companies including shirts, posters and other merchandise.
    — contests to win big, special items often vintage collectibles they’ve found in their travels.
    — there will also be a magician (!!)
    — plus, refreshments all day long for shoppers as well as a few food trucks parked outside. This year, the coffee is from Dark Matter and the baked goods are from West Town Bakery. One confirmed food truck is 5114 Empanadas, with possibly more TBA.

    Gramaphone Records – 2843 N. Clark St. – 773-472-3683 @gramaphonechi
    Gramaphone plans a RSD release party starts at 11am and will include performances by:
    Steve Mizek (Argot/Tasteful Nudes)
    Merle aka Merwyn Sanders of Virgo Four (Stripped & Chewed)
    Mazi, Nathan Drew Larsen & Joshua (Iz) (Fresh Meat)
    Jerome Derradji (Still Music)
    DJ Hyperactive (CLR)
    Tim Zawada (Tugboat Edits/Star Creature)
    Harry Tyner
    The Gramaphone Shop Boyz
    and more!

    Groovin’ High – 1047 W. Belmont Ave. – 773-476-6846

    Hyde Park Records – 1377 E. 53rd St. – 773-288-6588 – @hydprkrcrds
    Hyde Park Records is getting in the spirit with another Soul Reunion in honor of Record Store Day starting at noon. There will be DJ sets, free food & drinks, giveaways, and vinyl deals.

    Jazz Record Mart – 27 E. Illinois Ave. – 312-222-1467

    Laurie’s Planet of Sound – 4639 N. Lincoln Ave. – 773-271-3569 – @lauriespos
    All Laurie’s event details can be found on Facebook (where they’ll also post the RSD specials Friday) but in addition to the exclusives and exuberant crowds, there’s also the live in-store performances in the following schedule:
    9am: Doors open
    12:30pm: The Polkaholics
    1-2pm: Laurie’s DJ Tim Miller
    2pm: Phil Angotti & Friends performing Simon & Garfunkel’s “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme”
    2:30-3:30pm: Laurie’s DJ John Laurie
    3pm-4pm: Honorary Laurie’s employee Terri Hemmert of WXRT meet & greet!
    3:30pm: The Handcuffs
    4-5pm: DJ Miss Alex White of White Mystery
    5pm: The Baby Magic
    6pm: Staring Problem
    7pm: Andrew Marrah (of New Canyons) performance, in conjunction with our new neighboring business Synth City (located inside Rock N Roll Vintage at 4707 N. Lincoln Ave).

    Bonus: 5-8pm: occasional sets by DJ Peroxide who will DJ throughout the BLVD & Friends RSD Evening and finish out the night!

    10pm: Close

    KStarke Records – 1109 N. Western Ave – 773-772-4880 – @Kstarke_Records
    KStarke will host a huge lineup of DJs, plus food, drinks, and general music friendliness from 10am-9pm. Details on Facebook.

    DJs:
    Constance K
    Ross Kelly
    Tim Zawada
    Marlowe Baca
    King Hippo
    Communicator
    Sol Son
    Charly Garcia
    Kinky P
    Lady D
    Tone B. Nimble

    Permanent Records – 1914 W. Chicago Ave. – 773-278-1744 – @PermanentRex
    Permanent’s Chicago store opens at 8am on Saturday. All titles are one per customer and first come first served. And Dark Matter will be providing free coffee! Full details on their blog and instagram where they’ll post some RSD deliveries. West Town Bakery will be providing FREE Dark Matter Coffee and snacks inside Permanent in the morning. Roots Handmade Pizza will be providing FREE snacks inside the store in the afternoon.

    In-store performances start at 4:30pm:
    ADT (American District Telegraphy)
    Clearance
    buckinghampalaceSVU

    Raffe’s Record Riot – 4350 N. Cicero – 773-725-1327

    Reckless Records – (Various) – @RecklessRecords
    Reckless’ locations will host in-store performances and RSD swag. Full details on Facebook.

    [NEW address] Wicker Park location – 1379 N. Milwaukee – 773-235-3727
    Sea & Cake – 3pm
    Robert Trujillo (Metallica) signing – 3:30-5pm
    DJ Client – 5:30pm

    PLUS, Revolution Brewing is collaborating with the store for a new beer called “Hand Over First” (a light-medium bodied all-malt lager named to honor the symbols of Reckless and Revolution). They’ll set up a pop-up shop at The Emporium Arcade Bar (across the street). Local bands Ribbon Head, Roach Beach and Meatwave will play. Game tokens, Revolution Brewing gear and beer samples will be offered with a receipt for $50 or more from any Reckless Records location. This event will start at 12:30pm and will continue the rest of the day.

    Lakeview location – 3126 N. Broadway – 773-404-5080
    Lasers and Fast and Shit – 2pm
    Local H – 3pm
    Ne-Hi – 4pm

    Loop location – 26 E. Madison – 312-795-0878
    Tim Kinsella – 2pm

    Record Breakers (above Reggie’s Rock Club) – 2109 S. State St. – 312-949-0125 – @reggieslive
    Record Breakers will open early at 8am, and will offer exclusive RSD releases, 50% off all CDs and free hot dogs and pop for shoppers. Details on Facebook.

    Live performances by:
    Lasers & Fast & Shit – 11am
    Shiloh – 11:45am
    Regular Fucked Up People – 12:30pm
    Jollys – 1:15pm
    Ko – 2pm
    Post Animal – 2:45pm
    Sorry Daisy – 3:30pm
    The Sueves – 4:15pm
    Pleasure Hammer – 5pm

    saki – 3716 W. Fullerton Ave. – 773-486-3997 – @sakistore
    Saki will open at 9am for RSD (closing at 8pm Saturday), and they’ll make sure their special Record Store Day page on their blog is updated with all the latest info on releases they get in and special events/deals/hoopajoop including an after-party at The Burlington. See their RSD stock online. There’ll be a photo booth and art show/debut of work by Rob Karlic, plus free Dark Matter coffee.

    Live performances from (not in order, times TBA):
    Cheap Girls
    Advance Base
    Sleeping Bag
    Oshwa
    Supreme Nothing
    The Sueves

    Shake, Rattle & Read – 4812 N. Broadway Ave. – 773-334-5311
    Open noon-6pm, the store will celebrate with more than just a day — it’s an entire weekend-long sale on Friday, Saturday and Sunday titled “Record Store Daze.” The sale includes 25% off everything in the store which includes vinyl, CDs, tapes, 45s, magazines, books and more. Plus, they’ve been bringing up items from “the vaults” including old rock magazines going back as far as 1973.

    Vintage Vinyl – 925 Davis St., Evanston – 847-328-2899
    See Facebook for the latest info for happenings between 11am and 6pm on Saturday, but right now, they plan to have Ellis Clark perform at 11am and The Luck of Eden Hall perform later on in the day. Plus, a raffle is in the works!

    Chicago Labels

    Bloodshot Records
    From Bloodshot:
    Last April Fools Day, we made a joke about releasing a Prince covers record, and it seemed people were pretty seriously miffed when they found out it wasn’t real. So we took it upon ourselves to press up this little 7″ gem for RSD 2015:

    Side A features Lydia Loveless covering The Purple One’s “I Would Die 4 U” while Cory Branan gives “Under the Cherry Moon” a twangy, solo guitar spin on the B-Side. Strictly limited to 1000 copies pressed on (you guessed it…) purple vinyl. Find ’em locally at Laurie’s Planet of Sound, Reckless Records, Dave’s Records, saki, Rediscover Records, in Elgin, Mile Long Records in Wheaton, Rolling Stones in Norridge, and more fine purveyors of quality music.

    Thrill Jockey Records
    TJ will be reissuing the classic Pullman albums Turnstyles & Junkpiles and Viewfinder on vinyl for RSD. Pullman is comprised of some sincere Chicago heavy-hitters, including Doug McCombs (Tortoise/Brokeback/Eleventh Dream Day), Chris Brokaw (Codeine), Bundy Brown (ortoise/Directions), and Curtis Harvey (Rex). Be on the lookout for them at your local store.

    Numero Group
    Numero Group are once again doing a pop-up shop at Logan Square’s Comfort Station (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) between 9am and 5pm. They’ll have the entire Numero catalog on hand, plus discounted dingers, loosies, and exclusives. They’ll also have a room full of used merchandise being trucked in from around the midwest, including about 10,000 45s, priced to move.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/09/2015

April 9th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Chicagoist’s Guide To April: 25 Events To Get You Out Of The House
    Need to get out of the house and enjoy some fun in the city? We’ve got our favorite picks for events happening during April to bulk up your social calendar. [ more › ]
  • Don’t miss the annual CHIRP Record Fair

    We are incredibly lucky in Chicago to buck the trend and still boast a bevy of fine independent record stores: Laurie’s Planet of Sound, Reckless, Logan Hardware, Gramophone, Dusty Groove, the Jazz Record Mart… I could go on and on.

    A little more of a to-do every year, Record Store Day—like pretty much any day—is a prime time to show these centers of musical community some love. But that isn’t until next week, April 18. Meanwhile, you can get a jump on the record-loving festivities Saturday at Plumbers Hall, 1340 W. Washington, and support Our Town’s shining bastion of indie-music radio at the 13th annual CHIRP Record Fair.

    As CHIRP celebrates its fifth anniversary on air (as well as streaming online) and prepares to crank up a new terrestrial signal tower, it expects this year’s Record Fair in the Randolph Street market district to be its biggest yet. In addition to myriad musical offerings on the sales tables—vinyl, CDs, T-shirts, books, collectibles, and more—from private dealers, indie labels, and local record stores, Maxwell Street’s Moxee BBQ will serve food and Dark Matter Coffee will handle the caffeine; Chic-a-Go-Go will host a dance party; DJ Mary Nisi will preside over a music quiz, and CHIRP DJ’s will spin throughout the day, in addition to “other delights.”

    Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with early admission or $25 from 8 to 10 a.m. General admission thereafter is $7 or $5 with a Record Fair flyer or ad, and more info can be found here.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast or stream Sound Opinions.

  • Black-metal lightning rods Liturgy rise above the storm

    Front man Hunter Hunt-Hendrix discusses the strange, exalted, and uncategorizable new album that should finally end the argument about where the band belongs.
    by Philip Montoro
    Liturgy has been a punching bag for metal’s genre police at least since the 2009 release of its first full-length, Renihilation. Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, front man of this New York-based band, had been releasing solo demos as Liturgy since 2005, but in ’09 he made the fateful decision to publish the philosophical manifesto Transcendental Black Metal: A Vision of Apocalyptic Humanism as a sort of companion piece to Renihilation.…

    [ Read more ] [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/02/2015

April 2nd, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Ibeyi and Flo Morrissey Connected with Lincoln Hall

    ibeyi2.jpgThere is something really special about Ibeyi. Twin sisters Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz imbue an abundance of culture into their music, finding just the right words to sing in English, French, and Yoruban. Their self-titled debut is a gorgeous collection of songs that cling to a beautiful and devastating history, looking at personal and universal conditions without ever faltering to platitudes. This past weekend Lincoln Hall was treated to an incredible performance by Ibeyi and Flo Morrissey, a singer-songwriter from the UK. These three performers are wise beyond their years. That seems like an overused descriptor of young and talented artists, but I assure you it applies to these three musicians.

    Flo Morrissey’s set, while short, spotlighted her tremendous voice. She sounded humble and meek as she introduced her songs to the crowd, but as soon as they started her voice gained tremendous confidence and grace. Her singing style harkens back to older folk singers, reminding me of Vashati Bunyan at times.The lyrics have a very personal feeling to them, referencing love and betrayal with welcome introspection. It wasn’t until she spoke of her cover of “Irish Blood, English Heart”, joking about her heritage and lack of relation to the Moz, that she seemed completely at ease with the crowd.

    flomorrisey.jpgThe second half of her set found Morrissey at a piano, showing the versatility of her voice as it gently moved around the new instrument. She seemed to get lost in her music, distilling all her energy into the songs. There was a passion in her performance that couldn’t be ignored. Flo Morrissey closed out her time with “If You Can’t Love This All Goes Away”, a sad but relentlessly beautiful contemplation on absence of love that is filled tempered maturity.

    Well before the show on Sunday, I knew that Chicago was aching to see Ibeyi. The French-Cuban twins were originally scheduled to play Schubas, but the demand relocated them to the larger Lincoln Hall. The venue filled up much quicker than the average concert, showing few late stragglers than I’ve ever seen. Ibeyi, who take their name from the Yoruban word for twins, were greeted with immense cheers that surely surprised Lisa and Naomi as their smiles beamed brighter that the stage lights around them.

    Ibeyi’s music develops a deep beauty with their subtle bordering on minimalist sounds. Small elements of jazz, hip hop, soul, and electronica are molded together with their Cuban and Yoruban cultures in ubiquitous harmony. It’s a difficult balance that the sisters were able to capitalize on live. “Ghosts”, which beckons to let go of the past and begin anew, is one the prime examples of the synthesization of styles. Lisa’s soft keys twirled around the earthy percussion of Naomi’s cajón, all the while being backed by subtle beats that filled out the room and captivated the crowd.

    “River” took that attention from the audience and amplified it tenfold, putting the crowd at their most passionate height of the night. The song’s popularity was undeniable as every other person whipped out their phones and began recording the song. It manages to be this huge song that had the crowd clapping and dancing to its melody, but remains sparse and restrained in its instrumentation. Even as Naomi switches between cajón and Batá drums and Lisa’s voice flows with vast range, it instills a subtlety that can leave you speechless. Ibeyi’s tender cover of Jay Electronics’s “Better In Tune With The Infinite” was another song that highlighted the dissonance between the parts and their sum, resulting in a powerful rendition of a song looking and striving ahead.

    ibeyi1.jpgWhen Ibeyi spoke to the crowd they showed their appreciation of the reception and imparted their culture with poise and conviction. While their Yoruban culture permeated through the night, it never felt like pandering or a heavy handed introduction to their beliefs and history. Instead it was a way of further connecting with audience. Before the pleading and lonesome “Oya”, Naomi recalled the song’s eponymous goddess’ dancing on graves, imploring the action as a sign of goodness and protection. These explorations into the culture strengthened the songs that relied on the Yoruban language, elevating their message in prayer like fashion.

    The crowd desperately wanted more for the sisters, shouting in Spanish “Otra! Otra!” untile they were appeased. Having played the majority of their repertoire, they left Lincoln Hall with a call and response reprise of “River”. Throughout the night the audience dance, clapped and sang along to songs but it was with this departing song that everyone reached a lovely symmetry. Lisa and Naomi performed with the crowd in joyous turns, singing out to the people “I will come to your river” and were met with loud and accepting reply “Wash my soul”, firmly establishing the connection everyone knew they had been feeling the whole night.

  • This Orphaned Orangutan Is Ready To Meet You
    More like awwwrangutan, amirite? [ more › ]
  • White Mystery Debut Trailer For Full-Length Film ‘That Was Awesome’
    A psychedelic road movie and concert film rolled into one? Here’s your first glimpse at it. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/26/2015

March 26th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/19/2015

March 19th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Soak, Girlpool, Remi, Blossoms… and Frank Sinatra?

    AUSTIN, TX—Unlike many (most?) of the journalists who cover the South by Southwest Music Festival, Greg Kot and I generally skip the daytime parties—which may be fewer this year, but still are myriad—in favor of covering the panels at the Austin Convention Center, which often offer valuable insights into the state of the music industry, or at least the stray bit of a different kind of entertainment.

    Our time at the convention center was cut short on the first full day of sessions because we had to do some radio at KUTX and KUT—no complaints; Austin’s hometown public radio stations are among the biggest supporters of Sound Opinions!—but as a result I only caught two discussions of note.

    The first talk was called “Branding Ovation: Advertising Creatives Talk Music,” a.k.a. the inevitable annual session on selling your music to the man. As in the past, I was a lonely skeptic in a room full of managers and label folks eager to get their artists on the soundtrack of a Wendy’s or Garnier commercial. And as in the past, I left feeling vaguely sick to my stomach as a dais full of self-professed music lovers-turned-advertising execs never once entertained the question of whether this in any way cheapens the music. Instead, they maintained that it’s all about “spreading the love,” meaning money for the artists and exposure for their product…. er, art. Sigh.

    More entertaining was the second full panel I caught later in the day, “Sinatra: An American Icon,” a tribute to Francis Albert, who was born 100 years ago at home in Hoboken, N.J. to mom Dolly, a low-level local Democratic fixer who also performed illegal abortions.

    This and many other salacious facts about the great singer and sometimes bully of wayward female croupiers and wait staff were, perhaps not surprisingly, never mentioned as a panel including Frank Sinatra, Jr. and fellow famous Jerseyans Max Weinberg and Steve Van Zandt of the E Street Band, “Conan,” and “The Sopranos” waxed rhapsodic about Old Blue Eyes’ musical and cultural accomplishments during three key eras, with Columbia Records in the ’40s, Capitol Records in the ’50s, and Reprise in the ’60s.

    Me, I’ve got a love/hate relationship with Frank: I’ve read too many books about the man to emulate his image in any way, as all of the panelists did to varying degrees. But I was born in the same hospital in Jersey City as daughter Nancy, had some of my formative experiences on Frank Sinatra Drive in Hoboken, and did a lot of stories in my early days as a beat reporter about the barber who went to kindergarten with Frank and sang his music as he cut hair, Frank’s fondness for fresh mozzarella from a particular local deli, and his visit to the St. Ann’s Parish spaghetti dinner with some guy named Ronald Reagan (the President ate the food the Secret Service provided, but Frank ate the old Italian ladies’ home-cooked meatballs, which made them rapturous). So it all was a guilty pleasure.

    The truest words came from Van Zandt early in the discussion: “He was not the kind of artist you’d see at South by Southwest… He was this skinny kid from nowhere who reached these incredible heights” through sheer talent and force of will.

    For that reason, Frank should have appreciated the 2,000 bands who’ve traveled to Austin for SXSW XXVIII, though he probably would not have. Why? Recall these famous comments during an interview with the Associated Press in 1957:

    “My only deep sorrow is the unrelenting insistence of recording and motion picture companies upon purveying the most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear—naturally I refer to the bulk of rock’n’ roll. It fosters almost totally negative and destructive reactions in young people. It smells phony and false. It is sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons and by means of its almost imbecilic reiterations and sly, lewd—in plain fact dirty—lyrics… it manages to be the martial music of every side-burned delinquent on the face of the earth. This rancid smelling aphrodisiac I deplore.”

    Yes, indeed: Frank nailed everything I love about rock ’n’ roll! And revisiting that diatribe reminded me of many of the things I spend my time at SXSW searching out and applauding. Which brings me to the music on day two.

    I caught two acts of note during the day. Israel Nash is a New York-to-Austin transplant who performed at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m. during KUTX’s live broadcast from the Four Season Hotel (once upon a time the sole domain of major-label weasels, none of whom have those Platinum Amex cards—or jobs—anymore). Nash’s Americana formula is to quote as many as three Neil Young songs in every one of his own, with the occasional Pink Floyd interstellar guitar solo thrown in for good measure. Original? Heck no, not in the least! But there are worse sounds to imbibe along with free Illy coffee early in the Texas morning.

    Later in the day, a rapper named Remi from Melbourne, Australia took to the International Day Stage at the Convention Center with his drummer and DJ, Sensible J. “We recorded an entire album in my bedroom,” Remi said, “so being here at SXSW is pretty incredible.” His enthusiasm was contagious, whether performing upbeat jams such as “Sangria” and urging the crowd to two-step, or unfurling darker tales about his hometown’s distressing problem with “ice.” (“You call it meth,” he said, “and while it may not sound like it, this is an anti-drug song.”) Remi has been championed by the likes of Vic Mensa, De La Soul, and Damon Albarn of Gorillaz, and his skills are undeniable, if not quite enough to forgive the land down under for Iggy Azalea.

    As the first stop on the evening’s musical rounds, it was back to Mohawk for Girlpool, a guitar/bass dual-vocal duo from L.A. The pair’s short, strikingly minimalist, and seemingly fragile tunes could erupt in surprisingly cathartic explosions, as when the musicians’ exhortation, “Tranquilize me with your ideal world,” yielded to a guitar solo that was as violent as it was furiously focused and climactic.

    From there I hit the British music showcase at Latitude 30. Blossoms are a quintet from Stockport (though you want to say Manchester) that play an especially energetic brand of early ‘90s British shoegaze/psychedelic pop, heavy on the Charlatans U.K., thanks to a delightfully warbling and wheezing organ. Again: Original? Hardly. But I could have ridden their groove all night.

    A little too much on the twee side, the London quartet Gengahr didn’t do nearly as much for me. But Soak, a singer-songwriter from Derry in Northern Ireland, had come highly recommended by the legendary Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records, and she did not disappoint.

    Only 18, Bridie Monds-Watson has both a soulful voice and a probingly confessional way with her lyrics that belie her youth. Opening with several songs performed with only vocal and guitar, she succeeded in silencing—and stunning—a packed bar, much of it filled with rowdy Brits. Based on this unforgettable set, her forthcoming album now is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. And diminutive as this skinny kid is, she probably could’ve kicked the skinny young Sinatra’s butt from here to Hoboken.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast or stream Sound Opinions.

  • Goodman Theatre Receives Grant From Lotto-Winning Former Monk
    The Goodman Theatre recently announced an ambitious addition to its 2015-2016 season: a five hour adaption of Robert Bolano’s novel, 2666, underwritten by a former monk with the good fortune of possessing a $153 million lottery jackpot. [ more › ]
  • ‘First Wives Club’ Needs More Member Benefits
    The musical adaptation of ‘First Wives Club’ has talent to spare but lacks a compelling plot. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/12/2015

March 12th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/05/2015

March 5th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/26/2015

February 26th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/19/2015

February 19th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • It’s 2015, Let Your Apps Do The Work
    This post is brought to you by Comcast XFINITY. [ more › ]
  • Four Questions with Andy Gill from Gang of Four

    GOF.jpg
    The post-punk band Gang of Four have a new album, What Happens Next, which is being released on Feb. 24. It features collaborations with Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Robbie Furze from The Big Pink, Gail Ann Dorsey, German superstar Herbert Grönemeyer and Japanese superstar Hotei. The band is coming to the Park West March 13; I reached frontman Andy Gill over the phone last week to ask a few questions about the upcoming show.

    I had a chance to listen to the new album a bit, and each song is distinct, giving it a sound like a compilation album. I’m curious if one of these songs is going to be the new GOF sound, or if the new sound of GOF is collaborating with other artists.

    I think you kind of take it one step at a time… I always felt that when working on a new record it is like starting from scratch. I know there are some bands that kind of plowed their furrow and they’re gonna stick to it — they’ve got their sound and the way they do things, and stick to what they do. Right from the beginning GOF was different with every record. It’s like if you’re asking similar questions but coming up with different answers. To me time moves on, I move on, I’m not exactly the same as I was four years ago, and when I was 27 I wasn’t the same guy as when I was 22. Time moves on and you come up with some different answers to the way to proceed and the way to make songs and the way to make records. I think with this record I think even more so because Jon King who’s been on previous records is no longer in the project, so that makes it even more the case of reinventing the wheel.

    Doing the collaboration thing was something that I had felt like doing for quite a long time, it’s something that’s quite common in hip hop bands and I think that’s quite healthy — you can do some things that perhaps might surprise you. In terms of defining the GOF sound, the next record — for which I have ideas and songs, will probably involve collaborations. Beyond that can’t say where it’s going, with each album I didn’t know quite where things were going, once you’ve got four or five songs on the go you start to see what direction its taking.

    Are any of the guest artists on the new album touring with you?

    No, it turns out, everyone’s really busy: Alison’s got at least two major projects on the go plus all her painting plus other projects — she’s a workaholic — and Grönemeyer has had a number one album in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, so he’s pretty busy with his thing — everybody’s pretty busy. The Big Pink just finished their album — not sure when it’s coming out.

    There were a lot of bands in the ’80s that were political, including GOF, with songs like “I Love a Man in Uniform,” which got banned in England under the Thatcher administration. It doesn’t seem like underground bands are very political anymore, that politics is not a big part of independent music the way it was in the ’80s. What’s your take on that?

    Absolutely that’s the case, I think it’s partly to do with the fact that the world was very polarized at that point, you had the Soviet Union and its allies — the communist bloc, against America and the west, and people were kind of forced to align themselves somewhere along that spectrum. A lot of the time it was a question of finding fault with the Western capitalist system and the inequities and injustices that were perceived to be happening. When the Soviet Union collapsed the whole ceremony of things collapsed, and continues to have massive ramifications. The world is, in many ways, a less straightforward place and I think people find it more difficult to set up allegiances than they did back then. With music so much is cyclical and fashion driven, and I think in certain respects politics is sometimes perceived in music as being a bit dull, and I think a lot of bands are afraid of losing their audience if they get into that kind of area. Also, now it’s a bit harder to know what to say — especially for younger bands.

    The thing I would stress about the political tag is that GOF was never about promoting a political solution or promoting a particular party or any of those things, and GOF got a political tag almost by default — it’s like if you make music that’s perceived to be a bit intelligent and is making observational songs about personal, political things, almost by default you get called political even though you’re not particularly promoting any particular party political view. I think a lot of bands feel a kind of obligation. I feel I’m drawn to writing, in some way even tangentially, about the things happening around us, and not to retreat into a world of talking about, I dunno — glamour or sex or love, or in the case of hip hop — violence or “bitches” or all the stuff that popular music seems to talk about. A lot of that doesn’t particularly interest me.

    Is there anything you want people to know about this tour?

    I’m super pleased we’re doing this new record, and I’m pleased at the reception its getting, and I’m particularly pleased when people single out Gaoler (John “Gaoler” Sterry) singing… when I see carefully articulated articles of people saying GOF is a really important band, and how great Gaoler is, I get a kick out of that — he’s getting the recognition he deserves.

    ~*~

    Gang of Four is playing with Public Access T.V. at Park West, 322 W. Armitage Ave., on Friday, March 13. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online or in person. Doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pm.

  • Music Video Of The Day: Mucca Pazza’s Tiny Desk Concert
    Mucca Pazza just became the largest band in Tiny Desk Concert history to perform on the popular series from NPR. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/12/2015

February 12th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/05/2015

February 5th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/29/2015

January 29th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/15/2015

January 15th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Singer-songwriter Lili K. on the blessing of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah

    Plus: Dynasty Podcasts founder Jaime Black on the album equivalent of hoodie weather, Reader writer Leor Galil on an interview he never expected to enjoy in 2015, and more
    by Leor Galil
    Leor Galil, Reader staff writer Cross Record, Be Good Once the snow finally started falling this winter, I had the sudden desire to throw on this LP by former Chicagoan Emily Cross.…

    [ Read more ] [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
  • Around Town: Neon Glow
     

    We enjoy the glow of some neon today in Around Town. [ more › ]

  • The first great album of 2015

    Let’s get this out of the way right up front: Even if you haven’t heard about their hometown naming next Friday “The Decemberists Day,” with an official proclamation to be presented by Portland Mayor Kyle MacLachlan…. er, Charlie Hales… at that craft-beer-and-Chemex-brewing, bearded-hipsters Mecca, or you didn’t catch bandleader Colin Meloy announcing this new release by busking on the streets of Brooklyn, he and his co-conspirators give the skeptical plenty of reasons to scoff.

    Start with the cumbersome title of their long-awaited seventh album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, and move on to capital-“r” Romantic lyrics that once again are rife with characters such as the gown-wearing Philomena (who prompts the unusually bawdy confession from our former English and Theater-major bandleader: “All I ever wanted in the world was just to live to see a naked girl/But I found I’ve quickly bored, I wanted more, I wanted more!”) and the Cavalry Captain, a possible veteran of Tennyson’s infamous Light Brigade, who “is the remedy to your heart.”

    Then, too, you must wrestle with the usual bounty of musical filigree, from horn sections to doo-wop choirs, all decorating a Celtic/hill-country lilt to many of the songs that Meloy always credits to the cooler end of ’70s British folk-rock crossed with the Smiths, but which resonates just as much of prime Jethro Tull (think Songs from the Wood) and ELP in its “Lucky Man” mode.

    None of that matters. As a geeky history buff with special passions for the Napoleonic and Victorian eras, as an English professor, and as an unabashed progressive-rock fan, I’ve always lapped it all up. But even if I put on my cynical punk-rock glasses, I just can’t condemn Meloy and his mates for their excesses, not when these are accompanied by such a healthy sense of humor, whether one thinks of the band performing with the Grant Park Symphony at the Bean back in 2007 and trotting out a papiermâché Moby Dick as a stage prop, or revels in the silly video for “Make You Better” or the lyrics to the new tune “The Singer Addresses His Audience” (which contains the lines, “So when your bridal processional is a televised confessional/To the benefits of Axe shampoo… We did it all for you”).

    “We had to change,” Meloy also declares in the latter tune, but the changes on the follow-up to The King Is Dead (2011) are minimal indeed: There’s the most oblique of political references in “12-17-12,” the date of the Newton massacre; the unusually straightforward nature of the ballad “Make You Better” (which features Chicago darling Kelly Hogan on backing vocals), and an attempt to write a timeless folk/blues classic a la “You Don’t Miss Your Water” in “Till The Water Is Long Gone.” But the overall impression is of familiar Decemberists terrain indeed. And that’s fine, too, at least when every one of these 14 tracks boasts a melody as strong as any the band ever has given us.

    That, ultimately, is why we love this group, and why we keep coming back. And your disdain of pretension and allergy to the thesaurus be damned.

    The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (Columbia)

    Rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast or stream Sound Opinions.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/08/2015

January 8th, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Haki get as punk as they ever will on a new EP

    Gossip Wolf: Haki get as punk as they ever will on a new EP, the Deep Kutz series signs off with one last outlandish covers show, and more
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    This wolf has been a big fan of the intense sound of Chicago rock four-piece Haki ever since catching wind of ’em, and on Fri 1/9 they’ll drop the provisionally titled Haki’s Big New E.P., their first new music since the self-­released LP Positive in April 2014. The Reader described that album as veering “from mellow dub hypnosis to feral punk that teeters on the edge of noisy chaos,” and Haki guitarist Yusuf Muhammad tells Gossip Wolf that the EP is “the most punk-rock thing we will ever make.”…

    [ Read more ] [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
  • St. Vincent Talks Bowie, Authenticity And Aesthetic At The MCA
    The evening was spent not only discussing Bowie but also talking about authenticity and aesthetic in relation to music and art. [ more › ]
  • Pencil This In: ‘The Shining’ Screens At The Art Institute
    Explore the connections between Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic and artist Lucy McKenzie’s artwork Thursday. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/01/2015

January 1st, 2015

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/25/2014

December 25th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/18/2014

December 18th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/11/2014

December 11th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Downwrite Brings Holiday Concert to the Metro

    dw_wecarollot.jpg

    The holiday season is definitely a time with packed schedules and running from place to place in a hectic frenzy, but amidst the hustle and bustle is an opportunity to give back and appreciate the simple joys around us. What better way to do so, than combined with set after set of impeccable music?

    On December 20, The Metro will feature solo artists from reputable groups in a unique format. We Carol Lot: Downwrite Holiday Show features artists that have been connected with and promoted by the fans themselves, who then create customized ballads to perform in the show’s dynamic solo format. Downwrite is the company that puts on those awesome Music Trivia and Concert Nights at the GMan Tavern next door, and is now bringing you the artists that have all been on the Metro stage before for a special evening of seasonal music.

    Each ticket sold will support Toys for Tots, and the event will place its focus on philanthropy as much as it does seasonal tunes, with raffles and more. The show will surely be a unique celebration that promises to bring merry and bright holiday memories to keep you warm throughout the cold months ahead.

    We Carol Lot: Downwrite Holiday Show lineup
    Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids)
    William Beckett (The Academy Is)
    Mike Kinsella (American Football)
    Tim Kasher (Cursive)
    Mark Rose (Spitalfield)
    Bob Nanna (Braid, Hey Mercedes)
    Jon Walker (Former member of Panic! At The Disco)
    Bob Morris (The Hush Sound)
    Daniel Wade (Treaty of Paris)
    Daniel Castady (The Fold, Showoff)

    We Carol Lot: Downwrite Holiday Show begins at 8pm on Saturday, Dec. 20, with doors opening at 7pm. Tickets for this 18-and-over show are $15 in advance, $17 at the door, with $40 VIP tickets available. The Metro is located at 3730 N. Clark St., (773) 549-4140.

  • Music Video Of The Day: Motörhead ‘Shine’
    Lemmy is a poet. [ more › ]
  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Man’s Best Friend
    What happens when you keep a dog and a duck as pets? [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/04/2014

December 4th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Music Video Of The Day: Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories ‘Do You Sleep?’
    Lisa Loeb plays City Winery tonight. [ more › ]
  • Lincoln Hall Drifted Off With Allah-Las and Tashaki Miyaki

    allahlas2.jpgThe past couple years have been good to Allah-Las. They have gotten better and better with every passing performance, honing their skills and building up a reputation of great shows. Their latest album, Worship the Sun has the band completely submersed in their music, becoming more than just another simple 60s psychedelic revival. Allah-Las embody the sound so well they seem displaced in time and we in the present are all the better for it. This past weekend Allah-Las returned to Chicago and took Lincoln Hall on a very satisfying musical journey.

    Takashimiyaki1.jpgYou know you’re in for a crazy night when a band uses Rick Ross’ “Hustling” as entrance music to start their set. Such was the case with the trio of Tashaki Miyaki who came to the string lit set ready to dole out their fuzzy and oh so dreamy pop. They have an air of mystery around them, never really introducing themselves, rather leaving the music to speak for them. “Keep Me in Mind” turns on the subject of possibly unrequited love and summertime memories while, “Cool Running” floats along happier future outlook on relationships.

    Takashimiyaki2.jpgTheir songs It’s really easy to fall for this band as they jam out their songs which have a shoegaze quality to them that oozes out splendidly. “Get It Right” moves along with a slow but determined pace while “Somethin is Better Than Nothin” finds itsself in a quicker but fuzzy realm. Tashaki Miyaki’s songs made for warm weather, but not even the cool Chicago evening could resist but move along to their songs.

    takashi miyaki3.jpgTashaki Miyaki ramped it up on the latter half of the set when they brought out a few members of Allah-Las to play. What followed was a wonder mesh of sound that at times sounded like medley of Troggs covers, specifically “Wild Thing” and “I Want You”. There was so much fun energy coming from the team up that the stage simply couldn’t contain it. Tashaki Miyaki certainly impresses, ending their set with “City”, putting the band at their coolest and most distant sounding. “Look at the world, I am small” sings out their drummer/vocalist with a soft calm before ending their set with a quick smattering of drums.

    allahlas3.jpgThrough the speakers the sounds of California by way of Bollywood flooded out into Lincoln Hall. Allah-Las had chosen mix of “What Up Duyet?” by Onra and “Jan Pehechan-Ho” by Mohammed Rafi as their intro songs, both meant to prepare for the psychedelic melodies sure to follow. Typically the band is comprised of Miles Michaud on vocals/guitar, Matthew Correia on drums, Spencer Dunham on bass and Pedrum Siadatian on guitar. This time they had Jeff Luger to help out with some congas. They all came out with more poise and command than the previous times I’ve seen them perform. As the final moments of their intro dissipated, Allah-Las drifted into the instrumental “No Werewolf” before tearing into “Busman’s Holiday”.

    allahlas1.jpgAllah-Las melodies feel like old favorites the first time you hear them and live they get taken to even greater heights. “I Had It All” is so deeply rooted in the 60s sound that it could be confused for a classic of the era. It’s no surprise that they would cover a song like “Calm Me Down” by the Human Expression It fit the band quite well, following the soaring “Tell Me (What’s On Your Mind)” like an extension of its sound. Allah-Las aren’t necessarily about big and tumultuous playing. The clearly want the experience to be more ethereal, a sort of zoning put and enjoying the sun kissed tunes. “Sandy” has a really lovely sprawling rise at the heart of its chorus that effectively sends the audience into a daze. Even with the intention of setting the hazy mood, songs like “Catamaran” take the crowd to wild spots.

    allah las drummer.jpgThroughout the show was a projection of a never-ending highway speeding along a lonesome desert. It’s a fitting image for Allah-Las sound. Their songs often embody the sentiment expressed by the traveling road above their heads. “Long Journey” in particular puts the focus on a desert scene and the far reaches one will go for love. During this song Correia takes the vocal reigns, passing out a couple maracas to some enthusiastic audience members eager to help out with the song.

    allahlas4.jpgThe last time I saw the Allah-Las at the Empty Bottle they did not perform an encore. At the time they only had the one album and had played right through its entirety. This time around with Worship the Sun under the sleeves, they were able to come back out and give the adoring crowd a little more. They started off with “Vis-à-vis”, a song lead by Dunham’s vocals that clearly missing from their initial set. During the performance Mechaud caught a whiff of something in the air. His eyes turned shifty as he gazed out into the darkened venue. “Who’s got the reefer?” he asked in the middle of the song, laughing at the occurrence.

    allahlas6.jpgMere seconds after the song ended the tightly rolled joint found its way up on stage. Allah-Las couldn’t contain their gratitude, pointing out the hospitable nature of Chicago. The already fun and genial band only got more so. They were joined by Takashi Miyaki’s guitarist and closed out the set with woman crazy “Every Girl”. Their smiles reached out to the audience, belting out the wandering song. Allah-Las finished the set a little looser and a little more relaxed, elevating the show deeper into that hazy tone they wanted.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Hungry Snail
    If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like to watch a snail eat a piece of lettuce up close and personal but didn’t have two hours to spare, this video is for you! [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/27/2014

November 27th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Richard Kaufman Discusses the CSO’s Pixar in Concert

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    The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is known for many elements that comprise its exceptional caliber, from its renowned group of musicians, to their exceptional schedule of performances and their many, many accolades. A pinnacle element of the Orchestra’s high achievement, of course, is the presence of their distinguished conductors.

    Richard Kaufman, the guest conductor for this weekend’s performance of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first installment of its CSO at the Movies Series, has done it all. Studying music with a classical background, he began his instruction learning the violin at age seven. Kaufman then forayed into a melange of ventures, from being MGM’s music coordinator, to coaching notable actors in musical roles, to conducting famed pieces for the world’s top orchestras. His work earned him a Grammy award in 2003, and he has conducted orchestras alongside musical greats, from John Denver, to The Beach Boys, to Art Garfunkel. This holiday weekend brings him to Chicago, where he will conduct the CSO’s presentation of Pixar in Concert. I spoke with Richard about this musical event, his influences and his unique history as a musician.

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    Pixar in Concert is the first of three performances in the CSO at the Movies series. What do you hope the audience will gain and even learn from this first performance, and how does it allow for audience interaction and connection?

    The whole world seems to have embraced the Pixar films, and my hope is that when our Chicago Symphony audiences hear the music played live, that they will not only continue to appreciate the visual wonder and the terrific storytelling of these animated films, but that they will acquire an even greater appreciation for the role that the music plays in bringing the characters and their stories to life.

    14 iconic Pixar films were chosen to be a part of this experience. How are they curated with one another, and how are they linked? Is it purely chronological to showcase the development of the brand’s films, or are further themes interconnecting them?

    The films that will be presented on the Pixar in Concert programs are basically selected from the entire history of Pixar. It’s interesting to note that while the animation quality has improved over the years, the brilliant “voice” of the music heard in each film has remained the same from the first film all the way up to the latest.

    Pixar films are so wonderful to me because they appeal to both children and adults. What do you think each age group will be able to love about this performance?

    As with any film, either animated or with live action, each member of the audience (no matter how young or old they might be) will have his or her own feelings about what they are hearing and seeing. I think it’s safe to say that no matter what each person might feel about a certain Pixar film, they have made it clear that they love these movies.

    What is your favorite piece to conduct out of this showcase?

    l’m a true sentimentalist, and therefore I absolutely love the story and music in UP. It’s such a touching story that when you’re watching the film, you find yourself forgetting the characters are indeed animated and not real people.

    What’s amazing about this performance is that it will not just be shown here, but also in Darlinghurst, Australia, and St. Petersburg, Florida, as well. Does each orchestra perform the same fluid piece or is it reworked in each area by the conductor?

    The music for Pixar in Concert is exactly the same musically for every performance, as are the visuals. Of course, every orchestra plays at their own level of quality, but without a doubt, there is no better orchestra on the planet to hear play these scores than the amazing Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

    You have a vast amount of experience as a conductor, in general and with the CSO. What path did you take to bring you here, and what are your favorite types of pieces to conduct and why?

    I have been blessed in so many ways in my life: first with Christian faith and my family and friends, and most certainly by the education I’ve been afforded both in music, and in general. I began violin at age 7, and it just kept getting better and better (although during the first few years, I’m not sure it really sounded like a violin). My parents made sure I was exposed to all kinds of music, but not just to hear it; they wanted me to respect it for the creativity that was being displayed by composers and musicians alike. Forgive me for sounding a bit simplistic, but when it comes to the music I like most, the music I like most is music itself!

    Your focus as a conductor has been on mainly film and television conducting and supervision. What inspires you to particularly foray into this segment of the industry, and what do you think can be learned and gained from the marriage between music and film?

    My musical background is actually quite classical. My work in film and television music was a result of my education in classical music, and my appreciation for the great masters. As I moved out of college into a career, I found myself with opportunities to work in various areas of music, which happily included music from the classical world, as well as in film, television, recording, and musical theater. But it’s no secret that I love the music that accompanies the visuals on the screen, and this may just have begun with my love of opera and ballet, for which music is used to accompany, and even tell a story just as in film and television.

    Your experience in the film industry is absolutely impressive, from time at MGM, to coaching notable film actors in their musical roles, and more. How have these experiences impacted your conducting style and your current role in the music industry?

    I began as a violinist, and have always approached my work as a conductor with that in mind. The incredible opportunity to work with musicians in various areas of the musical world has given me a great appreciation of the role they play in the life of a conductor. After all, no one has ever heard one note of music from a conductor, right? It’s only when the musicians add their talents and passion to what you are doing as a conductor that the music comes to life. What a blessing to be able to stand up in front of an orchestra the likes of the Chicago Symphony and wave my arms. So often when I’m standing on the podium at Orchestra Hall, I actually feel like a member of the audience! That’s as good as it gets for a conductor!

    Just for fun, what are the three film scores that have impacted your life and career, and why?

    I couldn’t even begin to name three film scores that have made more of an impact than others. Like anyone, I have my favorite films and film music, but it’s like asking a parent “who’s your favorite child”? I will say that, as a violinist playing in the studios in Hollywood for nine years, I did have some pretty extraordinary experiences. For example, I played on five of John Williams’ scores, including “Jaws.” That was one of those experiences that you never forget. At the other end of the emotional scale, there is a film that I played on which was…how shall I say…very cool. Yes, I played on “Animal House” with a wonderful score by the superb film composer Elmer Bernstein. Just as these two films are about as varied as it gets, so my career has been varied and blessed beyond what I ever could have imagined.

    ~*~

    Pixar in Concert will be held at the Symphony Center on November 27, 28, and 29, with the first two shows starting at 8pm, and the last show a 3pm matinee. Tickets are available in varying tiers online, or at (312) 294-3000. The Symphony Center is located at 220 S. Michigan Avenue.

  • Funk Trunk Records opens in Rogers Park

    Funk Trunk Records opens in Rogers Park, Stefan Ponce brings a hip-hop who’s who to the East Room, and more.
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Gossip Wolf is psyched to hear that a new record store has set up shop in town—and it’s not even in Logan Square, Pilsen, or some other designated “cool” neighborhood. Funk Trunk Records has made its home in Rogers Park (specifically at 6960 N. Sheridan, suite A), and the cozy spot carries soul, jazz, boogie, and of course funk, among other things.…

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  • Music Video Of The Day: The Singles ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’
    This two-piece is all sunshine and sunny pop straight out of a Detroit garage by way of L.A., and they’re playing a show at Livewire tonight. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/20/2014

November 20th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/13/2014

November 13th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • DJ Rashad is gone, but his influence on footwork lives on

    The Chicago producer died before the music he helped define could break out, but he’s still inspiring his Teklife crew—which is releasing a compilation to benefit his young son.
    by Leor Galil
    Chicago footwork producer Morris Harper, better known as DJ Spinn, had the best set at this summer’s Pitchfork festival. His early-evening slot on the fest’s last day overlapped with performances by reunited British shoegaze band Slowdive and electro-­pop darling Grimes, but his turnout didn’t seem to suffer for it.…

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  • Photos/Review: Gruff Rhys @ Schubas Tavern 11-12-14

    Gapers Gruff top.jpg

    It’s always good to see the Super Furries frontman Gruff Rhys up to anything, even if it isn’t involving a proper Super Furry Animals show. Showcasing his newest solo release, American Interior, his imagination, wit, and intellect again made for a rare treat to the midwest crowd. Hailing from Wales, Rhys was all about Welsh pride in his 2 hour long plus alternate history of how Prince Madoc and John Evans help discover America (instead of Columbus) and how some of the First Nation ended up speaking Welsh.

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    In what was an intoxicating mixture of history and myth, Gruff Rhys mainly talked about the life of John Evans, the man who was so interesting there was an actual puppet crafted for him for the stage. Rhys explored Evans’s journey through some pretty hilarious slides featuring the puppet first parading around London on the tube drinking take away coffee (in, you know, the 1700s) then his journey to America where he has to deal with all kinds of calamities including crocodiles, malaria, a “touch of the cholera,” name changes, incarceration in a dungeon, an assassination attempt and more. Poor John Evans really suffered to be the precursor to the explorations of Lewis & Clark!

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    Probably even funnier was Gruff’s delivery as if he was giving an actual important lesson on Welsh history, starting with a ten minute video looked as if it was created in the 1970s that talked about how the Daughters of the American Revolution even acknowledged Prince Madoc and the possibility of him not Columbus discovering America. You have to give Gruff points for creativity at the very least. The man could probably get away with writing a Pynchon style novel based on historical events but probably with a great deal more humor.

    Gapers KS .jpg

    Rhys was also accompanied this time by fellow Welshman Kliph Scurlock on drums (formerly of Flaming Lips) who was happy to sing along and participate and is always a nice edition when he joins Rhys. Rhys did a great job overall of mixing his vocals, layering and looping, playing samples and putting on some nice visual and auditory effects to keep the two man show flowing and interesting (not that it needed any help with how naturally entertaining he is). Hopefully, Gruff Rhys will possibly consider having the Super Furry Animals tour again considering the 20th anniversary of Fuzzy Logic but, if not, these side project efforts at least give us a charming tour into his own Welsh interior.

    Gapers Gruff end.jpg

    Gapers Adam Busch.jpg

    Opener Adam Busch formerly of Sonoi also played a lovely acoustic set. His music is definitely for fans of the late great Scotsman Bert Jansch, which is high praise coming from this reviewer.

  • Music Video Of The Day: My Brightest Diamond ‘Pressure’
    Catch My Brightest Diamond tomorrow night at Lincoln Hall. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/06/2014

November 6th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Interview: The Dirty Dirty Dollars

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

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

    I was able to interview the group’s vocalist and drummer, Jeff Philipe, about the group’s identity and where they hope to be in the future. Founded by Philipe, vocalist and guitarist Jed Taylor, and bassist Harley Gingras, the group is sure to put on a show that proves to be an excellent time as well as a wonderful journey into their musical style.

    The name is definitely a great precursor for your gritty and energized rock sound. Where does the inspiration for your name come from?

    Ha, yes, our name rocks. One “Dirty” just wasn’t dirty enough. We make music that’s a little rough around the edges — it has some swagger. That tension is what creates the energy and excitement. The “Dollars” bit is both a celebration and a mockery of what makes America go ’round.

    Following with the inspiration theme, what inspires your music? Is there a certain persona your group must emulate, or is your identity more fluid?

    We originally started out saying that we’d only write songs about “sex, death, beer, and our fathers,” but that’s already been kicked to the curb. We’re not stuck in one persona, we write both in our own voices and in character voices, though the lines can become blurred. Our show is inspired mostly by soul acts in the ’60s and ’70s; we don’t dress like they dressed, but we appreciate that when they hit the stage, they had a look, and they had moves. They weren’t holding anything back from the audience.

    I know you recently traveled down to Memphis’s Ardent Studios, home to the recordings of many great musical legends. What did you learn there that you have been able to apply to your sound?

    We learned that Southerners dig The Dollars. Our show and sound are larger than life, so people around here may wonder if this is some kind of joke or theatrical stunt. We’ve even been called “wiseguys” by a prominent local DJ. Down in Memphis, everyone was just like “hell yeah, rock n roll!” Chicagoans are coming around — it’s just so different than what they’re used to seeing.

    You have moved from a CCR cover band to creating your own tunes. What has the process been like in forging your own identity, and where do you hope to take The Dirty Dirty Dollars in the future?

    What we really took from the tribute experience was the notion that there’s more to playing live than songwriting. We didn’t have to write songs, so we spent our time focusing on musicality and performing, on putting together a great show. Most bands spend all their time trying to work up new songs instead of putting together a show, when in reality, the whole package is what really will draw an audience in. You’ve gotta have great songs, and I’d say that most bands in this city have at least one great song, but the details in the presentation are what gets the audience to notice.

    Your show at Martyrs’ marks a definitive point in your career — what would be your dream venue to play in Chicago?

    Martyrs’ will be great, but we want every show to be better than the next. We don’t care what venue we play at, we just want an audience that’s with us. The audience is everything: it’s the source of our energy.

    Out of all of your music, which song do you resonate with most, and why?

    We’re proud of all of our little tunes, but the song we’re most excited about right now is the one we’re releasing at this Martyrs’ show called “An’ When I Die.” It was written the week I had three family members hospitalized and is basically my last will and testament in song form. The verses are answered with Jed’s heavy blues guitar riffage that makes this whole jam even more dramatic. Just to show that you can’t predict people’s tastes, it’s probably our most popular song.

    What do you hope listeners will gain from your music, and what is the main message you hope to create with your sound?

    We love rock music. We love the shouting, the sweating, the bendy-notes, the stupid drum rumbling. We love fun. We love sex. We love the sound of the train rolling, of falling down the stairs, of moaning under moonlight. Don’t you?

    ~*~

    Check out the sound of The Dirty Dirty Dollars for yourself this Friday evening at Martyrs’, 3855 N. Lincoln Ave. Joining them will be groups Rakunk and Reardon Roark. The show begins at 9:30pm, and tickets are $8. 21+

  • Music Video Of The Day: The Duhks ‘Fast-Paced World’
    Here’s an oldie but goodie from these Canadian bluegrass stompers. [ more › ]
  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Let’s Count To 20!
    Sometimes, you just have to get with a blue monster and count to 20 together! [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/30/2014

October 30th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Stephin Merritt Coming to Chicago for a Rare Solo Performance

    Stephin Merritt.jpgStephin Merritt’s range as a musical artist knows no bounds. Merritt may be best known for his extensive catalog of magnificent pop music as the head of The Magnetic Fields, but this barely scratches the surface of his work. He has found himself working within musical theater, contributing fantastic original music to audio books, creating film soundtracks, and as part of the multitude of side projects including The Gothic Archies, The 6ths, and Future Bible Heroes. There are very few writers than can be as introspective and genuine as Merritt when it comes to songs about something as delicate as love. Merritt has managed to infuse every project with his lovely and always entertaining songwriting along with his intoxicating bass voice. His prowess doesn’t end with his musical talents. He has recently released his first book, 101 Two Letter Words, a collection of poetry accompanied by illustrations by Roz Chast. It would seem as if Merritt’s reach knows no bounds, expanding into every realm his vast talents will take him.

    Stephin Merritt will in Chicago for two very special events. On November 7th he will be speaking with Peter Segal as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Tickets for this event are $12. The following evening, November 8, Merritt will be performing an intimate solo set at the Old Town School of Folk Music. This rare event will have Merritt performing pieces from his massive oeuvre in alphabetical order. Advance Base, a solo project of Owen Ashworth, will be opening for him. Tickets are $30 for the general public, $28 for members.

  • Hozier Takes Us to Church @ Metro, 10/26

    Hozier is a name I’ve been hearing quite frequently lately, buzzing about my city, and surely beyond. Whether it is hearing his hit song, “Take Me To Church,” on radio station after radio station, and music stream after music stream, or talking to my friends about his emotive, expressive rock sound infused with folk, I was overjoyed to see him perform his breakout album live to a sold out crowd at the Metro, with the show opened by the talented James Bay.

    James Bay is a new force to be reckoned with. A London-based artist at only 23 years old, he is able to craft effortless folk music that entrances and captivates from the moment he sings his first lyric. He has released two EPs in the past two years, which have allowed him to attract a fan base to his deliberate musical style from both the UK and the US.

    Emerging with his classic look of flowing hair under a brimmed hat, looking like the epitome of cool, Bay performed his endearing tunes for an eager audience. With a croon akin to his predecessors such as James Morrison, he sang beautiful tunes such as “Scars,” wailing out, “We can’t leave us behind, anymore.” Tall and gangly, he commands the stage with his presence: just him, a guitar, and his British charm. With languid, glittering tunes, I expect James Bay to amass a larger following as the years move forward.

    I, like all others at the Metro, had become enamored with the music of Hozier. The beautiful and powerful ballads contain so much emotion that they can teach us how to feel the full spectrum of feelings over and over again, with no reprieve, much to our desire. His self-titled debut was just released, following the heels of his dynamic EPs, dated over the past two years. Andrew Hozier-Byrne is also a young musician at 24, and has already garnered acclaim for the music that he performs, and the well-crafted songs that he writes. Emerging to an overwhelming round of applause and cheers, Hozier began by performing the brooding “Like Real People Do,” commanding the crowd from the get-go with his sexy and soulful vocals. He then proceeded with the popular tune “Jackie and Wilson,” and as he sang that he would “raise ’em on rhythm and blues,” the entire crowd was moving to the beat and satisfied by the music.

    Hozier was flanked by a large backing band, comprised of soulful singers, guitarists, and more, which allowed his sound to become even more booming and powerful. He continued with “To Be Alone,” and then let everyone know that he was going to play songs with the band, and then solo songs as well for everyone, much to their delight. The performance hit its peak during “Take Me To Church,” the notable crowd-pleaser that has catapulted Hozier to his platform of fame. I think each member of the crowd left feeling satisfied by the church that Hozier was able to bring us all to, one of soulful music that keeps us intrigued and rejuvenated at every turn.

  • 10 Overlooked Recent Horror Movie Gems
    Here are 10 horror films from the past five years that have flown under the radar that will put a chill in your spine for Halloween. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/23/2014

October 23rd, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Contemplating suicide in the opera house men’s room

    At 71, American-born Scott Walker, long a cult hero to the Brits, has stretched the meaning of that phrase further and asked for more indulgence from his small but devoted audience than just about anybody else in the history of cult heroics. He’s moved from a pioneer in orchestral pop with the early ’60s Walker Brothers, to an acid-damaged MOR pop star in his mid-period solo years, to a decidedly eccentric and esoteric devotee of the musical avant-garde for his final act—“Andy Williams reinventing himself as Stockhausen,” as The Guardian once proclaimed.

    More than a little “out there” themselves, Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, the Seattle duo that records as the experimental metal/drone/noise band Sunn O))), first approached Walker about appearing on a track on their 2009 album Monoliths & Dimensions. A few years later, the singer proposed something even more daring and ambitious: having the pair back him on a set of new material, creating an entire album together. Bravo to both parties for daring to think outside the box; as an idea, Soused is a grand one. Unfortunately, as a listening experience, it makes the harshest outings by Diamanda Galas, the only artist who even springs to mind for previous attempts to combine sonic clamor and operatic grandiosity, sound like a sunny-day pop trifle.

     No doubt somewhere in the Afterlife my Italian forebears grimace to read this, but my tolerance for opera is minimal to non-existent, so barrier number one is Walker’s extremely theatrical, often highly affected baritone, virtuosic though it may be. Barrier number two is that Sunn O)))’s dark, dense, often arrhythmic waves of drone, undeniable on their own, never actually mesh with Walker’s Gilbert and Sullivan Tour Hell routine. Finally, there are the lyrics and subject matter, heavy on the fascism and sado-masochism with a splash of absurdity tossed in. And, at the end and just to lighten the mood, we get a cover of a tune by Ute Lemper.

    Given all of that, and with five songs that each clock in around nine minutes or more, this clearly isn’t an album for everybody. But pondering the question of who its intended audience is, I can’t come up with anybody—except, perhaps, the hapless host of a Halloween party looking to clear out the last recalcitrant guests with something guaranteed to horrify (and not in a good way).

    Scott Walker & Sunn O))), Soused (4AD)

    Rating on the 4-star scale: .5 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • Django Festival All-Stars & Cyrille Aimee to Perform Beautiful Tribute on 10/24

    The musical stylings of the legendary Django Reinhardt are unmistakable and extraordinary. One of the finest jazz musicians to emerge from Europe, majorly influencing their musical scene and those throughout the world, he combined the flair of gorgeous, wistful jazz music with the sensibility of big band lyricism. Though his music pervaded the scene with popularity during the 1930s, the mastery with which it has influenced music of our time is rich and unparalleled.

    Paying homage to Reinhardt and his irreplaceable musical style will be the Django Festival All-Stars and songstress Cyrille Aimee, sharing a double bill at the Symphony Center this Friday evening, October 24. Drawing inspiration from the legendary musician, the tribute outfit is led by Dorado Schmitt, who learned guitar at the age of seven and has toured his established group around the country since 2002. He even emulates the persona of legendary Reinhard and his quintessential look. The ensemble features bassist Xavier Nikq, violinist Pierre Blanchard, accordion player Ludovic Beier, guitarist Francko Mehrstein, and clarinetist Ken Peplowski, who can be recognized for his works in famous Woody Allen films.

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    Cyrille Aimee will share a delightful complement to this group as she supports the bill with her beautiful jazz and lounge classics during her debut at the Symphony Center. Aimee grew up in France and was captivated by the lounge jazz style that Reinhardt was able to create so effortlessly. Joined by a backing of guitars covering several different musical stylings and an outfit of drums, Aimee’s voice will stun the crowd with its gorgeous clarity and her lounge singer stylings reminiscent of the 1900s-era greats.

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    The show will begin on Friday, October 24 at 8pm at the Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Avenue. Tickets can be purchased by phone at (312) 294-3000 or online, and range from $28-$89.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Dachshund’s Creek
    What happens when four friends—who are dachshunds—living in the small fictional seaside town called Capeside, Massachusetts in the latter half of their freshman year come of age together? We’re sure it’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/16/2014

October 16th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/09/2014

October 9th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Lampo says, "Welcome to (Rene) Hell"

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    Jeff Witscher (Rene Hell)

    This Saturday (October 11), experimental music organization Lampo begin their Fall 2014 season with the first of four free performances around Chicago. With the help of their long-running collaborators at the Graham Foundation, The Smart Museum of Art, and the Logan Center for the Arts, Chicagoans will have architecturally complimentary environments in which to experience a wide variety of unconventional, often abstract sounds and compositions.

    The fall schedule is as follows:
    October 11: Rene Hell
    November 8: Robert A. A. Lowe
    November 22: Lucky Dragons
    December 13: Tristan Perich

    Saturday’s performance (which is free with RSVP, and takes place at the Graham Foundation’s Madlener House, 4 W. Burton Pl.) will include a performance of a new composition by Jeff Witscher (aka Rene Hell), titled “Bifurcating a Resounding No!” The piece draws from years of recorded sounds (acoustic instruments, field recordings and voice), collected in cities across the U.S. and shaped with various digital techniques into a new long-form work.

    If you don’t know Jeff Witscher by name, you may know him by one of many others. From 2004 onward, Witscher has morphed into and between numerous guises and musical approaches, from harsh noise (Impregnable) to forlorn ambient soundscapes (Marble Sky) to anguished power electronics (Secret Abuse), releasing music through his Agents of Chaos label and many others channels. But most revered and, truthfully, the most mysterious of them all is his flagship project, Rene Hell.

    Even among the surfeit of pseudonyms, each one delineating a specific mood or approach to Witscher’s aesthetic, Rene Hell criss-crosses relentlessly between genres and styles, blending high-art and visceral impact, almost as if he doesn’t accept the usual critical circumscriptions around arbitrarily imposed genre names. (Imagine that.) Because he’s spent time in scenes where impact trumps all, even his most high-flung academically-flavored synth pieces are accompanied by strange chatterings, like strange insectoid armor dragging noisily along cobblestone pavements.

    Other pieces throb violently like old-school industrial, but with a gleaming, precise sonic palette, somehow emphasizing the good in both while diluting neither.

    Rene Hell’s best-known (and ostensibly best) works are 2011’s Terminal Symphony (Type) and 2013’s Vanilla Call Option (Pan). Along with the split LP with fellow traveler Oneohtrix Point Never (LP on NNA Tapes, 2012), these records display most, if not all, of the many faces of Rene Hell. As for Witscher’s other projects, that’s a post for another time. For now, say yes to “The Resounding No!”

  • Music Video Of The Day: Rachael Yamagata ‘Starlight’
    Rachael Yamagata plays Lincoln Hall Friday. [ more › ]
  • Fun Fun Fun Film: ‘The Hairy Who And The Chicago Imagists’
     

    You don’t want to miss this engrossing and informative documentary about this decidedly significant group of artists in the 60s and beyond. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/02/2014

October 2nd, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Eat to the Beat: ‘The Banana Album’ and the meal of a lifetime

     

    “Modern music begins with the Velvets,” the great rock critic Lester Bangs wrote when the Velvet Underground still was a going concern, “and the implications and influence of what they did seem to go on forever.” In the years since, that bold and prescient statement has proven unimpeachable. As the band’s co-founder, John Cale famously provided the avant-garde noise foil to Lou Reed’s songwriting craftsman, and though the Welsh-born virtuoso left the band after its second album, his now 44-year solo career has been every bit as rewarding and influential as his work on The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967) and White Light/White Heat (1968), as well every bit as strong as the late Reed’s solo catalog.

    For our third “Eat to the Beat” fundraiser, Sound Opinions is beyond honored to have renowned chefs Paul Kahan (Blackbird, avec, the Publican, Big Star) and Matthias Merges (Yusho, A10) cooking their interpretation of the Velvets’ debut, the timeless “Banana Album,” for none other than Cale himself—and, of course, for YOU—at Kahan’s newest restaurant, Nico Osteria, which not coincidentally was named for the chanteuse of the band’s early, Andy Warhol days.

    This once-in-a-lifetime dinner takes place at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 12. More info and tickets can be found here. All proceeds benefit WBEZ/Chicago Public Media and help keep Sound Opinions on the air.

    In honor of this auspicious occasion—and because I’m ridiculously stoked—here are a baker’s dozen of the most extraordinary moments from Cale’s career, presented more or less in chronological order, and with the footnote that I easily could have picked 100. (Cale also has appeared on Sound Opinions twice: on our very first show on Public Radio, and again performing live in 2012.)

    1. “European Son” (with the Velvet Underground)

    In this explosion of sonic chaos from the Velvets’ debut, Cale sets the standard for all noise-rock to follow, as well as presenting a startling contrast to the other sounds of the Summer of Love. That tremendous crash and explosion after the first verse is Cale banging some metal folding chairs and smashing a bottle.

    2. “Fear Is a Man’s Best Friend”

    3. “Gun”/Pablo Picasso”

    4. “Guts”

    Three of Cale’s many high points from the mid-’70s punk era, which reinvigorated the artist who’d helped set the template for it, and which capture the depressing decay and paranoia of New York in the era of “Ford to City: Drop Dead.” That live performance of “Gun” folds in some of Jonathan Richman’s “Pablo Picasso”—Cale of course produced the debut by the Modern Lovers, as well as the Stooges and Patti Smith—and features my pal and sometimes Reed sidewoman Jane Scarpantoni on cello.

    5. “Buffalo Ballet”

    6. “Leaving it Up to You”

    Cale wasn’t all anger and energy during the punk years, as these gorgeous, lilting ballads amply testify.

    7. “Heartbreak Hotel”

    It takes a lot of vision and personality to steal a song from the King of Rock and claim it as your own, but for many, this is the definitive version, and certainly the most horrifying.

    8. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”

    From 1989’s Words for the Dying, written in response to the Falklands War, and using the poetry of Cale’s fellow Welshman Dylan Thomas. Here he performs in tuxedo with an orchestra and a boy’s choir.

    9. “Cordoba” (with Brian Eno)

    10. “Style It Takes” (with Lou Reed)

    Though he has a reputation as a stubborn and singular visionary, Cale was part of two great collaborations in 1990: Wrong Way Up with Eno and Songs for Drella, a tribute to Warhol with his old bandmate Reed. Both of those artists were better for working with him.  The way Cale channels Andy delivering the lines, “This is a rock group called the Velvet Underground/I show movies on them, do you like their sound?/’Cause they have a style that grates/And I have art to make” slays me every time, and I count the concert at St. Ann’s Church in Brooklyn where he and Reed premieried this song cycle among the best shows I’ve ever seen.

    11. “Dancing Undercover”

    12. “December Rains”

    Cale’s recent output has not diminished in quality a bit, as these tracks from Walking on Locusts (1996) and Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood (2012) demonstrate.

    13. “Hallelujah”

    Another song—this one by Leonard Cohen—that Cale has forever claimed as his own. (And sorry, even if you love Jeff Buckley, his version does not top this one.)

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • Photos/Review: Kasabian @ Cabaret Metro 10-1-14

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    England’s Kasabian has yet another hit album with 48:13 and easily sold out the Metro with fans who danced and knew every word. As this photographer/reviewer was walking into the Metro, she overheard someone explain.”Kasabian is like Oasis only with.a better sense of humor” and there is some merit in that. They write and rock out with the kind of songs people feel good dancing in a club to with all of their friends and they aren’t about to let their presence be weighted down by a bunch of heavy ballads.

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    Additionally, their songs have a kind of quirkiness and melody mixed in with some of the edginess at times recalling Primal Scream a but with some hard hitting drum beats for good measure. In some ways, it’s hard to believe the band was first incarnated 17 years ago but on the other hand they do wear a tight sense of accomplishment on their sleeves. Still, they present as a band that sound like truly fresh riding stars with the energy bands tend to have when playing with all their might. They played such powerful songs as well! There wasn’t one song in their 75 minute set tart sounded remotely dull. You get the feeling that even though the Metro is quite a small club for them compared to the venues they play in England, they are committed to making each show count and impressing their audience and they accomplish with a rich grandeur and ease. It’s pretty easy to be won over by their charm. Basically, it’s quite easy to envision seeing them and hearing their crowd pleasing songs in massive arenas. That’s just the type of winning appeal the tracks carry.

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    Kasabian are also great fun to watch live with their interesting dance moves and more typical rock poses. They have a nice intensity to their body language and sense of engagement with their audience. One sensed that they generally enjoyed being on stage performing. Their dramatic lighting, especially leading into crowd favorites also rose the anticipation level quite a bit throughout their set!

    Setlist:

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    Opening for Kasabian, Japan’s four piece Bo Ningen walked the tightrope between blissful psychedelia and blistering assault. Their short but profound set probably set off all kinds of alarms in various sympathetic nervous systems across the audience and yet many still clamored for more. With music so loud, it’s challenging to think about and remember anything in your current or past life because you’re so entirely filled with the sensation that takes you hostage.

  • Quick Spins: Sloan, Steve Gunn, Cancers
    This week we examine terrific forthcoming and recent releases from a trio of bands that couldn’t be more different. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/25/2014

September 25th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Remember the Rentals?

    Most people who remember the Rentals—and it’s probably a small group that remembers them at all—know the project as one of many alternative-era one-hit-wonders, putting its own spin on the mid-’90s rediscovery of old analog synths via a catchy MTV and Modern Rock radio hit called “Friend of P.” But that single came from an album that auteur Matt Sharp released in between the two masterpieces from the band he co-founded—Weezer’s self-titled “Blue Album” (1994) and the enduring Pinkerton (1996)—and he deserves much more consideration than a mere nostalgic footnote, even if the Rentals have hardly been prolific in the last two decades.

    A strong second album Seven More Minutes (1999) followed the ironically titled debut Return of the Rentals (1995), and then… silence, until Sharp put a new version of the Rentals together in the mid-2000s and undertook an intriguing multi-media project called Songs About Time toward the end of the decade. The songs on the band’s new, long-awaited third album all come from that endeavor, re-recorded with a group including hard-hitting Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney and enchanting backing vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig (filling the roles of that dog’s Rachel and Petra Haden in the old lineup).

    The gloriously fat and glitchy drones of those Moogs still are part of the mix, but so are a wonderfully endearing and otherworldly future-past melancholy vibe (think Lost in Translation) and a bevy or memorable and infectious hooks that serve as reminders that Rivers Como wasn’t always the only pop genius in that other band. “Stardust,” “1000 Seasons,” “Thought of Sound,” “Seven Years…” heck, pretty much the whole album had me hooked from the first lesson, though I’ll confessed, it was a few weeks before I even started listening (the disc came out on Aug. 26).

    “Does anybody even remember the Rentals?” I wondered. “Does anybody care?” Well, I can tell you now that the answer to that second question is, “You certainly should.”

    The Rentals, Lost in Alphaville (Polyvinyl)

    Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • Why did Animal Kingdom have to die?

    The fate of Avondale show house Animal Kingdom says a lot about the DIY music community’s struggle to coexist with the rest of Chicago.
    by Leor Galil
    On July 13 a shabby, 114-year-old house in Avondale, named Animal Kingdom by its tenants, hosted a concert in its backyard. Animal Kingdom had been an unlicensed DIY show space since summer 2012, and though this was far from its biggest event—that distinction belongs to an Independence Day bash in 2013, which featured 20 bands and a record fair and attracted hundreds of people—it would be the one that finally brought the house to the attention of 33rd Ward alderman Deb Mell.…

    [ Read more ] [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
  • Kickstarter Project Believes That ‘Art Transcends Borders’
    Painter, sculptor and designer Marek Hubáček and his childhood friend Martin Vitek aim to raise $3,450 via the popular crowdfunding platform to bring Czech art to the city. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/18/2014

September 18th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/11/2014

September 11th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Our guide to Riot Fest 2014

    The Reader‘s Riot Fest guide: Five slices through Chicago’s biggest loaf of punk and punk by-products

    After three months of earth-shaking EDM extravaganzas, sprawling grab-bag festivals packed with indie pop, hip-hop, or alt-rock, and neighborhood block parties headlined by Better Than Ezra (or by local bands covering Better Than Ezra), the prospect of attending yet another music festival might feel about as exciting as getting a student-loan statement—”What, this nonsense isn’t over with yet?” But Riot Fest has set itself apart and created its own excitement: since it transformed itself from a multivenue bash into an outdoor extravaganza in 2012, its lineup has been jammed with dozens and dozens of well-known punk and alternative bands, many of whom aren’t on the usual stateside summer-festival circuit.…

    [ Read more ] [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
  • Riot Fest moods: A Venn diagram

    A Riot Fest moods Venn diagram: Bands to make you sad, bands to make you happy, and the Pizza Underground
    by Sasha Geffen
    Click the image for an enlarged PDF version.

    [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
  • A roundup of local acts at Riot Fest

    Chicago makes a good showing at Riot Fest—at least if you don’t count Ur Lineup Sux, Bro. Because they sux.
    by Leor Galil
    Of course, music festivals aren’t required to book local talent from the cities that host them. But Riot Fest has given a little love (and stage time) to Chicago acts, not to mention Rockford’s finest, Cheap Trick.…

    [ Read more ] [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/04/2014

September 4th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • This weekend: The 18th annual Hideout Block Party

     

    As it prepares to mark the end of its second decade, the Hideout Block Party is, by the standards of the current summer music festival business, a dismal failure.

    The event barely breaks even, with most of the money generated going to charity. There are no plans for global expansion, no ubiquitous corporate sponsorships, and no egregious radius clauses tying up the artists to exclusive bookings. Indeed, many booking agents won’t even return its calls, since it’s so much easier to ride the international Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, Riot Fest, etc. gravy trains.

    And yet…

    The big celebration by the little club that could by the garbage trucks in the middle of nowhere off Elston on Wabansia remains the best shindig of its kind in town, a gathering of the heart and soul of the Chicago music community, with good sound, great music and fine libations. And, really, isn’t that what matters most? Indeed, shouldn’t that be the only thing that matters? (Yes, in my book!)

    The lineup this year is topped by the always-rewarding Death Cab For Cutie (here’s the group live on Sound Opinions) and Chicago ex-pats the Handsome Family, riding the crest of the biggest wave of attention they’ve garnered in their devotedly eccentric career, courtesy of that theme song for True Detective.

    Here’s the link for tickets. And here is the full schedule for this year’s fun, once again co-sponsored by the Hideout and The Onion A.V. Club.

    Friday, Sept. 5

    Bad Luck Jonathan featuring Jon Langford, 5:30 p.m.

    The Handsome Family, 6:20 p.m.

    Hamilton Leithauser, 7:15 p.m.

    Death Cab For Cutie, 8:30

    Saturday, Sept. 6

    Plastic Crimewave Vision Celestial Guitarkestra, 1:30 p.m.

    Empires, 2 p.m.

    Valerie June, 3 p.m.

    Sylvan Esso, 4 p.m.

    Mac DeMarco, 5:15 p.m.

    The Funky Meters, 6:30 p.m.

    The Dismemberment Plan, 7:30 p.m.

    The War on Drugs, 8:45 p.m.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • Music Video Of The Day: Owen Pallett ‘The Riverbed’
    Owen Pallett plays the Metro tomorrow night. [ more › ]
  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Metal Everywhere
    All this video really proves is that there’s no such thing as an inappropriate place for metal.
    [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/28/2014

August 28th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/21/2014

August 21st, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/14/2014

August 14th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/07/2014

August 7th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Photos/Review: Lil Bub with David Yow @ Cabaret Metro 8-6-14

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    For those who may not know, Lil Bub is a very special female cat from outer space who has special needs. Lil Bub and her dude, Mike Bridavsky, have helped raise over $100,000 for animal shelters. Typically, Lil Bub’s shows which have featured everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Andrew WK to Amy Sedaris happen in a more controlled studio so Chicago was lucky to behold Bub in all her feline glory at Cabaret Metro.

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    In addition, this show featured a live guest, David Yow, of the band The Jesus Lizard.. The hour and a half show included Yow talking about his books with many artistic renderings + cat puns, his acting career, personal cat stories, and a little ditty he sang to Bub. Yow enjoyed a cuddle or two with Bub and told a story about a childhood black cat he had named Me Yow because his father said it would be the only cat who could actually say it’s name. He also told a story about how he had seen a cat thrown out the window, rescued it but was told he couldn’t take it on the bus, was late to work and was fired when he showed up with the cat.

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    Another special guest was famous Doug of Hot Doug’s who treated Yow and Bridavsky to hot dogs they didn’t have to wait three hours in line for. (Bub doesn’t have any teeth so unfortunately couldn’t eat one himself.) Audience members also asked questions that revealed Bub doesn’t like water, she has been spayed, she has had a play date with Grumpy Cat (a cute video was also shown of this), and that her favorite song is “Tom Sawyer” by the band Rush. Yow also tried to sing a little ditty to Bub, which was very much unlike his work with the Jesus LIzard and was actually quite sweet that Bub fell asleep to.

    Proceeds from this event benefited local Animal Shelter Treehouse.

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  • Museum Campus South Initiative To Link Local Museums, Encourage Exploration
    It’s pretty sweet that in a city full of various headaches that make getting around difficult, some of our main museum attractions are grouped so closely together. [ more › ]
  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: The Most Accurate Alcohol Commercial Ever
    Here’s an oldie but goodie featuring Orson Welles. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/31/2014

July 31st, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/24/2014

July 24th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/17/2014

July 17th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/10/2014

July 10th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/03/2014

July 3rd, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/26/2014

June 26th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/19/2014

June 19th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Uncle Bob does it again

    Defiantly riding the third (or fourth, if you count Sugar) high of his post-Hüskers career, curmudgeonly but ever-lovable ol’ Bob Mould continues the melodic adrenaline rush of 2012’s outstanding Silver Age on the new Beauty & Ruin, his 11th solo album. Once again fronting the powerful but empathetic rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy, the theme for the 53-year-old guitarist and vocalist still is raging against the dying of the light, though he intends a more specific arc of three sections here, portraying his movement from pain to reflection to acceptance following the death of his father, with whom he had a troubled relationship. If it doesn’t quite match the brilliance of his last outing, that’s only because there’s a little more drone and a little less melody (Bob’s roar is always most effective when it’s balanced by those sweet hooks) and, not surprisingly, a little less humor in the lyrics this time around. But standouts like “Hey Mr. Grey” and “I Don’t Know You Anymore” rank with his very best.

    Bob Mould, Beauty & Ruin (Merge)

    Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • Write Club Concludes For The Summer With A Crash, A Kick And Butter
    This much-lauded monthly write fight squares six writers against each other, broken into three rounds and each author tackling a topic. Literary fisticuffs ensue. [ more › ]
  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Bad Romance
    If we were this fierce at that age, you’d better believe we’d have been doing more than dancing at a birthday party.
    [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/12/2014

June 12th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/05/2014

June 5th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Lily Allen not quite ready for her ‘mumback’

    Motherhood and a period of domesticity don’t have to result in a mellowing of trademark sass and sarcasm; remember Roseanne in the ’90s? Yet if British pop star and inveterate wiseass Lily Allen scores with a fair number of saucy zingers on Sheezus, her self-proclaimed “mumback” after having two children, the laser-like focus of her post-MySpace gems Alright, Still (2006) and It’s Not Me, It’s You (2009) is sorely lacking, and she misses the mark just as often by name-dropping pop divas, crowing about hubby’s prowess, and bragging that she’s a “broadband champion, a URL bad man” (ugh). Just as distracting is the reunion with producer Greg Kurstin, who seems to be mining dated genre-hopping tracks (a little Zydeco, a little dubstep, a hint of reggae, etc.) that weren’t good enough to make the cut last time. Though some have found it cloying, the biggest step forward is the Shellback-crafted third single “Air Balloon,” an invigorating swirl of ’60s psychedelic bubblegum as reimagined by MIA, which one can imagine Allen singing to the kiddies, who’d most likely overlook the crack about her choosing Elvis over Kurt Cobain for a fantasized dalliance in the clouds. Silly? Sure. But it seems truer to where Allen is at circa age 29 then a lame jab at the current music industry like, “It makes me angry/I’m serious/But then again I’m just about to get my period.”

    Lily Allen, Sheezus (Parlophone)

    Rating on the 4-star scale: 2.5 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • Kishi Bashi & Busman’s Holiday Joyfully Burst at the Metro

    kishi bashi.jpgIndiana label Joyful Noise Recordings puts out some of the best records year in and year out. They have a fantastic stable of artists that are dedicated and place every bit of themselves in to their music, something few labels can attest to. This past Saturday at the Metro, the label was well represented as Busman’s Holiday and Kishi Bashi came out to support their recently released albums A Long Goodbye and Lighght respectively.

    busman's holiday.jpgBusman’s Holiday is made up brothers Lewis and Addison Rogers. Together they create touching and tender songs that deal with love, space and the things in between. The brothers are natural storytellers, which was evident in both their songs and crowd interactions. They had an instant rapport with the audience at the Metro, always taking a moment between songs to recount their adventures and follies. They gleefully reminisce about petting rhinoceros at the Lincoln Park Zoo and accidentally wearing the same black shirt and red socks.

    busman's holiday2.jpgMusically, they had a strong grasp on everyone at the show. Lewis played guitar with the same affection as his voice had when he belted out “Baby Blue”. Addison’s drumming, performed on top of an old Samsonite suitcase, was fantastic. The suitcase wasn’t just used for quirky charm, they have more than enough charm. Instead it acts as a completely integral and necessary part of their sound. Busman’s Holiday DIY sensibility inhabits all their songs, connecting them and the crowd even closer together than their patter did. During “Daniel’s Lament” the brothers took to tapping their chests and guitar, which got the crowd swaying and clapping along. Their cover of The Kinks “Waterloo Sunset” was nice detour from original songs, but finishing with their original “We are We” left the crowd with a warm and pleasant farewell.

    kishi bashi1.jpgK Ishibashi, the man behind Kishi Bashi, experiments wildly with his violin, producing some of the most interesting music today. It’s not surprising considering his work with Of Montreal, who he opened for at the Metro a couple years prior. It was clear that this night was special, becoming the headliner he has fully deserved after his amazing albums 151a and Lighght. Ishibashi came out with a sense of calmness and fortitude that matched the delicate sheets stretch across the wooden structures on stage. It was a nice sight that burst during “Philosophize it! Chemicalize It!”, where a pop of confetti and streamers began to fall from the ceiling, shifting Ishibashi to hyperactivity that infected the rest of the set and crowd at the Metro.

    kishi bashi3.jpgIshibashi’s set was filled with small moments of improvisation, both on his violin and some beatboxing, all adding to his already great repertoire of songs. “Wonder Woman, Wonder Me” and both parts of “Hahaha” work incredibly well, almost seeming like entirely new songs under the band’s live talent. Mike Savino, or Tall Tall Trees as he was known as through the night, jammed on his multipurpose banjo expertly. The banjo’s continuously transforming face, lighting up in different colors, was drummed, bowed, and strummed passionately. It was really impressive, complementing Ishibashi’s violin work.

    kishi bashi 6.jpgkishi bashi5.jpgThe final few songs saw members of the band stripped away. Ishibashi and Tall Tall Trees played the immensely appropriate song for the hot summer night, “Evalyn, Summer Has Arrived”, before Tall Tall Trees exited leaving Ishibashi alone on stage. He took the time to explain the his intentions with the creation story “Bittersweet Genesis for Him and Her”. A dotted pattern of lights fell over the stage during “I am the Antichrist to You”, giving Ishibashi’s determined look a stronger and bolder underline. He balanced that professionalism with his joyful demeanor the entire night. During the novel “Manchester”, the final song of the proper set, Ishibashi was less alone as the crowd lovingly sang along with every word.

    kishi bashi2.jpgThe encore was rife with intense fervor. “The Ballad of Mr. Steak” , barring a moment of screeching technical difficulty, was an uproarious performance. It was faster and bubblier than on the album. Ishibashi dashed all over the stage before addressing the crowd as Paul McCartney to introduce “Live and Let Die”. The song fit perfectly well with Ishibashi’s energy, bouncing along magnificently. The set ended with a nice self-referential nod: band and crew members crowd surfed,Ishibashi donned a cat mask, more streamers and confetti rained down on the audience all the while “It All Began with a Burst” was played with the zeal it deserved. The set ended as it began, full of joy.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Road Bike Freestyle
    Mountain bike trials master Martyn Ashton’s 2012 “Road Bike Party” stunt film and his 2013 sequel inspired Italian trials master Vittorio Brumotti to make his own short film. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/29/2014

May 29th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/22/2014

May 22nd, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Neil Young phones home

    Having hyped the alleged higher audio fidelity of the Pono system a few months ago at South by Southwest—without ever bothering to play it for the crowd who assembled to hear him speak—in typically perverse fashion, Neil Young has released a new album recorded with some of the most lo-fi equipment he’s ever used: the antique direct-to-vinyl Voice-o-Graph at Jack White’s Third Man complex in Nashville, to be precise. Crammed into a what’s basically a converted old phone booth, we get Neil at his most intimate: just his voice, his acoustic guitar, and his harmonica, tackling a set of mostly pre-rock folk standards that he used to sing with his family in the parlor (hence the album title).

    As such, A Letter Home is a spiritual bookend or companion to Americana (2012), though some might argue that tunes such as Phil Ochs’ “Changes,” Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country,” Tim Hardin’s “Reasons to Believe,” and the Everly Brothers’ “I Wonder if I Care as Much” have the edge on the earlier disc’s renditions of “Oh Susannah” and “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain,” Crazy Horse or no. At first blush, the scratchy quality might be off-putting. But as often is the case with Young, his passion for the material and unfettered joy in making a glorious noise ultimately carry the day, and the pleasure he takes in the material, the recording technology, and hanging with White is palpable.

    Neil Young, A Letter Home (Third Man Records)

    Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • Katey Red’s Chicago Debut Will Bring Bounce Music Back To The City
    Katey Red has watched the bounce grow both in her hometown and abroad by leaps and bounds in the fifteen years since she first got on the mic. [ more › ]
  • Review: Elbow & John Grant @ House of Blues, 5/19

    It’s been six years since Elbow played Chicago. At the time, they were riding the wave of The Seldom Seen Kid, which took that year’s Mercury Prize. Since then, the band have put out two albums and evolved their arty Britpop sound behind the strengths of Guy Garvey’s heartfelt lyrics and vocals, and the band’s growth as songwriters and performers. But on Monday, all that concerned the sold out House of Blues crowd was hearing the pristine pop that Elbow churns out in spades.

    Early in the set, they went often to their recent The Take Off and Landing of Everything album. But once they got to older songs, things naturally began to click with the crowd, from “The Bones of You”‘s sweeping chorus to the raw emotion in “Scattered Black and Whites” to the titanic “Grounds for Divorce” singalong. Between those, Garvey was talkative and charismatic, telling short stories that often punctuated points about the next song. To close, they went for “Lippy Kids” and their anthemic “One Day Like This”, which a girl in the balcony had been yelling about the last 15 minutes. Even though the latter can be a little repetitive, Elbow’s played it so often that they know how to keep it fresh with Garvey encouraging the crowd to sing boisterously.

    John Grant may have been relatively unknown, but that may not last long. His imposing presence ingratiated himself to the crowd almost immediately. And it seems like he is taking frontman cues from Guy Garvey on this jaunt across America. His short set (barely a half-hour) featured a nice set of songs, mostly from last year’s way underrated Pale Green Ghosts, that feature his best attributes as a writer. The lyrics paint pictures and, even when they’re a little goofy, they tug at heartstrings with universal themes. There’s a little Richard Buckner in his delivery, too. Unfortunately, the synths that stand out so much in his music came off a little flat on Monday, but it was all that kept his set from being top-notch.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/15/2014

May 15th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Nate Wooley’s coarse-grain trumpet meditations @ Lampo

    Nate_Wooley25.jpg

    Nate Wooley. Photo by Peter Gannushkin

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

    Sometimes, Wooley combines his extended techniques on trumpet with electronics or processing, as on the Trumpet/Amplifier LP (Smeraldina-Rima), but his brilliant mastery of controlled lines and microtonal shifts of embouchure (as well as massive overdubbing of multiple different horns, mutes, microphones, room tone, etc.) allows for gorgeous, drone-based works like The Almond (Pogus Productions).

    This Saturday, Lampo will host Mr. Wooley’s latest composition, For Kenneth Gaburo. The composition will continue on with concepts used in The Almond, combined with his method of using vocal syllables while playing to shape the tones of his trumpet, as on his series of “Syllables” recordings. Using text from Gaburo’s works, the piece will combine “synthesized tones on tape with manipulated trumpet techniques to create shadings of the phonetic sounds inherent in the text.” This is a long work, and the program will conclude with several amplified trumpet improvisations from Mr. Wooley.

    The performance happens this Saturday, May 17, at the Graham Foundation‘s Madlener House (4 W. Burton Pl.) at 8 p.m. Admission is free, but RSVP is required. Follow the ticket link to reserve your place.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Jamming Baby Owls
    Here is what happens when one baby owl follows the movements of a camera and the other stays in a state of stone cold badass. [ more › ]
  • Pencil This In: ‘You’re Being Ridiculous’ At Mary’s Attic
    Jeremy Owens’ live-lit series “You’re Being Ridiculous” returns May 16 for a three-weekend run at Mary’s Attic in Andersonville with a host of storytellers sharing tales on the subject of “change.” [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/08/2014

May 8th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Mark your calendars: Glenn Kotche does ‘The Dinner Party’

    Once a month, “The Dinner Party,” a project by Fear No ART and irrepresible host Elysabeth Alfano, brings together three Chicagoans from diverse corners of the art world for a spirited, unscripted conversation before an audience at City Winery enjoying a meal from one of the Chicago’s best chefs. (I can’t speak for anyone else in attendance, but I had a great time when I joined author Scott Turow and burlesque dancer Michelle L’Amour for conversation in between feasting on Heather Terhune of Sable’s risotto last November.)

    Music fans will be particularly interested in the next fete on Monday, May 12, as the guests include Wilco drummer and solo percussion artist Glenn Kotche. (The musician is so skinny, you might think he doesn’t care much about dinner, but he certainly knows how to do the dishes, as evidence by his performance-art clip/TV commercial above.) He’ll be joined by radio host Kathy Hart of the Mix and actor Marc Grapey (Adventureland, While You Were Sleeping) with food by Chef Peter Coenen from the Gage. Tickets are available here.

    Next Friday, May 16, Columbia College Chicago’s annual year-end Manifest celebration of its students’ many and varied artistic offerings will close out the school year at locations throughout the South Loop campus. In addition to film, fashion, visual arts, dance, theater, and many other pursuits, this year’s free outdoors musical offerings include the Hood Internet and Youngblood Hawke. The full schedule of events can be found here.

    The next event of note is particularly dangerous for me—I own way too much drum gear already and never leave without buying more—but the 24th Annual Chicago Drum Show once again takes place at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles on Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18. Part swap-meet, part drum expo, and all percussive fun, the show includes clinics, demonstrations, raffles, classes, and more than 30,000 square feet of new, used, vintage, and custom drums, cymbals, and accessories—and I haven’t even mentioned legendary Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, who always brings a dozen or so sets from his massive collection. More information can be found here or here.

    Finally, endless (and rather desperate) are the many Kickstarter campaigns vying for attention, but a particularly worthy one with an actual chance of succeeding has been launched by Alice DuBois, who has long been one of my favorite local painters, with a wicked sense of humor and a strong rock ’n’ roll sensibility running through her work for the last 20-plus years. Though she sells most of her pieces to local collectors, she’s hoping to fund some “bigger/more sophisticated” canvases to comprise what would be her first big gallery show, and you can give her a boost to help get there at Alice in Wonderland before the campaign ends on May 20.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Drinking Crocodile Tears
    Nature works in strange and beautiful ways. [ more › ]
  • Uneasy Laughs In Porchlight’s ‘How To Succeed’
    Porchlight’s ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ is a zany, satirical romp through 1960s office politics. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/01/2014

May 1st, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Genteel indie-pop from the wilds of Wisconsin

    Regrettably lost in the ears-ringing chaos of my coverage from South by Southwest last March was any mention of Phox, a sextet from Baraboo, Wisc. whose set of charmingly fragile but nonetheless impressive indie-folk-rock/low-key ork-pop/woodsy psychedelia a la the Incredible String Band impressed me as much as anything else I saw. So let me make it up by giving an early nod to the group’s self-titled debut album, which officially drops on June 24.

    Recorded at Justin Vernon’s home studio in Eau Claire, the breathy vocals of singer Monica Martin are front and center throughout the dozen tracks on Phox; some have glowingly compared here to Feist, though I hear a duskier Billie Holiday soulfulness that Leslie F. and her many imitators lack. But Phox absolutely is a band—listen to the way the instruments build to a gorgeous swell in the climax to the gorgeously lazy six-minute “Laura,” or how the players vary the dynamics and intertwine their melodic lines in “Slow Motion” and “Satyr and the Faun.” It all makes for the perfect summer soundtrack to while away a lazy afternoon beside a burbling brook—or for your more urban version of that Wisconsin idyll.

    Phox, Phox (Partisan Records)

    Rating on the 4-star scale: 3 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • See You, C2E2! Our "Con"-clusion
     

    This year’s expo really seemed to have something for everyone, while still keeping its roots in comic books and the comics industry. [ more › ]

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Fly The Friendly Skies
    Someone is a little sleepy. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/24/2014

April 24th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • The return of the Afghan Whigs

    Though I have plenty of friends, now and back in the nostalgia-tainted ’90s, with a borderline obsessive love for Greg Dulli—most of them women, oddly enough—the grungy Cincinnati soul man always left me cold. There was of course the off-putting persona of the drug-addled bad-boy in search of salvation; for that shtick, I always preferred the far more enlightened, slightly less bro-ish Mark Lanegan, with whom Dulli collaborated in the Gutter Twins. But there also was the Afghan Whigs’ music, which only was impressive if you suspended all concerns about authenticity: As campy blaxploitation, it rankled only slightly less than the histrionic sounds of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

    Don’t be distracted by delirious hosannas from the faithful: Dulli hasn’t grown much at age 50, and he certainly hasn’t altered the Whigs’ formula on the band’s first album in 16 years, except perhaps for the worst. Always a big part of the sound, guitarist Rick McCollum isn’t aboard for this cash-in comeback, and the band never had a permanent drummer, so this really is only the Whigs for the benefit of Dulli’s tax return.

    Minus McCollum, a good part of the emphasis on Do to the Beast is on more airy, less rampaging arrangements, with plenty of Motown nods in the rhythms and the occasional orchestrations. But we’ve heard this from the man before, on his Twilight Singers outings, and despite the stray moments of pleasure—the rollicking opener “Parked Outside,” or the symphonic “Lost in the Woods”—my overwhelming reaction, now as back then, is “big wup; gimme Bobby Womack or Isaac Hayes.”

    The Afghan Whigs, Do to the Beast (Sub Pop)

    Rating on the 4-star scale: 1.5 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • Music Video Of The Day: Smoker ‘Strange Ways’
    The video is an ode to all things hair salon and hair, dedicated to local salon Twisted Scissor. [ more › ]
  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: GoPro, A Drone And Fireworks
    Here’s what fireworks look like from above! [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/17/2014

April 17th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/10/2014

April 10th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/03/2014

April 3rd, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/27/2014

March 27th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/20/2014

March 20th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/13/2014

March 13th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • SXSW 2014, Dispatch #2: Panels, Preatures, Hungarians & Wytches, oh my!

    A TRAGIC UPDATE: This dispatch was posted just minutes before the Austin Police Department reported that a vehicle ran into the crowd waiting outside the Mohawk at 9th and Red River shortly before the 1 a.m. set by Tyler the Creator was scheduled to start. According to officials, 23 people were transported to the hospital, 5 are in critical condition, and 2 are dead. More details to follow on Thursday.

    So Tuesday ended better than it started as a young quintet from Sydney, Australia called the Preatures quickly won my heart, despite the fact that it was shoehorned into an awful venue, the sort of bro-populated disco that no one with a brain would visit any time other than SXSW. And the five were even better when I caught them again Wednesday afternoon at the Austin Convention Center during KCRW’s stint programming the Radio Day Stage.

    Fronted by the captivating Izzi Manfredi, who exudes a leather-jacketed, retro/New Wave cool a la Debbie Harry or Chrissie Hynde, the band incorporates percolating electronic rhythms with strains of Motown soul and garage-rock guitar. The musicians have yet to make their album-length debut, but their self-confidence, energy, and maturity onstage belie their relative inexperience, and it’s difficult not to get swept away.

    The day-time sessions on Wednesday started for me with a panel entitled “Man vs. Machine: The Curation Dilemma,” in which the driving forces of streaming services such as Beats Music, Pandora, and Rdio discussed the benefits of suggesting new sounds to their users via computer algorithms versus tips from human beings.

    All of the panelists agreed that a mix of both is the ideal, though Beats CEO Ian Rogers was the most eloquent in lauding the human touch of a passionate and knowledgeable fan sharing the musical love. In fact, he makes Beats sound as if it’s programmed by some ideal combination of a teenage fan girl, a Lester Bangs-like rock-critic eminence, and one of those legendary free-form DJs of early FM radio who could build sets that seamlessly and sensibly segued from John Coltrane to Blue Cheer to Lulu. (In the interest of disclosure, I should note that Sound Opinions contributes some curated play lists to Beats, so maybe he’s right.)

    In one way or another, the theme of man vs. machine/algorithm vs. human musical curator carried through all of the other Wednesday sessions I caught. Singer-songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill, the widow of the influential and pioneering rock critic Paul Williams, led a discussion paying tribute to the founder of Crawdaddy!, who died last April. Though only one of the participants, Ed Ward, ever worked with Williams, they all captured the unique humanity, enchanting spirituality, and boundless passion of his best writing—three things that never could be duplicated by computer code.

    From there, a session entitled “The Insights Evolution: Why Only Obsessing About Music Sales is Holding You Back,” organized by the media data gurus at Nielsen, tried to show the health of the music industry in a new age when sales and radio play have been joined by many other forces to measure an artist’s success, including streams, downloads, television appearances, and social media chatter.

    Some of the numbers were indeed encouraging, especially those that showed that listening on mobile devices now is almost as popular as listening on car radio, and that streaming increased by 40 percent between 2012 and 2013. Generally left unanswered, however, was how artists might monetize these changes to, say, make a living playing music. And, as one panelist pointed out in a well-chosen paraphrase, too much data actually can be a bad thing: If you turn on your headlights when you’re driving in the fog, he said, basically you just see the fog a lot better.

    Also satisfying, at least to those of us who’ve been fans for a long time, was Sachin Doshi of Spotify describing how the Handsome Family—“this obscure little band”—suddenly shooting to the top of the list of the most popular artists on the site blew the minds of everyone at the company. (Thank you, True Detective.) Some things data and metrics just cannot predict.

    Back to the day’s (and night’s) musical discoveries and highlights: I also caught the KCRW stage showcase for Moses Sumney, a young singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles who, like Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, builds wonderfully lush, African-influenced pop orchestrations out of electronic loops created live onstage. Yes, a lot of musicians are doing that these days. But few have voices as soulful and songs as strong as Sumney’s.

    Later on, Berryhill performed at an odd space called Esther’s Follies that’s usually a comedy club. I first fell in love with the San Diego musician’s work when I heard her song “Damn, I Wish I Was a Man” on a compilation called The Radio Tokyo Tapes: Vol. 3 circa 1985. (The vintage Super 8 clip below dates from 1988.) She has a half dozen strong albums to her credit since then, the latest in 2007, and is gearing up to record a new one, hopefully funded by Kickstarter.

    Berryhill’s delightful set included a healthy sampling of her new songs, some of them inspired by her late husband, and it included the backing of a ramshackle but nonetheless impressive “garage orchestra” featuring cello, bass, percussion, and vibraphone.

    While waiting for the premier U.S. set by the British quartet Woman’s Hour, I had one of those mind-blowing SXSW surprises, courtesy of a quintet from Budapest, Hungary called Ivan & the Parazol. Powered by spectacularly wheezing Vox/Farfisa organ, rollicking R&B-inflected rhythms, and slightly metal-edged leads (the guitarist wore a jacket that looked like a toss-off from KISS), vocalist Iván Vitáris channeled the young Mick Jagger by way of the Fleshtones’ Peter Zaremba for a timeless blast of mid-’60s garage-rock joy. The group’s second album is due this month.

    As for Woman’s Hour, siblings Fiona Jane (vocals) and William (guitar) suffered from a shortened set time truncated even more by some troubles at soundcheck. But the three songs they did play were absolutely entrancing and thoroughly soulful electronic dream-pop, holding out great promise for their forthcoming album on the Secretly Canadian label.

    Finally, night two ended for me at the Wytches’ show at the “British Musical Embassy” (a club called Latitude 30 on San Jacinto). The Brighton trio’s set suffered from sound problems, too—the club didn’t seem capable of handling the volume the band deserved—but the threesome powered through with its heavy, dark, psychedelic thunder, recalling at various times the mighty Spacemen 3, the early Pink Floyd, and the Jesus and Mary Chain, without ever seeming overly derivative.

    This blog’s coverage of SXSW 2014

    Mar. 11, Dispatch #1: Well, at least it ain’t snowing: Crowds, Rahm, Bieber & corporate weasels descend on Austin.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • SAIC Continuing Studies Takes Students to the Next Level
    This post is brought to you by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

    painting640w.jpeg
    Barbara Ross, Green Forest, Acrylic, 24 x 48, November 2013

    Certificate programs are the fastest growing form of education in the United States. A 2012 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that the number of certificates awarded has seen more than a 300-percent increase—and attributed their growth to how quickly a certificate can be obtained and their value in the job market.

    Barbara Ross of Barrington, Illinois, says she chose to complete the Painting Certificate at Continuing Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) because of the school’s reputation in the art world. “The Adult Continuing Education program has helped me take my work to the next level,” she says. “It challenges me to think more about why I paint and the messages I need to express. It allows me to share my work with other artists and hear their feedback.”

    SAIC’s Adult Continuing Education program in Continuing Studies offers seven different certificates in painting, drawing, fashion, graphic design, illustration, interior design, and web design. The program allows anyone 18 years old or older with a high school diploma or equivalent to explore new areas of study or sharpen and update an existing skillset, and to make new connections with other professionals looking to expand their résumés.

    [ more › ]

  • CHIRP Announces 12th Annual Record Fair (& Other Delights)

    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.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/06/2014

March 6th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Rimshots: Powerful stuff from two alt-country hell-raisers

    Lydia Loveless, Somewhere Else (Bloodshot Records)

    What a better world we’d live in if America’s teenage girls admired this fearless Ohio cow punk instead of Taylor Swift. As impressive as Indestructible Machine was when she made her Bloodshot debut in 2011, Loveless’ third and latest is simply stunning, showing even more musical and lyrical maturity. That barn-burning voice! That hell-raising attitude! She’s no goody two-shoes—she’s got her unhealthy crushes and bad habits, to be sure—but neither is she ever anything less than a paradigm of fully empowered self-respect.

    Rating on the four-star scale: 4 stars.

    Click here for my review on Sound Opinions.

    Angel Olsen, Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar)

    On her third album, this St. Louis to Chicago to North Carolina transplant summons not so much the Patsy Cline-meets-Leonard Cohen pastiche that many critics are hailing but rather a more rootsy, less pretentious early Liz Phair. The vocals are captivating when she’s in sing-speak mode, but the lyrics grab you even harder: “I heard my mother thinking me right back into my birth/I laughed so loud inside myself it all began to hurt,” she sings in “White Fire.” Potent stuff.

    Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.

    Click here for my review on Sound Opinions.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis, join me on Facebook, and podcast Sound Opinions and Jim + Carmel’s TV + Dinner.

  • Flogging Molly Brings Drunken Lullabies to the Aragon Ballroom, 3/8

    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.

    Flogging Molly plays the Aragon Ballroom (1106 W. Lawrence Ave.) this Saturday, March 8. The show begins at 8pm with The Drowning Men and the Crombies opening. Tickets are $42.60.

  • Around Town: Alien Surfaces
     

    We slipped in some abstract photography into today’s gallery. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/27/2014

February 27th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/20/2014

February 20th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/13/2014

February 13th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Such Great Heights
    What happens when you drop a video camera from your skydiving plane and it lands in a pig pen? [ more › ]
  • The Night Vale Glow Cloud Makes Its Way To Chicago
    Cecil Baldwin and the Welcome To Night Vale crew are bringing their incredibly popular, super creep and darkly hilarious podcast for a live performance at The Athenaeum Theatre. [ more › ]
  • Pencil This In: The Final ‘Solo In the 2nd City’ At Beauty Bar
    Solo in the 2nd City, the local storytelling series focusing on dating in Chicago, is calling it quits after their Feb. 13 show at Beauty Bar. And they’re doing so with the style and messiness that have been hallmarks of the series over the years. Join hosts Melinda McIntire and Carly Oishi as they welcome guest readers Dana Norris, Barrie Cole, Isaac Paul, JW Reese, Jasmine Davila, Blake Dinwiddie and Charlotte Hamilton as they weave storytelling gold from the straw of their dating lives. The party starts at 7 p.m. and the readings begin at 8. (1444 W. Chicago Ave.) [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/06/2014

February 6th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Bass Drum of Death Search and Destroy the Empty Bottle

    bass drum of death1.JPG

    Photography credit – Rory O’Connor

    Bass Drum of Death make swampy garage rock and they do it incredibly well. It makes sense then that they’re from the depths of Mississippi where bluesmen such as RL Burnside call home. Started as solo project by former Fat Possum employee John Barrett, he recorded the album GB City off hours DIY style using simple tools such as a drum kit, a guitar and a USB microphone. The band has since filled out to include a touring drummer and guitarist. It was with this lineup that they played to a fervent sold out crowd at the Empty Bottle last Thursday.

    bass drum of death10.JPG

    Security had their hands full as people tried in vain to crowd surf while the room filled with the sounds of distorted guitars and warped vocals. Songs like “Bad Reputation” and “Nerve Jamming” took on a newfound form of intensity as massive mosh pits emerged within the crowd. Throughout it all, Barrett and his band kept the momentum up as they played a large amount of both of their albums to a completely enthralled crowd, occasionally punctuating songs with random onomatopoeic sounds yelped into his microphone with an echoing effect.

    Before Bass Drum of Death took the stage, I was able to catch a set from Blasted Diplomats, a local garage rock quartet who just released their self titled album via BLVD Records and I really dig what I heard. Afterwards, I sought out some of their things on Bandcamp and it’s been on regular rotation as of late. Both bands provided an excellent soundtrack to an evening of drinking and revelry amongst friends, and in the end this was all that was wanted.

  • A Chat with Hospitality

    Indie-rock trio Hospitality brought their live show to Schubas this week in support of Trouble, their second full-length on Merge Records.

    On the front end of their 2012 self-titled debut, Hospitality proved themselves to be makers of joyful pop. Songs like “Eighth Avenue” raced through last night’s party, and the irresistible “Betty Wang” had nothing to do the next morning but linger at brunch. The record’s deeper cuts, though, hinted at a darker side, and the band lets that side flourish on this year’s Trouble.

    Consider the first track, “Nightingale.” You hear a nightingale and you might think flowers at your feet. But the riff is ominous and down in the bass. Even the chaperoned sway of a gem like “It’s Not Serious” carries a serious message between the lines.

    Hospitality - TroubleNot to say it’s all doom and gloom. The band excels at writing about twentyseven-something characters, and many twee keywords are still invited to the party. I remember hearing about parasols, empty letters, even a heartbreaker named Valentino. But these characters are now walking home from said parties to find ghosts in their twin-sized beds.

    In anticipation of the Chicago show, I traded some emails with percussionist and songwriter Nathan Michel about the band’s tour and the making of the new record.

    Who came up with the name Hospitality and when did you realize it was going to stick?

    I can’t remember exactly. But we liked that the name seemed both warm and inviting and a little bit cold and abstract at the same time.

    The cover art to your first record was a kinda-candid photograph of passengers on a speedboat. This record has a much more stylized cover. What’s the story behind it?

    It started with a photo taken by Will Mebane. We gave that photo to the artist/designer we were working with, Phillip Niemeyer. We told Phillip we wanted to use the stripe theme, which we’d used before on our 7 inch. We also wanted the cover to be darker — thematically and color-wise — than our first LP cover. Phillip took it from there and did a fantastic job. He ran Will’s original photo through a bunch of processes, which gave the image a nice texture. Not exactly sure what, but photocopying and analog film may have played a roll.

    What were your main objectives with this record? Did you end up in a different place than you thought you would?

    We wanted the record to have a warmer, darker, more natural sound than the first record. We wanted to take our time a bit more within each song, with the arrangements less ornamental and more integrated into each song. We didn’t exactly plan on using drum machines and synths all that much, but as we were recording we ended up using them more and more. The recording process, at least for us, is pretty intuitive, so we always end somewhere different from what we initially imagine.

    Can you tell us a bit about what the songwriting process is like in the band.

    Amber writes most of the songs. We then arrange them with the band in a guitar, bass, drums version. Occasionally that trio version of the song becomes the album version. “I Miss Your Bones” is basically the trio playing live in the studio with just a few overdubs. Other songs ended up a lot further away from the trio version. “Inauguration” is an example. And some songs never went through the band much at all. “Last Words” is my song, with Amber’s lyrics. I basically played everything on that track.

    In the mixtape you made for WQXR, I really liked your comment that Stravinsky was the “king of right wrong notes.” There are a number of great “right wrong notes” coming out of the guitar in the outros to “I Miss Your Bones” and “Last Words.” What do you think of the longer instrumental sections in the songs on this record? I feel like you really give the band room to stretch out.

    Thanks! Well, Amber’s playing the guitar solos on “Bones” and I’m playing the solo on “Last Words.” So maybe we both have that “right-wrong note” thing in our ears. Amber tends to write short songs. I’ll usually take her initial song and add sections to flesh it out a bit. I was particularly pleased with the trumpet performance on the extended middle section of “Sunship.” More right-wrong notes in that part…

    I really dig the piano on this record, particularly at the end of “Rockets and Jets” and on “Inauguration.” Who plays piano?

    I play all the piano parts. I think in both cases you mention the piano slightly reharmonizes the chords of the song, which adds a sense of shift or lift to the song. Since the piano has a nice attack and decay it’s good, arrangement wise, for fitting into mixes that may be otherwise already full. My personal favorite piano part is the solo I did on “Sullivan.” It reminds me of Bill Evans’ solo on “Flamenco Sketches” from Kind of Blue. It’s got a similar floating vibe.

    What’s the first experience you remember related to music? Did you grow up in a musical family?

    Neither of my parents really played an instrument, though both are musical. My dad is a visual artist, but had tons of records.

    You’re beginning a tour that will take you through Chicago, to the West Coast and back east. What can we expect from your live show?

    Right now we’re driving through a cold and snowy Indiana. Live, we perform as a quartet, which we’ve done in the past. But this time we’re all switching around instruments a lot, which is really fun. Amber plays keys and guitar, Brian plays bass and sampler, I play guitar, keyboard and drums, and Dave Christian plays drums and keyboard.

    What’s it mean for you to live in New York and feed off that energy?

    We have a group of friends in different bands, who we see from time to time. But actually we stay home a lot.

    When you think of Chicago, you think of….

    Thrill Jockey.

    You’ve released records under your own name. Where’s a good point to start in your music for people interested in following your solo efforts?

    My music is on my website. It’s pretty all over the place, but my 2005 record called The Beast is probably the best place to start.

    What were you reading/listening to/looking at during the making of the album?

    Listening: early King Crimson. Amber was reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I was reading Concrete by Thomas Bernhard. Brian was reading The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman.

    Watching: Amber was obsessed with “True Blood” while we were recording.

    ~*~

    Stuart Ross is a writer living in Chicago. You can follow him on twitter.

  • Pencil This In: Chicago Craft Mafia Meet ‘N’ Greet At Frontier
    If you are a fellow crafter or just appreciate crafty folk, stop in and say hello and talk some shop at Frontier tonight. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/30/2014

January 30th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Preview: Patty Griffin at Metro, 1/31

    patty-griffin-2013-500x2501.jpg

    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.

    There was a popular bit that Louis C.K. recently did on Conan. When talking about the drawbacks of a world increasingly glued to their IPhones, he noted that, although we often take to our phones to counter feelings of loneliness, we are actually “lucky to live sad moments.” He continued, remarking that deep sadness is often met by a profound happiness that is conjured in contrast to the despondency we might feel. I bring it up because it reminded me of the conundrum Griffin’s music presents; how could listening to such sad songs feel so joyous? To call her music ‘heartbreaking’ sells it short; the word is too clichéd and belies the intricacies that Griffin works with, and there are few that can evoke the bewildering complexities of sadness as accurately and concisely as she can. The moments she details may be sad, but you feel lucky to be living (and hearing) them.

    Patty’s music has been sultry, comforting, vengeful, wistful and fiercely triumphant, often within the same song, but she’s never struck me as a performer who could be easily ignored. The oft-hushed volume of her work should not fool listeners; she’s not made for the background, not an artist to clean the house to. Watching her perform live parallels the surprise that accompanies hearing her music for the first time – she seems to demur from the spotlight, but when she seizes it she can unearth songs that have an emotional heft the size and weight of mountains.

    Patty Griffin plays Metro (3730 N Clark St.) this Friday, January 31. The show is sold out, but I’m hoping with everyone else that there are some last-minute openings. Information for the show can be found here.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: 14 Minutes of Angry Goalies
    We didn’t believe we could get through all 14 minutes of this, but it turns out that enraged hockey players is much more captivating than we thought. [ more › ]
  • The 9 Best Karaoke Events And Bars In Chicago
    Following are nine karaoke bars and events we feel are worth doing. Print this out and start working through it. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/23/2014

January 23rd, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/16/2014

January 16th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Preview: Rockin’ Record Bazaar and Beer Blowout @ GMan Tavern 1/26

    The Gingerman Tavern, a local favorite for those seeking asylum from the endless sea 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+.

  • Tuesday Afternoon Diversion: Martin Luther King Jr. In Chicago
    Dr. King spoke to an audience of 70,000 people at Soldier Field on June 21, 1964. His speaking fee was $5,000. Today’s video from the Chicago History Museum shows the check written to Dr. King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, by the Illinois Rally for Civil Rights, the group that organized the event. [ more › ]
  • Common’s Not Smiling on New Album

    Chicago-native rapper Common is currently hard at work on a call-to-action album dedicated to stopping violence in the city. The rapper stated in an interview with Revolt that the upcoming album, titled Nobody Smiling, aims to speak to the conditions of violence in Chicago and inner cities all over America.

    “War” is the first track released as a teaser of the upcoming album. The song is an embittered attack on the complacency of the warfare environment plaguing the urban population, especially the youth of Chicago. His tone comes from a feeling of disappointment, from the perspective of a man who tours the world and returns to his home city only to find the conditions increasingly worse each time. It also includes a snippet of the rapper’s interview where he discussed his motives behind the indignant album.

    The release will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the rapper’s sophomore album, Resurrection. The 1994 album cemented Common, then known as Common Sense, as one of hip-hop’s most acclaimed artists, as evidenced by its inclusion on The Source’s Best 100 Rap Albums in 1998.

    Nobody Smiling has reunited Common with the producer No I.D., who worked in tandem with Common on Resurrection, setting the expectation that the release will meet the standard of their original work together. According to NPR, some criticized Resurrection for its nostalgic tone when, at the time, the rapper was not even 22-years-old.

    The duo’s reunion 20 years later gives the rapper a chance to actually trek down memory lane as he attempts to speak louder than the violence of his hometown.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/09/2014

January 9th, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/02/2014

January 2nd, 2014

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/26/2013

December 26th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/19/2013

December 19th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/12/2013

December 12th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/05/2013

December 5th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • The Best Albums of 2013: 20 to 11

    As Greg Kot and I gear up for this weekend’s airing of our favorite episode of Sound Opinions all year—the annual Best-Of Recap—here is part two of my look at my Top 30, starting from the bottom and working toward No. 1.

    Today: numbers 20 to 11.

    20. Willis Earl Beal, Nobody Knows (XL Recordings)

    This former bedroom artist may be a true eccentric and a real original, but that doesn’t mean his music isn’t accessible to the rest of us, especially now that he’s realized his vision in a proper studio with a crack band, making his search for true and meaningful connections in this instant-gratification world of digital emphemera all the more poignant and infectious. Here is my review for this blog, and here is a performance and interview by Beal on Sound Opinions.

    19. MGMT, MGMT (Columbia)

    Though it quickly became a staple on the festival circuit, MGMT previously left me cold on album. But the group finally gets it right on album number three, working again with Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann, evoking what the Syd Barrett Pink Floyd’s “Bike” might have sounded like if produced by the Aphex Twin. Here is my review for this blog.

    18. Franz Ferdinand, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions (Domino)

    Blame the lack of excitement about the fourth album from the Scottish quartet on the long wait since its last release, but the group once again delivers an irresistible, energizing, and stylish set that is as good as dance-rock gets, and as smart and witty, too. Here is my review for this blog.

    17. Deltron 3030, The Event II (Universal)

    Conceptual, arty, experimental, but never less than gritty, hard-driving, and real—alternative hip-hop at its best, from a supergroup that for once actually deserves that designation. Listen for a performance by and interview with Deltron 3030 on Sound Opinions in early 2014.

    16. Yo La Tengo, Fade (Matador Records)

    The profound difference between rock music that’s intimate and sounds that simply are quiet is that the former grows with every listen, while the latter all too easily slips into mere background music. Quiet brilliant from the long-running Hoboken, N.J.-based indie-rock heroes. Here is my review for this blog.

    15. Solange, True EP (Terrible Records)

    Beyoncé’s kid sister bridges the gap between the indie underground and mainstream dance-pop, taking inspiration from the early days of the post-punk/New Wave dance music emanating from Soho lofts in the early ’80s, and for my money besting anything her older sibling ever has given us. Here is my review for this blog.

    14. Ty Segall, Sleeper (Drag City)

    We’ve heard Orange County’s prolific, hyper-energetic, and indefatigable garage-rock noisemaker Ty Segall in his quiet, introspective, wiggy bard mode before, but never so movingly or melodically. Dealing with the death of his adopted father, the nadir of a period of family strife he calls “a weird, intense time,” the singer and songwriter found catharsis where he always has: in the studio. Here is my review for this blog.

    13. Kelley Stoltz, Double Exposure (Third Man Records)

    A delightful merger of San Francisco psychedelic pop, heartfelt folk-rock, New York art-punk minimalism, and Detroit garage-rock growl from an artist newly invigorated by his move from Sub Pop to Jack White’s Third Man Records. Here is my review for this blog.

    12. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito (Interscope)

    Karen O and the boys have lost none of their intensity on album number four, even as they continue to expand their sound with elements of dance music, gospel choirs, avant-garde hip-hop, and pretty much everything else and the kitchen sink, all without sacrificing the essential garage-rock snarl. Here is our review on Sound Opinions.

    11. Richard Thompson, Electric (New West Records)

    Folk-rock the way it should be done, but from one of the most underrated guitarists in rock history. Listen and learn, Mumford. Listen and learn. Here is my review for this blog.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis or join me on Facebook.

  • VHS Darling Jan Terri Returns to Reggies

    We’re always looking for a good excuse to post one of Chicagoland hero Jan Terri‘s legendary music videos, so I was pleased to discover that the VHS star will be performing at Reggies next week. Her cult favorite music videos have gained newfound popularity on YouTube – the most famous of which is appropriately labeled “Worst music video ever“. And now, Terri is finally being featured in a documentary on her life and her rise to viral video glory. Per the Sun-Times, next week’s show will be taped as part of the film “Jan Terri — Badder Than Ever”.

    Jan Terri plays Reggies’ Rock Club Wednesday, December 11th at 8 pm. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here. Blue Ribbon Glee Club opens.

  • Around Town: Stormbringer
     

    Some foggy, stormy photos kick off today’s gallery. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/28/2013

November 28th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • The Secret History of Chicago Music: The Rovin’ Kind

    Polished garage band the Rovin’ Kind had a second life on Epic Records as the Illinois Speed Press.
    by Plastic Crimewave

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  • InnerVisionists Share Their Vision: An EP in Review

    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.

    InnerVisionists by InnerVisionists

    InnerVisionists’ self-titled EP opens with my favorite track, “Strive.” A poignant spoken word intro begins the song, speaking of artistry and individuality. This is your life / So live it right / According to design / in your mind. A funky guitar riff in the background ascends above a steady drum beat, as the song becomes jazzy at points, as well. The funk progresses and provides a solid intro: a subtle introduction to the group’s sound and their craft itself. “You can only take if you plan to give,” the spoken word intro resurfaces. The meaning of life is speculated, articulated by a distinct message, repeated over and over again as the song grows louder, almost more aggressive, driving the meaning home. Layer upon layer builds as the song turns into a frenzy, but one that is welcomed. The song travels full circle and shows a portrait of the group’s creativity and innovation that is present within their sound.

    The classic El train “door closing” message starts off the next song, “CTA” (Chicagoans, you know what message I’m talking about as it is basically ingrained into our brains, maybe a little too much if we’re every day commuters). Reggae elements emerge as the song becomes almost a heavy metal and reggae-infused jam. The song’s subject matter is perhaps what you may expect, a story of going through the CTA, more specifically, waiting for the CTA. As much as the group is about innovation, the EP also illuminates the group’s affinity for Chicago itself; I know even after time away from the city, I’m overjoyed to be able to take the El train again, even if it had been the bane of my existence the previous week. The “doors closing” message serves not only as a reminder to step on or off the train, but serves a comfort, a reminder that you’re home. This song showcases the group’s identity: musicians, and Chicagoans.

    The frenetic “CTA” is juxtaposed by “No Games,” peppered with more jazz and funky, but still a highly energized song. Light bongo drums emerge from the backdrop, and the vocals again are delivered saturated with meaning. Innervisionists are one-of-a-kind because of their magic musical combination of blending styles, and imparting wisdom. Hearing their lyrics is peering into a piece of their souls, as they share lessons they have learned and beliefs they share with their listeners.

    Samples introduce their closing ballad, more languid than their previous EP numbers. This is fitting as the song is indeed called “Bring Out The Spirits,” a double entendre. A heavy rock theme feeds into the chorus again, as it grapples with themes of the afterlife, and, living each moment to the fullest. Giving a snapshot of days in a life, and honing in on the meaning of taking things day by day and living with intention, the Innervisionists close out their EP with introspection and deep meaning.

    The four songs, though vastly different in style, present a signature sound that InnerVisionists have cultivated and grown. Juxtaposing between musical genres and presenting listeners with the dichotomy of lighter subject matter, such as taking public transit, with songs that wrestle with the meaning of life, Innervisionists show that they will have immense staying power within the music industry as they continue to hone in on their sound.

    InnerVisionists will be debuting their EP to the public with a release party on Friday, November 29 at Multikulti, at 1000 N. Milwaukee Avenue. Beginning at 8pm, there is a $7 cover for the event.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: A Balancing Act
    We’re not sure what’s cooler: this guy’s ability to balance things that we can’t even imagine balancing, or the stylish snap he does once he’s got his subject set. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/21/2013

November 21st, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/07/2013

November 7th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Review: ICE plays John Zorn @ MCA

    ICE Zorn
    Michael Nicolas (cello) and Cory Smythe (piano) perform John Zorn’s ‘Occam’s Razor’

    As I settled in to my seat, eager for the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) to begin their performance of a half-dozen compositions by John Zorn at the MCA, I thought about the years I’ve spent listening to John Zorn’s records, both written and improvised, wondering what these through-written pieces would sound like, when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a familiar site. A man dressed in a very familiar pair of camouflage cargo pants and a zippered hoodie popped out of a side door to have a quick glance at the stage. The most comfortably-dressed man in modern composition was here tonight! It added a hot spark to the anticipation knowing that Zorn himself would be watching from the wings.

    Considering the breadth (and, in many cases, extremity) of Zorn’s work, I came in expecting ear-bleed and grinding teeth from start to finish, but was surprised to hear not just his tender side, but also his beautifully classicist nature. The opening piece, a work for solo clarinet based on Herman Hesse’s novel “Steppenwolf,” was a long, lyrical work that sounded like the 1930s as inhabited by early modernist pioneers like Charles Ives and Henry Cowell, using abstraction as a way to color the mind and the mood, building to a dazzling sequence where clarinetist Joshua Rubin cleared intervallic jumps like he was playing hopscotch. To use Anthony Braxton’s terminology, the gravallic weight of this piece was off the charts. The fireworks evoked, however, never overpowered the sheer lyrical beauty of the composition and Rubin’s masterful handling of it.

    The follow-up, titled “Occam’s Razor,” was scored for cello and piano. It wasn’t just the finest ICE piece I’ve witnessed, nor the best Zorn composition, but some of the most amazing music I’ve ever heard. The playing was fluid, like liquid clouds barreling through keyholes, with lots of start/stop moments that gave the piece the feeling of breathing. The thought of some of James Tenney’s works for cello and piano passed through my mind a few times, but the piece was all Zorn’s, navigating lurches of tempo and tone with a sure hand, creating a work that transcended abstraction, subversion of “conventional” music concepts, and other off-putting tags to present something that seemed to radiate pure beauty, the kind that doesn’t require a lengthy description in a program.

    “The Tempest,” a work written for ICE and scored for flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, and drum set, gave each performer a character from Shakespeare’s play, though flautist Claire Chase coyly told the audience that we’d have to figure out for ourselves who was who. My notes simply say, “Power! Thunder! SOREY!” Because as great as flautist Claire Chase and clarinetist Rubin played, drummer Tyshawn Sorey held the audience rapt, guiding the difficult piece through a dozen or more changes of tone and intensity, one moment a disciplinarian marching band conductor, the next a rock god of thunder.

    2004’s “Walpurgistnacht,” for string trio, contained playing so telepathic and mobile, the melodic lines shot like firing neurons from player to player, as if the trio was a large, single stringed instrument.

    While the group set up, both Clare Chase and John Zorn talked with the audience. In regards to 1972’s “Canon to Stravinsky,” written in the year of Stravinsky’s death, Zorn explained, rather surprisingly, that “everyone was writing canons around that time!” (A side of 1972 few of us remember…) Though short, the fun and funny little piece really did feel like Stravinsky in all the best ways, especially in the work of ICE’s rock-star bassoonist Rebekah Heller. Can’t have Stravinsky without a bassoon!

    The piece with the most instruments was the three-part “Baudelaires,” scored for flute/bass flute, bass clarinet, bassoon, harpsichord, guitar, violin, viola, and cello. This extraordinary piece was full of language-like phrasing, as if the group was translating Baudelaire’s words into pure song. Musical phrases lilted up at the end like questions or plugged into you like a blurted curse. The harpsichord always adds an interesting timbre to new music, sounding here more like a ’50s-vintage computer crunching data than the plaything of wig-powdered aristocrats. There was enormous timbral variety in the piece (each part was based on a different Baudelaire work), and each member made their brilliance known throughout the piece, whether it was a creative rake of Dan Lippel’s guitar or Nicolas’ gliding cello.

    Zorn thanked ICE profusely, saying “I’ve come to realize that music is all about people. If you work with passionate, wonderful people, the music will always be the best you could hope for it.” After minutes of applause from the audience, Zorn returned with his trademark alto sax and Sorey in tow. The two commenced to strafe the audience with a short, wooly improv that was wholly welcome to audience members who knew about Zorn’s Mr. Hyde side.

    Three cheers to ICE and John Zorn for one of the best nights of music I’ve seen in a very long time.

  • Music Video Of The Day: Gylne Tider ‘Let It Be’
    Here comes a weird trip as you head out the office door. [ more › ]
  • Eyeworks Animation Festival Doesn’t Sit Still In Its Fourth Year
    This Saturday the fourth incarnation of one of our favorite film events—the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation—adopts a leaner, one-day program for the festival. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/24/2013

October 24th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Rimshots: Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs relive a lost era of indie

    Regardless of any missteps they made later in their careers, any true fan of power-pop will forever harbor a place in their heart for Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, if only for the former’s one perfect album, Girlfriend (1991), and the latter’s effervescent early work with the Bangles on their first self-titled EP and the debut album All Over the Place (1982 and 1984). Collaborating as Sid and Susie in 2006 and again in 2009 to produce the first two volumes of Under the Covers, the first concentrating on favorite songs from the ’60s and the second focusing on the ’70s, the results were pleasant but not revelatory examples of the tribute genre—unlike, say, the unforgettable Paisley Underground set Rainy Day (1984), on which Hoffs played a key role. But these artists, both of whose careers were made possible by the sounds, spirit, and community of’80s indie-rock, surprise more often and seem more passionate when shining a light on their (sometimes unexpected) heroes from that under-heralded time, including the Bongos, the dB’s, Echo & the Bunnymen, the Smiths, the English Beat, and R.E.M. circa Murmur. It’s like retro college-radio karaoke—and that’s intended as a compliment.

    Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, Under the Covers, Vol. 3 (Shout Factory!)

    Rating on the 4-star scale: 3.5 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis or join me on Facebook.

  • Late Notice: See ‘Nosferatu’ And Enjoy Classic Architecture Tonight
    If you’re looking for a last-minute movie excursion this evening we have a recommendation that will fill your thirst for vampire films while taking in some classic architecture in the process. [ more › ]
  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: All The Apollo Moon Landings In A Single Video
    Here’s a single video of all of the Apollo lunar landings, of the original DAC coverage realigned to 45 degrees to show what the LMPs saw on the descent and with the audio segmented from all of the flights. Here’s a single video of all of the Apollo lunar landings, of the original DAC coverage realligned to 45 degrees to show what the LMPs saw on the descent, and with the audio segmented from all of the flights. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/17/2013

October 17th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/03/2013

October 3rd, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • The Secret History of Chicago Music: Mason & Crowe

    Folk duo Mason & Crowe are a lost treasure from Champaign’s Red Herring coffeehouse scene.
    by Plastic Crimewave

    [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
  • Check It Out: Andersonville Arts Weekend
    Head to the Oct. 11-13 event before the weather refuses to cooperate. [ more › ]
  • Rim Shots: Justin Timberlake, MGMT & Ty Segall

    In the digital present as in the now-distant physical-product past, fall remains the busiest release season of the year. So much music, so little time! Rim Shots are quick, single-paragraph reviews of albums you need to know about, either because they’re well worth your attention, or quite the opposite.

    Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience—2 of 2 (RCA)

    “If I’d had more time, I’d have written you a shorter letter,” Mark Twain often is quoted as saying, though the actual source is up for grabs. (It’s been attributed to at least a dozen other writers.) Regardless, the point stands: Concision and self-editing are valuable commodities, more so perhaps in pop music than in any other endeavor. Yet while the first installment of his sprawling, two-part third album was extremely disappointing—The 20/20 Experience—1 of 2 qualified for one of my turkey shoots earlier this yearpart deux is even worse, with fewer energizing moments (“Take Back the Night” is a decent Michael Jackson turn) scattered among the overly long, lugubrious, ennui-drenched, and purposely ornate missteps. That is to say, the lows are lower, too, from the Queen-like choruses in “Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want)” to the orchestrated “Amnesia,” which at least pegs the condition of those of us trying to remember any of the scarce melodies here.

    Rating on the four-star scale: 1 star.

    MGMT, MGMT (Columbia)

    Though it made quite the splash in 2007-2008, spawning a handful of hits and quickly marking the band that Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden formed at Wesleyan University as a staple on the festival circuit, Oracular Spectacular left me cold with its mix of dance-floor grooves and psychedelic tomfoolery. Congratulations (2010) was the thumb-your-nose backlash-to-success record, heavier on the tomfoolery and far lighter on the catchy hits, while the self-titled third album is the one nobody cares about. Yet, confounding expectations, it’s the one I like most. Working again with Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann, the sonic pranksters seem to have stopped making noise for anyone but themselves, gleefully reveling in twirling the knobs and working the pitch-shift wheels on their analog synthesizers, dialing up the effects until the needles are in the red, and letting the drum machines run rampant with runaway grooves that are relentless even if they aren’t always comprehensible. Meanwhile, the ghostly vocals echo early Pink Floyd and subsequent solo Syd Barrett—sort of what “Bike” might have sounded like if the madcap had been produced by the Aphex Twin.

    Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.

    Ty Segall, Sleeper (Drag City)

    And speaking of Syd Barrett, we’ve heard Orange County’s prolific, hyper-energetic, and indefatigable garage-rock noisemaker Ty Segall in his quiet, introspective, wiggy bard mode before, but never so movingly or melodically. Dealing with the death of his adopted father, the nadir of a period of family strife he calls “a weird, intense time,” the singer and songwriter found catharsis where he always has: in the studio. Whether he just had more emotion to purge this time around, or he simply gets better and better every time he goes before the microphones, Sleeper ranks near the top of his rich and lengthy discography.

    Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis or join me on Facebook.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/26/2013

September 26th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Arctic Monkeys Show That They Wanna Be Ours

    The Riviera Theater saw a full house on Monday evening; edges of the venue were packed to the brim with attendees looking to catch a glimpse of Arctic Monkeys. The evening brought about two hours of unabashed, daring rock n’ roll that surely kept everyone on their toes; literally, as everyone in the venue was up standing, swaying and dancing to the music.

    Twin Peaks opened the show; though not necessarily my cup of tea, their fuzzy garage rock style kept everyone’s attention. Lead singer Cadien commanded the stage with energy and unapologetic sass. They played material off of their first full-length album released this year, Sunken, and while keeping the energy high throughout the duration of the set, proved that they are going to be a force to watch in the next few years. Emphasizing their youth, they brought energy to the stage with their carefree, laidback dynamics throughout their set.

    The crowd became even more packed prior to Arctic Monkeys start time, with anticipation filling the air. All of a sudden, smoke rose out from the sides of the stage, and a purple light intermingling with quite a few strobe lights started their slightly dramatic entrance. However, it wasn’t too showy. It built up just the right amount of excitement for a group that has been around for quite some time. Their recorded material was first released in 2005, and never once have they wavered from their signature sound: dynamic vocals juxtaposed against a backdrop of rhythmic, steady rock, sometimes dark, sometimes a bit more poppy sounding, however always reflecting the image the group wants to maintain.

    The 0114 on Matt Elders drums showed their allegiance to their home, Sheffield. It’s clear that as they’ve matured as a group and taken their sound in many different directions, they’ve never lost sight of their roots, not only in their personal lives, but in their sound, as well. The set weaved through newer and older material, presenting loyal listeners with a nice blend of the Monkeys’ catalogue. Opening with “Do I Wanna Know” the group commanded the attention of audience members from the very start. They were easily able to move back and forth between more peppy and upbeat material, such as “Dancing Shoes”, and transition easily into darker material, such as “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” immediately following, without skipping one beat.

    They presented listeners with many tracks off of their recently released full-length album, AM, such as “Arabella”, “No. 1 Party Anthem”, and “Knee Socks”, but didn’t ignore crowd favorites such as “Fluorescent Adolescent” or “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor.” Maintaining their roots and acknowledging what hooked their listeners in the first place kept the crowd happy and satisfied with their setlist. Creating an acoustic pocket within their set, one of the most notable moments during the concert was when lead singer Alex Turner’s crystal clear voice rang out for a completely acoustic version of “Cornerstone”, a more intimate moment for the crowd to delight in as compared to their more bold sound choices.

    At earlier Arctic Monkeys shows, Turner has always been more shy, and amazed by his level of fame. As he has grown within the group, he now emerges with extreme confidence, addressing the crowd as if we’re all old friends, dancing around the stage, and knowing how much fame he has acquired. Returning for an encore with a big grin and a wave to the crowd, the Monkeys finished off their set with “One For The Road”, “Do Me A Favour”, and “R U Mine?” I can confidently say that Arctic Monkeys showed that they want to remain a part of our lives, as they continue to create rock music that shakes it up and will always grow.

  • Travis Standing Tall

    travis1.jpgTravis 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.

  • Disappears Mark New ‘Era’ With Stellar Record Release Show
    With capable support from locals Outside World and Brooklyn’s moody quartet Weekend, Chicago’s Disappears tore through a set of their most experimental material to date last weekend at the gill-packed Empty Bottle. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/19/2013

September 19th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/12/2013

September 12th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Review/Photos: CHVRCHES with XXYYXX @ Cabaret Metro 09/10/13

    Gapers CHURHCES top.jpg

    Like a sudden meteor shower in a starless quiet sky, CHVRCHES seemed to emerge out of nowhere. The Scottish electro-pop three piece is almost relentlessly fun and catchy but there are plenty of bands out there boasting such a quality that aren’t selling out much smaller venues. Their sudden popularity and ability to sell out The Metro on a Wednesday night after only a couple of EPs to their name (their first full length entitled The Bones of What You Believe will be released later this month) piqued this reviewer’s/photographer’s interest.

    Gapers Churches.jpg

    One item of variability amongst bands playing live is their stage banter and, interestingly enough, word had gotten around that this trio had some worthy and amusing things to say, especially lead singer Lauren Mayberry herself. However, most of the time, perhaps because the show was being filmed, the band stayed pretty focused on playing their songs, which was a little unfortunate in that it was difficult to gain a sense of the band’s personality.(Though Mayberry did express her,happiness to be back playing shows in Chicago.)

    Ga Ch 6.jpg

    Gapers churches 5.jpg

    Another aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked is the amount of energy a young band like this seems to possess live when they are tightly grasping greatness and on the verge of a possibly epic career. The songs definitely sounded more solid live than on album with a nice pounding beat and the visuals of lights and an upside down lit up V did add some stage presence. It felt more heavy hitting live than the whimsy thisw reviewer was expecting. The double synths may have helped a bit too with this aspect. At times, this delivered just enough to heighten the appeal but often there was just too much style and not enough substance.

    Gapers ch 3.jpg

    Gapers ch keys.jpg

    gapers ch keys 2.jpg

    Overall, the real downfall of the evening was that though CHVRCHES is a fun and already accomplished sounding band live, they failed to live up to the excessive hype generated over them. Unlike Savages, whose live presence veers more towards the edgy and truly profound, the success of CHVRCHES seems more based in the fact that the band’s sound is just very accessible. They aren’t doing anything all that creative with their music at this point but it seems they don’t even need to in order to please more mainstream audiences everywhere.

    CHVRCHES Setlist:

    gapers setlist.jpg

    gapers xxyyxx2.jpg

    gapers xx yy xx.jpg

    This reviewer would also be remiss if she didn’t mention the opener, producer/dj Marcel Everett who plays under the moniker XXYYXX. It’s impressive, to say the least, that Everett is only 17 but mainly because he is able to show strong creativity in the way he blends beats and samples quite effortlessly. Everett may be a laptop user and a knob twister but he’s also a great dancer and it was exhilarating to watch him move on stage, his form often silhouetted by hazy backlighting. The facial expressions one could make out suggested an intense Joy from his musical creations. Everett’s set showed all kinds of influences from drum and bass to techno to a more avant-garde “modern art” noise piece he said he created with another fan the night previously, which was easily one of the best tracks of the set.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Cute Puppy Howl
    All together now: Awwwww! [ more › ]
  • Linksomania: Clive Tanaka vs. Nicki Minaj

    I rarely laugh out loud while reading The Chicago Tribune, but I found myself doing exactly that while scanning the news story this morning about “reclusive,” cassette-loving Chicago artist Clive Tanaka suing pop star Nicki Minaj for ripping off his 2011 track “Neu Chicago” with her massive 2012 dance-pop hit “Starships.”

     “Reclusive” is one way to put it; “pseudononymous” is another. Tananka’s 2011 set of thoroughly modern spaceage bachelor pad music Jet Set Siempre No. 1 remains one of my all-time favorite Buried Treasures unearthed for Sound Opinions, and I listed it among the best records of that year in this space. I still have no clue about who this artist really is; Sound Ops producers Jason and Robin do, but they ain’t telling.

    In any event, the Trib’s Jason Meisner informs us that “Tanaka, in a [copyright infringement] lawsuit filed under the name of his company [Tanaka Light Industries, USA], is accusing the Trinidad-born Minaj of stealing from his 2011 song…,” though the mystery man himself was unavailable for comment, the only personal info included in the lawsuit is the year of his birth (1976) and the fact that he’s a U.S. citizen, and his attorney claims he is “‘working on a new album and screenplay,’ possibly in South America.”

    Whee! The best part of it all: The Trib re-posts the SoundCloud comparison of the two tunes on its website. (Tanaka originally posted it himself more than a year ago.)

    These sorts of lawsuits are a dime a dozen in the music world, but there’s no denying that it’s particularly difficult to tell these two songs apart, or that Tanaka got there first. Here’s hoping Clive takes Nicki to the cleaners.

    * * *

     Also pretty darn amusing is this video clip, shared with me by reader and local musician Terry Keating, of a super-Bonham fan with his own YouTube channel under the name Bonzoleum devoted to in-depth examinations of the rhythms of Led Zeppelin’s drum god pretty. He pretty much loses it because he’s in the presence of an actual Ludwig snare drum that Bonzo once owned… along with a fez and a (possibly never washed) T-shirt.

    I realize I am one of only a dozen or so people, drummers all, who will appreciate this clip. But appreciate it I certainly did.

    * * *

    Shifting from silliness to worthy causes, my good pal Anders Lindall asked me to help spread the word about an event at the Hideout on Monday (Sept. 16) bringing some of the coolest people in the music and food communities together to support the long-overdue legislation in Illinois granting gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry when it comes up for the next round of a stupidly difficult fight in late October or early November.

    “Food and Friends Fundraiser for Freedom” will feature guest DJs (including Steve Albini and Rob Miller of Bloodshot Records), a bevy of baked goods from the likes of Bittersweet Pastry and Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, a silent auction of various tasty treats and an electric guitar (purchased at the Guitar Center on Halsted, which recently became the first in the country to unionize—who knew???) signed by the coolest artists to perform at last weekend’s Hideout Block Party, and much more.

    The party starts at 7 p.m., and more info and tickets ($10 to $50) can be had here.

    * * *

    Good cause number two: Sydney-by-way-of-Chicago singer and songwriter Via Tania has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the money to finish the album that she started a while back with the Tomorrow Music Orchestra before the birth of her child and her move down under.

    The video appeal on the site is as charming as these sorts of things come, but I also appreciate the frankness of the written pitch:

    SO WHY SHOULD I DONATE? I’M BROKE!

    I get it, I am, too! But if you can’t donate, perhaps you could help spread the word about the project? Someone you know who isn’t broke might just want to help out and then it would be like you donated it yourself . . . right?

    P.S. A percentage of the proceeds after the goal is reached will be donated to the MUGSU.org.au, a Bangledesh textile factory collapse charity.

    * * *

    Finally, on a much more somber note and in recognition of our generation’s “day that will live in infamy,” here is the episode of Sound Opinions that aired live on Sept. 18, 2001, featuring some unbelievably emotional performances by Wilco of songs from the then-still-to-be-released Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which suddenly took on new worlds of meaning a week after 9/11.

    As the show’s founding producer Matt Spiegel just emailed me, “I remember standing in studio B with Jason [Saldanha], looking through the glass as [Jeff] Tweedy played the solo in ‘I’m the Man Who Loves You,’ and something about the ferocity of the guitar made me feel a lot better.”

    That was true for all of us, Matt, and it still is. Listen again or anew for yourself on SoundCloud.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis or join me on Facebook.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/05/2013

September 5th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/29/2013

August 29th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/22/2013

August 22nd, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Cool Chicago Sounds: Cold Country

    “As I know that you are always on the lookout for good, undiscovered psych/psych-inspired music, check out Cold Country’s new EP Missing the Muse,” local publicist August Forte recently emailed. Indeed I am and indeed I did, and the formerly one-man band also known as Phoenix-to-Chicago transplant Sean McConnell quickly made me a fan.

    Recording under the name Cold Country—inspired by a comment his father made when informed that he was moving to Chicago from his native Arizona, according to an interview with Windy City Rock—McConnell released two full albums, Libra and To Providence, and the five-song Missing the Muse EP in, respectively, April, May, and June earlier this year. Unlike a lot of prolific home-recording auteurs, both the songs and the sounds are consistently strong, though Missing the Muse is the most impressive of these offerings, all of which are streaming for free or available for download at BandCamp.

    The most recent disc benefits from an expansive ork-pop sound and the fact that it’s McConnell’s first recording with a full group, turning the intimate, late-night, Nick Drake folk-rock of his one-man-band releases into something much more lush and grand. Especially valuable is the addition of keyboardist Anna Holmquist, who does a gorgeous lead vocal turn on “Carried Away with the Wind” and adds fetching harmonies on other winners such as “Her Light” and the title track.

    “What did I find?/Something divine/Something that’s yours/Nothing was mine,” McConnell sings on the latter. “But have I got nothing left to lose/Now that I am missing the muse?”

    I don’t know if the singer and songwriter is pondering romantic loss in those lines. But as far as creativity goes, a muse is the last thing he needs to worry about.

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis or join me on Facebook.

  • Jay Z and Beyonce Aren’t Buying The New Regal Theater
    The Internet nearly had a meltdown Wednesday morning with unsubstantiated reports music power couple Jay Z and Beyonce purchased the shuttered New Regal Theater on the city’s South side. [ more › ]
  • Is The ‘Kick-Ass’ Film Franchise On The Road To Cult Classic Status?
    When a movie flops at the box office it can only hope to reach cult classic status, but what makes a movie a cult classic is so difficult to define. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/15/2013

August 15th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Prof. Jughead schools us on some of rock’s best albums

    As the co-founder and longtime guitarist in Screeching Weasel (1986-2004), those hugely influential pop-punk progenitors from the Chicago suburbs, John “Jughead” Pierson played a big role on at least two of what I’d consider all-time desert-island classic records: Boogadaboogadaboogada! (1988) and My Brain Hurts (1991).

    But above and beyond that claim to fame, and in addition to the many other hats he’s worn (driving force in the acoustic band Even in Blackouts; playwright; novelist; key member of the Neo-Futurists theater troupe), Pierson always has been a fan—someone who discovered punk rock via Alex Cox’s 1984 film Repo Man, and who’s always been able to articulate exactly what he loves about the bounty of great music that he’s been celebrating ever since.

    From this devotion was born Jughead’s Basement, a monthly podcast of in-depth, track-by-track examinations of timeless albums via contributions from the host and other critics/fans as well as interviews with the musicians themselves. Among the discs tackled so far: The Repo Man Soundtrack and My Brain Hurts (no surprises there) as well as Double Nickels on the Dime by the Minutemen, Energy by Operation Ivy, Rain Dogs by Tom Waits, The Good Earth by the Feelies, and Throb Throb by Naked Raygun.

    In the interest of disclosure, I should note that Pierson is an old friend—though I don’t think he’s ever totally forgiven me for shorting his role in the band when I wrote about Screeching Weasel for SPIN in 2001—and I contributed to the last two episodes on that list (masterpieces both!). But I’ve listened to every episode he’s taped, and I for one am hooked.

    “I thought of the idea when my basement flooded and I lost a couple hundred of my vinyl records,” Pierson says of the birth of this latest labor of love. “While I was sifting through them I realized all the music that had influenced me directly. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with fans of my own band. Then I wanted other writers that I respect to write about these bands too, plus I wanted to get the bands themselves involved.

    “It was important to me to interview every member of the band separately, instead of just the figurehead of the band, to get a more complete picture of the bands story revolving around a particular record,” Pierson adds (and that’s a particularly revealing comment, given the way his old band mate Ben Weasel always hogged the spotlight). “What I love about it is that that feeling I used to get walking on a stage for theater or for a music concert of butterflies in the stomach is magnified even more talking to individuals who were my heroes, whether I knew them socially or not.

    “That nervous feeling is like a drug that keeps you on your toes and hyper-aware. It also is great on the other side to just basically get to know these musicians and ask them questions that only another musician might ask.”

    If you already love any of the albums listed above, you’ll love the way Jughead’s Basement brings them to life anew. And if you don’t know them, while, then you really need to hear these podcasts!

    And while I’m plugging podcasts, another must-hear is Nerdette, “a safe space for nerding out about all the things you're watching, reading, listening to, and encountering” co-hosted by my editor at WBEZ, Tricia Bobeda, and our former WBEZ colleague Greta Johnsen, now based in Ashville, North Carolina.

    One week, these proudly self-professed nerds are chatting Breaking Bad or Dr. Who, the next they’re pondering why “feminism isn’t annoying” or Star Trek, always tapping into fascinating guests who share passions you might not expect them to have. (More disclosure: I just taped an episode for this, too, diving deep into my love of sculpting and painting military miniatures, coming soon to a download near you.)

    Follow me on Twitter @JimDeRogatis or join me on Facebook.

  • Music Video Of The Day: Outkast ‘Miss Jackson’
    How could we not play this with today’s Jackson verdicts the news of the day? [ more › ]
  • Tetherball, Interactive Sculptures Coming To Union Station This Month
    The Metropolitan Planning Council announced the winners of their “Activate Union Station” contest Tuesday and two teams won $5,000 each for their entries, which will be on display at the station Aug. 24 – Sept. 2. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/08/2013

August 8th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/01/2013

August 1st, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/25/2013

July 25th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/18/2013

July 18th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • The Kelly Conversations: Kelly fans Jenny Benevento and Jake Austen

    How does the true fan of R. Kelly’s music balance the pleasure that music provides with the unpleasant knowledge of the acts he’s been accused of? Should the private actions of an artist ever impact the appreciation of the art? And what is the responsibility of the fan who supports an artist whose misdeeds are hurting others?

    Jenny Benevento is a librarian, a blogger, a cultural commentator, and co-host of the pop-culture podcast “Jenny & Paul Sell Out.” Last October, she participated in an evening entitled “R. Kelly 101: Trapped in the Closet—What, How, Why?” sponsored by Homeroom at the Hungry Brain.

    Jake Austen, who also sat on that panel, went to high school with Kelly at Kenwood Academy. He is the publisher of Roctober, the force behind the public access television show Chic-A-Go-Go, the singer in the Goblins, and the author of several books, including Flying Saucers Rock ’n’ Roll: Conversations with Unjustly Obscure Rock ’n’ Soul Eccentrics (Refiguring American Music) (Duke University Press) and Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop (W.W. Norton).

    Here are some of the highlights of the interview with Austen and Benevento:

    (Austen references the Pitchfork Music Festival’s earlier booking of Odd Future several times during the chat; here is the long interview I did with Pitchfork’s top executives about that in 2011.)

    Austen: The thing about him is that he’s shameless and he uses it to his advantage. A lot of his writing is about shamelessness, a lot of his excess is about shamelessness, and he doesn’t have any remorse

    Benevento: Is the intentionality of this 'this is a totally ironic act to bring to Pitchfork'? I think it’s a mix. I think that’s why he’s so successful. His music is so great, but hipsters can ironically enjoy these hilarious lyrical themes. The lyrical themes are alien to everyone’s life; no one can really identify with R. Kelly’s lyrics.

    Austen: It seems like R. Kelly’s sex songs are just about him; they’re not about a partner. They all take place in his mind. There’s no other characters in these songs, really… It’s not real, and I absolutely understand why it’s hard to separate this fantasy thing from the actual sex that he’s had, but it’s hard to hear those songs and thing about human beings.

    Austen: Of course you are right to ask them [Pitchfork] those questions, but the reason they’re right not to answer them is they don’t want R. Kelly to not do the show… It seems like Pitchfork the website would want to talk about this; that’s a good place to talk about it. But this festival thing is a separate thing in a way. Ideally, you are right. This is something that should be talked about. But you understand why they’re not going to. When a journalist is also a promoter, it puts them in a bad position.

    Benevento: I think tourism is a great term for it. It’s like, “Oh, I’m just watching this freak show….” Just because I paid money and am totally supporting this financially it doesn’t mean that I really support this….

    Benevento: I do think that bro, macho culture is there in indie rock just as much as it’s there in every other kind of aspect of rock n’ roll. It’s just maybe a little bit more underground. It’s not separate water fountains now, it’s just this casual racism. In the same way, I think there’s a lot of casual sexism, where it’s like, 'Come on, it’s just fun to watch R. Kelly, why do you have to bring me down with this rape idea? It doesn’t matter ’cause it’s fun and it’s really good music.'

    Ahead of R. Kelly headlining Pitchfork Music Festival, WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis conducts a series of conversations with smart, passionate cultural critics. Videos have been edited for length and clarity.

  • In Rotation: Pop critic Jonathan Bogart on transgender Angolan pop star Titica

    Current musical obsessions of the Reader’s Tal Rosenberg, “free-floating pop critic” Jonathan Bogart, and writer Britt Julious.
    by Tal Rosenberg
    Tal Rosenberg, Reader digital content editor Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul Robert Christgau called this 1969 soul masterpiece “a baroque, luscious production job over the non-singing of one half of Sam & Dave’s production-songwriting team,” then gave it a “C” grade.…

    [ Read more ] [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
  • Music Video Of The Day: Hole ‘Celebrity Skin’
    Today’s music video is the 1998 classic “Celebrity Skin” by Hole because Courtney Love performs Thursday at the House of Blues. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/11/2013

July 11th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • The Kelly Conversations: Annmarie Van Altena, sociologist and rape victims’ advocate

    How does the prevalence of rape myths affect society and our appreciation of art? Why is statutory rape—sex with a partner who is not of the age of consent—viewed differently than other kinds of sexual assault? And what does it say when society champions the work of an artist whose personal deeds most would condemn when confronted with them?

    Annmarie van Altena is a sociologist who teaches at Loyola University Chicago and specializes in issues of gender, work, media, consumption, and subcultures. A former riot grrrl, she also volunteers with Rape Victim Advocates.

    Here are some of the highlights of van Altena’s interview:

    "That he was acquitted we seem to believe means that he was innocent… Only three percent of rapes actually result in a prison sentence."

    "It’s a responsibility of us as a society to know the truth, and if people are being victimized, it’s up to us to raise that awareness."

    "Music is an extension of a lot of our core beliefs, really, and it reflects our culture and how we think… Music is never just music."

    "As far as the artist goes, everybody is human. Everybody has their flaws. But if their flaws include horrible crimes, we have to think about that."

    "If you like something, often you don’t want to know bad things about it. You want to overlook the problems—that what you like could be problematic—and you want to not think about it. But if we’re responsible and we want to be a responsible member of society, we need to. If you like the music, you like the music, right? Does that mean that you have to support him? I don’t think so. I think as a responsible person you need to get informed about what’s going on and act according to your own morals and values. And examine how much of the way you’re judging this is about things like accepting things like rape myths. How much do you really know about what’s going on, and how much of the way you’re judging the situation is based on misinformation about what rape is?"

    Ahead of R. Kelly headlining Pitchfork Music Festival, WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis conducts a series of conversations with smart, passionate cultural critics. Videos have been edited for length and clarity.

  • The Kelly Conversations: Gen Y music critics Simon Vozick-Levinson and David Greenwald

    Does R. Kelly’s music mean something different to younger music critics and self-proclaimed “pop omnivores?” How do they balance discussion of his art and his actions? And why do they think their peers in the Pitchfork audience have embraced this musician?

    Simon Vozick-Levinson is an associate editor at Rolling Stone whose work also has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and The Boston Phoenix. In March, he participated in a panel discussion at South by Southwest on the state of pop fandom entitled “Guiltless Pleasures: Imagining a Post-Snob World.”

    David Greenwald led that panel. He is a contributing editor for Billboard.com who also has been published in The Atlantic, GQ, and The Los Angeles Times, and he is the founder of the new music magazine UNCOOL.

    Here are some of the highlights of the interview with Greenwald and Vozick-Levinson:

    (Both reference the Pitchfork Music Festival’s earlier booking of Odd Future during the interview; here is a link to the long interview I did with Pitchfork’s top executives about that in 2011.)

    Greenwald: [On Kelly playing Pitchfork] I think there’s a lot going on where someone like R. Kelly, who’s been in the business long enough, can look and see this is the trend, this is where the new audiences are, and go after that.

    Vozick-Levinson: I think most young people are definitely aware of the controversy on some level. There’s the [Dave] Chappelle skit… But I think you’re right that for a lot of people it’s just sort of a joke or a punch line and a lot of young people aren’t aware of the depth of the story.

    Vozick-Levinson: The things that R. Kelly has been accused of are pretty horrific. There’s this added layer of complexity where the allegations themselves are incredibly disturbing and something that should really give any fan pause. At the same time, he did stand trial and was acquitted. That doesn’t excuse it or mean that those things didn’t happen necessarily, but it makes it a more complicated question. But sure, it should definitely matter. It’s obviously important to separate the work from the artist who creates it, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be considering both things. They’re both important things.

    Greenwald: You can’t be super-informed on every single thing you support. But certainly whenever you open your wallet and spend money on something you are making a political choice on some level. And if you’re choosing to support the music of R. Kelly, you should be aware that this is [his] history, these are the actions he’s accused of, and that is true for any artist.

    Greenwald: One thing we saw at Pitchfork last year [in 2011] with the protest against Odd Future being booked—and Odd Future is a group who had not actually gone out and done any of these things, they were just rapping about them—but I think having those protestors there sparks a conversation and Pitchfork had to respond to it, and then it just became something that people were aware of. One thing that can be done is creating the conversation and having it humming through Twitter and Tumblr and all of these outlets and having people be aware that these are the stakes of having this happen.

    Vozick-Levinson: I think this is an example where knowledge of the artist’s actual life can give us a sort of deeper and more nuanced understanding of the work. It’s easy to listen to something like “Sex in the Kitchen” and think it’s a cartoon, but it’s not, there’s actually a darker subtext to it, and I think it’s worth exploring that. And I think it actually makes the work more interesting, not less.

    Ahead of R. Kelly headlining Pitchfork Music Festival, WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis conducts a series of conversations with smart, passionate cultural critics. Videos have been edited for length and clarity.

  • The Kelly Conversations: Kelly fans Jenny Benevento and Jake Austen

    How does the true fan of R. Kelly’s music balance the pleasure that music provides with the unpleasant knowledge of the acts he’s been accused of? Should the private actions of an artist ever impact the appreciation of the art? And what is the responsibility of the fan who supports an artist whose misdeeds are hurting others?

    Jenny Benevento is a librarian, a blogger, a cultural commentator, and co-host of the pop-culture podcast “Jenny & Paul Sell Out.” Last October, she participated in an evening entitled “R. Kelly 101: Trapped in the Closet—What, How, Why?” sponsored by Homeroom at the Hungry Brain.

    Jake Austen, who also sat on that panel, went to high school with Kelly at Kenwood Academy. He is the publisher of Roctober, the force behind the public access television show Chic-A-Go-Go, the singer in the Goblins, and the author of several books, including Flying Saucers Rock ’n’ Roll: Conversations with Unjustly Obscure Rock ’n’ Soul Eccentrics (Refiguring American Music) (Duke University Press) and Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop (W.W. Norton).

    Here are some of the highlights of the interview with Austen and Benevento:

    (Austen references the Pitchfork Music Festival’s earlier booking of Odd Future several times during the chat; here is the long interview I did with Pitchfork’s top executives about that in 2011.)

    Austen: The thing about him is that he’s shameless and he uses it to his advantage. A lot of his writing is about shamelessness, a lot of his excess is about shamelessness, and he doesn’t have any remorse

    Benevento: Is the intentionality of this 'this is a totally ironic act to bring to Pitchfork'? I think it’s a mix. I think that’s why he’s so successful. His music is so great, but hipsters can ironically enjoy these hilarious lyrical themes. The lyrical themes are alien to everyone’s life; no one can really identify with R. Kelly’s lyrics.

    Austen: It seems like R. Kelly’s sex songs are just about him; they’re not about a partner. They all take place in his mind. There’s no other characters in these songs, really… It’s not real, and I absolutely understand why it’s hard to separate this fantasy thing from the actual sex that he’s had, but it’s hard to hear those songs and thing about human beings.

    Austen: Of course you are right to ask them [Pitchfork] those questions, but the reason they’re right not to answer them is they don’t want R. Kelly to not do the show… It seems like Pitchfork the website would want to talk about this; that’s a good place to talk about it. But this festival thing is a separate thing in a way. Ideally, you are right. This is something that should be talked about. But you understand why they’re not going to. When a journalist is also a promoter, it puts them in a bad position.

    Benevento: I think tourism is a great term for it. It’s like, “Oh, I’m just watching this freak show….” Just because I paid money and am totally supporting this financially it doesn’t mean that I really support this….

    Benevento: I do think that bro, macho culture is there in indie rock just as much as it’s there in every other kind of aspect of rock n’ roll. It’s just maybe a little bit more underground. It’s not separate water fountains now, it’s just this casual racism. In the same way, I think there’s a lot of casual sexism, where it’s like, 'Come on, it’s just fun to watch R. Kelly, why do you have to bring me down with this rape idea? It doesn’t matter ’cause it’s fun and it’s really good music.'

    Ahead of R. Kelly headlining Pitchfork Music Festival, WBEZ’s Jim DeRogatis conducts a series of conversations with smart, passionate cultural critics. Videos have been edited for length and clarity.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/04/2013

July 4th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Congress Theater loses Marilyn Manson; Portage loses its projector

     

    The troubled Congress Theater in Logan Square has lost another high-profile booking—the Marilyn Manson concert that was set to take place on Friday—because of problems conforming to city safety codes.

    Meanwhile, owner Erineo “Eddie” Carranza’s second venue, the Portage Theater at Six Corners, now is without film projection equipment.

    DNAinfo first reported yesterday that the show by aging shock-rocker Manson was in limbo because of a city order shuttering the venue for numerous code violations. The concert has since been moved to the Riviera Theater in Uptown.

    DNAinfo also had the scoop on the Northwest Chicago Film Society leaving the Portage and finding a new home at the Patio Theater at Austin and Irving. The Patio had been set to close this summer because of the lack of air-conditioning equipment, but the society’s diehard fans of classic movies are willing to sweat it out so the shows can go on.

    Noted reporter Heather Cherone: “Even if Carranza reopened the Portage Theater immediately, it would be ‘literally impossible’ to show movies there because there is no longer a projector, speakers or organ at the Portage, [Northwest Chicago Film Society executive director Rebecca] Hall said. The theater’s previous operators, who owned the equipment, took it all with them when the theater was closed, Hall added.”

    The fate of the Congress and the Portage both are further clouded by the city’s revocation of a liquor license at the Congress, which Carranza is appealing. The law prohibits Carranza from getting a new license at the Portage while his license is revoked at his other venue.

    Carranza’s ability to host musical events at both theaters will be seriously hampered if he cannot sell alcohol, and rumors continue to swirl in the local music industry that he is considering selling either or both venues.

    One recent tip holds that SFX Entertainment, the quickly growing national electronic dance music promoter, has been eying the Congress.

    Questioned about SFX’s interest via email, Carranza wrote, “Thanks to your extensive press coverage you have attracted attention of many music and non-music impresarios interested in our music business. A real estate agent couldn’t get me this many potential prospects. We have many offers but have not made any decisions on Congress’s future at this time.”

    Earlier reports about Carranza, the Congress and the Portage theaters:

    May 26: The Portage Theater didn’t have to close, but it did

    May 24: Congress Theater liquor license revoked

    May 1: Is the Congress Theater safe or not?

     

  • Superman Vs. Ethan Hawke
    Let’s talk about summer blockbusters; what is and what could be. [ more › ]
  • Gossip Wolf: The Empty Bottle seals the deal on Pilsen’s Thalia Hall

    The Empty Bottle seals the deal on Pilsen’s Thalia Hall, Weasel Walter returns with Cellular Chaos, and more.
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Last week Empty Bottle owner Bruce Finkelman closed a deal to buy Thalia Hall, a four-story landmark building near the 18th Street Pink Line stop in Pilsen. Finkelman says all six of Thalia Hall’s storefronts will be commercial spaces, and the corner storefront will become a tavern called Dusek’s (named after John Dusek, who founded Thalia Hall in 1892); its basement will be a separate bar, the Punch House, specializing in punch cocktails.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/27/2013

June 27th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • The long game of soul singer Doug Shorts

    Doug Shorts has been a doorman, a karate instructor, even an extra in an Adam Sandler movie—and now he might finally make it as a soul singer.
    by Leor Galil
    Doug Shorts has been trying to get his foot in the door of the music industry since the late 60s, when he was a student at Wells High School near Ashland and Augusta. But it wasn’t until about five years ago, when he working as a doorman on Lake Shore Drive, that he met the man who’d finally release some of his songs on a proper label.…

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  • Letting It Sway with Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin @ Schubas, 6/24

    When glancing at this group’s name, one might not presume that a band named after Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first president, would materialize into a fresh indie rock band full of summery rhythms and a light sound. However, this unique flair works for the group Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. They’re quirky, and it works in their favor to further their identity, beloved by a strong following. Fans packed Schubas to the brim on Monday evening, amounting to a surprisingly packed crowd despite the time slot competition of the final game in the Stanley Cup series (YEAH, HAWKS!!! …Okay, I’m done for now).

    Sunjacket opened for the group, local Chicago band without any album material released thus far. You can take a listen to their Bandcamp page for a feel for their dynamic sound. A dark guitar intro would lead into a frenetic, energized guitar jam session amongst all members of the group, as seen in song “Two Parades.” Haunting at points, the song bends and shifts its rhythmic patterns, holding your attention all the while. They also played a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon,” a good choice to fit the mood of the crowd as they delved into their intriguing sound, many new fans listening for the first time.

    While Sunjacket was a new, unfamiliar sound for listeners in the room, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin’s set felt like returning home from a long road trip, unfamiliar highways convening into that familiar road you’ve taken a thousand times over, recognizing landmark after landmark as your very own. The way they converse with the crowd reminded me of old friends reuniting after brief time spent apart, even though the last time they played in Chicago was 2012. From Springfield, Missouri, the small town charm absolutely shines through for the group, friendly and jovial as if they’ve known each audience member personally for a long time. Their recorded material was initially recorded in their homes and dorm rooms, but the garage rock quality works for them and adds to their allure, creating their immense popularity over time.

    “But you just try to stop me now from moving on with an Oregon girl,” lead singer Philip Dickey wailed into the mic, rocking some neon shades inscribed with the band’s name, drumming furiously as he sang. The set was nostalgic, as it blended singalong tunes from their earlier material, Broom, released in 2005, Pershing, a 2008 release, Let It Sway from 2010, and Tape Club, a compilation of demos and re-issues released in 2011.

    They band played a handful of new hits as well off of their upcoming record, to be released this fall through their record label, Polyvinyl. As Dickey mentioned to the crowd, pre-ordering it online allows for you to also receive a pair of “sick shades” akin to those he was sporting. They continued their set by segueing into “Dead Right,” which featured Dickey jumping feverishly around the stage (and falling off for a brief moment), as the group gave the song all they’ve got.

    “Does anyone have any questions? I hope not,” Dickey laughed as he joked with the crowd, their easygoing, friendly demeanor creating a strong rapport with listeners as if we are all interconnected old friends. They invited Brook Linder, producer of their music videos, up on stage to join them for a remix of “Back in the Saddle,” and several other tunes, and also alluded to original member John Robert Cardwell’s departure from the group.

    “There is no modern mystery, we’re making up our history,” the group crooned out during “Modern Mystery.” Their songs keep subjects light, but also highlight struggles of everyday life and become poignant when you least expect it. An encore for the crowd ended the show with “Think I Wanna Die,” a song about bitter, unrequited love with such a light melody and rhythm that you would think it was about a subject a bit more whimsical. But that’s what works for them, and what makes their sound so irreplaceable; a poppy melody can stand against a melancholy subject, or a slower, more solemn song can have extremely upbeat lyrical content. The merger of these two aspects creates Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin as a beloved indie pop band, who no doubt will continue to pen their legacy with their upcoming release.

  • Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival 2013

    The “arts” at this year’s Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival include music from Cave, the Cairo Gang, and William Cepeda.
    by Shannon Shreibak
    Occupying the street that shares its name from Kedzie to Diversey Avenue, the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival turns five this weekend with loads of pop-up art galleries and food vendors plus two stages of (mostly) local music. On Friday moombahton disciples Milo & Otis kick out the jams at 5 PM on the Community Stage (Milwaukee and Diversey), followed by Latin-ska band Los Vicios de Papa and Krautrockers Cave.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/20/2013

June 20th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/13/2013

June 13th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • A new box set gives experimental composer David Tudor his due

    A new box set recognizes experimental composer David Tudor’s pioneering work with electronics and indeterminacy.
    by Peter Margasak
    In August 1952, when John Cage premiered his landmark composition 4’33”, the guy who sat at the piano occasionally turning a page but never hitting any keys was David Tudor. An avant-garde pianist and experimental composer born in Philadelphia in 1926, Tudor is inextricably linked to Cage—he performed the premiere of just about every piano piece the older man wrote in the 50s and early 60s.…

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  • Taste of Randolph 2013

    Taste of Randolph 2013: Try a bit of the Joy Formidable with your Publican Quality Meats.
    by Luca Cimarusti
    Taste of Randolph Street celebrates the West Loop’s restaurant and arts scenes this weekend on Randolph from Peoria to Racine. As usual, some of the neighborhood’s favorite restaurants (including BellyQ, Wishbone, and Publican Quality Meats) will be selling food, but the best part of the three-day fest might be its three music stages—the West Stage, the East Stage, and the DJ Dance Stage.…

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  • Gossip Wolf: Cafe Mustache crowdfunds a bigger music room

    Cafe Mustache crowdfunds a bigger music room, Pelican record their fifth LP, and more
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Gossip Wolf is a big fan of Cafe Mustache in Logan Square—it’s a great spot for coffee, food, LPs, cassettes, and relaxing hangs. The cafe is also a music venue, and despite the low-key vibe of shows there, it can get mobbed—so it wants to expand into an adjacent storefront.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 06/06/2013

June 6th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Ribfest Chicago 2013

    Ribfest Chicago features 20 bands, including Bobby Bare Jr. and Mucca Pazza—plus 25 tons of pork.
    by Luca Cimarusti
    Ribfest returns to Lincoln Square for its 15th year this weekend, bringing a rib-eating contest with some of the nation’s highest-ranked competitive eaters, barbecue from 13 vendors (“best ribs” judges include Reader Key Ingredient columnist Julia Thiel), and two stages of live music. Between them the Bud Light Stage at Lincoln and Irving Park and the Reader Stage (sponsored by your pals here at the Reader) at Lincoln and Berteau host bands from 5 till 10 PM on Fri 6/7 and from noon till 10 PM on Sat 6/8 and Sun 6/9.…

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  • In Rotation: MCA curator Dieter Roelstraete on Constellation

    Current musical obsessions of MCA curator Dieter Roelstraete, painter Lisa Alvarado, and more
    by Peter Margasak
    Peter Margasak Reader music writer…

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  • The Reader’s guide to the 30th annual Chicago Blues Festival

    The Chicago Blues Festival features Bobby Rush, Irma Thomas, and more—plus its first-ever Millennium Park concert.
    by David Whiteis, Bill Dahl, Peter Margasak and Leor Galil
    The theme of this year’s Chicago Blues Festival is “Rollin’ Up the River: Celebrating the Blues With a Musical Journey Up the Mississippi.” The Mississippi River doesn’t come anywhere near Chicago, of course, but in its initial diaspora the blues spread from south to north, as though moving upstream—following a pattern similar to that of the Great Migration of African-Americans in the early and mid-20th century.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/30/2013

May 30th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Do-Division Street Fest: Disappears, Torche, Ariel Pink, the Gaslamp Killer, and more

    This year’s Do-Division Street Fest lineup includes Disappears, Torche, Ariel Pink, Jeff the Brotherhood, and the Gaslamp Killer.
    by Luca Cimarusti
    Back for its seventh year, the Do-­Division Street Fest occupies the avenue in question between Ashland and Leavitt (as well as a couple side streets) from Fri 5/31 till Sun 6/2. Live music happens on two stages, one at Damen and the other at Leavitt; the East Stage was programmed by the Empty Bottle Presents, and the West Stage was booked by House Call Entertainment (the folks who run the Beat Kitchen and Subterranean).…

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  • Why mixtapes don’t hit the charts

    Billboard and the RIAA are ignoring mixtapes, which just happen to be outside music-industry control.
    by Miles Raymer
    Late last year Billboard magazine revamped its genre-specific charts (Hot Country Songs, Rap Songs, Hot Rock Songs) by applying the same Internet-friendly methods for determining a song’s popularity that it had been using for its Hot 100 and On-Demand Songs charts since March: the data used in rankings was expanded to include digital streams or downloads alongside
    radio plays or record sales. It was a timely if not overdue move from the curators of the charts that set the industry standard for judging a record’s success—traditional metrics haven’t accurately reflected real-world music consumption for a while, and right now YouTube views are just as important as spins on terrestrial radio.…

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  • The Secret History of Chicago Music: Hayden Thompson

    Rockabilly pioneer Hayden Thompson quit the biz to drive a limo in the 70s, but now he’s back in action.
    by Plastic Crimewave

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/23/2013

May 23rd, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • HoZac digs deep for the 2013 Blackout

    The 2013 HoZac Blackout features Dwight Twilley, weirdo sci-fi postpunks Chrome, and lots more.
    by Luca Cimarusti
    Local label HoZac retired its Blackout festival with a memorable blowout in 2006, then resuscitated it in 2011; for its third year back, the notoriously rowdy, beer-soaked punk-and-garage party runs for four nights at the Empty Bottle, with a lovingly curated lineup of local and national acts that represents a huge range of generations. The fest kicks off Thu 5/16 with an art show featuring work by Goons, Greg Shirilla, Nick Ryle, and others, plus live music by Ohio underground-rock legends Mike Rep and Tommy Jay, local punky pop band Negative Scanner, and Minneapolis punks the Sleaze.…

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  • The return of Dance Mania Records

    Dance Mania Records helped birth ghetto house, juke, and footwork music—now it’s back to court the EDM crowd.
    by Leor Galil
    Ray Barney has a basement full of old dance records, on shelves that stretch from the floor to the ceiling, but it’s not his personal collection—it’s leftover inventory from Dance Mania, a Chicago label he ran from 1986 till 2001. Barney and Victor Parris Mitchell (a producer who put out several records on Dance Mania) are relaunching the label, in part because they’ve learned that while this back stock has been gathering dust, original Dance Mania releases have become highly sought after, especially in Europe.…

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  • In Rotation: Ned Hepburn of Death and Taxes on the awesomeness of the new Daft Punk album

    Current musical obsessions of RedEye columnist Ernest Wilkins, editor Ned Hepburn, and more
    by Miles Raymer
    Miles Raymer,
    Reader music writer
    Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City (XL) I liked most of the music on Vampire Weekend’s first two albums, but their posh aura of privilege was too off-­putting for me to self-identify as a fan.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/16/2013

May 16th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Summer Guide: Music festivals

    Summer Guide: Two dozen (mostly) sun-drenched music festivals

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  • Riot Fest 2013 Lineup Announced

    riotfest.jpg

    With much fanfare and long waits for many pleading fans on Facebook and Twitter, Riot Fest announced their 2013 lineup just now. The festival, held for the second year in Humboldt Park, is three days (September 13-15) of both new and old punk and hard rock favorites, with the addition this year of some notable hip-hop acts. The festival has added serious ammo this year with an impressive lineup that rivals many of the other major festivals coming through Chicago this summer. Some personal favorites just at a glance includes Blondie, Violent Femmes, Taking Back Sunday, Against Me!, Bad Brains, Stars, Dessa, Saul Williams, and many more. The festival is also going to be three full days in the park instead of two, and will include the same carnival theme as last year.

    Three day passes are now onsale for $69.98, and three day VIP passes (which include 15 drink tickets, not a bad deal at all) are $175. You can purchase tickets here.
    Check out the full list of bands after the jump:

    Fall Out Boy
    Blink-182
    Violent Femmes
    Motorhead
    Rancid
    Blondie
    Sublime with Rome
    AFI
    Public Enemy
    Brand New
    Flag
    Guided By Voices
    Rocket From The Crypt
    Bad Religion
    All Time Low
    Taking Back Sunday
    Pierce the Veil
    Atmosphere
    The Dismemberment Plan
    Dinosaur Jr.
    Best Coast
    DeVotchka
    The Broadways
    Screeching Weasel
    Pennywise
    The Lillingtons
    Bob Mould
    Against Me!
    GWAR
    Yellowcard
    The Lawrence Arms
    Say Anything
    X
    Bad Brains
    Quicksand
    The Selecter
    Mission of Burma
    Stars
    Toots and the Maytals
    Peter Hook (Joy Division Set)
    Bad Books
    The Devil Wears Prada
    Saves The Day
    Glassjaw
    Bayside
    Smoking Popes
    Reggie and the Full Effect
    Attack Attack!
    The Dear Hunter
    Maps and Atlases
    Surfer Blood
    Chuck Ragan
    Dessa
    Saul Williams
    Empires
    Mephiskapheles
    Kitten
    Peelander-Z
    Touché Amoré
    Masked Intruder
    Deal’s Gone Bad
    Twin Peaks
    Flatfoot 56
    White Mystery
    Environmental Encroachment
    Radkey

  • Review: Kurt Vile & the Violators Stomp Through Chicago on a Pretty Day

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    Photos by Sara Pieper

    There was no Bulls theme song playing over the loud speakers when Kurt Vile & the Violators took the stage at Lincoln Hall on Tuesday–but there might as well have been. Vile and his crew emerged from backstage looking very much like a team as they proceeded to stomp through songs from their new album, Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze, with fierce discipline, emotion, and an added heft. Hell, even some of band members looked a little bit like Joakim Noah.

    Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze reiterates many of the introspective themes already explored on Kurt Vile’s previous albums. On 2011’s Smoke Ring for My Halo, for instance, Vile would riff about making “the most outta your chill time, maaan” and figuratively taking a “whiz on the world” in a lazy-man drawl that somehow came across as contemplative when paired with the psychedelic space it was allowed float in musically. Pretty Daze fine tunes this effect with a more lyrically articulate delivery of his laid-back worldview and even more room to breathe and shift through long, expansive musical landscapes. But at Lincoln Hall, the Violators stomped through the album’s songs with yelps, screams, a lot more fuzz, and a showy confidence that led to heightened jams and crescendos.

    The band played in front of a giant backdrop of icons from its Philadelphia mural that makes up Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze‘s cover image. And for most of the set, Vile and the Violators played at a rapid pace that magnified the band’s visible comfort and showiness on stage. Vile himself contributed an extra oomph to a lot of his songs with big, J. Mascis-style guitar soloing. On “Girl Called Alex”, the band pulled of a radical shift of the song’s walking chord progression into its breezy, hypnotic outro. Many band members also took on multi-instrumentalist duties, whether tinkering on a wurlitzer organ during the jammy “Shame Chamber”, or squawking on an alto-saxophone during “Freak Train”.

    Songs from Smoke Ring for My Halo also felt more sure footed and confident. “Jesus Fever” had a newfound punchiness, while “Ghost Town’s” slow, towering chords crescendoed into a frenzied shoegazing finish that saw guitarist Jessie Trbovich violently swinging his guitar to produce feedback.

    The Violators appropriately closed the regular set with “Hunchback” and “Freak Train”, two noisy tracks from 2009’s Childish Prodigy. But instead of “singing” the verses of bizarre characters on “Freak Train”, Vile took advantage of the song’s implicit freakiness to mostly yell, scream, and otherwise focus on leading his band into one of the most brutally noisy finishes Lincoln Hall may have ever heard–at least since Metz played the venue that previous weekend.

    There was a short break in the pace during the latter half of the set for Vile to take some acoustic numbers. He sang the winking chorus of “Peeping Tomboy” in that exaggerated, lazy-man drawl now so much a part of his songwriting persona. But it was clear on Tuesday that while Vile’s music evokes a serene state of mind, Kurt Vile & the Violators are a lot rowdier as an entity on stage.

    Opener Steve Gunn, from New York, provided an appropriate warm-up for the headlining set. He and his band played a versatile set featuring mostly long, finger-picked songs ranging anywhere from blues to breezy, Bert Jansch-style folk rock.

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    Steve Gunn

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/09/2013

May 9th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Ticket Giveaway: Pet Shop Boys
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  • Lollapalooza Early Planning: Icona Pop

    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.

  • Last Minute Plans: Deer Tick And Twin Peaks At City Winery
    If you missed these two acts at City Winery last night, don’t sweat it—they’re returning for another show tonight. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 05/02/2013

May 2nd, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/25/2013

April 25th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Wake Your Heart with He’s My Brother She’s My Sister on 4/26

    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.

  • Saturday Is Dance Day
    World Dance Day is back at the Athenaeum Theatre this Saturday for the annual celebration of the wide range of disciplines from around the globe. [ more › ]
  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Beach House
    Even if you can’t watch this whole short film at your desk, put on your head phones and enjoy the atmosphere that goes with these four Beach House tracks. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/18/2013

April 18th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Our guide to Record Store Day

    Record Store Day has been getting more hectic and harder to enjoy, but we’re here to help.
    by Reader staff
    Record Store Day, which falls on April 20 this year, has turned into a zoo. It’s no longer the domain of giddy discophiles who sweat uncontrollably upon hearing the words “limited” or “out-of-print”—those folks were overwhelmed by the crowds after the first installment in 2008.…

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  • Record Store Day special releases that are extra special
    Record Store Day special releases include Charlie Poole’s pre-Depression banjo, the GZA’s chess set, and “Gay Fish.”
    by Kevin Warwick, Peter Margasak, Miles Raymer, Leor Galil and Luca Cimarusti
    At the Drive-In, Relationship of Command LP (Twenty-first Chapter) This re­issue of At the Drive-In’s magnum opus—first released in 2000 on the Beastie Boys’ long-defunct Grand Royal label—is an obvious result of the band’s popular yet short-lived 2011 reunion (or cash grab, depending on your perspective). A must-have for any early-aughts posthard­core fan, Relationship of Command is a moody, restless confluence of ragged guitar melodies and Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s powerful vocals, which are trippy but not yet Mars Volta trippy.…

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  • Quadrophonic Excursions: Takehisa Kosugi at Lampo

    kosugi.jpg

    Takehisa Kosugi — composer, violinist, creator with electronics, Fluxus member, and founder of legendary Japanese groups Group Ongaku and the Taj Mahal Travelers (an AMM-like group who performed all over Europe and Asia, and eventually did visit the Taj Mahal), performs this Saturday at the Graham Foundation‘s Madlener House (4 W. Burton Pl., Chicago) as part of Lampo‘s Winter/Spring season. Kosugi will perform works spanning 30 years, many written for the legendary Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Cunningham, the close confidant and collaborator with John Cage, revolutionized dance as Cage did music and composition, and his dance company consistently worked with the most cutting-edge composers in the world — check out the 12CD boxset Music For Merce (New World Recordings), which features Kosugi, for proof.

    In concert, Kosugi will perform four pieces of electronic music, using “homemade audio generators, ready-made sound processors and light/sound interactive materials.” Lampo’s hardy four-channel speaker setup will immerse guests in a strange, bubbling cauldron of rising and cresting electronics. The five pieces to be performed are “Cycles” (1981), “Streams” (1991), “Op Music” (2001), “Music For Nearly 90, Part-A” (2009), and “Octet” (2011).

    Tickets are free, but require RSVP. Reserve tickets HERE. The performance begins and 8. Stop by a little early and take a look around at the lovely Graham Foundation building and the many free art and photography exhibits on display.

    Here is a 2003 performance of 2001’s “Op Music.”

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/11/2013

April 11th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 04/04/2013

April 4th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • The Secret History of Chicago Music: Doctor Clayton

    Doctor Clayton cut just 30 tracks, but they helped plant the seeds for rock ‘n’ roll.
    by Plastic Crimewave

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  • Preview: LeAnna Eden at Elastic Arts, 4/6

    By Keidra Chaney

    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.

    in my dreams by LeAnnaEden

    The show starts at 8pm and doors open at 7pm. Tickets are $8 and available at the door.

  • Eight Can’t-Miss Shows At The Chicago Improv Festival
    We’ve cobbled together a list of some of the hidden (often more affordable) gems at the Chicago Improv Festival, as well as some of the bigger names and shows at this year’s CIF. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/28/2013

March 28th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Valerio Tricoli and the real Art Of Noise(s) at Lampo

    Tricoli.jpg

    Valerio Tricoli

    To fans of harsh noise and experimental music, the name Luigi Russolo is intoned solemnly the way jazz buffs call upon Buddy Bolden in their hour of reverence. The two share a shortfall — they were innovators in their form who existed just before the advent of readily available mechanical reproduction. Russolo, a painter, theorist, and member of the Futurist art movement, created The Art Of Noises (ring a bell?), a manifesto that suggested that life after the Industrial Revolution had created an evolution not just in production, but in consumption. He believed that people living amidst the audible detritus of modern life had become more able to appreciate more complex sounds, and looks fondly toward the day when the composer “strives to amalgamate the most dissonant, strange, and harsh sounds. In this way we come ever closer to noise-sound.” He even created his own pitched noise instruments, which he called Intonarumori. The trouble is, these noise-machines were created in the mid-1910s and never really properly recorded or documented. The few acetates that exist give us only a bit more flavor of their existence than the scores of legends and second-hand stories about Buddy Bolden walking through the streets of New Orleans, wailing so loud he could be heard five blocks over.

    2013 marks the 100th anniversary of The Art of Noises, and a number of celebrations are happening this year in Italy. In additional, Chicago’s avant garde music organization Lampo will also be celebrating Russolo’s shot heard ’round the heavens this Saturday (March 30, 8:00 p.m.), as Valerio Tricoli performs two pieces at the Graham Foundation‘s Madlener House (4 W. Burton Ave., Chicago). The pieces have been written exclusively for Lampo, and are tributes to Russolo and his groundbreaking ideas.

    In the words of the composer, “‘An Homage to Luigi Russolo’ [is] a live electro-acoustic improvisation for electronic devices, self-built instruments, found sounds and voice. This structured improvisation will deal with all the sonic practices and possibilities suggested by Russolo in “The Art Of Noises.” A tuned noise mix that includes references to F. T. Marinetti’s free-word concrete poem “La Battaglia Di Adrianopoli,” which was sent by the author to Russolo only a few months before the conception of “The Art Of Noises” and indeed represents a major influence on Russolo’s revolutionary ideas.”

    The second piece, “La Solidità Della Nebbia,” was created in part from samples of Tricoli’s homebuilt mechanical devices based on the ideas of the original Intonarumori, though different in their creation. Says Tricoli, “they aren’t really imitations of the instruments in themselves, but personal (or more “up to date” ) ways to achieve supposedly similar sounds, which are “tuned noise”. So for instance, the sound of a “Gurgler” is obtained by a mix recording of scraping metal, water, etc… Then I repeated it many times, so that i obtained a main single-pitch version of it, and then processed it accordingly with the tape machines (which is: modulate the tape speed to modulate the pitch of the “gurgling”)…”

    Regardless of whether “authentic” Intonarumori are used or simulations based on the original concepts, Tricoli’s pieces (and the many other 100th anniversary performances happening around the globe) reaffirm Russolo’s original faith in modern listeners to accept harshness and complexity in organized sound in an artistic context. From the riots that broke out at his own performers to modern listeners who find beauty in abstraction, sounds and ideas that were once thought to be impossible and unbearable are now available to all.

    The show is free, RSVP here.

    Here is one of those early recordings of Russolo’s music. Notice that the Intonarumori’s inventor has not yet felt he was ready to unleash the noisemakers as stand-alone music, instead pairing them with a classical orchestra. Even in this context, reaction was uniformly negative, and often aggressive.

  • Chicago cop calls Congress Theater ‘untruthful’ at hearing

    Sgt. Joseph Giambrone testified that Congress Theater staffers lied about serving alcohol when his unit arrived to investigate suspicions of underage drinking during a DJ Rusko set in the early hours of May 6, 2012.

    Giambrone’s testimony came during a disciplinary hearing at City Hall Tuesday morning, the second conducted by Chicago’s Liquor Control Commission looking into alleged illegal activities at the Congress. WBEZ's Leah Pickett has more on the hearing.

  • Wednesday Afternoon Diversion: Everything Is Better With Batman
    Finally, here is the hero Harry Potter/Dorothy/Kevin McAllister deserves. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/21/2013

March 21st, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/14/2013

March 14th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Reader readers built their very own jukebox

    Reader readers build their very own jukebox.
    by Kevin Warwick
    “I started working at a record store when I was 15, and I’m an organizational freak, so I organize the jukebox like a record store,” explains Matt Rucins, talent buyer and jukebox hero at Schubas. “I have it by section, alphabetized within the section.…

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  • Laura Stevenson, Holydrug Couple, Foxygen and more

    AUSTIN, Tx—The best-laid plans tend to quickly go awry at South by Southwest, especially with these epic crowds. Yet if I missed catching a few acts I’d hoped to see on night one—Merchandise, the Black Angels, Guards—I did have a couple of great surprises in the clubs.

    The first of these was a Brooklyn singer-songwriter named Laura Stevenson, who performed with her band the Cans under a tent outside a club called Holy Mountain off Seventh Street. Think of a less intense, sweeter-voiced Sharon Van Etten, but with a two-guitar, bass, drums and accordion lineup capable of unexpected eruptions of noise a la the Velvet Underground or Neil Young with Crazy Horse.

    Music is in Stevenson’s blood: Her grandfather was a composer who made key early recordings of the Christmas standards “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” while her grandmother sang with Benny Goodman. But Stevenson has a voice all her own, honed over the course of three indie albums including the latest, Wheel, released on Don Giovanni, the label that brought us Screaming Females. Hopefully she and the Cans will make just as much noise.

    I was heading out the door after Stevenson’s set when another band playing on the smaller indoor stage at the same club stopped me dead in my tracks. The Holydrug Couple is a duo from the apparently burgeoning psychedelic-rock scene in Santiago, Chile. Ives Sepúlveda and Manuel Parra expanded to a trio for this gig, showcasing a sound that force-feeds that mellow ’70s West Coast folk-rock sound newly resurgent in some circles (a primary culprit: Dawes) through a freaky and evil psychotropic blender, with striking results.

    Most impressive was a stunning track called “Follow Your Way” that began as a rough cover deconstructing Todd Rundgren’s “Hello It’s Me” and became a full-on interstellar-overdrive freak-out.

    Most of the rest of the night consisted of unremarkable mediocrities, plus one truly dreadful act, Alabama-reared, Brooklyn-based EDM/folk-rock hybrid Phosphorescent, a.k.a. Matthew Houck, whose set was all the more painful for taking place in a big, uncomfortable, corporate-sponsored temporary party space called Hype Hotel, and for starting 40 minutes late, thereby screwing up the schedule for everything that followed.

     

    I stayed put because I was eager to see Foxygen, no matter the delay or the unwelcoming surroundings. And the core Los Angeles duo of vocalist Sam France and guitarist-keyboardist Jonathan Rado plus assorted friends did not disappoint as they rendered onstage the brilliant tunes from We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic.

    To be sure, the acoustics of the cavernous concrete space worked against the band’s intricate and sometimes delicate arrangements, as did the scent of the foul fast food being handed out by Taco Bell, one of the corporate sponsors. (Taco Bell—in a Texas city with another great mom-and-pop taco joint every 15 yards!) But if Foxygen could deliver in circumstances like that, no doubt it can do infinitely better anywhere else.

    My complete coverage of SXSW 2013

    Imaging, jingle-crafting, crowdfunding and ‘Born in Chicago’

  • Imaging, jingle-crafting, crowdfunding and ‘Born in Chicago’

    AUSTIN, Tx—South by Southwest was in year six when I first made the trip to the Texas capital in 1993 for what’s become the biggest gathering of the music world in the United States. Prompted partly by the daytime conference panels relocating that year from one of the city’s hotels to the vast, sterile and still-under-construction Austin Convention Center, I listened to considerable grumbling from veterans that, “SXSW has gotten too big for its own good—it’s lost its soul!”

    I’ve heard repetitions of that complaint (or variations thereof: “too corporate/too dismissive of local bands/too political,” etc.)—every March since, but I’ve usually dismissed them. As festival co-founder Louis Black makes distressingly clear in Echotone, the 2010 documentary about the negative impact that development and gentrification have had on independent musicians in “the live music capital of the world,” SXSW was envisioned from the beginning to be as big, as broad and as bottomless a gold mine as possible.

    The level of corporate hype and the number of weasels here long have been a distraction at best and an annoyance at worst; the deal-making, eruptions of egotism and endless schmoozing during the gold rush of the alternative-rock ’90s was epic. The determined music lover always was able to block all of that out and make more profoundly rewarding musical discoveries in one place at one time than anywhere else. But everything has its tipping point.

    While I had some fine experiences at SXSW 2012 (see the links to those reports below), they were fewer than in years past, while the annoyance level was off the charts. I’ve been pondering why since the last fest ended, finally concluding that with many of the folks from the interactive confab now staying right through music, the film festival happening simultaneously, and Austin-bound party-crashers multiplying the number of badge-holding attendees by what must be a factor of 20 or 30, there simply are too many people here for the infrastructure to support. Cabs, hotels, and restaurants are unavailable, oversold or gauging on prices; events with any buzz at all instantly fill to capacity, and with the overall number of people being at an all-time high, the inevitable proportion of jerks in those crowds is, too.

    Simply put, SXSW 2012 was less fun than ever, and I seriously questioned whether I wanted to return for another round. But return I did, and here I am in 2013 determined to once again spend the days taking the temperature of the new-millennial music industry while spending the nights searching for musical epiphanies. My plan for the latter is simple: Wherever the hype or the hipsters are, I plan to go in the opposite direction. So, no, I will not be seeing Green Day, Dave Grohl’s “Sound City” All-Stars, the Flaming Lips, Justin Timberlake or Prince jamming with Bruno Mars, thank you very much, and I hope to be the happier for it.

    Getting down to business, the first panel I caught was entitled “The Rise in Image-Based Marketing,” which moderator Scott Perry synopsized as “using the visual image to market properties.” By “properties” he meant “musicians,” though the preferred word for that antiquated term now seems to be “brands.” Nate Auerbach, the self-described “music evangelist” at Tumblr, talked about the ability of brands such as Shakira to make the platform “her own,” connecting with fans and telling a story through images—and ideally nothing else. Headlines or any other text, we were told, are distracting and best avoided.

    The irony here was that SXSW techies failed to get the projector to work. The planned visual illustrations for the session never materialized during the first half-hour, leaving the moderator thoroughly flustered and this particular vision for a brave new world of post-verbal communications severely compromised.

    “Brands” was again the most common word uttered at the next session I hit, “Jingle Is Not a Four-Letter Word,” wherein experts explored the variety of ways musicians can sell their sounds (and souls) to corporate America as it in turn tries to sell us products we probably don’t need. Here the clarion voice belonged to a Chicagoan: Gabe McDonough, music director at the giant ad agency, Leo Burnett.

    “Who benefits more?” McDonough asked, pondering the relationship between the musician and the advertising client. “It can be a nice payday when a musician gets some money, but mostly it’s the [corporate] brand: We need X, Y, and Z to get what we need to get out of this.”

    What the client needs is a particular feeling that only the right pairing of music and image can create. So ad agencies work with clients to find tunes that will resonate with consumers, obtaining them either by licensing existing songs from musicians, or commissioning composers to write stuff exclusively for the project. What happens when the creator of the “perfect” song refuses to sell it for an ad? “You get as close as you can without getting sued,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, the one musician on the dais.

    McDonough claimed to hate that approach. Music, he said, still resonates with people in a deeper and more profound way than anything else; this is why advertisers need it, and they want it to be “authentic.” The current economy is “devaluing” music—“the problem is one of monetization,” this modern-day Don Draper said—and for some musicians, doing what once was quaintly called “selling out” simply is a good alternative for making money while gaining exposure.

    Even if the payday for an underground band is far less than the money for a superstar selling a hit song (what the panelists called “the golden Apple” model), the musician can build on the exposure from an ad to develop their… wait for it… brand. “Ultimately, building their own NBC will be way more valuable than any pop song they’ll write,” McDonough promised.

    Of course, musicians have to be able to swallow their pride and emotion when hearing sounds they crafted from their hearts being used to sell, say, an erectile dysfunction medication or a dishwashing liquid. But presumably those are concerns best left to the idealists of the world, not the ad men and “futurecasters” (another word I’ve already heard three times at this conference).

    Me, I always identify with the idealists, and the standing-room-only session called “The Anatomy of Amanda F—ing Palmer: An Inside Look” spotlighted a great modern example of one such heroine.

    Palmer, a singular voice in the goth/alt/unique singer-songwriter underground since her earliest days with the Dresden Dolls, made big news last Spring when a crowdfunded Internet campaign raised $1,192,793 from 24,833 contributors eager to hear her latest album, This Is Theatre, released in September. Sharing the stage with her managers, her overseas/traditional record label partners at Cooking Vinyl, and representatives from Kickstarter and Topspin, the artist explained how she did it, an answer that can be boiled down to a little imagination and a heck of a lot of hard work.

    “It’s a f—ing zeitgeist what’s happening now with art and crowdfunding,” Palmer said, noting that only a few hours earlier, fans of Veronica Mars hoping to see the TV show resurrected as a movie raised more than a million dollars in a few hours.

    The artist’s direct connection with fans can overcome any obstacle in a new music industry reinventing itself by fits and starts hourly, Palmer believes. Of course, that relationship can be fickle, and when she ended her session by breaking out a small four-stringed instrument and paying loving homage to this most twee of axes (“Ukulele, banish evil!/Ukulele, save the people!”), this fan’s loyalties were severely torn between his Palmer love and his previously well-documented uke hatred.

    Finally, the afternoon ended for me with the world premiere of Born in Chicago, a new film by director John Anderson that left very mixed feelings.

    By far the most exciting parts of the documentary were the performance clips, interviews and photographic tours of the blues scene that rose on Chicago’s South Side after the post-war migration, with greats such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Rush, Hubert Sumlin and Sam Lay. But the focus is less on these legends, whose sounds remain as vital and immediate today as they were nearly 60 years ago, than it is on the first generation of white musicians to embrace, adopt and—some would say—exploit their music.

    This group includes some artists and other folks who are undeniably charming (keyboardist Barry Goldberg, who co-produced the film, and guitarist Elvin Bishop), some who are much less so (Nick Gravenites and the problematic Marshall Chess, who narrates the movie) and some who died before their time (Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield). For this critic, none of them ever approached the genius of the older African-American artists they often slavishly imitated, and it’s hard to deny that they were responsible for a lot of wretched and clichéd excess—the “bloofs” peddled to tourists today via the post-Belushi sanitization of these once-great Sweet Home Chicago sounds—especially in comparison to the newer, fresher directions pursued by similarly thieving British peers such as the Yardbirds, the Pretty Things, the Animals and the Rolling Stones.

    “In a way, it’s very pathetic,” Keith Richards says, mulling over the question of white appropriation of black music by him and others. “But in a way, it’s also very heartwarming.”

    The latter is easier to see in the loving way that Richards writes about his influences in his autobiography Life, or even in the film’s snippet of footage from that famous gig that the Stones played with Waters at the Checkerboard Lounge in 1981. But heartwarming is the last word I’d use for describing the heavy-handed, often soulless jamming of the Chicago Blues Reunion, Goldberg’s nostalgic touring act, which is given entirely too much screen time, and which will take part in a panel discussion here on Friday before another screening of the film.

    Looking back at SXSW 2012

    SXSW 2012: Day One: Crowdfunding, Paul Williams, Napster’s founders & more

    SXSW Night One: Two great bands from L.A.SXSW Day Two: Springsteen’s keynote address

    SXSW Night Two: Big Star and Cardinal celebrated

    SXSW Day Three: a Spotify future, Chic Gamine, musical magick and the dB’s

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 03/07/2013

March 7th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/28/2013

February 28th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Old Town School Debuts New TV Show on WYCC

    musicology.jpg
    The Old Town School of Folk Music and Chicago’s PBS affiliate WYCC have teamed up for a brand new live concert television program focused specifically on bringing world music to U.S. audiences.

    Musicology: Live from the Old Town School of Folk Music will debut Friday, April 19, at 9pm CST on WYCC Channel 20, immediately following the legendary, and similarly-themed, live music program Austin City Limits. And much like Austin City Limits, Musicology will present 45 minutes of pure live music taped in Chicago at The Old Town School’s own Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall, in addition to interviews and other cultural, historical, and musical context from the artist.

    The program’s debut episode will feature the music of Brothers in Bamako, a collaboration between Malian musician Habib Koité and blues guitarist Eric Bibb.

    The taping for that performance is tonight at 7pm at the Maurer Concert Hall on 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $25 for the general public or $23 for Old Town School members.

    Visit this page for a list of the other upcoming tapings, which continue twice a month from March all the way through June. Musicology‘s debut season will include a total of 13 artists from nearly every continent.

    According to a press release from the Old Town School, the program will be marketed to PBS for national distribution, and it is the first program of its kind to feature live performances focused exclusively on world music.

  • One Shot: Check Out This Hawk On A Bicycle
    Chicagoist reader Justin Buege sent us this photo he took on Jan. 26 at Northerly Island when a hawk landed on his bike. We like the hawk’s “Hey Girl” pose for the camera. [ more › ]
  • Nick Offerman Brings His New Film To The Music Box
    The man who breathes life into Ron Effing Swanson comes to the Music Box to screen his new film March 9. Advance tickets are now on sale and they will sell out. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/21/2013

February 21st, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • The Secret History of Chicago Music: Tail Dragger

    The Secret History of Chicago: a Howlin’ Wolf imitator who did time for shooting a fellow bluesman dead.
    by Plastic Crimewave

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  • Tim’m West and the masculine mystique

    Tim’m West has shown that there’s more than one way to be a black gay man.
    by David Zarley
    Standing in the stark white stage lights in a darkened theater on the third floor of the Center on Halsted, stripped of a beat and sharing a spoken-word bill with a group of teenagers he’s coached on both poetry and survival, Tim’m West is doing something rare, even among musicians who’ve pioneered a sound: he’s turning his art into something bigger. West is solidly built, with a stoic countenance and a voice that begins as a low rumble, an idling diesel engine that glides into a smooth brass baritone.…

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  • Around Town: Balance
             

    If you’re a flickr user and wish to have your photography considered for “Around Town” or other Chicagoist features, please tag your photos with “Chicagoist” and enter them into our flickr pool. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/14/2013

February 14th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • In Rotation: Audio engineer Tim Iseler on "Darth Vader’s Cock and Balls"

    Audio engineers Tim Iseler and Jeremy Lemos on “Darth Vader’s Cock and Balls” and the Dirty Projectors at the Sydney Opera
    by Miles Raymer
    Miles Raymer,
    Reader music writer, is obsessed with . . . Townes Van Zandt, Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971-1972 For a bunch of demos and outtakes from aborted sessions, Sunshine Boy is surprisingly revelatory, as well as infinitely more listenable than such things usually are.…

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  • Virtuosity without borders

    Violinist and vocalist Carla Kihlstedt combines avant-garde pop, contemporary classical, and dreams in a new commissioned work for ICE.
    by Peter Margasak
    Violinist, vocalist, and composer Carla Kihlstedt has traversed styles and defied hierarchies for her entire career. She came into her own in the Bay Area in the mid-90s and now lives near Boston, teaching improvisation at the New England Conservatory of Music.…

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  • Carla Kihlstedt’s At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire

    This is video of all nine movements from last month’s premiere at the Ecstatic Music Festival in New York City.

    Saturday at the MCA, violinist and vocalist Carla Kihlstedt will give the Chicago premiere of the nine-part song cycle At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire, accompanied by nine members of the International Contemporary Ensemble. Kihlstedt wrote the piece as a 2013 participant in the ensemble’s ICElab commission program.…

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 02/07/2013

February 7th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/31/2013

January 31st, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/24/2013

January 24th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/17/2013

January 17th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • She’s Crafty, Chicago’s All-Female Beastie Boys Tribute Band

    She’s Crafty, Chicago’s all-female Beastie Boys tribute band, is starring in their very first solo concert at Underground Lounge, 952 W. Newport Ave., this Friday, Jan. 18, at 8pm. Come check out MCAmy, Ken D, MagRock and DJ Sara Tea, about which one person once said, “She’s Crafty, not a novelty act.”

    Your $10 cover includes a raffle ticket for door prizes; additional raffle tickets will be $5 each or five for $20 for a chance to win an iPod, an autographed Starlin Castro baseball, Bulls tickets and more.

  • First Thoughts on Electric Daisy Carnival Chicago:

    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.

    Maybe Chicagoans get spoiled by having an entire summer’s worth of festivals in their backyard. Maybe it’s time for the suburban kids to have their day in the sun (although it’s still an hour drive from Schaumburg to Joliet). I’m not ruling out the fact that a lot of the ticket buyers to similar festivals that take place inside city limits are suburbanites and out-of-towners, so EDC will still do fine attendance-wise. Whatever the case, it’ll be interesting to see how Chicagoland’s version of EDC pans out.

    The truth is that, accessibility aside, the biggest struggle this summer won’t be for the festival goer. It’ll likely be for the festival talent booker. EDC Chicago marks the fifth electronic music-focused festival in the area and will already be competing against Chillicothe, Illinois festival Summer Camp over the same weekend. Already we know that Bassnectar will be making his third straight headlining festival appearance in Chicago (jumping from North Coast Music Festival to Lollapalooza to Spring Awakening this coming June). Is there enough talent to spread between five weekends in less than a four-month period without things feeling stagnant? Maybe the next “big” announcement from EDC will clue us in a bit more.

  • Music Video Of The Day: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals ‘Stars’
    Grace Potter & The Nocturnals perform on Friday, Jan. 18 a the Riviera (sold out) and on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Park West with Langhorne Slim. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 01/10/2013

January 10th, 2013

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • It’s Time for a Quicksand Reunion

    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.

  • Music Video Of The Day: Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite ‘I Don’t Believe A Word You Say’
    Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite perform at the Riviera Theatre on March 3. [ more › ]
  • TimeOut Chicago Re-Creates Classic Photo Moments In America History In This Week’s Issue
        

    The photographers of TimeOut Chicago decided to pay homage to what writer Ann Friedman is calling “The End of the Culture War” by re-creating classic photo moments in American history. Only, in the case of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic image of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J day, the sailor is kissing another sailor. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/27/2012

December 27th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/20/2012

December 20th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/13/2012

December 13th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 12/06/2012

December 6th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/30/2012

November 30th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/28/2012

November 28th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Music Video Of The Day: No Doubt ‘Just A Girl’
    Hey, remember when Gwen Stefani was a freaking badass? We didn’t forget. [ more › ]
  • Gossip Wolf: Print ist krieg

    A new dead-tree-only black-metal zine, plus debuts from Scoundrel and Moral Void
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Chicago metal scribes Patrick Loy and Ed (he prefers to use just one name) just introduced Gossip Wolf to their zine, Black Metal of the Americas, and after reading their first few issues—the third dropped this month—we have a big heap of evil new music we’re eager to check out! The zine features metal-mag staples such as concert “reports,” album reviews, stark black-and-white nature photos, and informed interviews with serious vermin, including Virginia’s WRNLRD and San Francisco’s Otrebor, who plays “eco-terrorist” black metal on drums and hammer dulcimer as the Botanist.…

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  • Ms. Mint Moves Holiday Bazaar To Goose Island Clybourn
    We bought a solid 25 percent of our holiday gifts last year from Ms. Mint’s Holiday Market. This year’s market, Dec. 4 at Goose Island Clybourn, will feature 25 vendors, three authors, and the ability to make your own customized gift baskets. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/23/2012

November 23rd, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/21/2012

November 21st, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/16/2012

November 16th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/14/2012

November 14th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/09/2012

November 9th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Review/Photos: Sharon Van Etten @ Cabaret Metro 11/07/12

    Gapers Sharon Van Etten top.jpg

    There is a certain way in which Sharon Van Etten has always been powerful. Her grace and elegance were never an issue in making her songs great and her live performance memorable. At the same time, it seems each visit to Chicago, her fans see a woman that is slowly transforming into someone who is stronger and who makes the songwriting seem less like simple poems and more like challenges to the psyche. We’re seeing her take control and possess more of her songs both instrument wise and lyrically even though she’s now playing with a band behind her. In other words, it still seems like it’s coming from Sharon Van Etten and even in her most cool and collected moments where she’s joking around, there’s a sense that she feels good taking herself seriously because that’s exactly what her songs deserve.

    Gapers Sharon Van Etten 1.jpg

    Gapers Sharon Van Etten 2.jpg

    Along with this sense of self assurance comes the ability to make certain risks, which also enhances the stage presence. In previous tours when she merely had her debut album 2009’s Because I Was In Love, her live sets were kept straight forward. They were still ones to treasure but they were also more predictable in the sense that she kept to playing the songs as they appeared on album vs. changing them in any way. Van Etten is now able to wait for the mood to develop on songs like “Serpents” for example and in that space we appreciate the song more for it’s own sense of complexity. She’s rocking out increasingly more than ever too but she never seems like she’s having fun until between the songs. Instead, she seems content, nay devoted, to taking each song to its next level during the playing of it. Her sense of concentration and poise is admirable but it’s also very intriguing to watch because one feels how much she’s invested in each chord progression and word that she sings. One couldn’t be too sure where the songs were headed during the live set but it was enjoyable where she took them.

    Gapers Sharon Van Etten 3.jpg

    Gapers Sharon Van Etten 4.jpg

    It would be remiss not to mention the band’s stellar playing throughout, however. Van Etten herself played guitar and Omnichord with three total back up band members on Harmonium, Bass, Drums, and Keyboards. There was a nice sense of them all getting along, knowing each other’s sense of timing, and even harmonizing vocally at times. The cinematic visuals of buildings, snow, trees, and other scenes of nature also helped the band seem increasingly picturesque, at times like enchanted woodland dwellers, throughout their 80 min. long set.

    Gapers Sharon Van Etten bb.jpg

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    In addition, one can’t really speak of Sharon Van Etten without mentioning her sense of humor, which was still quite evident in between songs. Early on, she expressed some happiness and acknowledgement of the excitement in Chicago over Obama’s victory and (though most of the audience cheered) when one person yelled “F-(swear word) Politics!” the band pretended the person had yelled “Proctologist!” and started talking about seeing a Proctologist before introducing their next song, “Give Out,” which increased the hilarity of the moment. She also talked about living with her parents for a year and was really honest about the journey she’s taken in her life. When someone in the audience quipped, “I bet you saved money!,” Sharon Van Etten responded “Yes, and they saved my life.”

    Gapers Sharon Van Etten 5.jpg

    Gapers Sharon Van Etten 6.jpg

    Not only did she show appreciation for her family but for her friends in New Jersey who spent time with her when she was writing some of her early songs in a basement and there was definitely a sentimental side that showed itself as it often did in earlier tours. It was funny to hear another devoted fan up front who was possibly seeing Sharon Van Etten for the first time emphatically exclaim “You’re really good! This set was great!” but she was probably echoing the mood and sentiment of many. We’ve all found something that can last. It’s Sharon.

    Gapers Sharon Van Etten 7.jpg

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    Setlist:

    Gapers Sharon Van Etten 6setlist.jpg


  • Music Video Of The Day: Ramona Falls "Fingerhold"
    Ramona Falls performs with Helio Sequence at Lincoln Hall on Saturday, Nov 10. [ more › ]
  • Do This: The Seen & Heard Music Video Showcase
    Chicago Filmmakers Society, CHIRP Radio and Cinema Culture put together more than 40 international music videos, highlighting work that pushes the boundaries of form and the medium. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/07/2012

November 7th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 11/02/2012

November 2nd, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/31/2012

October 31st, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Review: Saint Etienne @ Lincoln Hall, 10/29

    Gapers Saint Etienne favorite.jpgPhotos by Kirstie Shanley

    If it is every music critic’s dream to play music half as good as what they want to hear in their head when they critique, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs have it made. The former writers have headed up the instrumentation behind Saint Etienne for over twenty years. The London-based electronic pop group’s sugary tunes combined with the sultry vocals of Sarah Cracknell have been a winning combination. Stepping onto the stage at Lincoln Hall last night, it was immediately clear who the star is. Stanley and Wiggs were obstructed by their mountains of gear. Backup singer Debsey Wykes blended into the backdrop in a dark dress. And Cracknell… well, she shined out front in a white glittery dress and feather boa.

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    On their latest album, Words And Music By Saint Etienne, from which they drew a third of the set list, the trio’s written what amounts to a love letter to music. “Popular” references numerous charting singles (and video projections showed images of popular groups from the late 1970s). “Tonight” is about the joy of seeing a great band live. “Haunted Jukebox” and “When I Was Seventeen” are bittersweet looks back on music’s impact when you’re young. Despite these songs going over well, especially “Haunted Jukebox”, the band was practically apologizing for playing new tunes instead of pulling more from their history.

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    But there should have been no complaints since they played older songs early and often. All night long Stanley and Wiggs switched things up just enough to not be stale, compared to album versions that everyone’s heard a lot. “Burnt Out Car” and “A Good Thing” pushed the crowd into dancing more, especially with the encouragement of Cracknell seductively shimmying with her boa. Singalongs for “Sylvie” and “He’s on the Phone” (the latter closing out the night after Cracknell polled the crowd for song selection in the encore) were a big hit, as were early singles “Spring” and “Like a Motorway.” The only drawback was the band changing the setlist a little, moving “You’re in a Bad Way” earlier than usual, and throwing off front-of-house personnel who took a while to set the cue. But it was barely a blip in otherwise a fun evening encapsulating 20+ years of Saint Etienne.

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  • Music Video Of The Day: Archie Powell & The Exports "Job Fair"
    Here is the latest music video from Chicago rockers Archie Powell & The Exports, and it’s as raucous, weird and fun as their live shows. [ more › ]
  • Tuesday Afternoon Diversion: It’s Snowing in West Virginia
    If you think Hurricane Sandy is screwing with the weather here, see the snow falling in West Virginia. Like the surfers here, Man’s Best Friend is looking at the snowfall positively. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/26/2012

October 26th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Review/Photos: Divine Fits @ Logan Square Auditorium 10/25/12

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    It was definitely a dark and stormy Thursday night but though it may have been hailing outside, Logan Square Auditorium seemed rather warn and welcoming in comparison, especially because they were playing The Kinks as the house music before the bands (that always helps the mood.)

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    Fitting more with the weather, Cold Cave opened up with some dark songs that are too edgy and gothy to be pop but are also too catchy to really be true goth. The five piece played for about 45 minutes and made it easy to dance in the dark while they warmed up the audience.

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    And, though Cold Cave seemed to have a few things going for them, their performance paled in comparison to the Divine Fits supergroup. Even the mix was better for Divine Fits, with the vocals way more prominent than the previous band’s more washed out seeming/less distinctive lyrical delivery. It’s also quite a different sort of thing to see a band with such accomplished members as those that include Britt Daniel of Spoon combined with Dan Boeckner of Handsome Furs and Wolf Parade and see them live up to the sum of their parts.

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    What seemed really evident was the way in which Daniel and Boeckner alternated so well showcasing their unique talents between pedal effects, hook heavy rhythms, and energetic singing. The stage presence was both dynamic and balanced with the 60+ minute performance proving a memorable win. The drumming and keyboard playing were a great support but it was Daniel and Boeckner who really shone. Boeckner also continued to modestly thank everyone for coming to the show, which came off quite endearing. And, if our hearts weren’t broken enough by the fact that these two talented handsome men would inevitably be leaving our city soon, they threw in a Tom Petty cover of “You Got Lucky” just to really seal the deal.

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    It should also be mentioned, in terms of a performance, that despite a few technical difficulties Britt Daniel had from time to time with broken guitar strings, etc, he kept the flow going exceptionally well and seemed to be overall enjoying his time with Boeckner more than this writer/photographer has ever seen him enjoy any of his own Spoon shows over the past 8 years. His showmanship wasn’t lost but in addition, he seemed so incredibly comfortable, as if this was truly fun and all that other music was much more work for him. It just proves that when you work with people you really like and respect, you tend to enjoy that work more and thrive creatively. Divine Fits so far only have one album (A Thing Called Divine Fits) but hopefully they will have more to give the world in future days.

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    Setlist:

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  • Thursday Afternoon Diversion: Landslide
    Today’s diversion will get you excited about the pending winter weather. [ more › ]
  • Neon Marshmallow 2012 Lineup Announced: Thurston Moore, Trevor de Brauw, Guardian Alien
    Neon Marshmallow Fest will return for its third year next month at The Burlington with a smaller but solid lineup [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/24/2012

October 24th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/19/2012

October 19th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • A Day at the Record Stores with CHIRP

    Chicago online radio station CHIRP is focused on the power that independent music has to transform our lives. CHIRP fills the airwaves with music selections crafted by local DJs and advocates for an emphasis on more underground music, highly local-focused, and frequently undiscovered. Discovering new music can occur through the airwaves or in the record store; If you’re an avid record collector, there’s no better feeling than locating that one record you’ve been searching for, and the first time you place the needle on the edge of the album, hearing that crisp sound emanate from the speakers.

    So what happens when you merge the sponsorship of Chicago online radio darling CHIRP with the pursuit of discovering your favorite new records, and locating old favorites? At what event can you spend hours sifting through records at a discounted fee, like a thrifty treasure hunt dotted across our city? That would be the 2nd Annual CHIRP Record Crawl, happening this Saturday — a magical day devoted to scouring boundless record shelves, searching for that prized album to complement your collection at six notable Chicago record stores.

    Start your day at one of two locales, where you’ll pick up your Record Crawler badge. Badges can be picked up at Le Café or Atomix, depending on where you’d like to begin the route. Not only will these six record store locations offer you a plethora of recorded gems, but you’ll also gain access to CHIRP Record Crawler-only discounts. The Crawl will be held for seven hours, with specified hour-long time slots for each record store and a break for lunch, giving you plenty of time to browse through the extensive collective record ensemble afforded to you.

    Wondering how to participate? Simply email RSVP@chirpradio.org by 6pm on Friday, Oct. 19 in order to gain a much-coveted spot, as spaces are limited. See below for the day’s schedule, in two versions depending on where you choose to begin the journey, with both routes crossing paths at a BYOB gathering at saki. If you’re a record-collecting, vinyl-loving, turntable-spinning music fan, this is one event you’re not going to want to skip.

    North to South Route:
    10-11am – Badge check-in at Le Cafe
    11am-noon – Laurie’s Planet of Sound
    noon-1pm – Dave’s Records
    1-3pm – Travel time and lunch (Curried and Bridgeport Pasty food trucks)
    3-4pm – Logan Hardware
    4-5pm – Reckless
    5-6pm – Permanent

    South to North Route:
    10-11am – Badge check-in at Atomix
    11am-noon – Permanent Records
    noon-1pm – Reckless on Milwaukee
    1-2pm – Logan Hardware
    2-4pm – Travel time and lunch
    4-5pm – Dave’s Records
    5-6pm – Laurie’s Planet of Sound


  • Tell All Your Friends About Chad Valley

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    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.


  • Preview: Circa Survive at The Vic, 10/20

    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).

    Even with a long history of success behind them, a bit of their frustration with the industry and life itself comes off on Violent Waves. Sounds crash down with more intensity that on albums past and singer Anthony Green has traded a mellow yet driven tone for one with more sarcasm and bitterness. While this might not be the group’s most solid effort to date, this records sees the five piece trying more new things than ever. Jaunty tunes with an acoustic core like “Phantasmagoria” proceed slightly jazzy electric tracks as found on “Think of Me When They Sound.”

    What Circa Surive might be best known for is their ability to bring their complex songs to life, doing them justice in a live setting. They’ll be doing just that this Saturday, Oct. 20, at The Vic Theater. Tickets to this show are sold out but those who managed to pick one up in time are in for a true treat. The show begins at 7 p.m.


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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/17/2012

October 17th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Grizzly Bear broadens its horizons

    Though you can’t deny the baroque-pop craftsmanship of earlier efforts — full of elaborate and often gorgeous sonic constructions that some compared to Van Dyke Parks and others to a campfire Radiohead — Grizzly Bear sometimes was undone by its own precious cleverness and hipster emotional detachment on its first three records, including the 2009 breakthrough Veckatimest. Yet you ventured that opinion at considerable risk of poking the bear’s beyond-devoted fans — just check out the rabid snarl of the comments on my two-star review of that album.

    The super-fans have been out to maul again when any critic has suggested that part of the success of album number four, a laborious three years in the making, is the select injection of a little Coldplay here and there, most notably on “Yet Again” and “A Simple Answer.” But that’s just snobbishness. Boston-to-Brooklyn transplant Edward Droste and his three bandmates always needed a well-placed hint of arena-rock stomp and grandeur to balance the more fragile, claustrophobic and prissy passages — a little pop to balance the prog, if you will — and Shields benefits from it the way the right Super 8 film would if instead it was shot for Imax.

    Grizzly Bear has hardly abandoned its fascination with melancholy moods and complex, sometimes serpentine sound structures, and Droste’s plaintive voice still reminds me of Jeff Buckley at his most slippery. But the more straightforward drive of the best songs here (with much of the credit going to drummer Chris Bear for his wide dynamic range and broad percussive palette), the slightly more accessible lyrical musings of Droste and fellow songwriter Dan Rossen (they’ve said they collaborated more on this album, shooting to be more immediate or—their word—“sloppy”) and that aforementioned embrace of a more expansive, more rocking approach all are for the best.

    The band doesn’t always succeed; “What’s Wrong” and the closing “Sun in Your Eyes” are abject failures, so Byzantine they’re just coldly alienating. Yet when the band does connect, as on the aforementioned "Yet Again" and “A Simple Answer” or the even more hard-hitting “Speak in Rounds” and the buoyant “Gun-Shy,” it never has sounded better.

    Grizzly Bear, Shields (Warp Records)

    Rating on the four-star scale: 3 stars.

  • Late bloomer

    Caroline Davis, a spectacular saxophonist 20 years in the making
    by Peter Margasak
    Caroline Davis had been a saxophonist for nearly 20 years before she decided to focus her energies on playing jazz full-time. For more than a decade Davis, 31, was an academic first and foremost, but after earning her PhD from Northwestern University in 2010, she began cultivating her talent in earnest—and it’s blossomed spectacularly.…

    [ Read more ] [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
  • Around Town: Deciduous
                  

    Our love affair with pretty trees continues. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/12/2012

October 12th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Contest: White Rabbits @ Lincoln Hall!

    Throughout White Rabbits‘ career, their detractors have often said, “If I wanted to hear that sound, I’d just listen to Spoon.” On their latest album, Milk Famous, the Brooklyn band seems sick of the comparisons. They veer in a different direction. The punchy indie-rock that they’ve lived on is still present, but it’s not overwhelming. Songs like “Hold It to the Fire” and “Heavy Metal” dial things down a notch yet are still complex and satisfying. On the other side of the coin is “Temporary” that’s dominated by its quick pace and sudden changes. Where White Rabbits’ strength lies, though, is in their performances. The six-man band has a frenetic nature as each member moves from instrument to instrument, sometimes even mid-song. It’s almost like each person in the band is saying to themselves “I have one chance to play [instrument] tonight; I might as well make it good.” And more often than not, they certainly do. Gapers Block is giving a pair of tickets to see White Rabbits on Wednesday, the 17th. Write to contests@gapersblock.com with “Milk Famous” in the subject line for a chance to win.

    White Rabbits headlines Lincoln Hall on Wednesday, the 17th. Chicago’s Save the Clocktower, whose new Through the Glass album is a really fun listen, opens the show. It’s $15, 21+ and starts at 9PM. Lincoln Hall’s at 2424 N Lincoln.


  • Keith Rowe: The Six Strings That Draw Blood

    Keith Rowe plays guitar. He plays it on its back, on a table, using piles of raw materials (springs, bows, coins, credit cards, steel wool, wood strips) to resonate the strings. In 2012, this is hardly uncommon, but in 1966, when Cronos-like Ur-free improv group AMM recorded their debut, it was like saying you eat your dinner with a windshield wiper. Rowe’s relentless push to the edges of abstract sound and telepathic improvisation (as well as that of his former AMM colleagues Eddie Prevost, Cornelius Cardew, and others) built a cottage industry of abstract improvisers who are serious, humorless, and often proprietary in their explorations. Not so Rowe…at a solo performance hosted by Lampo in 2001, he ended his set — 45 minutes of enveloping, genuinely alien atmospheres — he asked the crowed with a big grin whether anyone else wanted to “have a go” at playing his rig for a while. No one stepped up — attempting our own rendition would have been like taking Yo Yo Ma’s still-warm-from-use cello out of his hand and farting “Happy Birthday” into the resonators. (His selective use of shortwave radio during long, serious improvisations also helps to incorporate the outside world into an inherently isolationist art form.)

    Following a second solo performance at Lampo in 2005, Rowe returns this Saturday with another Lampo performance, performing a composition titled “City Music,” written for him by Chicago composer Frank Abbinanti. The performance takes place at the Renaissance Society in Hyde Park (5811 S. Ellis Ave, Cobb Hall 418). Admission is FREE, no RSVP required, and the performance begins at 8:00.

    Here is an excellent clip that not only allows Rowe to show of hiss techniques, but also lets him speak about the genesis of his style.


  • EXCLUSIVE DEBUT: Mazes’ New Video For "Live Happy Die Heavy"
    After a few delays, Mazes are finally releasing their new record. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/10/2012

October 10th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/05/2012

October 5th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Pulling Strings: For Classical Music in Chicago, You Got a Guy – October 2012

    By Elliot Mandel

    The CSO musicians’ strike is over, the Cubs lost 101 games, and this
    column celebrates its 1-year anniversary — how to celebrate? Go hear some music.

    Chicago Chamber Musicians
    In the city’s only major celebration of the 150th anniversary of Claude Debussy’s birth, Chicago Chamber Musicians will present a multi-concert, multi-venue festival devoted to this master of Impressionism. Among some of the rarely performed works are favorites that include sonatas for cello and violin, the piano trio, as well as the shimmering Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Suite Bergamasque for solo piano (the famous “Clair de Lune” is a thing of austere beauty). Check the website for ticket info–some admission is free. Begins October 1, runs through October 21. Multiple venues.

    Chicago Symphony Orchestra
    Music lovers were still whistling Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” melody 30 years after its premier when Brahms sat down to compose his first symphony in 1854. Wracked by self-doubt and public expectations that Brahms would carry Beethoven’s musical torch, Brahms labored over his score for 21 years before its premiere. The work is unusually dark for a first symphony, adopting the tone of his hero, but full of the Romantic melodies that characterize Brahms’ style (he would later become a spokesperson for arts education). The program also includes the Double Concerto for violin, cello, and orchestra featuring Renaud and Gautier Capuçon. Audience and orchestra favorite, Bernard Haitink, returns to conduct. Tickets start at $34. October 18-20, 8pm. Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago.

    Third Coast Percussion
    No other group is quite like Third Coast Percussion, and Chicago is lucky to have this quartet of mallet swinging, drum pounding musicians. Aside from being top quality musicians, the members of Third Coast tour the country with their array of traditional and found instruments, perform in the rain in Millennium Park, and are active in community arts education projects in Chicago. Third Coast will perform the music of composer and visual artist Marita Bolles at North Branch Projects, a communal arts and bookbinding space. Saturday, October 20, 7pm. North Branch Projects, 3550 W. Lawrence, Chicago.

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    Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante
    One of Europe’s finest early music ensembles comes to University of Chicago’s new — and much needed — Performance Hall for a program of Baroque music from Italy, France, and Spain. Performing on Baroque instruments, Europa Galante‘s style derives much from its enthusiastic leader, violinist Fabio Biondi, delivering energetic and graceful performances. If you love Baroque music, you’ll love this concert; if you don’t love Baroque music, this concert might change your mind. Tickets are $25, $5 for students. Tuesday, October 30, 7:30pm. Performance Hall, Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., Chicago.

    ~*~

    Programs, artists, and prices subject to change. Tickets subject to availability.

    Hear a great concert recently? Have a tip on an upcoming show? Talk about it in the comments.

    About the author: Elliot Mandel plays cello, attends lots of concerts, writes reviews, takes pictures, and loves October baseball.


  • From "Scream" To Flea: Your Fall 2012 Guide To Three Days In NYC
    [ more › ]
           

    As part of our Fall 2012 Getaway Planning Guide with American Express, we’ve created some suggestions for your long weekend in NYC with an eye on the can’t-miss sights, bites, and events of the season—many of which are available with special discounts and promotions through American Express—ensuring you make the most of your time in the Big Apple.

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    The Empire Hotel

    WHERE TO STAY:

    This fall, American Express is offering a wide array of travel deals at some of New York City’s most popular hotels.

    These deals include a 20 percent discount at Wellington Hotel (through 12/31), a 35 percent discount at Hotel Belleclaire (through 1/8/13), 25 percent off on Sundays at The Empire Hotel (through 12/31), as well as other discounts at the Affinia Manhattan, the Warwick, Hotel Gansevoort (both Meatpacking and Park Ave. locations), Michelangelo, and the W in Union Square.

    Through the Fine Hotels & Resorts Program, American Express Platinum Card members get room upgrades upon availability, special check-in and check-out times, and breakfast options when booking at participating hotels such as The Carlyle, Four Seasons, Gramercy Park Hotel, Mandarin Oriental, and many more-which total a $450 value per stay.

    There’s a plethora of excellent hotels in the city that range in budget and location. Your best bet is to zero in on the neighborhood you think you’ll spend the most time in, and choose your favorite option there! For instance, if you’re interested in checking out Williamsburg, the Wythe Hotel might be up your alley.

    WHAT TO DO:

    Fall is a time of year in the city that woos even those who live in NYC full-time—”During the month of October, closer to the second or third week, you’ll start to see the colors change in Central Park,” says Lewis, “which is truly breathtaking.” Everywhere you’ll want to go in the city is accessible by the subway system, and you can purchase an unlimited pass that will last the long weekend for just $30.

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    Discovering Columbus (Sam Horine)

    After you walk around some of Central Park’s 800-plus acres, check out the new public art exhibit just at the southwestern entrance: Discovering Columbus, which re-imagines a statue of Christopher Columbus that rises 75 feet above a busy roundabout as Columbus standing in a fully-furnished living room. Visitors, who can reserve tickets at the Public Art Fund site, can climb up six flights of stairs and see Columbus in his digs.

    NYC is also constantly playing host to big festivals, and there are two big ones in October: The NYC Wine and Food Festival, which draws world-class chefs for special dinners, talks, and presentations, and the CMJ Music Marathon in mid-October, a festival celebrating emerging musicians, that takes over the city’s coolest venues.

    The Brooklyn Flea is a destination for scavengers looking for antiques and great buys as well as those looking for delicious food with its Smorgasburg offshoot. There are various locations in Brooklyn (DUMBO, Fort Greene, Williamsburg). And if you’re in DUMBO, take a spin on Jane’s Carousel, a completely restored carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park, in a dazzling glass building designed by Jean Nouvel—it’s a stunning view of lower Manhattan from there.

    Beginning on October 24, the Museum of Modern Art will be exhibiting a pastel drawing of Edvard Munch’s The Scream for six months. The other three versions are in Norwegian museums, and this one—recently bought at auction for $120 million—will be a chance to see the groundbreaking work.

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    A holiday window (Sam Horine)

    In mid-November, the New York Botanical Garden’s wonderful Holiday Train Show goes on display—trains travel through the conservatory on twig bridges replicated New York crossings like the Brooklyn Bridge and past buildings and landmarks (Grand Central Terminal, the Statue of Liberty) built from bark and leaves.

    “Nothing is more fantastic than the holiday displays along Fifth Avenue in the department stores which tend to pop up around mid-November,” adds Lewis. “Taking a stroll past Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Saks is always a remarkable experience. Stop by Rockefeller Center and watch the workers prepare to set up the Christmas tree, and people ice skating in the park.” Other standout holiday windows are at Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, and Bloomingdales.

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    Pork Slope

    WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK:

    Perhaps you’ve heard a little something about this, but Brooklyn is in the midst of a Renaissance, and that certainly includes the culinary scenes. Our top picks for recently opened Brooklyn restaurants are Dale Talde’s Brooklyn-style roadhouse bar Pork Slope in the Park Slope neighborhood (which serves a sandwich called the porky melt, a shrimp po’ boy and other tasty items), Reynard in the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, which is the neighborhood’s culinary leader’s most sophisticated project yet. (Tip: Take the elevators to the rooftop bar for cocktails and sweeping, unobstructed views of Manhattan.)

    You’ll also find Joe Carroll’s Baltimore-inpsired fish shack, Lake Trout, a little deeper into Williamsburg, featuring unfussy but delicious fried fish sandwiches. Pok Pok NY, which originated in Portland, now has a new spot along the waterfront in Brooklyn, and serves inventive Thai food such as charcoal rotisserie hen and Chiang Mai sausage.

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    Ginny’s Supper Club (Katie Sokoler)

    When in Manhattan, we recommend stopping by the newest venture from the owners of popular Lower East Side restaurant Fat Radish, Leadbelly, for artisanal cocktails, oysters, and their delicious Moroccan nut spread served with warm pita bread. Uptown, in Harlem, Marcus Samuelsson is leading the Harlem revival with his take on soul food at Red Rooster (there’s also a Sunday brunch) and its sultry downstairs lounge, Ginny’s Supper Club.

    If you’re looking to splurge at one of the city’s finer Michelin Star earning established, consider the fall prix-fixe menu at chef Paul Liebrandt’s Corton in TriBeCa, which is less costly than their regular menu but just as impressive. For the best—and probably most expensive chicken—in town, head to NoMad. The foie gras and truffle-stuffed chicken is $79 (there’s also a $26 sandwich version at lunch) and the elegants quarters also feature a gorgeous library bar. If you’re looking for a burger, there’s the seemingly ubiquitous Shake Shack, with locations around the city. Another burger option is the Burger Joint, a hidden gem located inside Le Parker Meridien.

    If you’re looking to brunch (and who isn’t?) make a reservation at Norma’s (also at Le Parker Meridien), any of the Sarabeth’s locations in the city, an always-busy standby, or brave the line at Clinton Street Baking Company on the Lower East Side.

  • Around Town: Nothing Gold Can Stay
                  

    “So dawn goes down to day / Nothing gold can stay.” -Robert Frost [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 10/03/2012

October 3rd, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/28/2012

September 28th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Illinois: The Sucker State
    This map, courtesy of the Big Map Blog, shows Illinois as “The Sucker State.” Curiously, the nickname has nothing to do with our penchant to elect governors who find their way to prison. [ more › ]
  • Thursday Afternoon Diversion: Best Movie Death. Ever
    We suspect that the director decided this film was about a minute too short when he planned this scene. [ more › ]
  • Tilly And The Wall Return And Throw A Love Riot
    Tilly And The Wall have been pretty quiet since their last album was released four years ago. Those were heady times, huh? The notion that it was OK to dance had infiltrated the indie community, and the airwaves were full of energetic bands looking to carve out a spot under the disco ball. Oh wait, that was ten years ago. Or last month. So we guess not much has changed. Which is fitting because neither has Tilly And The Wall. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/26/2012

September 26th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • We Love Otters Like These Otters Love Cake
           

    It’s Sea Otter Awareness Week at the Shedd Aquarium. Well, we’re definitely aware of how adorable sea otters are. [ more › ]

  • Let’s Reminisce About Summer Festival Season
    Now that fall has officially fallen, let’s fondly remember the summer that was in music with this bit from comedian Adam Burke. [ more › ]
  • WZRD: Radio in Exile

    WZRD-FM 88.3WZRD 88.3 FM, Northeastern Illinois University’s non-commercial, freeform student radio station known for playing an eclectic array of musical genres, was suspended from the airwaves this summer and replaced with an automated playlist.

    On June 29, student DJs, known as the “Wizards,” were called into a meeting on short notice by the Office of Student Leadership Development. Its former director, Sharron Evans, distributed a memo stating they were thereby banned from the WZRD office, canceling their scheduled radio shows, until further notice.

    “We were handed a list of incredulous accusations,” Jonathan Extract, a NEIU student and WZRD DJ, said.

    According to Extract, Evans accused the station as a whole of misplacing important documents, misappropriation of $200, and “a lack of advancement of the station.” He says that the two latter accusations have already been cleared up with the Federal Communications Committee (FCC).

    Since NEIU is the legal owner of WZRD, they have the right to temporarily take the station’s regular broadcasting off the air for whatever reasons they see fit. But the university is remaining fairly tight-lipped about the lockout.

    NEIU spokesperson Dana Navarro says that the university is currently “working with two committees to assure the long-term success of WZRD and the student organization that operates it.”

    One of the committees, composed of members of the Student Government Association, is currently reviewing WZRD “for potential violations to its bylaws and charter.” Various members of the NEIU community make up the second committee, which is determining possible solutions for the future of the station.

    The administration hopes that both committees will conclude their review during the 2012 fall semester in order to reinstate WZRD radio as soon as possible.

    Extract speculates that the university is planning to “reformat and repurpose the station.” He says the student government and administration at NEIU have circulated multiple polls to the student body asking which specific genres they would like to hear on the student-run station. According to him, none of these surveys included the option of continuing the freeform radio format.

    In the meantime, the exiled Wizards have been lobbying a petition to bring back true WZRD radio. They also produced a newspaper to spread the word of their plight across NEIU’s campus, and the city at large.

    In an effort to keep the spirit of WZRD radio alive, they have been airing their programming on other stations. Every Sunday night at 6:30pm, the Wizards hold a slot on WNUR 89.3 FM, Northwestern University’s radio station.

    This is not the first time WZRD has been suspended from the airwaves since its inception in 1974.

    In 2005, NEIU’s student radio station was temporarily shut down due to an expired license. The university was fined and the Wizards were forced to stop broadcasting until the issue was resolved with the FCC.

    The most recent conflict leads the Wizards to believe a similar situation could occur. The station’s license, which requires a four-month period for renewal, is set to expire in December.

    According to Navarro, the university has already completed the FCC application for the license’s renewal.


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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/21/2012

September 21st, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/19/2012

September 19th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Bob Dylan cracks me up

    Most critics and worshipful fans (which usually are one and the same) take ol’ Bobby Zimmerman way too seriously.Yeah, sure, of course: At age 71, marking his 50th year as a recording artist and with 35 studio albums to his credit, the man from Minnesota is a living legend and a bona fide Amer

  • Tumblr Blog Focuses On The Apathetic Side Of Jay Cutler
    Meet SmokinJayCutler.Tumblr.com: “This site is dedicated to the most apathetic looking athlete in the history of sports.” [ more › ]
  • Tuesday Afternoon Diversion: Cat Bites The Mail
    Fortunately for the postal carrier on this route, the feline of the house seems more interested in receiving the junk mail than in protecting his home from invading mail men. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/14/2012

September 14th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/12/2012

September 12th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/07/2012

September 7th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 09/05/2012

September 5th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/31/2012

August 31st, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/29/2012

August 29th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/24/2012

August 24th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/22/2012

August 22nd, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Artist on Artist: Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran talks to Mia Park

    Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran talks to Mia Park of Chic-a-Go-Go

    Duran Duran was rooted in the British New Romantic movement, which was defined as much by foppish wardrobes as by music. But despite the band’s synthesizer-heavy studio sheen and pastel-drenched look, early smashes like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf” were big, riffy rock songs with hooks as broad and muscular as anything by the uber-butch hard-rock bands they were eclipsing.…

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  • Darkroom Closing At The End Of The Month
    Chicago is losing another music venue since it’s come to light Ukrainian Village club Darkroom is closing it’s doors September 1. According to a source of ours, there will be new owners but it’s unclear what their plans for the space will be. In our personal experience the club served an important role in helping local bands hone their skills and taking a risk on inviting lesser known touring groups onto their stage. Competition in Chicago is fierce though and the room’s size made it difficult to fill considering most major acts that would play a comparable space would get snapped up by other venues. And recent hotspots like the musc room at The Burlington and the opening of Township only made the fight for talent even more difficult. [ more › ]
  • Tuesday Afternoon Diversion: Hey, Bullfrog!
    Given the choice between a frog giving us warts or biting off a finger, we’ll take the warts every time. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/17/2012

August 17th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/15/2012

August 15th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/10/2012

August 10th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Preview: Thirsty Ear Festival @ Empty Bottle, 8/11

    By Timothy A. Schuler

    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.

    The Thirsty Ear Festival, from 5pm to 7pm on Saturday, will be a showcase of contemporary classical music, featuring four Chicago-based groups, including the MAVerick Ensemble, James Falzone, Palomar, and the Chicago Q Ensemble. Organized by Seth Boustead, the executive director of Chicago non-profit Access Contemporary Music and host of WFMT 98.7 FM‘s Relevant Tones program, the “festival” will also be the first concert ever broadcast live from the Bottle.

    It’s guaranteed to be one of the most unique shows of the weekend. Each artist gets a 30-minute time slot, and the music will range from a performance of work by experimental composer Iannis Xenkais by the Maverick Ensemble to Falzone’s meditative solo improvisation, Sighs Too Deep For Words. It’ll be a great chance to exercise your brain (and ears — prepare for dissonance!) before you exercise your booty when Windy City Soul Club invades the Bottle later that night.

    A few important notes: If you’re going, go early. Thirsty Ear performers will be playing Ben Vida’s “Liminal Bends” from various corners of the venue before the show begins, starting at 4:15pm Also: consider biking. Not only is Tom Skilling predicting beautiful weather, but in partnership with the Active Transportation Alliance, if you prove to the doorman you biked (show him your helmet or other paraphernalia), he’ll let you in for $5 instead of $10.

    The Thirsty Ear Festival will take place at the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western Ave., on Saturday, August 11, at 5 p.m. Doors open at 4 p.m. Admission is $10, $5 with proof of bike.

    About the author: Timothy A. Schuler is a writer, editor, and essayist. He’s written about Congolese trance music, homelessness in Hawaii, idea culture, and everything in between. More of his work is online at timothyschuler.com.


  • Last Minute Plans: Save The Clocktower Album Release Show Friday
    Last year’s full-length debut from Chicago band Save The Clocktower, Carousel, melded an impressive amount of indie-rock sub-genres into a cohesive whole. The band celebrates the belated release of synth-driven sophomore effort Through The Glass Friday at the Double Door. [ more › ]
  • A 13-Year-Old Rapper Shocks the City with "Get Smoked"

    Lil Mouse is a 13-year-old rapper from the Wild 100s. He’s already recorded several videos, the first when he was still 12. His latest track, “Get Smoked,” has attracted attention for its glorification of popping pills, selling drugs, having sex, shooting people and other activities not usually associated with barely teenaged kids.

    In the Sun-Times, Mary Mitchell asks where the outrage is over a child producing gangsta rap. She includes a quote from Che “Rhymefest” Smith, whose first single came out when he was 20.

    “This warrants an investigation,” said Che “Rhymefest” Smith, a Chicago rapper who ran a spirited but unsuccessful campaign for alderman in the 20th Ward. “This has clearly crossed over into child pornography when you have a 13-year-old child rapping about sex and about violence and drug selling. They are probably already under investigation.”

    Whether it’s child pornography or not is debatable (there are no explicit acts performed in the video, only allusions to sex), but it is rather disconcerting seeing a kid whose voice hasn’t changed yet rapping about these topics. Kris Kross this is not. However, is it really all that surprising when one of the biggest sensations in Chicago hip hop is Chief Keef, who raps about the same material at 16? Surely Keith Cozart was coming up with his rhymes three years ago — he just didn’t have the media attention yet. Now that it’s here for Chief Keef and his crew, it makes sense that some of the younger members of the scene would get noticed, too.

    Mitchell blames the trend on record labels “exploiting the violence,” but as far as I can determine Lil Mouse is not yet signed — and the whole scene has grown up and made it big not through label promotion but through artists self-releasing videos on YouTube.

    Smith is trying to turn the tide with “The Pledge Mixtape,” a collaboration with the Black Youth Project and Power of Purpose. The album, to be produced by Smith, is a 13-song compilation album of songs from various local hip hop artists “taking back their communal power through music.” I’m not sure how much a mixtape that specifically excludes songs with violent imagery will make a difference, but giving opportunities to more positive musicians can’t hurt. Investing in schools and extracurricular activities in the Wild 100s, Lawndale and other impoverished neighborhoods would help a lot more.

    Meanwhile, the surest way for the pubescent rapper trend to come to an end (or, really, go back underground) is for another city’s hip hop scene to rise to prominence. This is Chicago’s minute, but the clock is ticking.


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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/08/2012

August 8th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/03/2012

August 3rd, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 08/01/2012

August 1st, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/27/2012

July 27th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/25/2012

July 25th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/20/2012

July 20th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/18/2012

July 18th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Gossip Wolf: Spotted at Pitchfork

    Famespotting at Pitchfork, plus possibly temporary good-byes from Favorite Records and Mannequin Men
    by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil
    Spotted at last weekend’s Pitchfork Music Festival: On Friday Coco Gordon Moore (18-year-old daughter of Sonic Youth’s Gordon and Moore) stopped by the HoZac Records table to drop off a demo by her band, Big Nils. (This Wolf took a spin around their Bandcamp page, and it sounds like they have the HoZac aesthetic down cold!)…

    [ Read more ] [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]
  • Bye Bye FM News 101.1, Hello I101
    The all-news station is switching to an “adult rock” format. [ more › ]
  • Chicago Represents At Forecastle Fest
                         

    Instead of taking quick a bus down to Union Park last weekend, the lineup at Forecastle Fest tempted us to drive the whole way down to Louisville. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/13/2012

July 13th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

  • Bitchpork Weekend Kicks Off Tonight
    Not going to Pitchfork this weekend? Try Bitchpork (if you can find it). [ more › ]
  • Review: The Shams Band Kicks Off Schubas Monday Night Residency

    By Davis Inman

    shams_schubas.jpg
    The Shams Band (photo by Davis Inman)

    The Shams Band is kind of like the Chicago alt-rock tradition squeezed into a joyful country-folk setting. On Monday night, the band kicked off their July residency at Schubas with Charleston, South Carolina’s Shovels & Rope and Chicago’s Jeremy David Miller. The headlining Shams mixed up their set with older tunes and new ones from the just-released Cold City.The hillbilly banjo romp “Travel By Sea,” on which Paul Gulyas turns his guitar into something more akin to a skronking Appalachian fiddle, started like a tune straight from the Bill Monroe songbook but ended more in the vein of hardcore.

    Cold City by The Shams Band

    In a different decade, “Breadwinner” could have been a raunchy Southside blues jam, while the pensive walk-down of “Cause You Can” and its last line (“this whole sad city full of fools, just waiting to be your man”) recalls the songwriting from Dylan’s Nashville period. The Shams know how to twist a good joke out of a country song — just like Gram Parsons did 40 years ago — but they also have a knack for heartfelt sing-alongs. The album’s title track has one line in particular that all Chicagoans should keep dear to their heart next winter: “You dream of California and I dream of Chicago.” Kind of says it all for this town.

    jeremy dm_schubas.jpg
    Jeremy David Miller (photo by Davis Inman)

    First up on Monday’s bill was Chicago’s Jeremy David Miller. “That’s a song, y’all,” he summed up succinctly after singing “All I Want To Do Is Dance” with his wife, Rebecca. Other songs, most of which can be found on the 2011 album, Lepus, are lovely high country fare such as “I Don’t Blame Him.” The Millers could just be Chicago’s answer to Johnny and June or Gil and Dave.

    shoro_schubas.jpg
    Shovels & Rope (photo by Davis Inman)

    The feather in the Shams’ cap for these first of four Schubas dates was Shovels & Rope, the rootsy duo that seems to be traversing the country about once a month. Cary Ann Hearst’s voice was not in full force on Monday night, though something about a touch of laryngitis made her pipes even more primal, free, and fun. She took the reins on “Kemba’s Got The Cabbage Moth Blues,” “Gasoline,” and “Boxcar” before taking over drums for the Michael Trent-helmed “Keeper.”

    Stay dialed for next Monday night, when Chicago’s Derek Nelson and Elephant Gun join the party.

    Upcoming The Shams Band shows at Schubas:

    7/16 with Derek Nelson & The Musicians and Elephant Gun

    7/23 with Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes and Young Jesus

    7/30 with Archie Powell & The Exports and Young Hines

    Each Monday night show starts at 8pm. Tickets are $6. 21+ Schubas is located at 3159 N. Southport Ave.


  • This Week In Street Fests: Irish Fest, Chinatown Summer Fair, DuSable Arts And Crafts Festival
    From beach volleyball to a mashed potato eating contest, here’s your weekend festival roundup. [ more › ]

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ChiBlog Roundup:Music & Arts 07/11/2012

July 11th, 2012

Our (fairly) regular roundup of Music & Arts related news from Chicago-based web media, featuring thoughts and insight from some of the city’s most dedicated writers.

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Post-4th Filter: Chosen Few Picnic, El-P, Moodymann, Advent, Westfest

July 6th, 2012

Friday July 6

  • EL-P, Killer Mike, Mr Despot, Mr. Mutahf**kin’ Esquire

8:00pm | Bottom Lounge

  • Changes: Justin Long & Davey

9:00pm | Beauty Bar

  • Little Louie Vega, Kevin Hedge, Chosen Few DJ’s

10:00pm | The Mid

  • Moodymann, John Simmons

10:00pm | Smartbar

  • Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers

9:00pm | The Shrine

 

Saturday July 6th

  • Chosen Few Picnic: Linda Clifford, Leroy Davis, Louie Vega, Chosen Few DJ’s (Wayne Williams, Alan King, Jesse Saunders, Tony Hatchett, Terry Hunter and Andre Hatchett) Kevin Hedge, Roy Davis, Jr., South of Roosevelt, Gary Wallace, Steve Price.

7:00am | Jackson Park at 63rd Street and Hayes

  • The Advent, Steven Tang, Frankie Vega, Merrick Brown

10:00pm | Smartbar

Sunday July 7th

  • Westfest Dj Stage: Derrick Carter,  Diz, Jesse De La Pena,  John BID Simmons,  Samone Roberts, Steve Melvage & Brian Heath

12:00pm | Chicago & Wood