Friday, October 31, 2008

Five shows this weekend - October 31-November 2

Conor Oberst will play the Vic Saturday

Friday, October 31 - Happy Halloween!

- Detholz!, Aleks & the Drummer and The Hood Internet at the Empty Bottle - This "Jukebox of the Dead" Halloween party is all about fun, with two cool new wave-ish acts and Chicago's always entertaining mashup masters The Hood Internet. 10 p.m., $12 advance, $15. More info and tickets.

For more Halloween night shows, check out my roundup here.

Saturday, November 1

- Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band with All Smiles at The Vic - Check out the Bright Eyes front man on the second night of his two performances at The Vic. 6:30 p.m., $24. More info and tickets.

- Bitch & the Exciting Conclusion, Girl in a Coma, Von Iva and Mr. Russia at Bottom Lounge - A musical poet who "uses an electric violin to rock," a band fronted by "the female version of Morrissey," Afro-beat from San Francisco and "The bastard offspring of Iggy Pop and The White Stripes," respectively. Sounds like a fun night to me. 8 p.m., $12. More info and tickets.

- Golden Birthday, Mayor Daley, Magical, Beautiful and Hearts of Darkness at Hideout - A few local acts to discover, plus one from NYC. 9 p.m., $8. More info and tickets.

Sunday, November 2

- Dressy Bessy, The Poison Control Center, Goldcure and One for the Team at Abbey Pub - Hot off the heels of their new album, "HOLLERandSTOMP," Dressy Bessy will headline this show with their jumpy mix of indie rock and power pop. 9 p.m., $10, advance $8. More info and tickets.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Assembly - The Tide Has Turned

Chicago's The Assembly decided to take a chance by self-recording and producing "The Tide Has Turned" - their first full-length album - at band member Nathan Suh's apartment after the producer of their previous two EPs moved away. That's a pretty amazing feat considering the album sounds like the work of pros, crafted to very effectively showcase the band's electro-tinged, (mostly) dark rock.

According to vocalist and guitarist Dave Suh (formerly of local band Caviar), "The Tide Has Turned" is his attempt at writing the soundtrack to dystopic novels such as "Fahrenheit 451," "1984" and "Slaughterhouse-Five," and for the most part the music makes that clear. The brooding, spacey opener "New Kill Remediate" sets the chaotic scene, making way for menacing rockers "Optimization" and "Tear Yourself Apart." While these songs are certainly well-executed, the band thankfully prevents the record from becoming suffocating and overwrought with darkness by introducing lighter sounds. "Systematic Unknown," while still lyrically far from upbeat, features open, anthemic qualities that lift some of the load off the listener, and the airy "Invisible Forces" continues the lighter vibe. Later, the melodic "Changing Now" serves up the brightest, most hopeful moment. It's full of hooks - almost poppy - and is one of the strongest cuts on the CD. The band rocks the album to a close with the hard-hitting "If They Exist," which ends the running story with a question mark.

The Assembly are some of the most talented local musicians I've heard in a while, sounding confident and convincing throughout "The Tide Has Turned." They avoid falling into the trap of dull and predictible by drawing as much influence from classic, tried-and-true acts such as David Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins and The Smiths as they do from Interpol and similar bleak "indie" bands. This is definitely one to check out, especially if you like a little darkness in your rock.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Q&A: King Sparrow

In a big city filled with hordes of indie bands, it's not unusual to feel accosted with boring music that sounds like it was created after reading some sort of "Indie Rock for Dummies" book. King Sparrow want to play you something different.

The local three-piece recently completed their forthcoming debut EP, "Derailer," a 5-song record of driving rock that's consistently hard-hitting yet strangely inviting. Crunchy guitar and persistent bass and drums make the melodic vocals of Eric Georgevich strike you right away. Think a mixture of punk and garage with a singer that could easily be singing power pop.

You can check out the band live at Double Door on Saturday, November 15, but for now, read what they have to say about themselves:

How do you describe your music?

We play a driving brand of rock music that can sometimes sound complex, but is really created from very simple parts. When we write the music for our songs we try to be as precise and deliberate as possible, often cutting out anything that can be mistaken as unnecessary flash, but usually leaving in some constructive dissidence. After that we throw some melodic vocal lines on top of it and let her rip. As far as our content is concerned, the subject matter of most of our music is pretty much about chaos. Since the music is tight and exact, but a little bit atonal, and the vocals are melodic, we end up with a strange relationship between form and content. There is definitely some serious tension bubbling underneath the surface.

Where'd you get the name "King Sparrow"?

After a couple of months of passionate, alcohol-fueled debate, we decided that no matter how important someone is within their circle, in the grand scheme of things, it really does not matter all that much. Sure, your friends may look up to you a little, or you may be well respected in your neighborhood, but ultimately you are destined to be deeply effected by events that are entirely out of your control. It feels good to be the King of the Sparrows until some crow comes by and puts you in your place.

Who or what are your biggest influences?

We are influenced by a very broad spectrum of sounds. In fact, the spectrum is so broad naming individual bands would not really be the best way to describe our influences. Let's just say that all the band members have an unnatural obsession with music, drinking and chess. We are pretty tight with one another, so I guess our biggest influence is really each other.

When and how did King Sparrow start making music?

Interestingly enough, we all went to the same high school together and after years of being in other bands, going off to college, the navy, etc., it was funny to see things come full-circle when Sean (bass) and Eric (guitar & vocals) met each other quite randomly at a soccer bar one night and got rip roaring drunk. Soon after, John (drums) was drafted to complete the lineup.

You've just completed a new EP called "Derailer." What was the inspiration for it, and why should people listen?

The inspiration for the EP was our shared experience of growing up in the city. Living in a place like Chicago can sometimes lend itself to a certain kind of pent up aggression and paranoia. In addition, these songs are also the first songs we have ever written together, so we also thought that it was important for us to document this stage in our musical careers.

What has been your most memorable experience as a band to date?

It would probably have to be while we were recording the EP at Bside Audio. Aside from the fact that we were so stoked to record professionally, Eric had to record the vocals while having a severe sore throat and a 103 degree fever. Nothing like gargling whiskey to help keep your voice in tact.

How has living and playing in Chicago influenced or shaped your sound?

Our music is undoubtedly influenced by the fact that there is such a wide variety of music to see and listen to in a big city like this. We were lucky enough to grow up here and take it all in from a pretty early age. Also, when you live in the middle of a town like Chicago, you get to meet and interact with many different people. All of the good and bad things about living in this country are constantly slapping you in the face. It gives you a very healthy sense of perspective.

What is your favorite place to play in Chicago, or the place you most want to play?

We haven't played the Metro yet, but it would be great to get on the stage there and play our set. We have seen way too many shows there for it to not a have a special significance for us.

What should people expect from King Sparrow in the future?

We are going to try and play out as much as we can in the next year. We are also writing new songs and should also be releasing a full length sometime in 2009.

What's the one thing you most want people to know about the band and its music?

We are really busy dudes with full-time jobs so we play music not only because we want to, but because we need to. Seriously. It is the only thing that keeps us from pinging out. Also, if you offer us scotch whiskey, we will never, ever turn it down.

How can people check out King Sparrow?

People can check us out on MySpace at: or email us at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Caw! Caw! - "Wait Outside"

The members of Chicago indie rock outfit Caw! Caw! have been playing together for years, but just last month released their debut label release, a seven-song EP called "Wait Outside" (Slanty Shanty Records). The band's bizarre name and album art suggest a colorful, experimental sound, and that's exactly what the EP delivers - albeit with basic pop sensibilities tucked quietly underneath, making the entire package easier to digest. Think of a marriage between Radiohead and The Shins with both parties high on Red Bull and you'll get an idea of what this music sounds like. The best and most accessible of the bunch is "Organisms," a bouncy number that most effectively captures Caw! Caw!'s mix of quirky fun and heady artiness. Elsewhere, it wouldn't be out of line to say this stuff drips space rock and shoegaze sensibilities, sounding particularly otherworldly on tracks such as opener "Escape the Red Giant" and "Sheets." This all makes for a mini album that requires a bit of work on the listener's part, but at the same time oozes interesting, well-executed ideas worth hearing.

Caw! Caw! is currently on an extensive tour of the country, and will return home to Chicago to play a show at the Abbey Pub on December 11.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shows to see on Halloween

No plans for Halloween night? Go see a show. It falls on a Friday this year, and there's plenty going on around Chicago, so you have no excuse to stay in. Here are some options for rocking out like a monster on October 31:

Empty Bottle:

The 9th annual "Jukebox of the Dead" Halloween Party featuring:

- Detholz! - New waveish stuff influenced by the likes of Devo and Talking Heads.

- Aleks & the Drummer - Aleks Andra Tomaszewska delivers surf farfisa and icy vocals over Deric Criss's pulsing drums to create something that sounds kind of like slightly spooky, out of control video game music.

- The Hood Internet - Chicago's always fun indie mash-up kings.

(10 p.m., $12 advance, $15. More info and tickets)

Abbey Pub:

"Halloweekend 2008"

A night of true festive imitation done rock 'n' roll style, featuring Dead Electric as AC/DC, The Bon Mots as Heart, Fringe Benefits as The Cars, Phil Angotti as The Who, Nick Tremulis as The New York Dolls, John Aselin as Tommy James and the Shondells and Avalanche Rescue Team as The Smiths. Whew.

There's also a show on Friday, October 30, with different bands as different bands. See here for details.

(8 p.m., $8. More info and tickets)

The Vic:

Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band with All Smiles.

(7:30 p.m., $24. More info and tickets)


"Halloween Gets Heavy at the Hideout"

For the metalheads and those who want to be metalheads for Halloween, the Hideout will fulfill your gritty desires with Indian and Rabid Rabbit.

(10 p.m., $8. More info and tickets)

Bottom Lounge:

The King Khan & BBQ Show, The Goblins, CoCoCOMA and Women.

(8 p.m., $12 advance, $15. More info and tickets)

Monday, October 13, 2008

This weekend: The Anabolics, "Bastard child of The Clash and The Shangri-Las"

There's nothing quite like a genuine New York City rock 'n' roll band. You know, the kind that can be both completely trashy and completely charming in the course of a single three-minute power pop song. The kind that can make the ghost of Joey Ramone sit up and take notice. Boys and girls, meet The Anabolics.

The Anabolics are a two girl, one guy band from Brooklyn that will be in town Sunday, October 19 to play Abbey Pub (more info and tickets). They describe themselves as what would happen if The Clash and The Shangri-Las had a cheap one night stand and produced offspring, and I can't disagree.

In anticipation of the show, guitarist and co-vocalist Anna Blumenthal took the time to answer some questions about the origins and antics of The Anabolics, as well as the band's latest LP, "Anabolically Correct."

First off, give us some background on The Anabolics. When and how did you come together?

Marcelo (drummer) and I have been friends for ages. We used to always hang out and listen to records and play music together, and we have the same taste in music. As in, we both worship at the altar of Cheap Trick. Then the bands we had each been playing in kind of fell apart at the same time so we decided to start a band.

This was a few years ago. We had a few different people we were playing with for a while - we used to play with a keyboard player at first, but we met Christina (bass) a little over a year ago, and when she started finishing our
sentences and rolling her eyes at our jokes instead of being repulsed, we knew she was a keeper.

You recently released your second LP, "Anabolically Correct." What did you set out to accomplish with the record and how would you describe it to someone who has never heard the band?

Someone once said we sound like the bastard child of The Clash and The Shangri-Las, and I think that's a pretty apt description so I just ripped that off as my own words. Just kidding. We all love both those bands so we thought that was a cool way to describe our music.

We write catchy rock 'n' roll tunes with a kick and we always strive for lots of harmonies. All three of us sing so we try to have three voices singing as much as possible. I don't think we set out do anything different with this record musically - we never try to write a certain type of song, we just sit down and write whatever comes naturally to us. But sound-wise, I think we worked a lot harder on finding our sound, in terms of the drums, guitars and vocals. And we added way more hand claps than on the first record.

What are your favorite tracks on "Anabolically Correct" and why?

I like "Stick By Me" a lot because that's the first song - and only, so far - that me and Marcelo have written together. (Note - Christina joined the band after we recorded this CD, which is why she doesn't have any songs on it, but she will have a bunch on the next record). We usually just write songs on our own and then bring them to the band, but that one we wrote together in practice one day.

I like "Strychnine" a lot, and "Tonight Tonight," too. I feel like those are really upbeat pop songs and always fun to play live. And I've always dug "Burnin' Headlights." That one started off as a short instrumental song we used to play as an intro to "Careena Collins" from the first record, and for this album we made it a lot longer, added vocals and some new parts and made it into our most metal song, definitely inspired by the Nuge.

The album includes a cover of "Fox in the Snow" by Belle and Sebastian. Unlikely choice, but it works really well done in Anabolics style. How did you come to cover that song?

Actually our old keyboard player, Anne Kadet, suggested we cover that. Anne is awesome - still a good friend of ours - and introduced us to Belle and Sebastian who we weren't really familiar with before, but now we really like them. We love covering songs that aren't obvious choices, and making them our own.

I see you have a video up on YouTube for "Tonight," the opening track on the record. Any others in the works? I read you had one planned for "(I'm Gonna) Leave It Up to You."

That project unfortunately got aborted a while ago due to various things, but we definitely want to make another video soon. It's just a matter of fitting it all in. After our midwest tour we're going to focus on recording our third album, booking a spring tour - probably the south - and we'd love to do another video.

Being from New York City, what do you think about the current music scene there? Any favorite bands to listen to or play with?

My favorite band in NY, as everyone who knows me knows, is the Bamboo Kids. Mary Weiss, from The Shangri-Las, who made a new album last year and is performing again, is just amazing. And The Fleshtones put on the best show on earth. There are a million bands here - lots of good ones, but inevitably, a lot of crap too - like anywhere, I guess. The good thing about the music scene here is there's always some awesome show going on because there are just so many bands and so many venues. The only bad thing is usually there's more than one thing a night so you can't do everything you want to do. But I'll take that over lack of good music any day.

Have you played Chicago before? If so, where'd you play and how was it? If not, what are you expecting from your Abbey Pub show on October 19?

We have not, and have always wanted to. I just hope people come out to the show, and we're psyched to have the opportunity to rock their asses off!

What can people expect from an Anabolics show?

Silver hot pants, go-go boots and fishnets. And that's just our drummer, Marcelo.

Strangest or most memorable experience as a band so far?

Playing the Empress Ballroom in Danbury, CT. It's an all ages venue, which is great. But the bands we were playing with - and the audience - were literally comprised of all 15-year-olds. All their parents were driving them there in their SUVs and setting up their drum kits. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen, but we also felt kinda weird being closer in age to their parents. Also, we had left our cymbals at a gig in Boston the night before, so our drummer had to go up to this 15-year-old kid with a green mohawk and ask to borrow his cymbals. Hilarious. It was awesome, though, because the kids weren't jaded at all so literally had their chins on the stage during the show. Once when we messed up the intro to a song and had to start over, one kid screamed out, "YOU MESSED UP! HAHA!" And they all came up to us after and bought CDs and t-shirts with their allowance. It was awesome.

You cite a lot of classic bands such as Cheap Trick, Ramones, The Shangri-Las, The Go-Go's and The Clash as influences. If The Anabolics could play a show with one band, past or present, who would it be and why?

For me, it would be The Clash because I just love them beyond words. Song writing, performance - they were just the best. Period. As long as the show wasn't in England where the audience used to spit huge gobs of phlegm at the band.

In a sentence, what's the one thing you most want the world to know about The Anabolics?

All I can tell you is to come to a show and see for yourself!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Insecurities - 'Ban the Kiss Hello: A Social Commentary'

I confess, before I listened to The Insecurities I didn't realize that lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Stubhy Pandav was also the frontman in local mainstays Lucky Boys Confusion. It wasn't until after I played the band's debut EP, "Ban the Kiss Hello: A Social Commentary," that I found out about the connection, and it's just as well because to my ears the two bands have little else in common. While LBC have long been known for their rowdy pop punk "party rock," The Insecurities take a more thoughtful approach, and are even better for it.

"Ban the Kiss Hello" boasts lyrics that are more meaningful, performances that seem more heartfelt and sounds that are more diverse. All of this adds up to a tuneful, well-crafted mini record that you don't have to be in a party mood to play.

That said, Pandav hasn't completely abandoned the fun. While the lyrics are far more serious, for the most part the music is upbeat, highly melodic and downright hummable. In fact, each of the five proper songs on the EP (the sixth track is mostly a spoken-word "epilogue" reciting a laundry list of insecure traits) is memorable and has a unique identity.

"Circle Three Times" kicks things off with a burst of infectious power pop paired with somber lyrics. If you just paid attention to the music, you'd never guess that Pandav were singing lines such as, "Look at me, yeah, I'm no iron man/I cut my teeth on my father's backhand/I held my breath and jumped into the quicksand." "Waterfalls & Alcohol" is a bit more subdued musically, while the peppy "Me & Mona Lisa" is the closest thing to happiness on the EP. "Cavalier" brings in an unexpected twist by flirting with rockabilly. The sadly beautiful "Bite My Tongue" is possibly the strongest cut, with its excellent melody and my favorite line on the disc - "not every man's a car crash."

There's not a weak spot on the disc, and every song gets even better with repeat plays. If we can expect this kind of quality from the band in the future, let's hope an LP isn't far behind.

The Insecurities will play a release show for the EP at Elbo Room this Saturday, October 11. Click here for more info and tickets. They are also set to play Beat Kitchen on November 1.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

CD release shows this weekend - October 10-11

Catfish Haven
- "Devastator" - These indie rock meets soul locals will play a CD release show for their second LP, "Devastator," Saturday, October 11 at Metro.

Brighton, MA - "Amateur Lovers" - Brighton, MA will join Catfish Haven at Metro for the October 11 show with a release of their own. "Amateur Lovers" is the band's debut album, which they will play in its entirety.

My My My - "Little Cat Plays the Alpha Rave" - This local indie pop band, which brings to mind the smart pop of The New Pornographers, is playing a record release show at Subterranean for their new LP, "Little Cat Plays the Alpha Rave," this Saturday.

Kid, You'll Move Mountains - "Loomings" - This is the band's debut record, and while they are planning an official CD release shows, they are giving those who attend their show at Bottom Lounge this Friday, October 10, first crack to hear it for free. Everyone who attends the show will receive a unique download URL.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Incoming: Unknown Component at Sylvie's Lounge

Iowa's Unknown Component - which is actually one-man band Keith Lynch - is in town to play Sylvie's Lounge this Thursday, October 9.

Lynch is nothing if not ambitious. He has self-recorded and self-released five albums over the course of a few years. He plays every instrument on his discs and puts a noticeable amount of effort into self-promoting them. Even in the days of hordes of indie acts vying for attention on the Web, Lynch's level of effort is quite rare.

His most recent release is called "In Direct Communication," and what the album lacks in fully realized production (this is 100 percent DIY stuff, after all), it makes up for with strong melodies and sheer passion from the singer-songwriter.

On "In Direct Communication," Lynch wears his influences on his sleeve. Vocally, he channels the gruffness and intensity of Kurt Cobain and the frank delivery of Bob Dylan. As far as the music, it has been said that Lynch must be a huge fan of Radiohead and Elliot Smith, and this listener doesn't disagree. In most cases, releasing a record laced with sounds that call upon these types of heavy-hitters would be dangerous, but there are many instances on the album during which Lynch makes it work. "Retrospectively Speaking" and "It's a Fine Line" are highly melodic, instantly memorable cuts, for example. I'd imagine these types of songs will sound particularly convincing in a live setting.

In addition to his performance at Sylvie's, Lynch will be interviewed at 2 p.m. on Chicago Acoustic Underground.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My My My - "Little Cat Plays the Alpha Rave"

There's something about a record with a kitten playing a toy piano on the cover that makes you want to like it.

Fortunately, the music on local band My My My's latest record, "Little Cat Plays the Alpha Rave," is as likable as the album art. Although the band has only been in existence since 2007, "Little Cat" is their third effort, preceded by "Theme Songs for Your Melancholy" and "Conjugation Nation."

The band has been lauded as Chicago's version of the New Pornographers, and that's an appropriate description. Like the Canadian mainstays of thinking man's pop, My My My is full of charm with boy-girl vocals, strange song titles and strong, unpredictable-yet-catchy melodies.

The driving force behind My My My is singer-songwriter Russell Baylin, who delivers rocking cuts such as opener "So, You Like Italo-Disco" and "Best Laid Plans" with gusto. The songs are made even better with the complementary sweet vocals of Sarah Snow, who brings another highlight to the disc in the acoustic, chilled out "Boom Boom," which allows her a genuine Neko Case moment.

Other notable tracks include "Palisades," featuring a cool sped up chorus out of nowhere that sort of reminds me of fellow Chicago band Skybox, the bizarrely captivating "A Blind Salamander Came to Town and Tapped His Way Into Their Hearts" and the melodic, upbeat closer "Aztec vs. Building." There's even a brief, strangely addictive eponymous track, in which the little cat does just what the title says.

"Little Cat" is a fully-realized, confident record that plays like the work of a band with not only strong musical talent and intelligence, but also a sense of humor - something all too rare in indie music today. The record takes a few spins to really stick, but once it worms its way into your mind you'll find a consistently enjoyable and satisfying collection of quirky, smart pop tunes with long-term appeal.

My My My will play a record release show for "Little Cat" this Saturday, October 11 at Subterranean. Oh My God and Baby Teeth will also play. Click here for more info and tickets.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hum to ring in the new year at Double Door

Cult alternative/"space rock" band Hum, which formed in Champaign in 1989 and built up a devoted following both locally and beyond throughout the 90s, have announced their first show in over three years. The band will appear at Double Door with The Life and Times on New Year's Eve.

Hum last played in October 2005 as the headliner for the "Rockfest" music festival, and so far it seems the December 31 show will be another one-off gig.

The band recently gained increased recognition in the public eye through TV ads for Cadillac that featured the song "Stars."

Tickets cost $65 and include a hosted bar. Click here to buy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Five shows this weekend - October 3-5

The Dials, courtesy

- The Dials at The Empty Bottle - These locals play spunky female-fronted power pop. Also with New York's Mathematicians and The Ettes. More info and tickets.

- Headlights at Schubas - Headlights hail from Champaign, and recently released their sophomore LP, "Some Racing, Some Stopping." Also with fellow Chambana band World's First Flying Machine and Chicagoans Helicopters (click for Windy City Rock review). More info and tickets.

Saturday, October 4

- Company of Thieves, Skybox and Arthi Meera at Beat Kitchen - Company of Thieves will head up this night of three local bands with an acoustic performance in honor of their new acoustic EP, "Tourniquet." The band plays smooth, melodic rock that shines with the vocals of Genevieve Schatz. The ragtime meets glam quirk of Skybox (click for Windy City Rock review) is also a crowd pleaser, and based on her MySpace tracks Arthi Meera has a beautiful voice. More info and tickets.

- The Effigies at Abbey Pub - The Effigies, formed in 1980, are one of Chicago's first punk bands. Also with SSScientists and DJ Morry. More info and tickets.

Sunday, October 5

- Band of Annuals at Hideout - Folky alt-country from Salt Lake City. With Chicago's Judson Claiborne. More info and tickets.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The best Chicago bands?

Wilco, courtesy

It's impossible to come up with a list of the best bands in Chicago because:

1) It's too subjective.
2) There are so many bands in Chicago that nobody could possibly know them all, therefore nobody is capable of making such a statement.

However, it can't be denied that there are certain local bands that are more well known than others, and have even developed a considerable fan base outside the city. Below are the bands that, based on both local and national recognition, people seem to consider some of the best the city has to offer.

Do you agree or disagree, and why? Who are your personal "bests"?

Wilco - Everybody seems to like Wilco. I don't recall ever reading or hearing anyone say anything bad about them, which is pretty amazing in a city with such a diverse and robust music scene. Sometime between the band's formation in 1994 and today, their unpredictable alternative rock meets alternative country sound has made them a sort of revered, untouchable force in local music.

The Smashing Pumpkins - Seeing as how the Pumpkins are quite possibly the most popular and notable band ever to come out of the Windy City, there was no leaving them off this list. Millions of people grew up with the band's music throughout the 1990s and still rank them among their top favorites. Even after Billy Corgan resurrected the Pumpkins in 2006 sans half the original members, interest has remained incredibly high, as illustrated by the fact that the band is playing three eagerly-anticipated home town shows in November.

Catfish Haven - The soul-infused indie rock of Catfish Haven has won them legions of fans and praise from the likes of Spin, Pitchfork and All Music Guide, as well as slots at events such as Lollapalooza and CMJ Fest. If you frequent shows in Chicago, chances are you've seen them caught them either opening or headlining.

The Redwalls - The Redwalls are another post-2000 local band that has managed to rise to national recognition. It doesn't hurt that the band's brand of Beatlesesque pop/rock is extremely easy to digest, full of catchy hooks fit for mass appeal. The band has scored high profile appearances such as "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," and NME Magazine recently named them one of "The Most Exciting Bands in America."

The Ponys - In 2005, Rolling Stone had this to say about The Ponys: "While other American indie bands fuss themselves into a lather straining to redefine the templates of 'garage rock' or 'post-punk,' the Ponys just get it the hell done." Apparently that's an opinion a lot of people agree with, as the band has become one of the most buzzed about to come out of the city in recent years.