Saturday, November 29, 2008

Best Chicago radio shows for discovering new music

Besides getting out and seeing shows at Chicago's best venues, the best way to discover new music is by catching worthwhile local radio shows and Internet broadcasts. Sure, a lot of radio stations and shows don't play much worth listening to, but here are some that can truly serve as a valuable resource in finding your new favorite bands:

- Radio One: Chicago - This show broadcasts on independent community radio station WLUW 88.7 FM every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., playing the best of new and old Chicago bands as well as occasional live sets from local acts and touring acts stopping through. On any given show you can catch local favorites such as Office, The Sea and Cake and The Changes.

- Indiesomnia! - This free, convenient weekly podcast goes up for download every Thursday at midnight and features playlists that includes a mix of local indie bands, more widespread acts and classic tunes of the past. Play it at home or fire it up on the go via your iPod and your day will most definitely rock a lot harder.

- Sound Opinions on Chicago Public Radio (WBEZ 91.5 FM) - Notable local music critics Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune and Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times interview musicians, review albums past and present and explore a plethora of topics such as the history of bubblegum pop, the greatest soundtracks and the best lead-off tracks. While this show doesn't have a local focus, it covers a wide range of sounds and topics, ensuring you'll learn something with every broadcast. Examples of past guests: Ray Davies, Tori Amos, Radiohead, Lupe Fiasco and The New Pornographers. Listen Fridays at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 11 a.m.

- Local Anesthetic on WXRT (93.1 FM) - This is XRT's Chicago-centered show, playing mostly new releases from Windy City bands. The show also features band profiles, exclusive live sets and interviews. Catch it Sundays at 7:30 p.m. You can also download past shows at podcasts on the show Web site.

- Local 101 on Q101.1 FM - If you're less into "indie rock" or "indie pop" and more into an alternative rock sound, check out Q101's local show, Local 101. The show broadcasts Sundays at 10 p.m. and features a playlist full of Chicago rock acts.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Out now: The Killers, Guns N' Roses, Death Cab and more

The Killers - "Day & Age" - The Las Vegas quartet returns with their third LP, arguably their strongest yet. Click here for a full review.

Guns N' Roses - "Chinese Democracy" - Available exclusively at Best Buy, "Chinese Democracy," in the works for 14 years, is the first Guns N' Roses album since 1993's "The Spaghetti Incident." Better late than never, right?

Kanye West - "808s & Heartbreak" - West's fourth LP marks a new direction, relying heavily on a drum machine and material fueled by the death of his mother and his separation from his fiancee.

Death Cab for Cutie- "Something About Airplanes" (10th anniversary deluxe edition) - The Washington indie rock act's debut album from 1998 is reissued with redesigned artwork, liner notes and a seven track bonus disc featuring the band's first Seattle performance at the Crocodile Cafe in February 1998.

Local artists:

King Sparrow - "Derailer" - These guys are brand new to the scene, rock hard and are deserving of your attention. If you don't believe me, read my interview with them and listen to the tracks from their newly-pressed debut EP, "Derailer." Then hit them up to purchase a copy, or better yet, get one at their next show on December 4 at Bottom Lounge.

The Code Kids - "We Sell It Back to You When You Beg" - Are you a fan of high-energy, stripped down rock 'n' roll? Of course you are, so I know you'll want to check out locals The Code Kids and their newly released three-song EP.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Five shows this weekend - 11/21 to 11/23

The M's. Photo by Jonathan Michael Johnson

Friday, November 21

- The M's, Detholz! and Royal Bangs at Hideout - Add up two quality Chicago bands plus one from Tennessee and it's sure to equal a good time. 9:30 p.m., $10. More info and tickets.

- Gregory and the Hawk with Daniel Martin Moore at Schubas - Gregory and the Hawk is actually New York singer-songwriter Meredith Godreau, who plays indie folk pop. Fellow folk pop artist, Kentucky's Daniel Martin Moore, will also play. 7 p.m., $8 advance, $10 at door. More info and tickets.

Saturday, November 22

- Camper Van Beethoven at Abbey Pub - The classic, eclectic alternative band celebrates their 25th anniversary. The night will also include a solo set from the band's bassist, Victor Krummenacher. 8 p.m., $20. More info and tickets. Also on Friday.

- Margot & the Nuclear So & So's with Wild Sweet Orange and KaiserCartel at Bottom Lounge - 8 p.m., $13 advance, $15 day of show. More info and tickets.

Sunday, November 23

- The Pink Spiders with Cruiserweight, Mondo Primo, Scissors and Victorian Halls at Beat Kitchen - Nashville pop-punk/power pop band The Pink Spiders are promoting their third LP, "Sweat It Out," released in September. 5 p.m., $10 advance, $12 day of show. More info and tickets.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kings of Leon to play benefit show in Chicago; Bands, you could open

Kings of Leon are set to play a show at House of Blues Chicago on Saturday, January 24 to benefit pediatric cancer research at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, and are giving bands the chance to score the opening slot.

Tickets to the show, dubbed "Dare 2 Dream," go on sale Saturday, November 15 at 10 a.m. and cost $150. All proceeds benefit the cause.

Think it would be sweet to open for the Kings? The event's organizer, Platform One Entertainment, is giving one band or artist the chance. Artists can enter the contest for $15 at by December 5. Platform One and Kings of Leon will then narrow the entries down to five, and an online vote will determine the winner, who will have the opportunity to perform at the show in front of local and national media as well as music industry VIPs. The winner will also receive $1,000 for travel and hotel expenses.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Five shows this weekend - November 14-15

The Handcuffs

Friday, November 14

- The Handcuffs, The Bon Mots and Le Concorde at Abbey Pub - The Handcuffs, described earlier this week by Jim DeRogatis of the Sun-Times as "drawing on a range of glam and cool pop influences from David Bowie to Blondie to Britpop," will celebrate the release of their new CD, "Electroluv." You also get two other quality local bands, The Bon Mots and Le Concorde. 8 p.m., $6 advance, $8 at door. More info and tickets.

- The Fleshtones with The Hentchmen and Moto at Bottom Lounge - A classic New York City garage rock band, The Fleshtones debuted at CBGB in 1976 and have since released a hefty amount of records, including this year's "Take a Good Look." 8 p.m., $12 advance, $15 at door. More info and tickets.

- Ben Weasel with The Challenged and The Girls at Reggie's - Local punk mainstay Weasel will play two shows at Reggie's this weekend, kicking things off Friday evening. 5 p.m., $15. More info and tickets. Also Saturday at 2 p.m.

Saturday, November 15

- The Sea and Cake with Death Vessel at Empty Bottle - Local indie rockers The Sea and Cake will also play two shows, both on Saturday. Last month the band released their eighth LP, "Car Alarm." 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. $16 advance, $18 at door. More info and tickets.

- Deerhunter with Times New Viking and Disappears at Metro - Atlanta noise rockers Deerhunter are promoting their recently released album, "Microcastle." The first 150 guests (21 and over) to arrive will receive an invitation to the Official MGD After Show Party featuring a special DJ set by the band, and a chance to win autographed Deerhunter merchandise. 6 p.m., $17. More info and tickets.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Safes - Sight of All Light

The Safes, a Chicago band made up of three brothers - Frankie, Michael and Patrick O'Malley - play a hard-hitting mix of punk, power pop and garage rock. Formed in 2003, they've already put out two LPs ("Family Jewels" and "Well Well Well") and two EPs, including the recently released "Sight of All Light."

Clocking in at under 12 minutes, the five-song disc rocks hard with no frills, refusing to indulge in any of the pretensions that far too many indie bands hold dear. As they barrel through tracks that conjure the likes of The Ramones and The Kinks, it's hard not to appreciate their pure rock 'n' roll spirit.

The opening title track packs loads of hooks and grit into 1 minute and 53 seconds, while "Greed," with its ringing guitar, melodic punk drive and gritty vocals reminiscent of The Clash, is another highlight.

The Safes are set to complete their next full-length this winter, and "Sight of All Light" is a solid teaser.

Check out the band live on November 26 at Beat Kitchen and December 19 at Quenchers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Innocent - EP

Do you ever get the feeling that a new song you're listening to sounds so great that it must be a cover of some old hit single, only to find out it's completely original? That's the feeling I got more than once when playing the debut EP from The Innocent, a.k.a Chicago singer-songwriter Michael Hardey.

In other words, Hardey and his band have a very good thing going on that you should know about.

Don't be fooled by the disc's noirish cover art. The Innocent play a very accessible blend of folk rock, pop and college rock that wouldn't feel out of place on a mix CD that includes the likes of Paul Westerberg, The Wallflowers, R.E.M. and Michael Penn.

The two strongest tracks - "Beautiful Lie" and "The West Coast" - kick off the disc. If you're a fan of melodic, intelligent pop with choruses that ingrain themselves into your mind after a single listen, you won't find much these days that's better than this.

The quieter moments, such as "Don't You" and "Tied Down," are less immediate, but still well-written, well-played tracks that warrant repeat listens.

Add excellent production to all of this and you have a rock solid debut from an artist who, with any luck, we'll soon hear much more from.

Check out The Innocent live on November 21 at The Underground Lounge and December 3 at Double Door.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lollapalooza in Chicago until 2018?

Both the Sun-Times and the Tribune have reported that a new deal between the Chicago Park District and Lollapalooza organizers C3 Presents could keep the festival in Chicago until at least 2018 and bring in at least $13 million.

According to the Sun-Times, the deal will likely be approved next Wednesday, November 12, when it is brought to the Chicago Park District Board.

The current deal, signed in 2006, is set to keep the festival here until 2011, so the new deal would extend its stay for at least seven years. If Chicago is chosen to host the 2016 Olympics, Lollapalooza would be canceled for one or two years, which would then be tacked on to the end of the deal to extend it until 2019 or 2020.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What do indie musicians want from the next president?

As the election day frenzy continues, take a few minutes out to check out this amusing video from that asks indie musicians what they want from the 44th president.

As you might expect, there are some pretty hilarious responses. A few of my favorites:

"Grants and government funding for touring musicians. There are starving people in the streets, but what about starving musicians in a van?"

"The best thing they could do for us is...come to our shows, man."

"Economic guitar pick stimulus package."