Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Free Tortoise show at Reckless Records

Photo by Whitney Bradshaw

On Sunday, October 4, much-loved Chicago experimental unit Tortoise will play a free show at Reckless Records in Wicker Park (1532 N Milwaukee Ave) in support of their latest album, Beacons of Ancestorship. The performance begins at 5 p.m.

The appearance will mark only the third time the band has performed in-store throughout their nearly 20-year history and is bound to draw a big crowd, so you'll probably want to get there early to stake out a spot.

Below you can watch the video and download a free mp3 - courtesy of the band and Thrill Jockey Records - of one of the new tracks, "Prepare Your Coffin." Also worth checking out is this recent Q&A with percussionist John Herndon from our friends at loudlooppress.com.

Download mp3: Tortoise - "Prepare Your Coffin"

Tortoise - Prepare Your Coffin from Thrill Jockey Records on Vimeo.

Tortoise will play two additional hometown shows in October, supporting Wilco at the UIC Pavilion on Sunday the 18th and Monday the 19th.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Essex Chanel release show: 10/1 at Subterranean

Essex Chanel (Photo by Christopher Hiltz)

Early this year we ran a Q&A with Fetla, one of the many projects of Chicago-based artist extraordinaire Travis Lee Wiggins. Wiggins delves into pretty much every art form imaginable, from design to film to writing to - of course - music, and is gearing up to play a show at Subterranean on Thursday, October 1 to celebrate the new LP from one of his three bands, Essex Chanel.

The record is titled Love Is Proximity and marks the eighth (yes, eighth) full-length Essex Chanel release since 2005. Over the course of 10 love songs it furthers the project's eclectic pop sound, this time aiming to sound like something that, according to Wiggins, "could be played at Starbuck's and sold at the front counter." Just listen to the single "Skinny Dippin'" (free download below) - a happy, snappy celebration of, well, skinny dippin' - to get a sense of the album's lighthearted approach. The rest of the LP takes a similarly sweet, melodic approach, sometimes simple and straightforward ("Already in Heaven," "For Granted"), sometimes lush and full of instrumentation ("I Know You Didn't Think About," "So Long to Wait").

Download mp3: Essex Chanel - "Skinny Dippin'"

Download mp3: Essex Chanel - "I Know You Didn't Think About"

The band actually recorded a total of 42 songs over two years during the Love Is Proximity sessions. Ten are included on the record, while the rest will see the light of day during the coming months via a series of additional discs.

To hear more before the show, you can already get a digital copy of the full album on Amazon mp3 and iTunes.

Essex Chanel - Love Is Proximity CD release show
Thursday October 1st, 2009
The Subterranean
2011 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60647-5413
(773) 278-6799
w/ Ami Saraiya & 1 T.B.A.
8pm, 17+, $8 (buy tickets)

Essex Chanel will also play Chicago on Saturday, October 24 with a special string-only show at Uncommon Ground featuring guitar, violin and cello arrangements.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Netherfriends Daytrotter session

Art by by Johnnie Cluney, daytrotter.com

Recently Chicago psych-pop band Netherfriends stopped by the Daytrotter studio in Rock Island to record a session for the site, and the four songs are now up and available for free download here.

The tracks include three unreleased songs - "Tac Tac," "Worean Kar" and "Shawn Tyger" - as well as a live version of "Nunya (Beeswax)," which appears on the band's debut EP, Calling You Out.

Check out the band live at their September 30 record release show at Schubas, also featuring the Yearbooks and Bengal Lancer. 9 p.m., $5, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Show review: fun. at Schubas, 9/24/09

Photo by J. Krolicki

New York indie pop trio fun. hadn’t even released their debut record, Aim and Ignite, when their Thursday night show at Schubas sold out. It’s not every day that a band quickly sells out a show before putting any music out, and can then go on to keep the audience in the palm of their hand for the entire gig only one month after the album’s release. fun. effortlessly managed to do just that last night, delivering a lively set to a crowd that was happy to sing along to every song from start to finish.

The band – including core members Nate Ruess (formerly of The Format) and Andrew Dost (of Anathallo) as well as additional supporting musicians (for some reason the third main member, Jack Antonoff, was inexplicably missing) - played off the positive vibes and were clearly thrilled to be on stage. They played everything off the record plus two songs from The Format, “The First Single” (which kicked off with around 30 seconds of “Billie Jean” as a tribute to Michael Jackson) and an acoustic version of “She Doesn’t Get It.” Ruess dedicated “The Gambler” – a song about his parents – to his father, who was present working the merch stand. The front man seemed genuinely surprised and appreciative of Chicago’s warm response and commented that the band was blown away by the show selling out so quickly. Before the final song in the set, “Take Your Time (Coming Home),” they even brought out an old school Scottie Pippen jersey to express their love of the Windy City.

Photo by J. Krolicki

Photo by J. Krolicki

fun. wrap up their current tour tonight in Minneapolis and will return to Chicago on October 28 for an opening slot with Taking Back Sunday at the House of Blues. Ruess also mentioned that the band would be back in January on a headlining tour.

1. At Least I'm Not As Sad (As I Used To Be)
2. I Wanna Be The One
3. All The Pretty Girls
4. Light A Roman Candle With Me
5. Walking The Dog
6. The First Single (The Format)
7. Barlights
8. The Gambler
9. Be Calm
10. Benson Hedges
11. She Doesn't Get It - acoustic (The Format)
12. Take Your Time (Coming Home)

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir injured in accident

The six members of Chicago indie pop group Scotland Yard Gospel Choir were hospitalized Thursday, September 24 after suffering injuries after their van flipped over and rolled multiple times on the way to a gig in Cincinnati.

As reported by the Chicago Breaking News Center Thursday night, the band was traveling in the van through Indiana on I-65 when a tire failed and caused the crash. The report included the following details about the members' injuries:

--Mark Yoshizumi of Chicago was airlifted to Advocate Christ Hospital Medical Center in Oak Lawn with leg and internal injuries, along with major head trauma.
--Eliezer Santana Jr., 32, of Chicago, who was driving, was taken to Jasper County Hospital with a concussion and minor bleeding.
--Alison Hinderliter, 42, of Chicago was taken to Jasper County Hospital with a head injury. --Ethan Adelsman, 32, of Chicago was taken to Jasper County Hospital with a head injury. --Elias Einhorn, 29, of Chicago was taken to Jasper County Hospital with a head injury. --Mary Ralph, 28, of Chicago was taken to Jasper County Hospital with head trauma and a shoulder injury.

According to another report by Chicago Sun-Times music critic Jim DeRogatis, "As of Friday morning at 10:30, Bloodshot publicist Marah Eakin was reporting: 'Alison, Jay and Ethan were all released from the hospital [Thursday] with cuts, bruises, maybe some broken bones. Elia and Mary were held overnight. Elia has a big cut on his head and required a bunch of stitches, and Mary (we think) broke her pelvis. Mark got airlifted last night to Chicago, and had some surgery last night.' Mark Yoshizumi remains in serious condition at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn."

Bloodshot Records has set up a PayPal account in the band's name to help offset medical and equipment expenses resulting from the accident. Click here for more information.

This month, the band released a new album titled ...And the Horse You Rode in On and were in the midst of a tour promoting the release.

Our thoughts and prayers for a quick recovery go out to the band members and their families.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weekend show picks



- Chairlift at Schubas -Chairlift's captivating and eclectic sound - channeling everything from dream pop to jazz rock to 80s-style synth pop on their breakthrough record Does You Inspire You - has brought them quite a bit of attention over the past year, leading to a number of high profile appearances (check out our coverage of their performance at Lollapalooza here). 10 p.m., $15, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

- The Weakerthans at Bottom Lounge - It's tough to classify this Canadian band beyond the generic indie rock tag, but their nostalgic, bittersweet sound has gathered them a dedicated following. They released their last album, Reunion Tour, in 2007. 8 p.m., $17 advance, $20 day of show, 18 and over. More info and tickets.


- Built to Spill at the Vic - After coming to town to play a set at Pitchfork Music Fest this summer, the band is back to promote their forthcoming seventh full-length record, There Is No Enemy, due out October 6. 7:30 p.m., $24, all ages. More info and tickets.

- Oh My God at Double Door - As we detailed earlier this week, the Windy City's own Oh My God will celebrate the release of their new record, The Night Undoes the Work of the Day, on this hometown stop of a current nationwide tour. Doors 9 p.m., show 10 p.m., $10. More info and tickets.

- Brilliant Pebbles at Subterranean - The release show for this Chicago glam-pop act's debut record will also feature Aleks and the Drummer, Lord of the Yum Yum and Heart Shaped Hate. Doors 9 p.m., show 9:30 p.m., $8, 17 and over. More info and tickets.


- The Dø at the Empty Bottle - This French/Finnish duo was recently described by Drowned in Sound as sounding like "a female Eminem backed by a brass band, like The Cardigans stripped to nothing but a jazzy guitar strum and a sexy whisper, like ‘Iko Iko’ by The Dixie Cups re-imagined by Pingu, like Moldy Peaches with a hint of continental sophistication, like ‘The Block Party’ by Lisa Left-Eye Lopez if she’d grown up listening to Pavement, like PJ Harvey on the moon, and like Os Mutantes at their most chilled-out." How could that not make for an entertaining show? 8 p.m., $10, 21 and over. More info and tickets.

The Blissters cover 'Bear Down'

Chicago's own Blissters have just recorded a rockin' new version of the Chicago Bears fight song, "Bear Down," playable below. Who else thinks the Bears should use this?

To check out a recent video of one of the band's original tunes, click here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Raveonettes stream new LP in full, play Metro on 10/25

The Raveonettes have always been very willing to let fans hear their new material before its official release date, and that hasn't changed with the noise-pop duo's upcoming fourth full-length, In and Out of Control. The record is due out October 6, but Sune Ruse Wagner and Sharin Foo are currently streaming all of the songs in their entirety on their MySpace page.

The band seems to have found a solid compromise between the 60s pop pastiche of 2005's Pretty in Black and the shoegaze aggression of their last effort, Lust Lust Lust, with early standouts being the instantly catchy "Bang!" and "Last Dance" (which was definitely a highlight of the band's set at Lollapalooza in August - our coverage of that gig here), the driving "Suicide" and the noise attack of "Break Up Girls."

The Raveonettes will make a Chicago stop on October 25 at Metro on their tour promoting the new record. The Black Angels and Violent Soho will also play. $18, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oh My God record release at Double Door on 9/26

This Saturday, September 26, Chicago-based Oh My God will make at hometown stop at Double Door on their current nationwide tour promoting the release of their new record, The Night Undoes the Work of the Day. The album officially comes out September 29 on Split Red Records.

Following 2008's Fools Want Noise, the new album - recorded throughout 2008 and early 2009 with producer Jim Tullio - finds the band building on their eclectic, unpredictable sound. For a preview, check out one of the tracks, "Baby, Dream":

Download mp3: Oh My God - "Baby, Dream"

Joining core members Billy O'Neill (vocals, bass) and Ig (organ, vocals) on the tour are drummer Danny Yost and guitarist/bassist Zach Verdoorn of The Kickback, a band we profiled in a recent Q&A.

The Double Door gig is part of the club's 15th anniversary celebration and will also feature The Record Low and Brighton, MA. Doors open at 9 p.m., show at 10 p.m. $10. More info and tickets.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

EP review: YAWN

Previously known as Metrovox, the members of Chicago's YAWN have been playing around the city for a few years, but with a new name and a new, self-titled EP, they're poised for a fresh beginning. The five songs on the EP - released this month - find the band falling somewhere between the tribal hooks of Vampire Weekend and the synthy glee of Passion Pit, ultimately ending up with a lush, enchanting breed of indie pop that's well worth a listen. Opening track "Toys" sets the scene with a strong tropical drum beat, playful sound effects and an excellent falsetto chorus. The remaining tracks don't stray too much from this basic formula, but each offers enough nuance to keep things interesting, from the hypnotic, chanting vocals of "David" to the meaty guitar of "Empress." YAWN reportedly recorded this EP in their apartment, which is quite a feat considering the high quality of the material and production. Keep these guys on your radar - it wouldn't be a shock to see them scoring some major attention in the near future.

The band is currently offering the EP for free download, so head over to yawntheband.com to listen for yourself.

Windy City Rock on Outside the Loop Radio

Tune into WLUW-FM (88.7) at 10 a.m. on Thursday, September 17 to hear Windy City Rock featured on the station's Outside the Loop Radio show! You can also stream the show on http://wluw.org/ or check out an archived version afterward at http://www.outsidetheloopradio.com/otl/.

Outside the Loop is a weekly show that features segments with local newsmakers, artists, musicians and other Chicagoans of interest.

Thanks to OTL's host and producer, Mike Stephen, for chatting with us!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tonight: Split EP release at Martyrs'


Head over to Martyrs' tonight, September 15, to check out Chicago rock and roll four-piece Split. The band will offer a limited edition 6-song EP exclusively available at the show.

Split formed earlier this year, with members also playing or having played in bands such as Airlines-X, The Dyes, The Uncontrollable Few, The Sublets and The Loudness War. Gapers Block recently described the band as channeling "Lou Reed and The Stone Roses at times in a pleasant, not-so-strung-out way that would make for a perfectly suitable mid-week show at which one could enjoy a few beers and have a fine conversation with friends," and I'd say that's pretty spot on.

For a taste, here's a free mp3:

Download mp3: Split - Cheater

Split at Martyrs'
Also with Lynxwail
8 p.m.
21 and over
3855 N. Lincoln Avenue

Monday, September 14, 2009

Concert review: Elephant Gun, The Teenage Prayers, and Brother George at Morseland 9/4/09

By Susan Schomburg

Elephant Gun (Photo by Kelly Walter)

Tucked away in Rogers Park, the Morseland has a mid-size pub/restaurant atmosphere with a decent number of live music offerings throughout the week, and there was a particularly choice show featuring three local and independent Americana/rock bands on the evening of September 4th.

The evening opened with Chicago-based quartet Brother George's set of old-timey vocal harmonies, folk/Americana influences, and plenty of instrument-swapping as various band members traded guitars, drums, and bass while taking lead vocals. One of the stand-out sounds from the songs in the set was often-doubled lead guitar and bass riffs. The hummable melodies and choir atmosphere gave the band's electric live sound (the band's studio recordings are acoustic) a friendly, collaborative feel.

Embarking that evening on a seven-city tour with Brother George, New York's The Teenage Prayers had a classic rock/Americana feel (at times during the set, one could compare their sound to The Band). Again, collaboration seemed to be the overriding vibe from the set; everybody onstage seemed to join in on the choruses of songs, and the band's welcoming sound drew you in to the fold.

The evening's headliners were Elephant Gun, a rather large rock/Americana outfit from Chicago, and honestly, with seven people on the stage and a big, lush live sound to match, there are very few contemporary acts in (or out of) the area that could have followed their performance Friday night. The songwriting is solid, the melodies are memorable, but a big part of the appeal of seeing this band perform live comes from the energetic and visually entertaining stage show; the way the members of this band play their instruments is entertaining on its own. It is obvious watching Elephant Gun that the musicians love what they are doing, and that there isn't any place they'd rather be, which infects the audience with the same energy. By the end of the night, they had gotten a lot of people up on their feet and dancing to their frenetic countrified rock. Elephant Gun's new album, Beartime Stories, is due out in October.

* * * * *
This article also appears on Chicago Indie Rock Examiner.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Show preview: Ida Maria at Metro, 9/19/09


Last month Norwegian rocker Ida Maria proved a surprise highlight at Lollapalooza to many fest-goers, with a set that included lots of rolling on the floor, bra exposure and a cover of Iggy Pop's "I Wanna be Your Dog." On Saturday, September 19, she will return to Chicago for a gig at Metro that also features Ladyhawke, Semi Precious Weapons and Sliimy.

In 2008, Ida Maria released her debut studio record, Fortress Round My Heart, which was met with critical acclaim and included radio singles such as "Oh My God" and "Stella." The record helped set her far apart from common "women in rock" stereotypes, introducing a unique presence and voice. In an interview that ran this week from Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times, she explained, "It's very tiring to have to get past all of those comparisons and have to make people understand that you're actually making your own music. I have never really been into Blondie or Patti Smith, and it's just recently that I started discovering PJ Harvey. Just because I'm a girl doesn't mean that I'm particularly interested or take so much inspiration from other female artists. I've always said, "I'm a songwriter and musician. Those things come before anything else."

To get a preview of Ida Maria in action, check out this clip - courtesy of roxwel.com - of her and her band performing "We're All Going To Hell", "Stella", "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked", and "Oh My God" live from Emo's in Austin, Texas on August 3:

Ida Maria - Exclusive Live Performance
Music Video Codes at www.roxwel.com

Also available on the same site is a two part interview with Ida Maria, available here and here.

Tickets to the Metro show are $17.50 and can be purchased here. The show is at 7:30 and doors open at 6:30.

From Bach to doom metal: A friend's profile of Chicago musician Rachel Barton Pine

Rachel Barton Pine (photo by Andrew Eccles)

One of my fellow Examiner.com writers, Mona Molarsky, has just published an excellent profile piece on Chicago-based violinist Rachel Barton Pine. Pine is best known for performing classical music, but she also contributes her talents to local metal band Earthen Grave.

Many also remember the musician's near-fatal 1995 Metra accident, when at 20-years-old she was caught in a train's closing doors, dragged and thrown under the wheels, resulting in the loss of her lower left leg.

Now 34, Pine is about to make her New York solo debut, has recently released an album with Earthen Grave and is about to release a new solo CD of classical material.

“Heavy metal is very close to classical music,” Pine states in the interview. “It has a lot of rhythmic and harmonic complexity. And some of the best metal musicians love classical. A few weeks ago I was hanging out with Dave Lombardo, the drummer from Slayer, and he told me he’s really into Chopin and Vivaldi. He listens to them on his iPod.”

Click here to check out the full article.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Q&A: Kid, You'll Move Mountains

Photo by Lenny Gilmore

Since releasing their debut record, Loomings, less than one year ago, Chicago five-piece Kid, You'll Move Mountains have unquestionably made their mark on the local scene, scoring an impressive amount of press and a number of high profile gigs. Take, for example, their write-up in Filter's Ragged Magazine, or Metromix Chicago recently choosing Loomings as one of of the top 10 albums of 2009 so far. On Friday, September 11 the band will play Subterranean with another standout Chicago act, Mr. Russia (more info and tix here).

In anticipation of the show, KYMM vocalist and guitarist Jim Hanke answered some questions for us on the band's reception so far and where they're headed. Check it out below, and while you're at it download a free tune from Loomings:

Download mp3: Kid, You'll Move Mountains - 'West'

-- Q&A with Jim Hanke of Kid, You'll Move Mountains --

It's not often that an indie band with just one record to its name gets so much attention so fast. Lots of musicians, although talented, have a tough time getting people to take notice. What's KYMM's secret?

I don’t think there is one. I really can’t explain it. We appreciate every chance someone gets to hear us immensely but we’re not a really well-connected band or anything. We do the normal things that every band does to get word out, but every bit of press or every amazing slot we’ve gotten for a show is a complete shock. We never expect anything. We just do what we can and let the cards fall where they fall. There’s so much music out there and so many different ways to hear it that if someone manages to find us and like what we’re doing, that’s astounding to me.

KYMM has ties to a few other area bands. For those not up to speed on the history, tell us about these bands and a bit on how KYMM came to be.

I lived in Milwaukee from birth until my late 20’s and around 2003 or so, I had gone to see my friend’s band play at a venue called the Globe East, which is no longer there. It was a label showcase for Latest Flame, which is now based in Chicago, and one of the other bands on the bill was Troubled Hubble. I hadn’t heard them before and they were super energetic and humble and their songs were fantastic. So I struck up a friendship with those guys and eventually, bands that I was in went on to play with them a lot. They eventually signed to Lookout! Records too and toured the country a ton but they eventually broke up in September of 2005 and I think the following spring, Nate and Andrew (Lanthrum; drums and bass respectively) from Hubble and I had toyed around with playing together. I had met Corey (Wills; guitar) from Inspector Owl through them and Nate’s wife Nina (Lanthrum; vocals/keyboard) as well and we just started writing together. For about a year, I was commuting almost every weekend from Milwaukee to the western Chicago burbs for shows and practice, so I moved down officially in the summer of 2007.

What have you guys thought about the response to Loomings so far? Since it came out I've been reading almost exclusively positive reviews in a long list of places - from the Sun-Times to the Chicago Reader, with it most recently being included in Metromix Chicago's "Top 10 albums of 2009 so far". After you finished the album did you know you had a good thing on your hands, has it come as a surprise?

We knew we were all proud of it, but getting a thumbs-up from someone like Jim DeRogatis or getting to play Taste of Chicago or the Metromix thing or the Ragged promotion were all out of nowhere. To us, or any band with a record that’s been out for a while and songs that have been played for a few years beforehand, the songs are kind of standard now so for new people to hear them for the first time and react so positively kind of makes me go back and appreciate some of the dymanics or recording/mixing choices again. We did have a few not-so-hot reviews on some blogs, mainly trashing the vocals, which I can understand. Whenever a review would come back and it would slam Nina or I, or praise the rhythm section, Nate always replied jokingly to us in the band via email with something like “Score another one for the Lanthrum brothers!”.

The band's sound is pretty hard to describe and p
in down into specific genres outside of a generic "indie pop/rock" tag. Is that by design?

I’m comfortable with us falling under that tag. We definitely take it as a compliment if someone says that they can’t pigeonhole precisely. We don’t try to be overly weird or anything; we just want the songs to be memorable but maybe to have one or two hiccups thrown in so it doesn’t get boring, whether we’re playing it for the first time or the thousandth. I think making the songs super complicated and confounding can be just as off-putting as making them overly basic. I think both ideas can hold hands and play nice and compliment each other.

I read that you've been working on new songs this summer. How are they coming along? Is the material continuing down the same path that we heard on Loomings?

We’re debuting a new one this upcoming weekend for sure and others are very close to being done, so those will come soon too. I think these newer ones sound a bit different than the record in varying ways. On one end, the one we’re ready to play is both the most funky and most metal we’ve gotten. Well, funky and metal for our band, at least, which isn’t saying much obviously. It’s just dancey and kind of chaotic towards the end. But then there’s another that I think is pretty reserved and clean throughout. It kind of gradually simmers more so than anything else we’ve done which is nice. I’d like to think we do certain things well but we just can’t do them all the time, otherwise it gets boring for us and anyone who’d hear it. So I think these next ones coming up aren’t too far out there, while still differentiating themselves from the record.

You released Loomings independently, but after the positive response is there any interest in working with a label in the future?

We’d love to, definitely, but we’re realistic. We know that because we all have full-time jobs and we don’t tour five months out of the year, right off the bat, a label might look at our resume and go “Well, they’ve barely gotten out of the Midwest. No thanks.” But I think that the stuff we have done with the little time we have works in our favor. Certainly if some musical genie were to say, “We’ll pay your rent for a bit if you go out and open for so-and-so,” we’d be all for it. But we’re not sweating ourselves sending out to labels right now. I think we know what we’re doing for now but would never scoff at any help.

KYMM has played with quite a few bands at quite a few different places so far. Do any stand out as favorites or the most memorable? If so, why?

Shows with Maritime are always great. I spent most of my late high-school/early college days being obsessed with the Promise Ring, so it’s absolutely ridiculous to me that Davey (vonBohlen) and Dan (Didier) are pals of ours now. But headlining the Metro has to be the most thrilling experience for me thus far. Corey, Nate and Andrew from our band had all played there before, but it was brand new to me and having seen so many shows there growing up, it was overwhelming to not only play there, but to headline for our CD release and have so many people show up and have our friends Picture Books open. I really don’t know how bigger bands just get used to that sort of thing. Every awesome opportunity like that, to me, is something I’d never take for granted. I still can’t believe so many people either promoted it in Chicago media or just came out or wanted to even book it in the first place.

What can we expect from KYMM for the rest of the year and into next?

Hopefully just lots of new songs continuing to hit the road. Although the record came out this year, some of these songs are almost three years old, so we just want to expand on what we’ve already done and perfect it more. I’d like to think we’ve just scratched the surface of what we can do songwriting-wise. I’m super happy with what we’ve done and what we’re doing, but I think we all see the potential to push ourselves a lot further.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Concert review: Free Energy, Old Fake, and Village at Schubas 9/2/09

By Susan Schomburg

Stephen Ucherek of Village (photo by John Sturdy)

Ex-Living Blue frontman Stephen Ucherek's new project, Village, has already produced some good material, as evinced by his solo set last Wednesday at Schubas. The new sound carries the psychedelic sound of The Living Blue's most recent album, Walk Talk Rhythm Roam, a bit farther, featuring reverb-heavy vocals and jangly guitar strum-riffs. Although there were definitely moments during the set that could have benefited from a full musical outfit, Ucherek's hypnotic solo appearance as Village was surprisingly rich.

Another promising new addition to Chicago's local music scene comes from Old Fake, whose live sound combined 60s pop songwriting forms with the bombastic flair of garage blues-rock. The set was loud and got the hump-day audience up on their feet and moving to the music.

Philadelphia's Free Energy had some tough acts to follow Wednesday night, and although the ex-Hockey Night band members looked like the most egregious victims of hipster fashion when they took the stage, they at least played an enjoyable set of 70s-inspired glam/prog rock. Highlights of their live set included the bell-like clarity of the frontman's vocals, sparkling guitar fills, and a downright bizarre Q-and-A session between the audience and the band while their bassist replaced a broken string in order to finish the set. It was worth sticking around for.


Old Fake will be playing Sunday, September 20 with Wavves and Ganglians at The Empty Bottle.

Village will be playing downstate in Champaign-Urbana Friday, September 18 as part of the Pygmalion Music Festival.

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This article also appears on Chicago Indie Rock Music Examiner.

Echo & the Bunnymen to play Chicago on 'Fountain' tour

Today classic British alt-rockers Echo & the Bunnymen announced upcoming U.S. tour dates in support of their forthcoming album, The Fountain, and the jaunt will include a November 25 stop at Metro.

The Fountain marks the band's eleventh studio record and is out on October 12. To give a taste, the Bunnymen recently made album's first single, "Think I Need It Too," available to hear in full via their official MySpace page, alongside brief clips of a few other new songs.

The announcement follows the sad news of the death of the band's long-time keyboardist, Jake Brockman, who died in a motorcycle crash last week. His work will appear on the new record.

Tickets for the Metro show go on sale September 12 and can be purchased here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Long weekend show picks: The Innocent, Titus Andronicus and more

The Innocent play Bottom Lounge tonight

Friday, September 4

- The Innocent at Bottom Lounge - Fronted by one of our favorite local singer-songwriters, Michael Hardey, the Innocent's hook-filled material falls somewhere in-between Americana and college rock. You can check out a full review of the debut EP here. Also with Inspector Owl, The Part V and Crayolala. 8 p.m., $8, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

- The Joans at Schubas - With a musical formula of trashy new wave and garage rock that was devised to channel the spirit (and look) of Joan Crawford, nobody can accuse the Joans of blandness. Also with the Handcuffs and the Wanton Looks. 10 p.m., $8. More info and tickets.

Saturday, September 5

- Dead Meadow at Empty Bottle - L.A.-based neo-psychedelia act Dead Meadow released their fifth album, Old Growth, last year, and are currently working on a live release dubbed Three Kings. Also with Follows and the Great Society Mind Destroyers. 10 p.m., $12. More info and tickets.

- The Frantic at Metro - Chicago pop-punk. Benefit show for Share Your Soles. Also with State and Madison, the Get Go and the Scissors. 6 p.m., $8 advance, $11 day of show, all ages. More info and tickets.

Sunday, September 6

- The Spits at Double Door - Garage punk out of Seattle. Also with Woven Bones and Mother of Tears. 9 p.m., $10 advance, $13 at door. More info and tickets.

Monday, September 7

- Titus Andronicus at Bottom Lounge - Named after the Shakespeare play of the same name, New Jersey's Titus Andronicus have attracted quite a bit of attention with their debut record, The Airing of Grievances, a blend of shoegaze guitars and punk rock spirit. Also with the So So Glos and CoCoComa. 8 p.m., $10 advance, $12 at door, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Concert review: Roman Candle, The Rikters, and Phonograph at Schubas 8/30/09

Roman Candle (Photo by David McClister)

The indie rock offerings this past Sunday at Schubas Tavern lived up to the beloved Chicago venue's reputation for live music.

The evening started with two members of Brooklyn-based Phonograph playing a set with a pared-back texture of guitar and piano that still managed to have a rich (albeit mellow) sound. The songs were harmonically interesting with solid chord progressions, and frontman Matthew Welsh's soulful voice was well-suited to the mood of the songs. The band has a new album, OKNO, due out at the end of the month.

Chicago's own The Rikters have developed a solid following in the local music scene, and if last Sunday's lighthearted performance was typical of their live show, it's easy to see why. Although the band's mainstream alternative sound wasn't particularly well matched with the folk/Americana stylings of the other bands on the bill, nobody really seemed to mind. Fans in the audience danced to the songs and laughed with the band between songs.

Headliners Roman Candle were an absolute delight from start to finish, delivering a set full of frontman Skip Matheny's homey anecdotes and wry, life-embracing songs. The Chapel Hill band's rich sonic fabric can be likened to a patchwork quilt: familiar, comforting, and vibrant. I highly recommend seeing their next show in Chicago.

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This article also appears on Chicago Indie Rock Examiner.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Q&A: The Kickback

The Kickback, an eclectic indie four-piece that recently relocated to Chicago from South Dakota, will play the Bottom Lounge this Thursday, September 3 with Caw! Caw! and I am a Nation (8 p.m., 21 and over, tix here).

The band has already brought their self-described version of "alternative rock with granulated elements of eletronica, hard beats and whatever else they’ve been listening to that week" to a considerable audience with opening slots for the likes of mewithoutYou, Shiny Toy Guns, Fishbone, and Plain White T’s, and are now working hard to make their mark on the Windy City. For a taste, check out this free download:

Download mp3: The Kickback - "Roman Regret"

To get readers further up to speed before this week's show, guitarist and vocalist Billy Yost took time out to answer some questions about the band:

What’s the story behind the Kickback? How did the band decide to come to Chicago?

The Kickback started at the University of South Dakota in Vermilion, South Dakota. After I graduated with my teaching degree in December, we decided to move to Chicago to try to keep building what we started. Tyler, the other guitarist, recently joined the band, so we can claim at least 25% city blood. The three of us from SD have been playing/touring/recording with the group for the past two years and really needed to relocate to a city, but a city where the people aren’t drunk off their own city-ness. Chicago fits us really well, I think.

What sound or style does the band try to create? What can people expect if they want to check out your music?

This changes a lot. Live, I would really like people to leave feeling like they’d been to a tent revival. I guess a lot of bands wish that. Just tired and changed for the hour or so it takes you to realize it was just music and you actually have things to do and work tomorrow. My current working philosophy for our music is that I want to be the Zombies listening to Jeff Buckley listening to a moderately-talented church choir listening to The Beatles in the “back to basics” stage of their career who would stay together long enough to be influenced by the Sales brothers who wound up backing Iggy Pop in the “Berlin era.” Our tunes wouldn’t express that at all, at the moment, however. So, I guess you can consider this an opportunity to get in on the ground level. I sound like Bernie Madoff.

Has the band released any music yet? Are there any upcoming releases planned?

In the past year we released an EP, A New History, and a single called Alliteration, Etc. with two songs on it. We’ll be back in the studio before snow’s on the ground.

If someone unfamiliar with the Kickback wanted to check out one song, which one would you recommend and why?

That’s tough. A joke among the group is, “Like that last song? Then you’re going to hate this!” We keep changing things, which I contend is a good thing. Right now, our song called “The Wheelers” probably sums us up pretty well. Dynamics and lots of little parts put together to make a bigger picture. And lyrics where a woman ends up begging her husband to beat her just to show her that he still has some feeling towards her. Good Midwestern stuff.

What do you think the Kickback can offer to the Chicago music scene that sets you apart from other bands?

Melody. Harmonies. A continually evolving sound. Function over fashion albeit we may be wearing tight pants but it doesn’t play an integral role in our music. That sounded a lot more prophetic in my head. In closing: A strong sense of family values and a moral compass for a generation in need.

What can people expect from a Kickback live show?

We all really enjoy playing live. That sort of comes out in us differently. Danny gets really focused. I start throwing things. Zach unfortunately spends a lot of the set dodging my headstock. He’s a trooper. Tyler just shakes his head a lot. Disapprovingly.

Who would you most like to play a show with, local or beyond?

Zach introduced me to the band Baby Teeth from here and I really like their stuff. I would love to play a show with them at some point. Down the line, I would sell a kidney to share a stage with Jonny Greenwood and Julian Casablancas. Perfection for a night, dialysis for a lifetime.

What’s next for the band?

We’ll be spending the next few months working on our new record. Our newer stuff requires three-part harmony, so we’ll be spending a lot of collective time in the shower. A big shower, I guess. We’ve got a good string of dates for late 2009 and early 2010. Until then, we’ll be mostly working on the new stuff and trying to get our name out and about.

How can people find out more?


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Riot Fest West postponed, but Chicago still on tap

This year, punk music festival Riot Fest was to branch out from its original Chicago location with "Riot Fest West" - an added November installment in LA - but health issues with founder Riot Mike will push the West Coast edition to 2010. Fortunately for local punk fans, though, Chicago's fest will take place October 7 to 11 as planned.

Here's what Riot Mike had to say in a statement e-mailed this morning:

Firstly, I want to apologize to the people who were excited for Riot Fest to come to Los Angeles – it was always a dream of mine that one day Riot Fest would be able to take place in another part of the U.S. But, sometimes those types of dreams need to be put on hold.

A few weeks ago, I found out that my health was failing, and I was advised by doctors to take a few months off for treatment. It was somber news to say the least, but my immediate reaction was how this would inherently affect Riot Fest. After speaking with family and close friends about the situation and mulling it over for a few days, I decided that if I couldn’t give it my all because of health related issues, then, I should postpone Riot Fest West until I’m cleared by doctors, which should hopefully be in Spring 2010.

With all of that said, there is no way in hell I would let Riot Fest Chicago not happen. For people who are attending the Chicago fest – don’t fret, it is all systems go.

The lineup for the Chicago fest is below. For more info and tickets, click here.

Riot Fest Chicago lineup:

Screeching Weasel, NOFX, Cock Sparrer, Butthole Surfers, Dead Milkmen, Murder City Devils, Naked Raygun, 88 Fingers Louie, Rights of the Accused, Riverboat Gamblers, Pegboy, No Empathy, Apocalypse Hoboken, Youth Brigade, Teenage Bottlerocket, 7 Seconds, Cobra Skulls, Lower Class Brats, Teen Idols, Off With Their Heads, Wax, Strike Anywhere, The Arrivals, The Aggrolites, Shot Baker, The Bomb, Das Kapital, Flatfoot 56, Fear City, The Frankl Project, The House That Gloria Vanderbilt, Beer Nuts, Crime In Stereo, Polar Bear Club, Ruiner, Anxiety High, She Likes Todd, The Pinstripes and many more to be announced soon.

New releases - September 1, 2009

The Black Crowes - Before the Frost...Until the Freeze - This new album from the veteran blues rockers is a proper studio release of new material, but was recorded in front of an audience of the band's fans.

These United States - Everything Touches Everything - The third LP from this D.C.-based buzz band, available to stream in full via Buzzgrinder.com.

Robin Guthrie - Carousel - The former Cocteau Twins guitarist - who has had massive influence on followers in the dream pop and shoegaze genres - is on a roll. His new release follows another album (Mirrorball) and an EP (Angel Falls) released earlier this year.

Richard Lloyd - The Jamie Neverts Story - A collection of Jimi Hendrix covers from the former Television guitarist.

Chicago artists:

Chevelle - Sci-Fi Crimes - The fifth album from this widely-popular, Chicago-born hard rock band. According to a USA Today review, "Chicago's Chevelle hopes to change the way people see the band with its fifth album. Chevelle — a power trio that consists of (Pete) Loeffler, brother Sam Loeffler on drums and brother-in-law Dean Bernardini on bass — relies on neither the gimmicks nor the adrenalized anger rush of better known hard-rock acts to get them by." On Thursday, September 3, the band will be in their home city for three events: An induction ceremony at the Hard Rock Cafe at 1:30 p.m., a 30-minute set at 4:30 p.m. at LaSalle Power Co. for the first 350 fans who show up and buy the new record, and a private Q101 show (also at LaSalle Power Co.) in the evening. Click here for more info.

Breakers Broken - Reset - For this new EP, this eclectic pop/rock trio expanded their sound by working with Chicago producers Doug McBride of Gravity Studios and Rick Barnes of Rax Trax. Get it here and check out the band live tonight, September 1, at Reggie's.

Color Radio - Be Safe, Beware - A local four-piece centered on the talents of two brothers from Mexico City - Jonathan & Tohm Ifergan - with a flair for dynamics and a Brit-pop sound. The band is having a CD release show at the Empty Bottle this Wednesday, September 2 with Metavari and Flights.