Friday, October 30, 2009

Show preview: Miles Nielsen at Double Door, 11/4

Whenever "rock 'n' roll" and "Rockford, IL" are written in the same sentence, two words
inevitably come to mind: Cheap Trick. Recently, though, Rockford-born singer-songwriter Miles Nielsen has been claiming a bit of the spotlight on the heels of his debut record, Miles. OK, so maybe Nielsen has a direct tie to the city's classic band (he's the son of guitarist Rick Nielsen), but that doesn't take away from the fact that Miles has been amassing a long list of favorable reviews and gaining the songwriter quite a few fans. Nielsen is also a member of Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons and has been playing live with the band, but he'll perform his next solo gig in Chicago at Double Door on Wednesday, November 4.

On Miles, Nielsen serves up a consistently engaging combination of Wilco-esque Americana rock and classicist pop (Beatles-influenced melodies abound). Nielsen's songwriting talent shines from beginning to end, with opening track "A Festival" wasting no time inviting its listener in with a downright charming dose of pure, rootsy pop. Tracks such as "1938" and "Lucy" rely on a similarly pop-minded approach - featuring accessible, upbeat melodies - and stand out as highlights. Miles proves that the musician is fully capable of stretching out his sound, though. Elsewhere, he dabbles in stripped-back soulfulness ("Sugaree," "Martha"), straightforward rock ("Hey Hey Hey," "Don't You") and subtle melancholy ("The Crown"). The fact that Nielsen provides some variation definitely works in the record's favor - it keeps things fresh and interesting, but never sounds disjointed. The style of music here certainly isn't one we haven't heard before, but Nielsen's solid songwriting skills and performances prevent it from ever sounding tired or insignificant. Instead, he delivers a collection fit for widespread appeal, with no shortage of excellent moments.

Download mp3: Miles Nielsen - "Hey Hey Hey"

For more free downloads, check out Nielsen's recent Daytrotter session, which includes live-in-studio takes on three Miles tracks ("A Festival," "The Crown" and "Wine) as well as a previously unreleased song, "Rusted Hearts."

Miles is available via CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon MP3.

Miles Nielsen at Double Door - Wednesday
, November 4
Also playing:
Musikanto and Daysleeper
Doors 8 p.m., show 8 p.m.
$5, more info and tickets

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Win free tickets to see the Whigs at Bottom Lounge

Heads up! Citysearch Chicago will kick off a contest this Friday morning, October 30, giving readers the chance to win a pair of free tickets to see The Whigs, The Features and The Dead Trees at Bottom Lounge on November 6. The contest will go live on the Citysearch Chicago Facebook page, so head over there for details and a chance to score the tix. Citysearch plans to give away freebies through the page every week, so be sure to keep an eye out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween weekend show roundup

Chicago music fans have no excuse to stay at home this Halloween. Not only does the holiday fall on a weekend this year, but the Windy City is once again offering up plenty of excellent shows to check out. Below is a roundup of promising selections for both Friday and Saturday night to help make sure your Halloween rocks. If you're heading to a show not listed, be sure to leave a comment with the details.


Double Door (1572 N. Milwaukee)
In keeping with its annual tradition, the Wicker Park club will serve up another batch of Chicago-based acts performing as other bands. On the roster this year are Black Angus as Black Sabbath, The Midnight Shows as Huey Lewis and the News, Catfish Haven as Nirvana, Viceroy as Cheap Trick, Blackbox as Snoop Dogg and Hobo and the Boxcar as the White Stripes.

Doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m., $12. More info and tickets.

Abbey Pub (3420 W. Grace)
While the Double Door has only one night of Halloween extravaganza this year, the Abbey Pub will offer two, kicking off Friday night with six bands masquerading as some excellent acts. The lineup: Penthouse Sweets as The Sex Pistols, Pleezer as Weezer, Broken China as the Bangles, Phil Angotti as Squeeze, Chris Dorf and friends as R.E.M. and Benge & Short as Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe.

Doors 8 p.m., show 8:45 p.m., $10 advance, $12 at door, 21 and over. More info and tickets.


Carmichael's Warehouse (1052 W. Monroe)
No, this isn't a new music venue. It's a 9,000 square foot warehouse in the West Loop that will hold XPLO Massacre, a Halloween art and music festival featuring 10 Chicago bands and 100 visual artists. The bands include Midstates & the Choir of Ghosts as Pulp, Darling as ELO, Word and Number as Aphex Twin, Panda Riot as Helium, The Nothingheads as Beck, The Clams as Black Sabbath, Flame Shark as The Band, Bogdog as Pink Floyd, Aviary Ghost as Tom Waits, and Abbot Smile as The Clash.

7 p.m., $10, 21 and over. More info.

Subterranean (2011 North Ave.)
A benefit show with all proceeds going to The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, who recently suffered serious injuries and damages in a van accident on the way to an out of state gig (click here for details). The lineup includes BBU, New Duncan Imperials, Canasta, and Kevin Flynn and the Avondale Ramblers.

Doors 8 p.m., show 8:30 p.m., $10, 17 and over. More info and tickets.

Metro (3730 N. Clark)
This year, Metro will also join in the "bands playing other bands" fun with their 1st annual Halloween tribute show featuring Love Me Electric as Blink 182, Color Radio as Radiohead and Plunket as Limp Bizkit.

Doors 5:30 p.m., show 6 p.m.. $10, all ages. More info and tickets.

The Empty Bottle (1035 N. Western Ave.)
The Ponys
will headline the club's Halloween night "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah," with France Has The Bomb, A/V Murder and The Get Drunk DJs also playing.

10 p.m., $12. More info and tickets.

Bottom Lounge (1375 W. Lake)
Psych-rock pioneer Roky Erickson will headline, with Land of Lincoln and The Great Society Mind Destroyers opening.

8 p.m., $20, 21 and over. More info and tickets.

Abbey Pub (3420 W. Grace)
The second night of the Abbey's Halloween bash will feature the Shaking Hand as AC/DC, Tomorrow the Moon as Psychedelic Furs, Androgynous Mustache as the J. Geils Band, the Delafields as the B-52s, the Webstirs as Fleetwood Mac and Tiny Speakers as the Everly Brothers.

Doors 8 p.m., show 8:45 p.m., $10 advance, $12 at door, 21 and over. More info and tickets.

Lincoln Hall (2424 N. Lincoln)
If you haven't yet had the chance to check out Chicago's newest rock club, you might want to catch the venue's first Halloween show featuring Detholz!, with Bobby Conn and Loto Ball Show opening.

9 p.m., $10, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

Quenchers (2401 N. Western Ave.)
Three Chicago-based bands are on tap, including Knife of Simpson, mbconn (who, according to Twitter pal @rarestock, will play a set of scary movie themes) and The World In Heat.

9 p.m., $5 donation, 21 and over. More info.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

CD review: The Insecurities - 'Show Your Teeth'

After debuting last year with Ban the Kiss Hello (reviewed here), Chicago's The Insecurities have returned with a seven track album called Show Your Teeth. The band's debut EP notably marked a distinct change in direction for front man Stubhy Pandav - best known as vocalist for pop punk act Lucky Boys Confusion - with mellower, more thoughtful material rooted in a mix of Americana, power pop and straight-ahead alt-rock. The end product was a cohesive collection of songs that could appeal to a more diverse crowd and was solid enough to position the band as one to watch. On the aptly-titled follow-up Show Your Teeth, The Insecurities take an overall harder-edged approach, arming tracks such as "Dive Bar Queen" and "Bonnie Vs. Clyde (Mister Mister)" with a gritty punk snarl that was absent on their first release. Following suit are Pandav's lyrics, which are more biting and cynical than before, often dripping with contempt and cynicism. The band's penchant for genre-hopping eclecticism is in tact, though, as evidenced by the brassy, jazzy groove incorporated into "Bonnie Vs. Clyde" and harmonica touches on "Stop-Loss." Other highlights include disc openers "Run Run Baby" and "Bleeding Heart," two upbeat pop-rock anthems with hooks grab hold instantly. With another batch of strong material, Show Your Teeth finds The Insecurities avoiding a simple retread of their debut - opting for a bigger, bolder approach - without discarding the elements that made Ban the Kiss Hello a success.

Pick up a copy of the record on CD Baby or iTunes and check out the band live October 28 at Rizzo's in Naperville and November 20 at the Cornerstone Ballroom in Darien (click here for additional dates).

Friday, October 23, 2009

Video: Chicago's Otter Petter at CMJ Music Marathon

Here's a brief clip via SonicBids of Chicago-based four piece Otter Petter playing a set in New York City Thursday night at part of this year's CMJ Music Marathon. The video includes footage of the band's performance as well as a quick interview discussing their time in NYC and what they have to say to their fans back home in the Windy City.

Weekend show picks

The Raveonettes


- Welcome to Ashley with Hallelujah The Hills and at Soft Speaker at the Empty Bottle – 10 p.m., $8. More info and tickets.

- Drummer with Royal Bangs at Schubas - 10:30 p.m., $12, 21 and over. More info and tickets.


- Lucero with Amy Lavere and Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcom at Bottom Lounge - 8 p.m., $16, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

- David Bazan with Say Hi… at Lincoln Hall – 10:30 p.m., $15, 18 and over. More info and tickets.


- The Raveonettes at Metro – 8 p.m., $18. More info and tickets.

- Ted Leo & the Pharmacists with The Jai Alai Savant at Lincoln Hall - Official grand opening event. 8 p.m., $15, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Show preview: Elephant Gun at Ronny's Thursday 10/22/09

By Susan Schomburg

Chicago ballroom folk-rockers Elephant Gun are releasing their latest effort in the recording studio tomorrow night, Thursday, October 22nd, at Ronny's in Logan Square. Beartime Stories, the follow-up to 2007's KP (Cassete Deck), shows the band expanding their sound with a richer instrumental texture and more sophisticated songwriting. The album is currently streaming in full on Elephant Gun's myspace page, and is well worth a listen.

The 17+ show starts at 8 pm, and costs $8, which includes a copy of the new album. Meah!, Wounded Roots, Animal City, and Reddelicious support.

For more information:

Show information from the Ronny's website

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

Q&A: Violetness

Photo by Justin James

If you follow the indie music scene in a city as big as Chicago, it’s inevitable that you’re going to come across musicians who don’t sound very unique. A lot of them, probably. These artists aren’t necessarily untalented, but there’s little about them that makes you surrender your undivided attention or that warrants repeat plays. That’s why it’s such a thrill to discover an artist like Violetness (a.k.a. Vanessa Upson) - a California native currently based in Chicago - who is anything but run-of-the-mill. She’s been performing under that name for less than a year and to date has only two songs up for listening online, but those two songs captivate from start to finish with exotic, sultry vocals, commanding tribal percussion and very effective electronic touches. You can download the two tracks, “Nazca” and “Perfect Love Flow,” here:

Download mp3: Violetness - "Nazca"

Download mp3: Violetness - "Perfect Love Flow"

Violetness will play live at the Bottom Lounge on Thursday, October 29 with The Very Best and The New Collisions (more info and tickets available here). She’s also planning to release more music in the coming months, and recently took some time out for a Q&A with WCR about both her future plans and experiences recording and performing so far:

First off, tell us what brought you to Chicago and how and when you began performing as Violetness.

My initial plan was to come to Chicago, record an EP, and leave. But Chicago has been good to me and has opened up a lot of opportunities, so I think I will stick around here for a bit. It’s actually only been about five or six months since I started performing as Violetness so it’s a relatively new project, but to me a lifetime in the making. I’ve been singing and performing since I can remember and as for performing my own material - that I’m actually proud of - I’m young to the stage.

People can currently check out two of your songs, "Nazca" and "Perfect Love Flow," on your MySpace page (also available as downloads in this article). Are there others in the works? Can we expect an EP or album in the near future?

Yes, there are more songs churning right now. It takes time to get things right and exactly how I want them. For better or for worse I’m a perfectionist, so until I have a song how I want it, it won’t travel into anyone’s ears. Fingers crossed the EP will be out by January, and if all goes as planned an album will be out mid-t0-late 2010.

There's a distinct exotic, tribal feel to those two songs. Tell us about the inspiration behind them and how they came together.

When I came to Chicago we did a lot of pre-production before going into the studio. At that time I was kind of lost in the sense where I didn’t know the exact sound I was going for. All I knew was that I wanted to try everything and anything, from micing the sound of pages turning in a book to banging some pots and pans. I had a lot of ideas and visions on what I wanted, but I did not know how to tie it all together. I wrote “Perfect Love Flow” on the piano and “Nazca” on hand claps. I essentially laid down the foundation and with the help of some amazing musicians and a producer, it became a collaborative project. I had worked so long on my own that working with others was definitely a new and beneficial experience for me. Through the right collaboration I found what I was looking for. What was and is most important for me as an artist is to create something honest and real to the moment. And for me I can really hear that in those two recordings.

One of the first things that stands out when listening to your music is your unique vocal style. Are there any other singers in particular you take inspiration from?

There are many singers I get inspiration from, but it would be misleading just to mention a few because through all the stages I’ve gone through musically, they have changed. I guess somewhere in between trial and error the sound just formed itself, probably because of the ever changing vocal inspiration. I think any singer can choose the way they sing or sound, and for a long time I sang the way I thought I should sing. I had grown up singing soul and jazz music, and though I loved it, something never sat right with me. I sang with a big, full voice because I could, but it didn’t feel natural. It has taken years to figure out what feels natural when I sing, but I finally found it. You can still hear the jazz inflections in my voice, it's just not overtly jazzy. I like to think of my styling as a universal vocal sound.

So far you've played shows both here in Chicago and also New York. How do you think the two cities compare musically?

I think both cities are great for musicians because they offer what the other one doesn’t. And for certain stages in an artist's career, one city might be more beneficial than the other. I mean, New York has everything an artist can imagine, which is wonderful, but at the same time it can be overwhelming. For an up-and-coming artist like myself, Chicago is the perfect place to be given a chance to develop at my own pace. I think once a musician has established themselves in a city like Chicago they will be ready to take on New York and at least be able to take with them a city under their belt. Chicago is a great place to build up confidence, get your music heard and build a local fan base. Of course, you can do that in New York - it’s just harder.

What's been your best gig so far and why?

Sound-wise I love The Empty Bottle. It’s definitely one of my favorite venues in Chicago. For overall vibe I would say Pianos in NYC. We played in the upstairs lounge and there was no stage, it was this area in the middle of everything. Some people might have looked at it and been like, "what the fuck," but to me it was perfect. I like to be physically close to my audience. I feel too much of a disconnect when I’m on a stage. I should just start performing in the middle of venues now. I think I might do that at my next show, why not.

If you could play a show with anyone - local or beyond - who would it be?

It would probably be Bjork or Micachu and The Shapes

What's next?

My personal list:
1. Make my live show as strong and fun as possible
2. Have a hit record
3. Have a hit record
4. Have a hit record
5. Have a hit record

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Kickback offer mp3s, video for free download

Photo by Alanna Bagladi

You might remember our September Q&A with The Kickback, a band that recently came to Chicago via South Dakota and have hit the ground running by playing shows around town and generally getting the word out. The band will head into the studio to record an EP in November, but for now are offering a few songs and videos from a recent session for free download via The Sioux City Journal.

The songs are "The Wheelers," "War Chest" and "Snuff Film Credits," with video clips also available for "The Wheelers" and "Snuff Film Credits."

The site also includes an article on the band's recent achievements, including the following positive write-up by Rolling Stone: "High drama Chicago-based rock band (with at least one very rabid fan) conjures the very best parts of the Veils and the Walkmen and the Killers, writing lean, nervy songs that snarl and snap. Guitarist Billy Yost has a marvelously agonized voice and he wrenches notes from his larynx, hurling himself against the songs’ propulsive rhythms."

You can check out another free Kickback mp3, "Roman Regret," here, and catch the band live at Reggie's on November 18 and Hideout on December 4.

Pixies add third Chicago show to 'Doolittle' anniversary tour

In July the Pixies announced dates for a U.S. tour honoring the 20th anniversary of their most renowned record, Doolittle, including two Chicago shows - November 20 and 21 - at the Aragon Ballroom. If you missed out on tickets to those now sold out dates, good news: a third Aragon show has been added for Thursday, November 19.

The tour's setlist will include all 15 songs from the band's sophomore LP, meaning classics such as "Debaser," "Monkey Gone to Heaven," "Wave of Mutilation" and "Here Comes Your Man" will be out in full force alongside rarely-performed songs like "La La Love You," "Silver" and the album's B sides.

Bad Lieutenant
, the new project from Bernard Sumner of New Order and Joy Division, will open the November 19 show. No Age will support on November 20 and Jay Reatard on November 21.

Tickets for the added date go on sale Saturday, October 24 via Ticketmaster.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekend show picks

The Gossip (


- The Gossip at Metro - 9 p.m., $20, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

- Old Canes at Bottom Lounge - Check out our show preview, including an mp3 download, here. 8 p.m., $10, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

- Rough Cut at Kinetic Playground - 8 p.m. More info.


- Liam Finn at Lincoln Hall - 10 p.m., $15. More info and tickets.

- King Sparrow at Hollywood Lounge (3303 w Bryn Mawr Ave) - Check out our Q&A here. More info.

- Sarah Pray at Uncommon Ground - 9 p.m. More info.


- Wilco with Tortoise at UIC Pavilion - 7 p.m., $38.50, all ages. Tickets.

- Inspector Owl at Double Door - Doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m., $5, 21 and over. More info and tickets.

Hideout to host 11/12 benefit show for Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir (Bloodshot Records)

Late last month the six members of Chicago's Scotland Yard Gospel Choir were injured in a van accident while driving to an out of state gig, resulting in a heap of medical bills and damaged equipment. To help out the group during this difficult time, two fellow Chicago-based bands, The 1900s and Brighton, MA, will play a benefit show at Hideout on Thursday, November 12. Tickets, available here, are $12. All proceeds will go to SYGC.

According to updates from the band's label, Bloodshot Records, one member, Mark Yoshizumi, remains hospitalized, while another, Mary Ralph, was just released this week. Here are the three latest updates:

UPDATE (10/2): Mark had another successful surgery yesterday, but remains in serious condition.

UPDATE (10/12):
Great news! Mark has been transferred out of ICU.

UPDATE (10/14):
Mary is leaving the hospital today -- she says, "I've still got a lot of physical and occupational therapy in my future, but I've progressed to walking with a cane already."

If you can't make it to the show, but would still like to help the band, you can do so via a PayPal account set up for donations here.

For more information on The 1900s, check out our reviews of the band's various releases:
- Cold and Kind (LP)
- Plume Delivery (EP)
- Medium High (EP)
- Everybody's Got a Collection (single)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

EP review: Static in Verona - 'Life-Sized Replica'

After debuting early this year with a full-length record called Be Quiet As You Leave, Chicago's Static in Verona (a.k.a. singer-songwriter Rob Merz) is back with a free four-song EP, Life-Sized Replica. Listeners might already be familiar with Merz's work via his band Ash Avenue, but in Static in Verona he assumes all roles, from songwriter to multi-instrumentalist to producer. The project might be a one man show, but that doesn't detract at all from the quality of music on Life-Sized Replica. The songs here - which could best be described as accessible indie pop with subtle electronic flourishes - feature solid production, strong performances from Merz and appealing melodies. EP opener "Forgetful" is a highlight, as is "Circle Takes the Square" (which takes on Matthew Sweet-esque power pop very effectively), but all four songs are worthy of repeat listens.

Download mp3: Static in Verona - "Forgetful"

Merz is offering Life-Sized Replica for free download on If you like what you hear, you can get Be Quiet As You Leave at CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon mp3 and eMusic.

ATTN area bands: Want to play a Nov. 21 Chicago show?

Attention Chicago area bands:

WCR friend and Nashville-based musician Michele Ari is coming to Chicago for a downtown show at Cal's Bar on Saturday, November 21 and is seeking a band to fill a third slot on the bill (the second band, Tommy Ache and the Terrible Mistakes, is also from Nashville). She's looking for a rock band who preferably would be willing to help promote the gig.

If interested, you can contact Michele directly via her MySpace page, or shoot a note to and we'll pass it along.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ted Leo to headline Lincoln Hall's grand opening

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

Last week Chicago's newest concert venue, Lincoln Hall, announced most of its fall show schedule (kicking off October 16 with Mike Doughty), and today the club has revealed details for its official grand opening show on Sunday, October 25. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists will headline the event, with $15 tickets on sale this Friday, October 16, at noon. The Jai-Alai Savant will open.

Click here for more information.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Show preview: Old Canes at Bottom Lounge, 10/16

Feral Harmonic, the sophomore album from Old Canes - a project fronted by The Appleseed Cast's Chris Crisci - is set to drop October 20, and the band will make a Chicago stop this Friday, October 16 at Bottom Lounge as part of their fall tour promoting the release.

The new release follows-up 2004's Old Canes debut, Early Morning Hymns. Work on Feral Harmonic - which features material written, played and recorded almost exclusively by Crisci in his basement studio, "Toyshop" - kicked off in 2005 and took three-and-a-half years to complete. The result is a solid collection of bold, eclectic folk rock. Tracks such as "The Last Collapse," "I Will be the Sun" and the hopeful, up-tempo "Little Bird Courage" add punk rock energy to the material's folk base, while others such as "Under" and "Southern Radio" introduce a quieter, more subtle Americana approach that adds an effective balance to the record.

Download mp3: Old Canes - "Little Bird Courage"

Feral Harmonic is released on Saddle Creek Records and is currently available to order in both CD and vinyl format on the label's site.

Old Canes at Bottom Lounge
Friday, October 16, 2009
Also with Chaperone and The Marshmallow Ghosts
$10, 8 p.m., 18 and over (more info and tickets)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Miles Nielsen Daytrotter session

Photo by Brian Milo

Rockford-born singer-songwriter Miles Nielsen might have made his CD debut this year, but he's no stranger to a musician's life. As the son of Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, he grew up traveling across the country with the touring band. In the midst of promoting his first record, Miles, Nielsen recently stopped by the Daytrotter studios in Rock Island to record some tunes for free download on the site, which went live today.

The session includes takes on three songs from Miles - "A Festival," "The Crown" and "Wine" - as well as an unreleased song, "Rusted Hearts."

Nielsen has two Illinois dates coming up this month: October 16 at Kryptonite in Rockford and October 22 at the Red Herring in Champaign.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Weekend show picks

Japandroids (Photo by Leigh Righton)

The major live music happening around town this weekend is punk rock extravaganza Riot Fest, which runs through Sunday at various clubs around town and features bands such as Screeching Weasel, Naked Raygun, Alkaline Trio and The Dead Milkmen. For more information on that, check out's excellent preview.

If you're not in the Riot spirit, here are some other solid show options this weekend:


- Big Bang TV at Hideout - Per the band's online bio, "Frantic, post-punk guitars stumble in and out of pools of atari synth and turntable chirps. Male/female vocals lazily dance around each other until they’re swept up by a driving break beat and booming bass." Also with Serengeti & Polyphonic and Kid Static. 10 p.m., $8, 21 and over. More info and tickets.

- Inchworm at Darkroom - Taking cues from the likes of Neil Young and the Stones, Chicago's inchworm deliver a fresh, memorable take on a classic rock formula. Also with Deanna Devore and Where Astronauts Go to Hide. 9 p.m., $8 advance, $10 at door, 21 and over. More info and tickets.


- Van Ghost at Empty Bottle - Chicago-based Americana rock. Check out our recent Q&A with front man Michael Berg here. Also with Nathan Xander and 500 Miles to Memphis. 9:30 p.m., $5 advance, $8 at door. More info and tickets.

- Japandroids at Schubas - A Canadian garage rock duo that released their debut LP, Post-Nothing, this year. To learn more, check out this new interview with the duo from Jim DeRogatis of the Sun-Times. Also with Little Girls. Japandroids are also playing Schubas on Friday, but that show is already sold out. 3 p.m., $12, all ages. More info and tickets.

- Lonely, Dear at Bottom Lounge - Otherwise known as Emil Svanängen, Lonely, Dear is a Swedish indie pop mult-instrumentalist. Also with Asobi Seksu and Anna Ternheim. 8 p.m., $15, 18 and over. More info and tickets.

- Girl in a Coma at Reggie's - A punk-influenced rock trio made up of sisters Nina and Phanie Diaz as well as Jenn Alva who are signed to Joan Jett's Blackheart Records. Also with Evil Beaver and Black Gold. 5 p.m., $10, all ages. More info and tickets.


- The Horrors at Double Door - A British shoegaze/garage rock act that released their sophomore album, Primary Colors, in May. Also with Crocodiles. Doors 8 p.m., show 9 p.m., $15, 21 and over. More info and tickets.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cains & Abels - 'Call Me Up'

If you're looking for the perfect soundtrack to this already chilly Chicago autumn, look no further than locally-based four-piece Cains & Abels and their debut LP, Call Me Up. The band officially released the record in May - just in time for summer - but its introspective, generally bleak style of folk rock is much more suited to the gray days ahead.

This is folk rock, but it's the darker, more daring side of genre. On Call Me Up, Cains & Abels are never afraid to come across as rough around the edges or to veer into the unpleasant or unknown. Take the violent imagery of one of the album's highlights "Killed by Birds," which includes lyrics such as, "For the bone to be lodged in my soft neck/Each time I pull back the skin I find the feathers within/Killed, killed by birds," for instance. This and other tracks such as "Warm Rock" and "Dark Days" are perfect examples of how the foursome combines the eerie with the beautiful for great results. Completing the package is David Sampson's unpolished, unsteady vocal delivery, which somehow fits the mood.

You can pick up a copy of Call Me Up via States Rights Records or iTunes. Here's a free download of "Killed by Birds" courtesy of the band:

Download mp3: Cains & Abels - "Killed by Birds"

A non-album single called "My Life Is Easy" is also available for free download at

Cains & Abels will play Schubas on Thursday, October 22 with Karl Blau and LAKE. Click here for more info and tickets.

Lincoln Hall kicks off fall lineup on October 16

We're almost there... on Twitpic

After announcing this summer that Lincoln Hall, a new, mid-size concert venue was on the way, the club's promoters have now revealed its lineup through mid-December, kicking off Friday, October 16 with Mike Doughty.

Located at 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. - the site of the former Three Penny movie house - the venue was launched by Schubas co-owners Chris and Mike Schuba. At 4,400-square-feet, it's three times the size of their established Southport Ave. club.

Below is a list of all of the Lincoln Hall shows announced so far. More information and tickets to some of them are currently available on

16 - Mike Doughty: The Question Jar Show
17 - Liam Finn
21 - La Roux
23 - Langhorne Slim with Dawes
24 - David Bazan with Say Hi...
26 - Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard with John Roderick of The Long Winters
27 - Neon Indian with Smith Westerns and Prairie Cartel plus Members Only AV
28 - Great Lake Swimmers with The Wooden Birds
29 - Herman Dune and Julie Doiron with Wye Oak
30 - NEEDTOBREATHE with Serena Ryder and the Alternate Routes
31 - Detholz! Jukebox of the Dead X:FAME

5 - Vic Chesnutt Band featuring Guy Picciotto (Fugazi) and members of
Thee Silver Mt. Zion / Godspeed You! Black Empereror and Witchies
with Clare & The Reasons
6 - White Denim with Brazos
7 - Numero’s Eccentric Soul Review featuring Renaldo Domino,
Linda Ballentine, Notations, Sharon Clark, and Pastor TL Barrett
8 - J. Tillman
10 - Art Brut with Surfer Blood
12 - The Walkmen with White Rabbits
13 - The Walkmen
14 - Mucca Pazza with Bird Names
18 - Maps & Atlases
19 - Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
20 - Brendan Benson
21 - Elvis Perkins in Dearland and AA Bondy
22 - Harper Simon
24 - Ari Hest with Declan O’Rourke
25 - Blind Pilot with Laura Veirs & The Hall of Flames
and Mimicking Birds
27 - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros with Fool’s Gold
and Local Natives
28 - Flobots

4 - Matthew Santos
5 - Do Make Say Think with The Happiness Project and Years
11 - The Ike Reilly Assassination
12 - Russian Circles with Young Widows and Phantom Family Halo

Thursday, October 1, 2009

EP review: Derek Nelson - 'Something Obscure'

After listening to Derek Nelson's debut EP, Something Obscure, it’s hard to believe the Chicago singer-songwriter played his first gig a mere five months ago, and that until then next to nobody even heard the material he’s been writing and self-recording for years. There's a confidence to the six-song collection - rooted in a rich, reflective folk-rock sound - that defies Nelson's newness on the scene. After seeing the songwriter's third ever show this summer, a SPIN writer described him as "a force to be reckoned with," and the quality of the EP certainly makes that a tough statement to question.

Something Obscure gives off an obvious admiration for folk rock heavyweights such as Bob Dylan and Wilco, but Nelson's material and vocal talents make the EP much more than a retread of others' sounds. The star of the show is “Tightrope Walker,” the most hummable track on the EP and simply a perfectly crafted folk-rock tune. “Same as Always,” a duet with fellow Chicago musician Kelsey Wild, is another highlight. It captivates from start to finish, sounding a bit like what might have happened if Jeff Tweedy and Feist decided to take a darker, more brooding turn for their duet on Wilco's latest LP. According to Nelson, he invited Wild to record with him on a whim after hearing some of her songs online, which makes the result even more impressive. Other tracks, such as "Ballad of Big Shoulders" and "The Way You See Me," are more subtle, but no less heartfelt.

After recording the EP, Nelson wrote in his blog: "Going into all this, I was about as clueless as a man could be. I'd been playing songs for the better part of a decade, recording by myself, and allowing next-to-no-one hear any of it...I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those who have ushered me from complete obscurity to relative obscurity." I'm not sure who or what finally persuaded him to let everyone else in on his music, but Something Obscure proves it's a damn good thing they did.

Download mp3: Derek Nelson - "Tightrope Walker"

Nelson will play a release show for Something Obscure - and his first headlining gig - on Thursday, October 8 at Double Door. Also with Daysleeper, Macguffin and the Adam Richardson Band. Doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m., $7. More info and tickets.