Thursday, September 30, 2010

Q&A: Warm Ones

Posted by Frank

MP3: Warm Ones - "Love for a Week"

Sometimes the best records are the ones that take you by complete surprise. When I first listened to Sprezzatura, the debut LP from Chicago indie rock quartet Warm Ones, I was caught off guard by the consistently high quality and infectiousness of its 14 songs, which offer up a mix of glorious power pop and scruffy garage rock. I've been hooked on it ever since. The record's title means "studied carelessness," a perfect fit considering its focus on both sharp, concise songwriting and loose, natural execution. From the screamy abandon of "Bacteriostatic" to the new wave urgency of "Quiet Epilogue" to the brief, Big Star-esque "Ulysses," this is fantastic stuff that begs for repeated listens.

Mark your calendar for Thursday, October 28, when the band will play their next show at Beat Kitchen. In the meantime, read on to find out what front-man Tony Sackett had to say when I recently asked him some questions about Sprezzatura, Warm Ones' background, future plans and astronaut ice cream.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Record review: The Shams Band - 'Champagne'

Posted by Bobby

On Champagne, the debut album from The Shams Band, the Chicago five-piece floats and jangles through genres and imagery in a way that makes them seem both familiar and indefinable, like a place you recognize in a dream. I think that's a great place to be for a young band, somewhere where the audience is constantly reminded of things they like, but never so much so that they are reminded of the same thing twice.

What I really dug about this record, and this band, is it proves that if good songwriters get together (The Shams Band has three) and perform their songs with a unified energy, then the whole will have its own solid identity. By the time I got to the end of the album, I didn't feel the need to categorize it at all - it was just Champagne. The first track, "Lean Into Love," showcases Paul Gulyas' ability to fantastically describe both urban and rural scenes in an inventive and romantic light. I like my folk rock with a side of magic, and I thought the song was a great introduction to just how much flows beneath The Shams Band's earnest good time rock 'n' roll. That theme and poetry are revisited beautifully later in the album on the track "City Swept Away."

The album has Wilco-esque folk rock songs, bourbon-doused blues and even a fantastic Neil Young-meets-Modest Mouse minor chord haunt called "Blue Canal," where the grit and tumble of The Shams Band's styled solos gets some spotlight, too . My personal favorite track on the album is the Motown, almost doo-wop, slow dance tune called "Gently." This song shows just how diverse The Shams Band can be while still remaining true to their signature honest rock 'n' roll. The melodies are complex and gorgeously conceived, the backing vocals are delicate and lovely and the guitar practically oozes moonlight. When Paul sings "'cause so many girls in this crazy cruel world are just taking revenge on someone who left them," and asks the proverbial "girl" to keep his heart gently, he is asking with the wisened voice of a blue collar rock poet who already knows the most likely outcome of his request. But if life weren't so hard on all the poor boys out there, there would be no records like this, that offer the consolation, celebration and stiff drinks needed to get by.

Check out The Shams Band live at one of their upcoming local shows, including October 3 at the EP Theater Garden Festival, November 5 at Elbo Room and December 4 at the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival at Congress Theater.

EP review: Tiny Magnets - 'Daughters of the Frontier'

Posted by Frank

Tiny Magnets (photo: Annie Johnston)
MP3: Tiny Magnets - "Olivia"

If you consider yourself a fan of classic alternative rock and count records from the likes of Pixies and The Jesus and Mary Chain among your most prized, chances are you'll find it hard to resist Chicago band Tiny Magnets and their debut EP, Daughters of the Frontier. In fact, you'll probably be sold before the lead-off track, "Olivia," is halfway over, and after the remaining five tracks you just might christen the quartet one of your newest favorite bands.

The above-mentioned "Olivia" is arguably the star of the show here, offering up the perfect combination of sweetness and rawness, plus hooks that worm their way into your mind and hold on tight. There's a lot to love about this song, from the way the deep, cool vocal delivery from singer/bassist/songwriter Brian Cremins is complemented by Allison Felus's infectious, Kim Deal-esque co-vocal, to the way the lead guitar seems to add a third voice of its own. It would be tough to top this kind of introduction, but the band come damn near close with the rest of the tracks. All of them are solid, but the upbeat, rocking "Gary's Song" (a tribute to the late Gary Rogers, who ran sound at local clubs such as Bottom Lounge and Gunther Murphy's) is especially wonderful, as is the Felus-sung "CTA," a dreamy, spacious song about riding public transportation in the Windy City that somehow sounds as sad and lonely as it does hopeful and optimistic.

After taking a look at the band's past, it becomes less surprising that they  make such a strong showing on their self-produced debut. Guitarist Kevin Henretta has been a member of the Chicago rock scene since the early 90s, playing in bands such as Plastics Hi-Fi, Dead Electric and Ten Hundred. Cremins spent many years playing with Hartford, CT act Confessors, in addition to local bands after moving to Chicago. Drummer Jake Montgomery has played with Dark Country, while Felus has diverse experience both playing and writing about music.

Daughters of the Frontier is simply top-notch rock and roll that's well worth checking out. It's very clear that these four musicians have something very special together, and I'm looking forward to hearing more.

Tiny Magnets are holding an EP release show on Friday, October 8 at Cole's (2338 N. Milwaukee) with Space Mandino and Chew Heart opening, and are also scheduled to play Martyrs on November 9. The EP is also available at Reckless Records, or directly from the band at

Monday, September 27, 2010

This Tuesday: Cursive's Tim Kasher performs at Reckless Records

Posted by Frank

photo: Jess Ewald
Tim Kasher of Cursive and The Good Life is about to put out his debut solo record, and to help Chicago fans gear up for the release he'll play a set this Tuesday, September 28 at Reckless Records (3126 N. Broadway) kicking off at 7 p.m.

On the album, The Game of Monogamy - out October 5 on Saddle Creek - Kasher takes on a more arranged, classic pop sound than on his previous work. About the new direction, he recently told Spin: “It’s a minor detail, but it’s gotten me pretty excited, creatively speaking, to start over like this. I imagine about 90 percent of these songs would not have made it into a Cursive practice.”

He recorded the 11-track album early this year in Whitefish, Montana following nearly a year of touring in support of Cursive's latest LP, Mama, I'm Swollen. For a taste of what you can expect to hear, you can get a free mp3 of the record's first single, "Cold Love," by clicking below and entering your e-mail address. According to the Reckless website, Kasher might also have copies of The Game of Monogamy on hand at the in-store performance.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Show review: Electric Six, The Constellations at Double Door 9/17/10

Posted by
Susan Schomburg

Electric Six (photo: Susan Schomburg)
When you go to a lot of live shows, you sometimes have the experience of going to one where, for a variety of reasons, you really feel like you just need to go home and take a shower afterwards. Last night's show at the Double Door was like that, in a good way.

Detroit's Javelins opened the evening with a set of electro indie with a synthy garage vibe. The vocals were super-high and nasaly (listening to their singer/drummer talk in a normal male voice, you would not expect him to be making the sounds that came out of him when he sang), but not in a bad way. The band had a decent live sound, but had a somewhat sedate live performance, at least last night. They didn't give people much to look at while they were playing, all just standing around onstage (which is fine, but not particularly interesting). They were an opening band, and acted like one.

Not being familiar with Atlanta's The Constellations prior to yesterday's performance, I didn't really know what to expect, but when, after the first band's set ended, people immediately started swarming around the front of the stage, I got the feeling that there was probably a reason for it, and there was. They were impressive. Their sound is tight, old school R&B-influenced rock'n'roll with a charismatic frontman and a keys player who has some serious chops. Their closing number, "Step Right Up", had a lot of showmanship, as various band members moved to the front of the stage to solo (the keyboard player, brandishing a cowbell, actually hopped down and danced through the audience before returning to the stage to play the rest of the song). This band has obviously spent some time finding their own musical voice and stage personality, and it shows. I highly recommend seeing them live the next time they're in town.

I am pretty sure most people in the audience, however, were there for Detroit's own Electric Six. They delivered exactly the kind of weird, wonderful performance I would have expected. The set included their big hits and fan favorites, as well as some new songs from their forthcoming album, Zodiac. The group's peculiar frontman, Dick Valentine, appeared in character (and in a black pinstripe lounge suit with red satin shirt) and performed, a mixture of holding court or mastering ceremonies, and singing songs for a disco/punk/rock band. He also took turns drumming, and spun strange yarns about each band member by way of introducing the next song. What can I say? These guys know how to put on a good show. They played well, were spot-on, and came back for a lengthy encore, which included "Gay Bar" and one of my personal favorites, "She's White," also off their breakthrough album, Fire. The fans got rowdy, slamming into each other and jumping up and down, and a good, sweaty time was had by all.

Show review: Titus Andronicus, Best Coast, Free Energy at Metro 9/18/10

Posted by
Susan Schomburg

Last Saturday's show at the Metro was an intense combination of two especially good tours: mellow, west-coasty Best Coast and opener Male Bonding, and high-octane Titus Andronicus and opener Free Energy.

Male Bonding started the evening with an energetic set of west-coasty, grunge- and punk-influenced poppy rock that was as much fun to watch as to hear live. Singer/bassist Kevin Hendrick danced around his corner of the stage with a wiggly shuffle, drummer Robin Silas Christian seemed to put his whole being into every single hit as he laid down the beat, and singer/guitarist John Arthur Webb acted a bit like an anchor for the other two, primarily standing still while singing and playing, but with contained energy. They played loud, and they played fast. And it was fun.

I'll admit, I wasn't that impressed with Free Energy when I saw them play in town about a year ago. Their sound is still super-70s pop/rock (complete with plenty of cowbell and meedly guitar figurations) and still feels just a little too derivative for me, but wow, this time around, their live show absolutely shone. They have stage presence to spare and filled the Metro's stage with their energetic performance (that, this time around, felt a lot more genuine). Maybe it was that, as singer Paul Sprangers said, "This feels like a big show." Whatever the reason, Free Energy really impressed me this time around, putting on a great live show that I would see again.

When I saw Best Coast play at this year's Pitchfork Music Festival, I remember being surprised at how packed their audience was for so early in the day. Their sound was just okay that day, but in the closed space of the Metro, Bethany Cosentino's mellow, haunting-but-soothing vocals filled the room with good vibes. She told entertaining stories in between songs, but overall, their show is not much to look at--she just stands there, playing guitar and evoking a 60s girl group vibe with her voice and songwriting. They have a heavy surf influence, and give the listener a sweet feeling of nostalgic isolation.

The band I had come to see, however, was Titus Andronicus, and they did not disappoint, churning out tune after infectious, gut-wrenching tune. Like their recordings, their live sound is raw and exuberant and makes you exult in the joy of the moment. They move fluidly from anthemic, sing-along balladeering to pulsing, up-tempo delights in the same song--see, for example, the video of their performance of "No Future, Pt. Three: Escape from No Future" from Saturday's show. They are one of those bands that you don't just listen to, but actually experience, when you see them play live. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Video: The Maybenauts - 'Not Aware' (plus show 9/25 at Cubby Bear)

Posted by Frank

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time resisting a band self-described as "three hard-rocking females and a space panda." I wasn't quite sure what a space panda was, but the recently-released video for "Not Aware" by Chicago's The Maybenauts suggests that it's a dude in a panda mask and a suit wreaking havoc while said females dance around and play a totally cool, catchy tune. Works for me! It's really fun stuff, which you can see for yourself below.

The song is available on the band's EP Big Bang, and you can also see and hear the fun in person at The Cubby Bear this Saturday, September 25, when the they open for Spacehog. Doors open at 9 p.m. and The Maybenauts come on at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are free through

Listen to King Sparrow's new LP, see them live 10/15

Posted by Frank

In the mood to hear an amazing new rock and roll record? Chicago's King Sparrow have one fresh for the listening right here. The band painstakingly recorded the 12-track, self-titled album at Gallery of Carpet studio over the past few months, and if you ask me all their effort has paid off in spades. I can't remember the last time I've been this excited over a new release and I hope you'll feel the same.

They'll have copies of the CD for sale on Friday, October 15 at their record release show at Schubas (also featuring Pet Lions and This Is Versailles). Tickets and more information on that are available here.

Also, check out my recent interview with the trio and Brian Zieske of Gallery of Carpet to learn more about the recording process and the band's history.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Show review: Justin Townes Earle at Reckless Records, 9/18

Posted by Bobby

Justin Townes Earle was in Chicago Saturday to play Lincoln Hall on the heels of his new record, Harlem River Blues, released earlier this month on Bloodshot Records. Beforehand, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter stopped by Reckless Records on Broadway to earnestly remind the 50 or so people in the store of the magical silence that happens when someone sings and plays really, really good songs, really, really well.

After a few enigmatic references to the previous evening's trip to Jail in Indianapolis, a story of some small consequence I'm sure, Justin began to sing and play songs off his new album. No one shuffled, sneezed, or texted. Very quickly the folks who had gathered became aware of and appreciated what they were seeing. And what they were seeing, as I would define it, is one of the best young songwriters in America today, confidently standing behind, or in front of, or on top of - depending on how you look at it - his songs.

I first learned of Justin and his famous folk lineage (look it up) from Chicago folk artist Mark Minelli, and have since listened to his previous releases with increasing frequency. Upon hearing the songs on this new album, I have to consider it for my album of the year. The title track is a raucous gospel rally of a man on the way to the dirty water enraptured by the thought of not having to deal with life's shit anymore. It is as exciting as it is infectious, like you might consider following him right in. The phenomenal "Slippin' and Slidin'" is as much Motown as it is country, and achingly beautiful in both respects. He also played a track off the album called "Rogers Park," saying, "I wrote this next song when I was 18, three days after leaving Chicago because it defeated me." I personally lived in Rogers Park for six years and it got the best of me sometimes, too. As he played, I swore I had heard the tune already, roaming those lonely beach end streets.

Do yourself a favor. Get this album.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Show review: John Sullivan at Mayne Stage, 9/16

By Mike Sullivan

Photo: Mike Sullivan
John Sullivan, a multi-instrumental singer/songwriter/producer and former member of the '90s band Loudmouth, debuted his collection of personal songs last night at Mayne Stage. With Loudmouth, John had a number seven hit on the Billboard charts ("Fly") and also currently plays in a great '80s cover band called 80's Enough, but this performance marked his first original solo set.

John played a 10-song acoustic set with the help of Rob Medinger on drums and Matt Kooi on keyboards. This seemed to be the perfect combination of instruments for these songs. The acoustic guitar helped keep the mood of the show mellow, but the drums and keyboards gave it a bit of a punch to make you feel the vibe that John was pushing. The set had a nice gradual progression, starting out lightly with “Liberation," moving into “One Way Ride" and gaining a little more momentum with each song. The final song, “The Liar,” really pushed you over the edge. You couldn’t have asked for a better ending to a set. John has put a lot of time into these songs and it really shows. We're looking forward to him performing his solo work more around town.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Audio: Preview Darling's record release show with a live acoustic track

Posted by

To gear up for Darling's record release show tonight at the Hideout (more on that here), I posted a teaser track from their Indiesomnia! Green Room Sessions interview and live acoustic session. The full interview should be out soon, but until then, you can listen in here. Admission is $8, the venue is 21-and-older, and tickets to the show are available here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Show preview: Darling at Hideout, 9/16 (record release)

Posted by Frank

Photo: Juliana Schneider
Need a fix of some great new Chicago music? Head to the Hideout this Thursday, September 16, where locally-based three-piece Darling will celebrate the release of their first full-length record, Lights That Last Forever. Darling cite the likes of Built to Spill and Pavement as influences on their MySpace site, but I personally also hear some classic college rock in their well-crafted, thoughtful indie pop/rock. Early R.E.M. came to mind while listening to many of the songs, and that's definitely a great thing. Both lyrically and musically, the material has an emotive, melancholic vibe, but it's also quite poppy and hopeful throughout. Check out an mp3 of one track, "Bicycle Ride," below, and hear for yourself.

MP3: Darling - Bicycle Ride

Tin Tin Can and Rachele Eve will also play the show starting at 9 p.m. Click here for tickets and more information. If you can't make it to Hideout, Lights That Last Forever will be out on Cardboard Sangria Records on September 28 in both CD and cream-colored vinyl formats. Or, if you want to give it a listen now, it's already available digitally.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Audio: An interview with Chew Heart

By Susan Schomburg
Local indie rock duo Chew Heart recently sat down with the Indiesomnia podcast (aka my podcast blog) to discuss their music, album, unusual band name, and more. The band is comprised of Laura Granlund (vocals, guitar, and keyboards) and Curt Swank (drums).

Audio of the interview (along with a preview of the song "Western Mass" from their forthcoming album, Messy Snarls), is available for online streaming here.

The band's record release show is this Sunday, September 12, at The Whistler. The show starts at 9:30, there is no cover charge, and the venue is 21+ (ID required). Fellow Chicago band Perseus Noble is also on the bill.

Messy Snarls is available now through Laura's online shop,, as well as through various online music retailers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A few Chicago music news bites

Here's a quick rundown of some interesting bits of Chicago rock-related information and cool links that have popped up over the last few days:
  •  Indie pop four-piece Pet Lions, who have been busy raising funds to make their debut LP, recorded an acoustic performance of an excellent new song called "The English Room." Check it out here.
  • - Remember the wonderfully bizarre X Japan from Lollapalooza? After over 25 years in existence without playing a U.S. concert prior to the fest in August, the over-the-top Japanese metal-punk-pop band is already set to return stateside for a tour that includes a Chicago stop at the Riviera Theater on October 6. Find out more here.
  •  Gold Motel provided the perfect soundtrack to this summer with their aptly-titled debut album, Summer House. Now they've announced a brand new 7" single, Talking Fiction, to be released in late October. Get a look into the recording here.
  •  Loud Loop Press made us aware of a scare involving a member of the wonderfully gritty and manic dance rock unit The Streets on Fire. Guitarist Yuri Alexander was reportedly struck by a car earlier this week, but fortunately seems to be doing fine now. The band had to postpone their scheduled Saturday performance at Saki record store until a later date, but still plan to play September 17 at the Empty Bottle.
  •  Andy from Clip Art sent us some cool live footage from the band's recent show at the Empty Bottle. Behold the rocking and incredibly infectious "Dead Letter" (off their debut EP Broken by Design) as well as a currently unrecorded tune, "Anna Lee" (which features some impressive squeezebox action).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chicago's Joe Pug is tired of bandits

Posted by Bobby

Photo: Todd Roeth
Chicago folk musician Joe Pug continues to be supremely cool. Chicagoist reports that after Pug blogged about a negative ticket buying experience where he stated, "The actual price was nearly double the face of the ticket. Half of my money was going to the band I loved, the other half to horse-thieves," he decided to do something about it. The singer-songwriter has announced a "$10 tour" including 22 shows with almost all tickets priced at 10 bucks and the least amount of fees or additional charges possible.

Pug, who is not the size and scope of artist who can readily afford philanthropy, makes a pretty cool statement and shows that he has a sincere appreciation for his fans, who can catch him locally at Metro on Saturday, October 16. According to Chicagoist, he was able to offer 50 zero fee $10 tickets for that show directly through his site. After they quickly sold out, he was able to put a new batch of tickets up for sale. It would be great to see fans sell out the show, especially knowing that Pug has their backs and has proven that artists can be as frustrated with costly, fee-loaded tickets as they are.

MP3: Joe Pug - "Nation of Heat"

Monday, September 6, 2010

North Coast Music Fest 2010 part three: Lupe Fiasco, Flying Lotus, Mayer Hawthorne

Posted by Frank

Lupe Fiasco (photo: Windy City Rock)
Soul, experimental electro and rap were the sounds that closed out the final night of the inaugural North Coast Music Fest Sunday.

Well-respected hometown rapper Lupe Fiasco took the stage at 7:30 p.m., but before then retro-style soulman Mayer Hawthorne and producer/laptop musician Flying Lotus kept the crowd entertained by the fest's two main stages.

Like Maps and Atlases earlier in the day (see my previous post here), Mayer Hawthorne and his band, The County, had a unique presence at the fest. Instead of drawing on electronic sounds for inspiration, the 31-year-old Hawthorne looked to classic '60s and '70s soul, delivering sweet, smooth sounds to those who decided to take in his set. His style of music is the kind that is completely unashamed to borrow from the past and is all the better because of it. Plus, it didn't hurt that he's an entertaining performer to watch and that the band was notably tight. My only gripe was that some of the songs seemed to go on for a bit longer than was necessary, but all in all the performance was well worth checking out.

As soon as Hawthorne wrapped up, Flying Lotus took the nearby North stage. I know a lot of people were excited to hear the trippy electro from this Californian, and the set certainly sounded well-performed, but this sort of music just isn't my bag. It's the kind of trancey stuff that I might appreciate most while played in the background while doing something else, but that I can't focus on or grasp onto when I attempt to devote my full attention to it. Still, the talent was apparent and I suspect that many people would cite the performance as a highlight of the weekend. 

Lupe Fiasco was fantastic, and that's coming from someone who can very rarely get into rap. I find his style fresh, powerful and exciting, and he is an incredibly entertaining ball of energy on stage. Being typically all about rock, of course I love that he takes a rap-rock approach to much of his material and that he seems to favor expanding beyond the confines of any single genre. For most of the afternoon acts it was relatively easy to get to the front, but Fiasco had a very large and enthusiastic crowd, which was much deserved and cool to see. Even the photo pit was so mobbed that security had to split photographers into two groups, one group going in to snap shots at a time. The rapper performed an hour-long set that closed with his best-known song "Superstar" - unfortunately without collaborator Matthew Santos on hand to sing the chorus as he was at Lollapalooza 2008 (a backing track was used instead), but it still sounded excellent. While Nas and Damian Marley, The Disco Biscuits and Gemini Club kept the fest going until 10 p.m., I chose to end my day with Fiasco, and he certainly delivered a grand finale.

All in all, the first North Coast Fest was a great way to spend Labor Day weekend. If I could have asked for one change, I would have loved to see more straight-ahead rock and roll in the lineup. Assuming it will return next year, I'll be curious to see how it will grow and what will change. What do you think? Did you enjoy the fest? Would you go back next year? 

See more photos after the jump.

North Coast Music Fest 2010 part two: Maps and Atlases, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Holy Ghost!

Posted by Frank

Dave Davison of Maps & Atlases (photo: Windy City Rock)
After spending the first few hours of North Coast Music Fest Sunday watching The Coop, Loyal Divide and Phantogram (read more about that here), the next few acts I decided to take in proved just how eclectic the fest was.

The first of the second batch of performances I caught was locally-based experimental folk-rock band Maps and Atlases. This is another band I had always heard a lot about but never had the opportunity to see live, and as soon as they came out and began playing it was apparent they represented a rare breed at this festival. As opposed to the majority of the performers comprising the lineup, there did not seem to be an electro, trip-hop, or hip-hop bone in Maps and Atlases' collective musical body. The big, untamed beard of front man Dave Davison suggested that this was going to be an earthy, folky affair, and that it was. However, it wasn't the sleepy, chilled-out sort of folk, but rather a style that was rather upbeat and experimental, made even more unique by Davison's tinny vocals and unorthodox delivery. Their set was a welcome change of pace in the lineup, and made me think of how it would be great to see a few more indie rock acts present at future installments of the fest.

From there, I headed to the "Groupon" stage to check out the Dirty Dozen Brass Band from New Orleans. I didn't know anything about the band going in, but apparently they've been active since the '70s. They turned out to be as lively and fun as their name suggests and were another band that stood out in the fest's lineup with their funky, jazzy take on traditional NOLA-style music. People seemed to really enjoy them, and it was a prime example of the power of the music festival - it wasn't something I ever would have sought out on my own, but something that I ended up being happy to experience.

Closing out the afternoon on the North stage were New York City's Holy Ghost!, which I can best describe as synth-heavy disco dance rock. Their set was incredibly fun and easy to listen to, though past a certain point the songs started to sound a bit too alike to me (admittedly, though, that could be a result of me not having been familiar with any of their music). At one point the vocalist commented that it was strange to be playing in the daylight, but the music fit the atmosphere very well and got people dancing.

As the evening went on, I decided to close out my Sunday with Mayer Hawthorne, Flying Lotus and Lupe Fiasco. Check out my next post to read about those performances.

See photos of Maps and Atlases, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Holy Ghost! after the jump.

North Coast Music Fest 2010 part one: The Coop, Loyal Divide, Phantogram

Posted by Frank

Phantogram's Sarah Barthel (photo: Windy City Rock)
This weekend, Chicago made a brand new addition to its already substantial list of summer music festivals.

The inaugural North Coast Music Fest, held in the city's Union Park (the same grounds as the annual July Pitchfork Music Fest), kicked off Friday evening and ended Sunday night. The festival's organizers voiced a goal of bringing together a variety of musical styles and held true to their promise, though there was a definite electro and hip-hop lean to the performances.

I headed down to the park early Sunday afternoon to check out what the final day of the fest had to offer. It was the perfect late summer day for an outdoor musical party - warm, but not sweltering like it usually is for, say, Lollapalooza - and I was interested to see how North Coast would compare to the city's other music fests. Read more and see more photos after the jump.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Preview party for Weezer's 'Hurley' 9/10 at The Rail

Posted by Frank

Call me late to the party, but I just found out Weezer will put out their eighth LP, Hurley, on September 14 (is it me, or does it seem like they just put out their last album a few months ago? You have to applaud their work ethic). After receiving the below flyer for a pre-release listening party on Friday, September 10 at The Rail here in Chicago, I had to do a double-take because the big ol' face on the album cover staring back at me was none other than that of Jorge Garcia, a.k.a. Hurley from Lost. I'm not quite sure why his face is being used as the cover and why the LP's titled Hurley, but it will probably pay off because really, who doesn't love Hurley from Lost?

If you're as intrigued as I am, be sure to check out the party, where you'll not only get to hear the album but also partake in "free Weezer giveaways."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Video: This Is Versailles - 'Robot Beach'

Posted by Frank

Any fan of noisy, Chicago-brewed rock and roll will want to check out the brand new, debut video from This Is Versailles. The song is called "Robot Beach" and it's a perfect introduction to the driving post-punk whirlwind that is the band's sound, featuring the instantly ear-grabbing, aggressive yet melodically-appealing vocals of front-woman/bassist Caitlin Garibaldi. See for yourself below.

"Robot Beach" comes off the band's self-titled EP (a.k.a "Crown and Hatchets" EP) from last year, which they'll follow-up this Friday, September 3 with a second self-titled EP (a.k.a. "Capital Punishment" EP). To celebrate the release they will play the Empty Bottle on that night with The Poison Arrows and Follows, and will be giving away the new EP for free to anyone who goes to the show. 10 p.m., $5, 21 and over. Click here for tickets.