Thursday, December 30, 2010

Show photos: Umphrey's McGee at the Riviera, 12/29

By Mike Sullivan

Chicago-based jam band Umphrey’s McGee kicked off three nights of sold out hometown shows yesterday at the Riviera. There weren’t any opening acts to delay their 3+ hour jam session, which consisted of both old and new tunes as well as a few cover songs thrown into the mix. All three nights are being filmed for a soon-to-be released-DVD, so look out for it if you missed the show or want to re-live the experience. In the meantime, check out these shots from Wednesday's performance.

Show review: James Chance at Beauty Bar, 12/29

Posted by Andrew

What can be said about James Chance that hasn’t already been said? For those not familiar, stop reading this and listen to him right now. Essentially the creator of the New York no wave scene in the late '70s, this guy destroyed CBGBs and the Mudd Club. If you were sitting down at a show, he would force you to dance; if the music didn’t do it, he would literally throw you into the pit. Over 30 years later, he’s not as confrontational to audience members. But being in the presence of a legend is still quite an experience. To be sure, James Chance does not give a fuck; he plays the way he wants to play. Last night at Beauty Bar, he provided a show as confounding as his recordings.

I had never seen live music at the venue before. The joint often hosts some great DJs, or at least big names that you want to be in the presence of. So when I heard that the James Chance / James Black / James White was playing, there was not a chance I would miss it. Any expectations I had of a conventional show were immediately shattered. The house DJ was going for a bit longer than anticipated. Really, still, I’m not quite sure just what happened next.

A few Chicago music news bites

  • Want to ring in the New Year with some live music? The Tribune's Greg Kot published a roundup of some notable shows happening in Chicago on New Year's Eve in case you still need to work out your plans. Also check out his article on notable shows happening in during the first few months of 2011
  • It's always exciting to see great Chicago bands showing up on Daytrotter.com. Earlier this week the site posted a live session from our city's own Unicycle Loves You that's well worth downloading. You can grab it here
  • On Christmas Day hometown rapper Lupe Fiasco premiered the video for his latest, Modest Mouse-sampling single "The Show Goes On." The tracks comes from his upcoming third album, Lasers, out March 8th
  • Loud Loop Press has some very cool photos up from the recent "Beats and Blogs" show at Subterranean, which you might have read about right here on this site. Click here to check out shots of White Mystery and Hollows

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Record review: Archie Powell and the Exports - 'Skip Work'

Posted by Andrew

I admit it. I’ve fallen for all of the technological advances and studio tomfoolery that is so common in rock music today. That guy with his Macbook on stage who looks like he’s not really doing much? His tunes ain’t bad. So I feel a tinge of guilt when I think of my three-chord loving, AF Records-devoted rebellious high school self and what he would think of my current state of open-mindedness. But growing up does that to you. While simultaneously moving forward into maturity, you always want to recreate the days of youth and ignorance. So that’s probably why I appreciate Archie Powell and the Exports debut LP Skip Work so much.

A few shows to check out this week

Posted by Frank

Tom Schraeder
Tonight, December 28, catch two great Chicago acts, Tom Schraeder and His Ego and Derek Nelson and the Musicians at Schubas (3159 N. Southport). Tom released his latest, Once Lace, Now Cotton, back in June, and Derek and co. also put out some excellent tunes this year via Riders of the Tide (our review). More info and tickets are available here.

Hope's Wake (KHughes Photography)
On Thursday, December 30, head to Goose Island in Wrigleyville (3535 North Clark) to check out Nashville's Hope's Wake plus two locally-based acts - The Bergamot and Kory Quinn. Bobby of Hope's Wake wrote to tell us about the show and introduce us to his music, describing his sound as "a schizophrenic Bob Dylan combined with the groove of Radiohead." That description pretty much begged a listen, and what do you know, it really does sound like that. Which is really quite something. He just put out a very cool EP  and is traveling a long way to play Chicago, so if you like what you hear be sure to check out the show.

Pegboy
There's a lot of really good shows happening on New Year's Eve, but quite possibly the loudest will be taking place at Abbey Pub. Four certifiably noisy Chicago bands spanning punk and garage rock - Pegboy, Mannequin Men, Sweet Cobra and White Mystery - will be taking the stage to ensure you ring in the new year with ringing ears. Click here for more information and tickets.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ten great Chicago music releases of 2010

Posted by Frank

Village, a band I dug in 2010 (photo: Amelia Moore)
At the end of every year I come to the same conclusion: I suck at making year-end lists. I hear so much music I like within the course of 365 days that it's incredibly hard to narrow it down. Plus, it's impossible to take in everything put out during the course of a year, so who can say what's really the best? But because I love spreading the word about music that makes me happy, I wanted to write a few words about some of the releases from Chicago artists that I've played and enjoyed the most this year. I won't declare that these are the "best of" anything, but below, in no particular order, are ten of my personal favorites from 2010. I'd love to hear your thoughts and your own picks in the comments.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Spend Christmas with Scott Lucas and the Married Men

Posted by Frank

Photo: Audrey Keller Photography
Last Saturday, Scott Lucas and the Married Men hit the Hideout stage with their first ever holiday-themed show, dubbed "The Hideout Holiday Music Hour." If you missed it or want to relive the fun, good news: you can head to scottlucasandthemarriedmen.com on December 25 to hear the show streaming all day long.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Audio: Interview and live acoustic session with Stan McConnell of Chicago band Santah

Posted by Susan Schomburg

As part of my Chicago music podcast, Indiesomnia!, I get to tape a lot of interviews and live music sessions with bands. The most recent of these to see the bright light of internet day was a solo interview and live acoustic session with Stan McConnell, the lead singer-songwriter of Chicago indie folk/rock outfit Santah.

The band has had a good year, including the release of their first full-length album, White Noise Bed (which the band has available for online listening and download here), and are gearing up to headline Schubas Tavern tomorrow night (Wednesday, December 22). Stan had some interesting things to say in the interview about the group's origins and musical style, his approach to songwriting, as well as the band's plans for 2011. The podcast is streaming online for free at the Indiesomnia website, and advance tickets to tomorrow night's show at Schubas are available here.

This article also appears on Examiner.com.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Free music sampler from Grape Juice Records

Posted by Frank

The crew at Grape Juice Records have an early Christmas present for you. Today the Chicago label has released a free 11-track music sampler titled Friends & Family II, the second of their annual compilations showcasing artists they have worked with over the past year. Included are some really great locally-based musicians such as Derek Nelson & the Musicians, Jon Drake & the Shakes, Rachele Eve, The Shams Band and many more. Check out the full track listing below and download the compilation on GJR's Bandcamp site.

Grape Juice Records - Friends & Family II track listing:
1. Jon Drake & the Shakes - "Margie"
2. Julie Meckler - "Deportation Blues"
3. Will Phalen - "Candycane Mountain in My Mind"
4. Rachele Eve - "Pronouncing Logic"
5. Musikanto - "To See You One More Time"
6. Rambos - "USA"
7. Curtis Evans & Our Friend Electric - "Mark of the Beast"
8. Derek Nelson & the Musicians - "Come and Wait"
9. No Ordinary Oswald - "40 Watt Womb"
10. The Minneapolis Henrys - "Where My Mind's Been"
11. The Shams Band - "In the Sun"

Record review: Manwomanchild - self-titled LP

Posted by Frank

We first wrote about Chicago's Manwomanchild last month via an interview with the band's vocalist, guitarist and overall mastermind, David Child. At that time only a handful of tracks were available, all of them excellent, so I had high expectations for the newly-released, self-titled debut Manwomanchild full-length. It didn't let me down. The record has quickly become one of my late favorites of the year. Recorded in Rhode Island - where the project originated before David moved to the Windy City - these 12 strong tracks feature a sound that's a hybrid of classic guitar-driven glam rock and slick, synth-tinged new wave, topped off by abstract and thought-provoking lyrics.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Weekend show picks: White Mystery, As Tall as Lions and more

Posted by Frank
 
White Mystery
Friday, December 17

- MillionYoung at The Empty Bottle with Sunglasses and The Great Mundane - For something synthy, breezy and electro-fied, head to the Bottle tonight to catch Florida's MillionYoung. More info and tickets.

-REGO at Double Door with Canasta, Ryan Groff of Elsinore and Nathan Xander - A bill full of standout home-brewed acts equals guaranteed good times. More info and tickets.

Saturday, December 18

- White Mystery, Hollows, Rabble Rabble and Radar Eyes at Subterranean - If you've been reading this site over the last few weeks, by now you're probably aware of the "Beats and Blogs" show going down at SubT Saturday featuring four excellent bands from our fine city. There will be beats, there will be bloggers and there will be a whole lotta rock, so come on down. Check out this video to learn more and hear from the bloggers. More info and tickets.

- Carta Marina at Cal's Bar - Itching for a bit of dive bar action to go along with your live music? Head to Cal's (400 S. Wells) and check out the very cool ambient alt-rock of Chicago's own Carta Marina. To get better acquainted, you can listen to the band's album End of the Era in full on Bandcamp.

Sunday, December 19

- As Tall as Lions at Lincoln Hall with Yawn and Apres Vous - After nearly a decade, indie rockers As Tall as Lions are about to pack it in (amicably) and move on to other projects. Chicago fans can say goodbye Sunday night. More info and tickets.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tonight: Shapers, Chants at the Whistler

Posted by Andrew

Photo Credit: Joe Carsello
My first experience with Shapers was back in October when they opened for the 1900s (review here). I hadn’t listened to them ahead of time so the tabula rasa experience is one I regret I’ll never be able to have again. To say the least, Shapers is on the opposite side of the musical spectrum from the Chicago indie-pop stalwarts that would follow them. Dynamics and conventions are simultaneously adhered to and disassembled. The band experiments with experimentation. The two basic (rather, complex) principles the band adheres to are dissonance and entropy. I know it all sounds a bit confusing but you have two options to pursue: 1) Experience Shapers like I did and let them swallow you whole. 2) Click here, here, or here for videos to be more prepared. Note: listening ahead of time can still really only prepare you in as much as you’ll be bringing a knife to a shootout.

Opening for Shapers is Chants, the one-man multi-instrumental alias of Jordan Cohen. Similarly anarchic to Shapers, but with more beats and decipherable melody. This all goes down at the Whistler tonight, December 16 (10 p.m., FREE, 21+) as the official release for Shapers' Virginia Reel 7” out on (no kidding?) Whistler Records.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

EP review: Carbon Tigers - 'The Burrows'

Posted by Sasha

Born out of Columbia College in 2009, Carbon Tigers have built a solid fan base through the many live shows they've played over the past year. Their debut EP The Burrows has allowed them to layer their songs with depth of sound and run them through clean-but-not-airless production. The result isn't a simple brand of rock; each song is tightly packed with melody and texture evocative of The Mars Volta at their most concise.

Chris Wienke's vocals land in the Yorke/Bellamy range, though I'd say Carbon Tigers' sound lies overall more in line with the lesser known Ours. Like Muse, though, Carbon Tigers allow themselves some glitter in the mix of their solid rock sound. However, they use jingly guitars and chimes not at the expense of the darkness of their tone, but actually in support of it.

Show review: Peaches Christ Superstar at the Portage Theater, 12/14

Posted by Andrew

Photo Credit: Holger Talinski
Nope, I’ve never seen or heard "Jesus Christ Superstar." Not particularly an avid follower of Peaches either. So what brought me to the Portage Theater Tuesday night to check out the one woman rendition of the critically acclaimed Andrew Lloyd Weber play? I still can’t tell you. Must have had something to do with the absurdity of the concept in itself. And maybe I expected something fantastic to erupt out of the performance. Honestly, I was a bit let down in that aspect. Peaches, for all of the hype and reviews I had read about previous shows (JCSS related or not) seemed very awkward and unconfident of her abilities as a performer. For much of the first act, she stood with her arms at her sides and legs stiff with occasional pseudo-sexual dance moves that only added to the discomfort due to their insincerity. I couldn’t help but wonder if her awkward stage presence was an exterior admittance of her own insecurity about the project.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Video: Smith Westerns - 'Weekend'

Posted by Andrew

Not that these guys were necessarily underground before, but 2011 is sure to be an even bigger year for the Smith Westerns. Currently on tour with MGMT in Europe, the group returns to conquer their homeland in the early months of next year, including a stop at the Empty Bottle on Saturday, February 26th. Dye it Blonde, the follow up to their widely acclaimed eponymous debut, will be released January 18th on Fat Possum. To hold us over till then, the group released a video for first single "Weekend," which you can watch below. Think you know Chicago? Tell us where the video was shot in the comments.

Smith Westerns - Weekend from Fat Possum Records on Vimeo.

Check out more videos:
The Streets on Fire - "Astronaut Love Triangle"
The 1900s - "Amulet"
Shapers - "Virginia Reel"

Record review: Gold Motel - 'Talking Fiction'

Posted by Frank

Suffering a lack of vitamin D thanks to this already-harsh Chicago winter? Gold Motel are here to help via a new single that will help you think of warmer, happier days. The locally-based indie pop quintet have followed up their debut LP Summer House with a vinyl 7" (and digital release) dubbed Talking Fiction, which neatly wraps up everything so irresistible about the band into two of their best tracks yet.

A-side "Cold Shoulders" is power-pop bliss that recalls prime-era Blondie. Here, frontwoman Greta Morgan sounds extra cool and alluring over a lively melody that invades your brain upon first listen.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tonight: Netherfriends, Jams Dean, Ol' Boy at the Viaduct Theater

Posted by Andrew

This is a show that crept up on me. For one, I assumed Netherfriends was constantly on tour. Given Shawn’s recent outbursts at playing in NYCity, I’m guessing he’s glad to be playing back home. Of course, one Chicago Netherfriend’s show means that it was preceded by or will be followed by more Chicago Netherfriend’s shows. If you can’t make this one, catch Sean play solo at Caf√© Mustache on the 17th, buy him a classy drink at the Whistler Tuesday January 4th, or at a venue known for hosting great shows (ahem) Subterranean January 6th.

Opening for Netherfriends is the non-stop people and product referencing, lyrically clever Cream Team writer Jams Dean. If nothing else, this guy’s got great taste in women. Before him, make sure to catch the no frills rock of Ol’ Boy. This diverse show of all local talent is brought to the Viaduct by the Inconvenience. Doors are at 9, $5 before 10, 7$ after (21+). Also, if you actually have time to click all of the links in this preview, you, not unlike myself, have way too much free time.

New tracks from Brilliant Pebbles

Posted by Sasha

Photo: Mireya Acierto
Chicago glitterprog extraordinaires Brilliant Pebbles have been posting new tunes on their Soundcloud lately. They've been steering deeper into synth-pop territory since DJ/producer Ross Kelly joined the crew, constructing irradiated dance beats and haunting them with Monika Bukowska's unearthly vocals. It's awfully weird stuff, markedly different from the sounds on their first EP, when they were still recording with drummer Philip Montoro and bassist James Kennedy. I'm now curious as to what their next release with the new lineup will hit us with.

Listen to "World's Best Dancer" below.

WORLD'S BEST DANCER by BRILLIANT PEBBLES

Video: 'Labor of Love: Beats and Blogs'

Posted by Frank

Are you pumped and ready for Saturday's "Beats and Blogs" show at Subterranean featuring White Mystery, Hollows, Rabble Rabble and Radar Eyes? It's less than a week away so make sure to get yourself in prime rocking condition. In the meantime, check out this brand new video including many of the Chicago music bloggers who have joined forces to get the word out about the show and to generally promote the stellar local music scene. Basically, a bunch of cool people from cool sites (plus one lame dude from this site) talking about what they do and why they love doing it.  Have a look below and don't forget to grab your tickets for 12/18!

'Labor of Love; Beats and Blogs' from SFVideo Productions on Vimeo.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Show preview: Automata at Pancho's, 12/11

Posted by Andrew

Photo Credit: Jeroen Vranken
The aim of some bands is to be a part of a specific genre, to perpetuate the sounds of their influences and to solidify their own place in the scene. Other bands funnel their myriad of influences to create their own sound; familiar but with enough of a twist to stamp their own name on it. It is in the latter category that we find Automata. Initial listens might peg the band as left field reggae or dancehall, but further spins prove this is a band with a multiple track mind. To put it into RIYL terms, consider if Beth Gibbons ever did a side project with Bill Laswell with Ghost Town era Specials providing the rhythm section. Their debut EP Microcosm (up for FREE on their Bandcamp) is certainly slow groove heavy. A cinematic texture presents itself but this is no background soundtrack: Rachel Thomas’ vocals are too demanding not to pay attention. Album highlight ‘Give and Take’ provides an interesting take on gospel halfway through the song. Instrumental breakdowns avoid post-rock monotony while still retaining a dynamic and unpredictable process.

Catch Automata at Ronnie's replacement, Panchos, tomorrow night (21+, $5, 9:00). Electro pop-wavers the New Loud make the trip down from Milwaukee to open. In case I’m not convincing enough, read this Mexican blog's review of the album as part of their year-end list. And really, how many internationally renowned acts do you know that get to play Panchos?

Tonight: Cloud Cult at Metro

Posted by Sasha


I've been listening to Cloud Cult since they released Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus and I had no idea they hailed from Minnesota. There's something so placeless about the whimsy of their sound that it never occurred to me they were Midwestern bred. Creative helmsman Craig Minowa has stated that he doesn't pay attention to current indie rock so it's no surprise that Cloud Cult's sound takes up a lot of space, unfettered by trends. You can hear some Elephant 6 style psychedelic influences and there are similarities to mid-aughts contemporaries the Unicorns, but on the whole Cloud Cult occupies their own place among the fractured madness of today's music scene. Minowa has been incredibly prolific over the past decade, generating album after album filled with perfectly rough-edged pop tracks. He tours with a great assembly of folks to bring these creations to life in real-time, often filling stages with all sorts of instruments to awaken the variety of sounds Cloud Cult likes to work with.

Cloud Cult will be stopping by Chicago as part of a tour in support of their latest album, Light Chasers. Catch them at Metro on tonight, December 10th, at 9 p.m. (doors open at 8). Minnesota's Dark Dark Dark and Ben Weaver will also be along for the ride. Tickets are $15 in advance and available here.

Watch Cloud Cult perform Today "We Give Ourselves to the Fire" on Seattle's KEXP below:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday goodies from Unicycle Loves You

Posted by Frank

Photo: Anthony Dixon
Chicago indie pop trio Unicycle Loves You are in the holiday spirit. Not only are they giving away a free download of their breezy single "There's a Giant Walking in My Heart" (which you can grab below), they'll also be gifting their recently-released album Mirror, Mirror plus an original coloring book (yes, a coloring book) to the first 100 people at their December 30 Beat Kitchen show. The 20-page coloring book, described as "not-so-much for kids," was created by the band with inspiration from Macmillan inspirational children's textbooks from the '70s. Intrigued? Head out to the show and get colorin'. Tickets are available here.

Download MP3: Unicycle Loves You - "There's a Giant Walking in My Heart"

Ticket giveaway! White Mystery, Hollows & more at SubT, 12/18


Have you heard about the “Beats and Blogs” show going down at Subterranean on Saturday, December 18? It's going to feature four of Chicago’s finest, most rockin’ bands – White Mystery, Hollows, Rabble Rabble and Radar Eyes. We’ve been working with Betta Promotions as well as Loud Loop Press and many other top-notch Chicago music sites to get the word out, so it’s bound to be a crazy fun musical party you won’t want to miss. To add to the excitement, we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away!

To get in the running, just shoot us an e-mail with “Beats and Blogs” in the subject line and your first and last name in the body, and we’ll select a winner at random to score the tickets. We’ll be accepting entries until 10 a.m. on Friday, December 10, and we’ll announce a winner once the contest is closed.
Update 12/10 - The contest is now closed. Congratulations to Angela K.! Thanks to all who entered.

Tonight: Daysleeper at Double Door

Posted by Sasha
 

Any band that writes rock songs about robots automatically gets a vote of confidence from me. Daysleeper not only show off a nerdy streak, they weld together some unusual sonic textures for their ilk. Not enough rock bands tap into wind instruments to enhance their sound, but Daysleeper gives their songs a vintage proggy vibe with spurts of saxophone. At points, it's as if Collective Soul took a page from Van Der Graaf Generator. Between the fingerpicked acoustic moments and the bright stadium guitars woven into their repertoire, Daysleeper cover a lot of area in rounding out their sound. They'll play Double Door this tonight, December 9th, along with the folk-pop stylings of Buckman Page, the quirky songstressings of Jen Gloeckner, and Janelle Kroll's alt-R&B. Doors open at 8 p.m., the show starts at 9, tickets are $5 for general admission, and the show is 21 and over.

Listen to Daysleeper's "Evil Robots" below:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Audio: Interview and live music session with Dastardly

Posted by Susan Schomburg

To add to today's WCR review of Dastardly's May You Never..., check out this podcast of my recent interview with the band.

I caught up with the group a few weeks ago, and they reflected on their origins, band name, live shows and their debut, which sees its official release tomorrow night ( December 9) at Schubas (advance tickets available here). The podcast also includes an extensive live acoustic session courtesy of band members Gabe Liebowitz (guitar and vocals), Sarah Morgan (accordion and vocals), August Sheehy (bass and vocals), John Humbracht (banjo), and Andy Taylor (drums), at the Indiesomnia! website.

Record review: Dastardly - 'May You Never...'

Posted by Sasha

Alt-country is a hallmark of melancholia, an expression of that all-American solitude that's gripped many a songsmith over the years. Between Jason Molina and Jeff Tweedy alone you can find enough introspective yearning to power a small city. Dastardly recognizes their roots in the sad boys' club but chooses to opt out of straightforward angst and moon-crooning. Instead, their debut release May You Never... addresses the cliche of white boy pain with a wicked sense of humor. Even at the record's darkest moments, Dastardly never forgets to laugh at themselves. May You Never... is a refreshing take on the genre studded with some of the earwormiest Americana tunes you're likely to hear for a while.

New Christmas track from The Loneliest Monk

Posted by Frank


Are the season's typical overplayed, overly saccharine Christmas tunes already driving you insane? Chicago art-rock duo The Loneliest Monk have a new holiday track that's a very welcome break from the norm. Their version of "Carol of the Bells" is dark and mysterious, thundering and twisting along with the hard-hitting cello and percussion work of Michelle Morales and Miles Benjamin, respectively. It's bound to make your Christmas party playlist much more interesting and is available for free download here:

 
   
   
   
   
   
 
 
More to check out:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Catch WCR's own Bobby Minelli live this week

Posted by Frank


Bobby Minelli is a man of many talents. Not only does he contribute his musical thoughts right here on this site, he also writes and plays some pretty sweet tunes. You can see him in action at two separate shows this week.

First, Bobby will join his brother Mark Minelli and Brooklyn’s Karen Rockower for an in-store performance Thursday evening, December 9, at Hard Boiled Records (2010 W. Roscoe). Starting at 6 p.m., the three will do acoustic sets and encourage people to pick up some vinyl. Later the same night, Karen will also play a separate set at Beat Kitchen with London Anderson.

The following night, December 10, Bobby will perform at Darkroom. The show starts at 9 p.m., and Bobby’s set will be followed by performances from Karen as well as Milwaukee band The Wildbirds.

Come out, take in some great music and say hey!

More to check out:
My WCR intro Q&A with Bobby
My Q&A with Mark Minelli

Tonight: Mini Mansions at Subterranean

Posted by Frank

Photo: Dustin Rabin
If you'd like to fill your Tuesday night with some sweet psych-pop sounds, head to Subterranean for Mini Mansions. The L.A.-based trio (which happens to feature Queens of the Stone Age bass player Michael Shuman) is passing through town tonight on their first national tour in support of their self-titled debut record, which dropped last month. The band's music is an enchanting mix of hypnotic, pretty and a bit spooky, evoking classic '60s psychedelia at its most wonderfully bizarre. Their SubT set should be well worth braving the cold to check out. Thrillage and The Treasure Fleet will open starting at 8:30 p.m., and $8 tickets are available here.

For a taste, have a look at the band's recently-released music video for "W√ľnderbars":

Monday, December 6, 2010

Interview: Fall Fox

Posted by Sasha

Fall Fox's debut EP is a rarity among first steps into the DIY music scene. Its low-fi folk is strewn with lyrical oddities and playful turns, simultaneously mellow and fiercely alive. It occupies an odd space in both the old and new, mixing fables with the present day and letting Martins and Korgs occupy the same air. It all comes out of one Christian Keck, who's been performing in Chicago for years but has only recently taken on the name Fall Fox for his projects. He talked with us about his influences, the DIY and low-fi ethics in music, and his secret vaults of experimental electronica songs. We also talked about trees and feelings.

The self-titled EP is available as a free download or as part of a $1.75 package that includes a handmade hemp bracelet. Listen to and download it here. Fall Fox will also be playing a free show with Mark Trecka on Monday, December 27th at the Whistler.

Check out the interview after the jump.

Show review: The 1900s, Tyler Jon Tyler, Tristen at Empty Bottle, 12/3

Posted by Frank

The 1900s at Empty Bottle (photo: Windy City Rock)

Friday night's show at The Empty Bottle paired one of the city's finest music venues with one of its finest bands, throwing in two very pleasant surprises for good measure. Hot off the release of their second full-length, The 1900s tore through a set that put a whole lot of fire into folk-pop, while Tristen and Tyler Jon Tyler proved why you should always get to shows early.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Show review: Archie Powell and the Exports, Son of the Sun at Darkroom, 12/2

Posted by Andrew

Archie Powell and the Exports

Walking into the unassuming Darkroom on Chicago Ave. you are greeted with the red undertones of the bar, something that is all too trendy in nightclubs. However, the color scheme falls in line with the theme of the bar and venue when you realize the photographic negatives of vintage rural depictions used as coasters for your drink. More traditional art lines the brick walls and the soul-funk grooves set the mood. On Thursday the club featured Archie Powell and the Exports in a night of music themed "Jesus vs. Santa: The Battle Rages On," sponsored by Magic Hat #9, an appropriate drink given the ambiance.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

EP review: Michael Lux and the Bad Sons - 'Neat Repeater'

Posted by Frank


There's something about the combination of raw and poppy that makes for some damn fine rock and roll. Sometimes there's just no substitute for hard-hitting, scruffy guitar and no-frills production living in perfect harmony with immediate hooks and melodies. Hollus guitarist Michael Lux seems to know this well, as made clear on the debut EP from his solo project Michael Lux and the Bad Sons. The five-song Neat Repeater is a rough-and-ready rock and roll invasion that also manages to charm your pants off. Think the Replacements, except even less polished and a touch more psychedelic.

Michael says he wrote each of the tracks in under 30 minutes, which makes the whole deal even more impressive. The meaty riff of opener "So Loud," for example, is too memorable to come across like it was born on the fly. As is the strong, nostalgic melody of "Posies" and the rave-up force of "Saturday's Boys." But we'll have to believe Michael and consider that maybe he's onto something with this 30-minute songwriting business, because all five of these tunes have a hell of a lot of heart.

The EP is currently up for free download via the Bad Sons' Bandcamp (enter "0" under "buy now," or better yet, throw Mr. Lux a few well-deserved bones if you are so inclined). Also be on the lookout for a Bad Sons music video and live gigs coming soon.

Video: The Streets on Fire - 'Astronaut Love Triangle'

Posted by Frank

Check out this brand new music video from Chicago rockers The Streets on Fire. The tune is "Astronaut Love Triangle," taken from the band's recently-released LP This Is Fancy. There's hardly any astronaut to be found, but there's plenty of rollerskating, carousing chicks who look like they're from the 70s and what appears to be a foam party. You know, some good ol' fashioned high jinks. For even more high jinks, head to Beat Kitchen this Friday, December 3, to see the band's next gig. More info and tickets here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

EP Review: Northpilot - 'The Bright Brigade'

Posted by Andrew


“Why can’t we all just get along?," Northpilot frontman Travis Shaver asks in "Radio Lawyers," the opening track to the band's debut EP The Bright Brigade. Based on the cohesiveness of the sound, he's clearly not addressing his fellow band members. Theatrical and vaguely carnivalesque, Northpilot create a unique sound more akin to epic neo-prog than any overly flamboyant artists those adjectives may conjure up. With its driving piano lead, elaborate drumming and larger-than-life guitar wails, "Naked Before My Captors" provides a dynamic and climactic energy reminiscent of short-lived locals Wax on Radio. This was certainly the album highlight for me, with its cathartic buildup and experimental transitions. The EP on the whole does maintain a minor chord countenance, but each song manages to find unexpected notes hitting at the right time to shake things up. "Beautiful Raincoat" captures a perfect balance between an ominous dissonant verse with a more groovy and pop-inflected chorus. Closing track "Ochre Written Flint," appropriately aided by the rain hitting the window next to me as I type this, is somber reflection of limbo backed by keys, strings and brass that asks “How long must I wait here? How long before I go?” As the album begins with a question, it is fitting that it closes with another simple yet timeless expression of internal crisis. Northpilot recognize the tests of life, existential, artistic and all in-between. It is obvious in their debut effort how large of a scope they look at life through; as the band continue to grow, the questions will no doubt become even more poignant.

Catch the arena sized sounds of Northpilot as they open for very danceable and even more suggestive Workout Music at the Cubby Bear this Saturday, December 4 (get in for free by printing a sweet flyer off their Facebook page). The EP is available now on iTunes.

Show preview: Icarus Himself at The Whistler, 12/2

Posted by Sasha


Icarus Himself's newest EP Mexico has been garnering some nice press since its release in May, and rightfully so, as it's a marked step up for these Wisconsin locals. Not only have they added a third member, they've let their electronic predelictions take more control, allowing themselves to tangle their guitars with waves of synth. IH advertise as psychedelic, but there's more urgency here than that label usually suggests. Their sound is more hammered into the earth than it is floating on the air, fully driven and edged with angst. Mexico slaloms between carnival whirls and hard folk squalls, carving a groove that's equal parts Beirut and Bright Eyes. It's convincingly weird, a darkened shade of folktronica comfortable in its eccentricity.

Newly touring as a three-piece, Icarus Himself will be playing The Whistler on Thursday, December 2nd. Chicago's The Single Helix will open. The show starts at 10 p.m. and it's a 21 and over venue.