Thursday, April 28, 2011

Show review: The Island of Misfit Toys at Lincoln Hall, 4/23

Posted by Conor O'Hagan

The Island of Misfit Toys have come a long way in recent months. As little as six weeks ago the eight-piece graced the Schubas stage; the earnest appreciation of the opportunity declared by the members. Now, they have one-upped themselves by playing a Saturday night headlining show in Lincoln Hall on April 23rd.

If you were to see the show, you would not be surprised at this sharp incline of success. The full team of eight young members were dynamic and their adolescent anthems were enhanced by their unerring swagger and musical ability. That is without mentioning the constant exchanging of instruments. Guitar, bass, drums. Check. Keyboard, xylophone, saxophone. Check. Flute. Melodica. Accordion. Yes. Washboard? Yes, even a washboard.

Record review: The Palace Flophouse - 'Bad Friends Forever'

By Christian Chiakulas

I went in to writing this review of Urbana, IL-based indie folk-rockers The Palace Flophouse's new release Bad Friends Forever with absolutely no expectations, as it would be my first introduction to the band. This is not their first release, which shows in the quality of the songs - most of them have a healthy level of maturity in the songwriting and instrumentation. It is ultimately this maturity which gives the album its strongest virtues and makes it worth a listen.

The first track, “Just A Bad Friend,” starts the album off in proper fashion with some good crunchy guitar and confident vocals from Bradley Bergstrand. The album continues with “Hostage Situation,” one of the best tracks on the album. The harmonies between vocalist/guitarist Bradley and keyboardist Gretchen Bergstrand make for a very nice sound, and the fast tempo is a good change of pace from track one. Nate Fry, the band's bass player, really shines in this one, and I wonder if the bass was purposely mixed a bit louder than normal to highlight his groovy bass line.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A few Chicago music news bites

  • Betta Promotions will be streaming a live performance from experimental Chicago band A Lull on their website tonight at 8:30 p.m. CST.
  • Smashing Pumpkins revealed that EMI plans to remaster and reissue the band's back catalog, starting with Gish, Siamese Dream and Pisces Iscariot this fall. They will also head into the studio next month to begin recording a new album titled Oceania. Details here.
  • Loud Loop Press has the scoop on Chicago's own Empires advancing to the next round of a contest that could get them on the cover of Rolling Stone. You can vote for the band here as they continue to compete.
  • Daytrotter put up a new session with Cains & Abels, who we recently covered via a review of their latest EP The Price Is Right.
  • WCR contributing photographer Heather Sapp was at Beat Kitchen last Friday to check out The Hit Back and snapped a few shots of the show. Check them out below.

Show review: Foals, Freelance Whales at Metro, 4/26

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

Freelance Whales
I guess I really had forgotten what it’s like to attend a show at the Metro for an all-ages show during a night home game for the Cubs. But a different rant for another time. Tonight was about finding out how cuddly Freelance Whales are live and rediscovering how completely ass-kicking Foals are. 

The Whales from Queens started off with the opener to their debut album Weathervanes, "Generator ^ First Floor," to get the crowd immediately swooning to the repetitive burst of ah-ah-ah-ah’s. The energy continued with non-album "Enzymes," a 5/4 pop song that’s still complete with the "oh-ahs." On record, lead singer Judah Dadone is most comparable to Sufjan Stevens or Ben Gibbard, while live he takes entirely on the delicacy of the latter. Likewise, the collective notion of the band can draw comparisons to Stars or Los Campesinos!

The set continued with endless hooks, with multiple instrument exchanges. Not to be a straight up guitar, bass, keys, and drums five-piece, four of the members guard the front of the stage, rotating between synths, bowed guitar, mandolin, banjo, an appropriately whale-crooning harmonium, and the most stylized use of the glockenspiel I’ve seen in some time. Don’t let me leave out Chuck Criss’ simultaneous playing of the glock and keys. The best moment of the set was transitioning between the hook-laden and quick lyrical verse of "Hannah" into the majestic build up in "Location." And for those concerned, the water can did make its appearance as well, I’m sure much to the chagrin of certain FW critics. But considering the group's busking background, it was nice to see such an innocuous piece of percussion continue its position in their live set. 

Show review: Football at Quenchers, 4/23

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

(fan photo originally posted on facebook)
Uh oh! Penalty flags ahoy. A bit of encroachment following the Monday Night Football theme doesn’t start the set off with any forward progress, but the team quickly recovers from their fumble on second down. The set must have lasted all of 15 minutes, but it was high octane first-down-drives every possession. Lead singer / guitarist Jim McCann’s penetrating stare surveys the crowd as a quarterback analyzing the defensive secondary. His trademark excessively echoed vocals led the punk rock fury with fellow band members non-stop spinning, head-banging and general two point conversions all around. Oh, and it should definitely be mentioned that some star-glitter and cowbell found their way into the mix as well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lollapalooza 2011: Chicago bands in the lineup

Posted by Frank Krolicki

Smith Westerns
This year's Lollapalooza lineup is officially out. As expected based on rumors, Eminem, Foo Fighters and Muse are among the headliners, but also topping the list are Coldplay, My Morning Jacket, Deadmau5, A Perfect Circle and Cee Lo Green. Per usual, though, the earlier-day acts arguably look a lot more appealing than the headliners, and among the names lower down on the list are a handful of acts from Chicago. Even though it's here in the Windy City, Lollapalooza typically doesn't reserve many spots for locally-based musicians and this year is no exception. Still, the following bands are exciting to see on the list and should do an excellent job representing what our city has to offer.

Smith Westerns
Smith Westerns' Dye It Blonde has made quite a splash over the last few months. The sophomore record from Cullen Omori, Max Kakacek and Cameron Omori is full of great big glam-pop tunes that have brought the young band international attention. They have already supported the likes of MGMT, Belle and Sebastian and Passion Pit on tour and continue to grow in popularity. This stuff should sound particularly great on a hot summer's day in Grant Park.

This trancey psych-rock unit recently got some buzz when Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley stepped in after the departure of founding member Graeme Gibson, though it was unclear exactly how long or how frequently Shelley would remain a part of the band. Either way, be sure to include Disappears on your Lolla itinerary to add a rockin' wall of noise to your fest experience. To get up to speed, check out the band's second album, Guider, released early this year.

Introducing the Bingers

Posted by Bobby Minelli

If there's any chance that magic in the air could warm up Chicago tonight, it will probably be happening at Fireside Bowl. A new Windy City band called the Bingers have lit up my heart's metaphorical afternoon joint with their fuzzy summer sidewalk tunes, and you can hear for yourself starting at 8:30 at the Fireside (also with The Pear Traps, Videotape and We are the Willows). I asked the Bingers a few questions in anticipation of the show.

WCR: How did the Bingers come to be?

Teddy Binger moved back to Chicago from Marquette, Michigan, and after short debates about starting a rock 'n’ roll band, the three of us decided to rent a house in Logan Square, get into debt and buy some amps.

What are some of your favorite summertime sounds?

Liking the new Sonny and the Sunsets, T-Rex, Lawrence Welk’s Blue Hawaii, Chuck Berry, The Living Sisters, Dick Dale, Monster Rally.

Monday, April 25, 2011

EP review: Creepy Band - 'Songs to Kill Yourself To'

Posted by Sasha Geffen

Somewhere along the line, Tom Waits and Glenn Danzig had a bastard lovechild. They named it Creepy Band.

Or at least that's what you might think upon hearing the haunted carnival punk that fills Creepy's first release, Songs to Kill Yourself To. Mixing a punk ethos with a little historical reverence, Creepy wields a flair for both the theatrical and the macabre.

The bellowed vocals, which begin the EP with a bang when they scream out the title of the first track, heavily channel Danzig in their delivery. But this isn't straight Misfits idolatry. These songs slow down the mania of classic horror punk, building gradually to longer song lengths, arcing away from the fast and furious and stretching toward the epic.

Show preview: Property of Saints at Abbey Pub, 4/27

Posted by Conor O’Hagan

This Wednesday, April 27th, sees Property of Saints return to the Abbey Pub ahead of the summer release of their debut EP. The band has been performing in various venues in and around Chicago since 2009, including the Elbo Room, Subterranean and Beat Kitchen.

The group began when Abby Large and Christie Batka met in their Punk & Politics class at DePaul University in Fall 2008. Within six months the two were housemates, busily bothering their neighbors with the crafting of their folk-influenced pop melodies. Marrying Abby’s ethereal vocals, introspective lyrics and floating guitar lines with Christie’s vibrant, rolling bass grooves, the pair began to cultivate a sound that was truly their own.

The recent addition of Carlos Zapata’s distinctive, flowing drumming style has only proven to enhance and amplify the pair’s unique style while bringing a new-found edge to the group’s already versatile sound.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Show review: Low, Gaberdine at Lincoln Hall, 4/21

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Low
Oh, the joy of another windy, rainy, is-it-still-really-this-cold April night in Chicago. But given the ambiance, I can’t think of two better bands to have checked out at Lincoln Hall last night than Low and Gaberdine.

Chicago’s own Gaberdine started off with their lyrically strong brand of indie-folk. Lead singer Mark Federighi showed off his pipes, affecting a falsetto akin to Justin Vernon, while songs like "1918" appropriated a historical setting a la Colin Meloy. Aside from drums, bass and keys, the backing band consisted of a trumpet and cello, adding a warmer feeling to the often darker lyrical tones. Glockenspiel, harmonica and even a toy piano solo took their place as well. The band released a full length When We Land earlier this year, available on bandcamp (with "Run, Rabbit," one of my favorites from the set, available as a free download). 

Low’s signature minimalist sound was apparent before they even took the stage, with a simple setup including a guitar, bass and keys; the drums consisted of not more than a snare, a floor tom and two cymbals, one adorned with screws to further accentuate the decay. Accordingly, thus did things minimally begin. A spare recorded drumbeat and handclaps opened up "Breaker," the lead single off 2007’s Drums and Guns. Despite the sparse sound of the band, lead singer and guitarist Alan Sparhawk showed a magnificent amount of passion and energy, a strong force within a subdued craft. Behind the nearly skeletal drumkit was Mimi Parker adding the second half of the vocals.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Record review: Pet Lions - 'Houses'

Posted by Frank Krolicki

Pet Lions' Houses is the sound of a risk paying off. Listen to the Chicago quartet's first LP back to back with their 2009 introductory EP Soft Right, and it's clear that over the past two years they have been working to push their music into deeper and more adventurous places. While the EP was centered around generally straightforward indie pop, Houses introduces an artier, more atmospheric twist. Pet Lions know how to write a power pop song, so Soft Right was a strong release that worked well and gained the band quite a few fans. They could have easily left well enough alone and made an entire album's worth of similar material, but instead decided to experiment with their basic sound and add a significant layer of depth to both the songwriting and production. Wisely, they experimented without sacrificing the pop elements that made them so likable to begin with, and striking a perfect balance resulted in a truly impressive record.

Are you ready for some Football?!?

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

The recently pervasive term “indie supergroup” seems a bit of a misnomer, but it is really the only way to bill new band Football. If names like the Ponys, Baseball Furies, Hot Machines, Tight Phantomz, France Has the Bomb or A/V Murder do anything for you, then it’s definitely not too early to don that Bears jersey again. The band is comprised of Jim McCann, Jered Gummere, Mike Lust and R. Srini, all from at least one of the aforementioned bands. Although they made their official debut on the road at SXSW a month ago, the team’s first home game* is this Saturday April 23rd at Quenchers (9 PM, $5, 21+). Not much other info out there on this band yet, save for a couple YouTube videos, but early training camp reports** promise a hardcore, ass-kicking, post post-punk, loud as shit type of show. Local punk rockers Head of Skulls opens it up. 

*(pun stolen from the band’s Facebook page; if only I could be so clever)
**(but I think this one is original!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A few Chicago music news bites

  • Blane Fonda have launched a Kickstarter project in order to fund their first full-length album. They are more than halfway to their goal and are offering rewards for various levels of donations. You can check it out and watch a video they made specifically for the project here.
  • In the mood for something different from the typical rock gig? This Friday, April 22, Reggies will hold a performance by Environmental Encroachment, a "magic circus band" whose shows include everything from acrobatics and parades to costumes and fire spinning. Arrive early for MC Sparkplug, DFM and Moon Furies. 8 p.m., $5, 21 and over.
  •  Chicagoist dived two new rock and roll records out of the Windy City: White Mystery's sophomore effort Blood and Venom and Implodes' Black Earth.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Show preview: Spectrum, Panda Riot, The Chatham Rise at Bottom Lounge, 4/20

Posted by Sasha Geffen

Those of you wishing to escape the unseasonable nastiness that Chicago has saddled us with can hide out and enjoy some dreamy psych pop at the Bottom Lounge tomorrow night. The cavernous ex-warehouse space of the Bottom, hidden away under the El tracks of the West Loop, makes for a perfect spot to drown yourself in reverb. Shoegazers take note.

The Chatham Rise will swing by from Minneapolis to open with their hazy slowcore jams after a DJ set by Scarylady Sarah. Following that, one of our favorite local dreampop outfits, Panda Riot, will take the stage.

We’ll be lucky enough to see Spectrum, the latest project of Pete Kember a.k.a. Sonic Boom, headline. As one of the founding members of the English psych-rock band Spaceman 3, Kember spent most of the ‘80s inventing shoegaze as we know it. It’s not every day that you get to see an innovator of a genre play alongside the latest incarnations of that genre. It’ll be a special night in Chicago indeed.

Doors open at 8pm and the show begins at 9 on Wednesday, April 20th. Tickets are $12 and available online or at the door. The show is 17 and over with valid ID required for entry.

Record review: The Pear Traps

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

Last fall I had the privilege to conduct my very first interview for this site with local lo-fi masters the Pear Traps. They had revealed Basement Fidelity to the world and were playing around the city, anticipating a retreat to Tennessee where they would record their eponymous follow up. Although we only jokingly threw around the title “Cabin Fidelity,” it is immediately clear these guys have left the basement. They retain their character lo-fi sound, mostly due in part to the DIY aspect of the band (singer/guitarist Bryant Lee Howe builds all of the amps) that provides a certain homegrown charm.

For those that don’t quite dig the lo-fi sound, think about it like this: it’s not meant to be nostalgic, but rather a testament to their abilities in the craft of musical equipment and creativity in the recording process. The sound doesn’t come from a cheap Pro Tools plugin, but from the limitations (and advantages) of home built equipment and unique recording locations. Now! To the music:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Show preview: Material Re-Issue at Abbey Pub, 4/23

Posted by Frank Krolicki

1991 and the years immediately following weren't a great time to be a fan of rock music featuring jangling guitars, pop hooks and an emphasis on melody. As grunge took over, much of the music world moved away from upbeat in favor of dark and moody. Thankfully for power pop lovers, there were a select few bands to push on against the grunge trend. Chicago’s own Material Issue – a three-piece made up of lead singer/guitarist Jim Ellison, bassist Ted Ansani and drummer Mike Zelenko - were perhaps the most notable. After three LPs, Ellison tragically took his life in 1996, putting an abrupt end to Material Issue. Though the charismatic frontman is no longer with us, Ansani and Zelenko have decided to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band's debut album International Pop Overthrow by reviving their songs at the Abbey Pub on Saturday, April 23rd. Phil Angotti will step into the singer-guitarist role.

Show review: Tobacco, Beans, Shapers at Lincoln Hall, 4/15

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

So how long have those pat downs been going on at Lincoln Hall? Really getting tight around there. But that still wasn’t the weirdest part of the night: that honor goes to Tobacco. But let’s start at the beginning.

Locals Shapers kicked things off with their usual brand of musical voodoo. I couldn’t help but think that the projected negatives of human bodies behind them were a perfect metaphor for their music: negative versions of conventional rock songs. From free jazz to post rock, chaotic to melancholic, they traverse a dynamic musical landscape. Check out their Daytrotter session from last week to get a taste if you haven’t already.

New York rapper and Anti-Pop Consortium member Beans was up next. In true minimalist style, he hit play on his laptop and solo-rapped-no-posse for the next 40 minutes. Lacking the grandiosity of Kanye or the sideshow absurdity of OFWGKTA, the performance wasn’t the most exciting. But guy raps pretty damn good for nearing 40, his voice at points taking on the scratches of a record. A more enthused audience member than I graced the stage with her presence for a bit, while security said "not a chance" to her friend. Another bit of confusing over-security at Lincoln Hall. So that was Beans. And then…Tobacco: 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Blackout Fest returns to Chicago

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

Pretty soon the Chicago blog community will be overrun with posts about summer festivals. Really, it’s one of the greatest things about this city. Of course, as the years go on, many of the fests become more and more expensive and essentially commercial outlets that just so happen to have some good bands playing. Luckily, for every corporate action there’s an equal and opposite independent reaction. Bitchpork has been repping the underground for the past couple of years and now Hozac returns with Blackout Fest, which originally ran from 2001-2006.

So what’s in store for their triumphant return? How about Tutu and the Pirates, Chicago’s first recorded punk band? Or the Nervous Eaters, making their first Chicago appearance since opening for the Ramones in the late '70s? Not bad, right? Not to mention far out all around goofball Nobunny, Hozac champions like Reading Rainbow and Idle Times, and local standouts like Mickey, Radar Eyes, the Brides and many more (full list after the jump). This all goes down Friday and Saturday May 27-28 at the Velvet Perineum…yeah, I’ve never heard of it either. Facebook says it’s within walking distance of the Logan Square Monument. A golden ticket is $45 for the two days while they last, otherwise Friday is $20, Saturday $30 (ticketweb).

Record review: Ezra Furman & the Harpoons - 'Mysterious Power'

Posted by Sasha Geffen

There's a ferocity that tears through the length of Mysterious Power, crackling in the soundwaves no matter on what tone or tempo the album rests. Ezra Furman takes the helm of the Harpoons quartet with a brazen command of pathos, belting unapologetically about heartbreak, loneliness and suicide. Whether he's blasting a frenetic monotone bark or settling into sweetly familiar melodies, Furman channels a savage energy into his ragged tenor. He nails a delivery that draws upon the theatricality of such frontmen as Pete Shelley and Dan Bejar, remaining unflappably likable throughout.

Fans of Bright Eyes will enjoy the way Furman spikes bluegrass with his own mania on the charmingly pastoral "Don't Turn Your Back on Love" and "Wild Rosemarie." Those nostalgic for '80s punk will be pleased with "Too Strung Out," a dead ringer for the Buzzcocks or Dead Kennedys. The rest of the record tends to fall between those extremes, muscling past the vintage into a fresh and furious sound. Furman drives home "I Killed Myself But I Didn't Die," a wry and unforgiving suicide attempt recap, with the same survivor's rage once heard on Bright Eyes's epic "Let's Not Shit Ourselves." One might hear traces of Crooked Fingers in the saloon piano on the title track, while "Hard Time in a Terrible Land," a wild rockabilly stomp, echoes the vintage swagger of Nick Cave at his most raucous.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Record Store Day preview

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

Record Store Day is huge. Like, really fucking big. It would be impossible to condense all of the useful information on releases and where to get them in to one concise blog post. In fact, the immensity and excess of RSD has been the shot of a couple posts of criticism this year. Alas, those arguments are too big for here and now. Rather, we’d like to give a rundown of the more worthwhile going-ons in and around the city this Saturday, April 16th. For a full list of participating stores and albums to be had, check out the RSD site and for our picks, read on. Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

Video: Scattered Trees - 'Four Days Straight'

Posted by Frank Krolicki

The Windy City's own Scattered Trees have been getting quite a bit of positive attention for their recently-released record Sympathy, and to help build on the buzz is a new video for the track "Four Days Straight." The band teamed with Consequence of Sound in February for a contest that gave four student filmmakers the chance to create the video, and Markus Kneer wound up victorious. The result does a great job capturing the vibe of the band and the song. Check it out below and catch Scattered Trees live at their Sympathy record release show on Saturday, April 30th at Schubas. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Record review: Briar Rabbit - 'Briar Rabbit and the Company You Keep'

Posted by Bobby Minelli

Briar Rabbit recently introduced Chicago to their new EP, Briar Rabbit and the Company You Keep, by playing to a packed room at the Whistler. I missed the show, and based on the reaction, was quite sorry I did. Luckily I got my hands on the record.

Phillip-Michael Scales, the singer-songwriter behind the curtain, is new on the Chicago music scene. He moved here this year after studying music in Boston, and the album is a collection of seven songs recorded between the two cities. It highlights Scales' contemplations with a diverse series of pop songs about leaving one place headed for another.

Opening track "Numbers" starts minor as a gypsy trot before opening up, and throws in a great solo that crosses genres and foreshadows Phillip-Michael's ability to jump smoothly from Elvis Costello and Ben Folds-esque melodic songmanship to darker laments and back over the course of one tune.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Smith Westerns short film - 'Die With Your Chin Up'

Posted by Bobby Minelli

photo: Angel Ceballos
Smith Westerns have released a short film providing a brief glimpse into the recording of their very well-received album Dye It Blonde. The carefree sounds of youth and drama on the record are too well crafted to have come without their share of careful and deliberate planning, and the video shows the young rockers matching wistful gazes and awkward pauses with skillful musical craftsmanship. There is a cool scene that depicts guitarist Max Kakacek running through some heavy riffing, and another where lead singer Cullen Omori discusses the 14-hour trip to Chicago that would decide whether anyone ever heard from Smith Westerns again. I guess it went well.

Check out the video below and catch the band live on Wednesday, May 11 at Lincoln Hall.

Smith Westerns: Die With Your Chin Up from stereogum on Vimeo.

A few Chicago music news bites

  • The North Coast Music Festival will return for its second year in Union Park on Labor Day weekend, September 2-4. Tickets go on sale Saturday, April 16th, and the lineup will also be revealed that day.
  • posted a session with Chicago-based experimental rock unit Shapers.
  • A locally-based video production firm has put together a short documentary worth checking out on street musicians in Chicago, exploring the performers' motivation and legal restrictions on where they can play in the city. Watch it here.
  • Dave Matthews is bringing a new three-day music festival to the Windy City's south side. Dubbed "the Dave Matthews Band Caravan," the fest will make its Chicago stop from July 8-10, and in addition to the band its named after, feature sets from the likes of The Flaming Lips, David Gray, Emmylou Harris and Ben Folds (full lineup here). 
  • Young Man have a new music video out for the track "Five" from their debut EP Boy. Check out the dreamy, aquatically-themed clip on Youtube.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Record review: A Lull - 'Confetti'

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

It’s difficult to find an article on A Lull that doesn’t mention their creative uses of percussion. So as the precedent is set, this one should be no different. Various accounts spin tales of throwing bottles against walls, rustling bags of trash, hitting drums with microphones – really anything to create a pummeling tumult that leaves a percussive hangover. Damned if you can pick out all of the details of what you just heard (oh, and there are many) but you know the cognitive jumble you are currently experiencing means the cause was worth the effect.

It would be unfair to drop an Animal Collective tag on A Lull, even if the tribal-psych trailblazers do come to mind as an influence. But while A Lull is as awash in digital noises and experimentation as AnCo are, they differ greatly vocally, eschewing the Beach Boys in an underwater church reverb for a more intimate, close-mic’d conveyance.

Show photos: Cults, Magic Kids, Superhumanoids at Empty Bottle, 4/7

Magic Kids
WCR contributing photographer Mary-Claire headed to the Empty Bottle last Thursday to check out Cults, Magic Kids and Superhumanoids. Despite the show being really poorly lit (and the resulting suspicion that Cults just might be vampires), she managed to get some nice shots. Take a look:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Initial music lineups announced for four Chicago fests

Posted by Frank Krolicki

The weather is finally starting to not be obnoxious here in Chicago, and every year the return of warmth signals that our city's many excellent music festivals are imminent. Over the past few days, initial music lineups have been revealed for a handful of fests, including Wicker Park Fest, Taste of River North, Green Music Fest and Do-Division Street Fest. Per usual Wicker Park Fest's roster is looking particularly impressive, with multiple well-loved, notable bands included so far. Check out the partial lineups for each of the four fests below, and keep an eye out for additional announcements.

Do-Division Street Fest 
June 4-5 on Division St. from Ashland to Leavitt

Acts announced so far: Bonobo (DJ set), Big Freedia, Omar Souleyman, Led Zeppelin 2, This Must Be The Band (Talking Heads tribute) 

Green Music Fest
June 25-26 in Wicker Park on Damen between North and Schiller

Acts announced so far: Yo La Tengo, Les Savy Fav, The Thermals

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Interview: The Island of Misfit Toys

Posted by Conor O' Hagan

Dads were at the top of the conversation topics when I talked with Anthony, Evan, Jonathan and Julia from The Island of Misfit Toys in the lead up to their Beat Kitchen show this Sunday, April 10th (all ages, $10, 6:30 p.m. Also with Yukon Blonde and Waterhouse). They met with me to put their feet up, play with the cats and talk not only about their dads, but also about their debut album Bear Hair and their place in Chicago’s music scene.

WCR: I’m excited for Sunday. Tell me about the show.

Anthony: Yeah, it’s coming up soon. It’s freaking me out. It’s going to be amazing 'cause the first band, Waterhouse…we’ve played with three times. They’re a seven piece -

Jonathan: Monster.

Anthony: Musical monster. Everything they do is so captivating. 

Julia: They’re so tight.

Anthony: It’s like math, jazz, soul, pop. They’re one of the best bands we’ve ever played with. They’re our buddies. And Yukon Blonde, from Canada, they’re actually popular. And it’s the Beat Kitchen and an all ages show. There’s probably going to be a lot of people there. We’re excited. You know when you’re dancing around and you can’t help but bump into somebody? That’s the best. It’s going to be outrageous.

Show review: The Mountain Goats at the Vic, 4/5

Posted by Matt Ciani

photo: D.L. Anderson
Due to an allegedly strict curfew - as mentioned a dozen times by various members of both bands on the bill - it was an early night when The Mountain Goats played the Vic Theater Tuesday night; the band left the stage before ten. Despite the time restraint, John Darnielle and co. brought their wordy stories and divorce-themed fan favorites to a surprisingly enthusiastic audience, especially for a Tuesday night. The mass of humanity yelled and bobbed along as Darnielle emphatically insisted his lyrics with his nasally, over-pronouncing voice.

The headliner took the stage just before 8:30 and, without introduction of acknowledgement, launched immediately into the closing track of their most recent album, All Eternals Deck, entitled “Liza Forever Minnelli.” “I’ll never get away from this place,” Darnielle repeated as his long-time bassist Peter Hughes bobbed and rocked along to the simple chord progression. “Anyone here who mentions Hotel California dies before the first line clears his lips,” continued the lyrics, drawing attention toward another story of “never getting away."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Record review: Soft Speaker - 'I'll Tend Your Garden'

Posted by Sasha Geffen

For four milkmen from 1930s Austria, Soft Speaker had a preternatural grasp on the electric guitar.

The band's first LP I'll Tend Your Garden is bursting with juicy riffs, sheets of fuzz and spacey crescendos. Soft Speaker conjure huge, solid rock songs injected with a healthy dose of Anglophilia.

While Garden offers little that's unprecedented in terms of bare writing, those who love rock from our neighbors across the pond won't be disappointed. The band strikes that tone that's simultaneously upbeat and a little mournful, much like we've seen over the years from Blur and neo-natal Radiohead. That's not to call this mimicry; Soft Speaker take brit-rock aesthetics and break them out of the walls of pop structure, instead letting the single-coils warble into the stratosphere. The record finds strength in moments of improvisation, like in the playful and pedal-fueled climax of "Three Beggars." Guitars swirl over clean and punchy bass as the licks fractal outward. While the sounds may be familiar, they're applied to a larger scope than we normally hear.

Flashback: Scott Wilk and the Walls

Posted by Frank Krolicki

Photo from this article
WCR's Flashback series revisits musicians and records out of Chicago from years past. This installment takes a look at little-known new wave act Scott Wilk and the Walls, who released one album in 1980.

One thing I’ve learned from spending many hours flipping though racks of old vinyl is that you should always trust your instincts in record stores. If you think you might like something because of the artwork, song titles, date, or anything else, buy it. Especially if it’s cheap. I’ve stumbled onto many an obscure-yet-excellent LP this way – records that I might never have encountered in any other way if I hadn’t acted on impulse. My latest discovery was the lone, self-titled album from one-time Chicago band Scott Wilk and the Walls.

The simple, brightly-colored angular design on the cover screamed vintage “new wave." So did the band name and the 1980 copyright date. I have a soft spot for this kind of stuff. A large chunk of my favorite albums of all time come from roughly 1976-1985. I had never heard of Scott Wilk and/or the Walls, but at $2.98, why not?

Acting on a vinyl-induced whim paid off once again. This is a really good batch of songs that, like thousands of other really good songs from that era, never got the recognition they deserved.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Weekend: CHIRP Record Fair

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

There’s nothing my bank account fears more than a mass amount of records all within a centralized location asking to be purchased. True, most of my music listening medium is digital, but I’ve always been attracted to album hunting since I first stepped into a Reckless Records many moons ago. I never go looking for something specific, I just allow myself to be surprised by first editions and out-of-prints, of collaborations I never knew existed or solo projects that may not have been the best of ideas. Chance is what supplies the excitement in the record buying experience. So when multiple vendors come together, it’s safe to say I’m more than a little excited.
The Chicago Independent Radio Project (or CHIRP for the cool kids) has put together a little shindig featuring over 30 vendors that specialize in vinyl in a variety of genres, as well as CDs, cassettes, clothing, postcards and much more. As if that weren’t enough, there’s a full a day of bands and DJs including WCR favorites Village and Daniel Knox (full list below).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Company of Thieves share track from upcoming LP

Posted by Frank Krolicki

Chicago-based quartet Company of Thieves will release their sophomore record Running From A Gamble on May 17, and in the meantime are offering a taste via a free download of one of the tracks, "Modern Waste." It's a guitar-heavy, hard-hitting-yet-catchy tune that very possibly showcases frontwoman Genevieve Schatz's intense vocals better than anything the band has released to date. Hear for yourself and grab the song below. You can also listen below to the their new single "Death of Communication," available to purchase now.

Tonight: Lightning Bolt at the Empty Bottle

Posted by Andrew Hertzberg

There's not a chance anyone reading this missed the lightning show last night, but I'm sure more than a handful of you missed out on Lightning Bolt at the Logan Square Auditorium. Luckily, the good people at the Empty Bottle are having the thunderous noise-rock duo back for a round two as part of their new monthly "Music.Friendly.Dancing" series.

The show is FREE, with doors at 6:30 and the show at 7. People will be let in until they hit capacity, which will certainly happen, so be timely for this one. RSVP here (21+).

Friday, April 1, 2011

Help My My My play the Billboard Music Awards

Posted by Frank Krolicki

Chicago indie band My My My are in the running to play the 2011 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on May 22nd, to be televised to a national audience. Kind of a big deal, right?

They need your help make it happen. There are 18 bands across the country competing, and My My My have made it to the final three in the Midwest region. If they are chosen as the winner, they'll road trip it out to Vegas compete "battle of the bands"-style against the five other regional winners. The ultimate winner will get to play the awards. Click here to vote. You can vote as often as you like until April 8th.

My My My are the only Chicago band in the running and are well deserving of the opportunity. They make excellent, unique music, put on a hell of a live show and are just generally awesome. To learn more, check out WCR reviews of the band's last two records: Leather Silk and Little Cat Plays the Alpha Rave. You can also listen to a couple tracks below.