Monday, April 30, 2012

Record review: Archie Powell & the Exports - 'Great Ideas in Action'

By Frank Krolicki

"Life is a bitch for me and for all the folks you know," Archie Powell tells us in the first minute of his band's second full-length album Great Ideas in Action. It's a line that's not out of place on the record as a whole, as the frontman and his Exports offer up a set of tunes that mostly focus on how much things suck sometimes, from being unable to find a job to struggling to keep your artistic endeavors going. What makes this band--and record--great, though, is that all of the discontent is delivered in a way that actually makes you feel really damn good. They might be reminding us of all that's not right in the world, but they're doing it while providing a smirk and a shot of adrenaline.

As with 2009's Loose Change EP and 2010's Skip Work LP, the Exports' stock-in-trade here is three-minute amped-up power pop with choruses designed to target, like heat-seeking missiles, the part of the brain that traps a hook in your consciousness and keeps it there for an extended stay. The only difference is that now they're doing it better than before. "Metronome," "Crazy Pills" and "Shooting Spree" make up an opening trio so solid that when I first played the record I feared it might be front-loaded (I found "Crazy Pills" especially grabbing, and it seems the band agrees since they chose the song for the first single and video for the album). But the quality of the material remains high throughout all 11 songs, each featuring a melody distinct enough to prevent it from blurring into the next.

Show review: JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, Gold Motel, Blah Blah Blah at Metro, 4/27

By Gene Wagendorf III
Gold Motel (Photos: Caitlin Stich)
If ever you need a reminder of just how blessed Chicago is with amazing music (and seriously, why would you?) just grab yourself a time machine and set coordinates for last Friday night at Metro. Three local favorites shared the bill on what proved to be a night of consistently catchy hooks, booty shaking grooves and smile-inducing pop. A testament to the transformative powers of great tunes, the mood inside the club couldn't have been farther from the grey, wet malaise of the weather outside.

First up was Blah Blah Blah, who did a superb job of easing the crowd into the evening with their unique blend of sad-prom rock and subdued buoyancy. Beryl melodies backlit Solomon David's wistful vocals, creating delicate sonic swoons that nearly begged to be slow danced to. The band's mostly delicate, Smiths-y lean really made their louder, looser moments pop. At one point Byron Harden stretched out a chubby little bass-line that swapped most of the audience's knees with tightly-coiled springs. One of the more affecting numbers Blah Blah Blah laid out called back to The Beatles "This Boy," or maybe more accurately to the scene in A Hard Day's Night where Ringo embarks on his famous lonely stroll. That isn't to say that the set was filled with downer songs- quite the opposite. At its best their music created the same kind of tender atmosphere as a crackling fireplace. If you weren't going to hold someone close and dance in front of it then, at the very least, you wanted to cuddle to it.

Blah Blah Blah
Less cuddling and more dancing was in order once Gold Motel took the stage. "We're On The Run," the opening track of their 2010 release Summer House, kicked off a string of bright, '60s-tinged pop. Guitarists Eric Hehr and Dan Duzsynzski added a bit of thrash and clamor to the end of the song; a neat cloud of racket that the bass trampolined through with reckless abandon. A new song, "Brand New Kind of Blue," opened with a warm gallop before shifting to a danceable staccato. Greta Morgan worked her lyrics with a falling-in-love magnetism that moved in perfect harmony with glistening riffs and twinkling melodies. "Slow Emergency" showed off a bit of Gold Motel's range and proved to be the highlight of their set. Unusually somber, the song dripped with lamented self-awareness. A brooding keyboard and steady drumbeat backed Morgan as she sang there's a slow emergency/I can hear the alarm bell ringing. After easing into a lilting crescendo the song shifted pace and Duzsynzski came in with I can make it out/Things are going ok/I'm brushing off my doubts/But they ain't goin' away. Eric Hehr added some subtle glimmering as the two vocalists harmonized I don't wanna know what happens next/ ...I don't. If you'd never experienced the sad delusion of trying to trick yourself into being irrationally positive then the moment might not have been as dramatic, but lucky for me, in this case, I've made a lot of mistakes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Record review: Stephen Paul Smoker - 'Ripe Fruit'

By Andrew Hertzberg

Pilsen resident by way of Lancaster, PA Stephen Paul Smoker is hard to describe succinctly, but he’s not without his RIYLs. He’s toured with Mewithoutyou, who may not seem an obvious connection at first, since Smoker’s sound is a bit more chaotic and the whole album, Ripe Fruit, is seen through a haze of…I don’t want to use the term psychedelic, but you see it plenty to describe Smoker’s sound. And to be fair, it’s hard not to think of Pink Floyd at times (“I dreamed I was the Milky Way / I watched over planet Earth”) and harder to imagine Smoker having ignored the entire Flaming Lips catalog while listening to his debut LP.

The distorted bass and upbeat tempo of "In Cairo" open the album with tension, quickly resolved with an ultra-catchy chorus to draw you in. This is followed by "Green City," definitely the anomaly of the album, suggesting what it would sound like if Robyn Hitchcock fronted the Cramps but with more religious undertones: the song closes with the chant “If I am not my own brother’s keeper / I am damned, damned for sure.” You know how the reverb in a catholic church is to sound so imposing and make you, feel really small? Yes, you godless heathen reading this review, you. SPS does that in a similar way but was lucky enough to grow up in a world where rock music is a better way of reaching the masses. Likewise, "Salutations" offers low-end heavy post-rock verses with angelic choir choruses and a Jason Pierce-like way of singing “Hallelujah” that sounds simultaneously sincere and sarcastic.

Gold Motel want to write a song about you

By Gene Wagendorf III

Gold Motel, the local beach-pop savants behind 2010's undeniably catchy and uplifting album Summer House, are gearing up for the release of their self-titled sophomore album on July 3rd. Apparently taking a page from Kickstarter, the group is offering fans several unique "bundle" options alongside basic digital and CD purchases. Each price increase features an array of interesting trinkets, but it's the higher dollar levels that, of course, seem truly tempting. The $150 "Super Duper" bundle includes, among a whole bunch of other goodies, a handmade cigar box guitar amp, crafted by none other than lead singer Greta Morgan. Most intriguing though is the next level, where for $250 you get all the goodies, the amp and a song written for you, about you, by the band. I wouldn't expect to ever hear that tune live, but it will apparently be emailed to you so that you can convince your friends that you did have that week-long love affair with guitarist Eric Hehr and that he's still not over you.

One of the most interesting things to observe about the ever-changing music business landscape is just how bands market their product. Multimedia/multiplatform releases exist alongside the reemergence of the cassette tape. Free digital releases compete for listeners attention against one of a kind, handmade vinyl packages. Some of this stuff is getting silly (sorry, Björk), but Gold Motel looks to be offering something for both the casual fan and the diehard. And it seems pretty cool. I mean, who doesn't want a song written about them? Communists. That's who.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Go to There: April 24 - 30

By Andrew Hertzberg

Tuesday, April 24th: Terry Malts, Unicycle Loves You at Empty Bottle (9 PM, 21+, $8)
San Fran has had an explosion of beach-combing garage rock with hints of psych coming out of it lately. What started with Girls has also bred Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Royal Baths, and tonight’s three-piece, Terry Malts (of which none of them are named), who offer a more urgency-oriented take on West Coast vibes. Locals Unicycle Loves You prove that rock swagger and a sense of melody aren’t mutually exclusive on this year's successful Failure LP.

Wednesday, April 25th: Piss Piss Piss Moan Moan Moan at Empty Bottle (9:30 PM, 21+, $8 or FREE w/RSVP)
This night is not for the timid. PPPMMM are going make noise you can dance too, Thrill Jockey psych-rockers Pontiak somehow are the quietiest…no, least loud band on the bill, and lead track off Spanyurd’s EP is called “Cacaw Sucks” of which no one knows if there’s any sort of time signature.

Thursday, April 26th: Hollows at the Burlington  (9 PM, 21+, $8)
Earlier this month, Hollows released their second LP Vulture on local label Trouble in Mind and it’s chock full of darker and more modern girl-group tunes, complete with synthesized organ, quick hooks, and spot on harmonies.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A few Chicago music news bites

Here is a quick roundup of some Chicago music-related happenings from the past week:
  • North Coast Music Festival revealed some initial artists in its lineup for Labor Day weekend in Union Park, including: Pretty Lights, Axwell, Steve Angello, Atmoshphere, Big Boi, Steve Aoki, Excision, Alesso, The Raptire, Modestep, Mord Fustang, Yacht, Van Ghost and more. Take a look at the full list so far here.
  • Chicago indie poppers My My My have released a new video for the track "Hard Kisses" from their latest EP Wishing You Whatever's Best, featuring illustrations from the band's own Sarah Snow. Check it out here and see them at Subterranean on May 6th.
  • Locally-based band The Hudson Branch will release a physical multimedia songbook titled World Kid on April 24th, coinciding with a new digital album of the same name. The book features illustrations by artist Rachel June for each of the album's tracks, the short story "Work" by radio producer Andy Mills (NPR, PRX, WBEZ), lyrics, photos and a download code. Copies will be printed in an initial run of 300 and exclusively available at the band's shows (including a Lincoln Hall hometown release show on May 8th).
  • The lineup has been announced for the summer 2012 free concert series in Millennium Park, with the "Downtown Sound" series running from May 28th to July 30th. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Show review: Willis Earl Beal at the Hideout, 4/19

By Andrew Hertzberg

(photo credit: John Yingling)
Not many musicians start their sets by reading poetry, and Bukowski at that. So if one thing’s for sure, Willis Earl Beal is not like many musicians. He is often tagged as an “outsider artist” (for as vague a term as that is) and aspires to be the black Tom Waits, in regards to the range between dissonant and experimental songs as well as creating beautiful ballads. A listen through Acousmatic Sorcery (currently streaming on the Reader’s website) yields both, an album featuring an out-of-tune toy piano, decomposing drums, raspy vocals, and single plucked guitar strings bathed in a healthy dose of no-fi production.

For the live show, Beal is the only one up there. Most of the music is pre-recorded and played on an old school reel-to-reel (or at least used as an aesthetic accompaniment). While his vocals on Acousmatic Sorcery are certainly the focus, his voice takes on a whole new power live. What’s most impressive is his dynamic range, transitioning seamlessly from an operatic vibrato to an eardrum puncturing scream. And while he wore sunglasses throughout most of the indoor set, he doesn’t come off as shy or “outsider” as the mythology has begun to describe him as. He’s clearly not looking to make conventional music, and is comfortable as a “fringe” artist, but I think this generation of music lovers disenchanted with conventional and recycled pop and rock songs want something different. That he recognizes his voice is good in a conventional way coupled with his still progressing musical talent makes the dichotomy that much more poignant.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Record Store Day 2012

By Andrew Hertzberg

Christmas time is here! Well, for crazy music people at least. Record Store Day is here again, and instead of going on a tirade against the whole concept (shouldn’t we be buying records and exploring local record stores year round?), we might as well embrace that at least some attention is still being garnered on this dying experience. Not to mention the abundance of live performances happening. Good golly, Miss Molly. Not only are there plenty of daytime in-stores to choose from, but it just keeps going into the night too. While all of these things are WCR approved, I can’t blatantly tell you which to choose. That is for you to decide: I am here merely to provide options. Lucky for you, this isn’t just red pill / blue pill one-or-the-other. Think of this more as the loudest overdose you can possibly achieve and still wake up the next morning. This amount of venue hopping will certainly put perfecting your Lolla schedule in perspective. And oh yeah, don't forget to buy a record or two:
(For the full list of record stores participating, check out the official RSD 2012 website)

Reggie’s Record Breakers: Swimsuit Addition, Electric Touch, Magicks, Empires, Owen, The Sweeps, Mitch Mead, the New Diet (10 AM, AA, FREE)
Notes: Free hot dogs and soda. BAM.

Cyklopx (Forest Park): Canasta (11:30 AM, AA, FREE)

Saki Records: Santah, Bare Mutants, Cains and Abels, Cross Record, Minor Characters, Hollows, Opposites, the Runnies (1 PM, AA, FREE)
Notes: Opens at 9 AM with raffle prizes including tickets to shows at Metro, passes for the Logan Theater, LPs from Whistler Records and more. Tamale Spaceship food truck will be parked outside all day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Video: Canasta - 'Becoming You'

By Sasha Geffen

It takes some guts to kick a record off with a seven-minute whopper of a track, but when it's as good to the opener to Canasta's The Fakeout, the Tease and the Breather, the risk certainly pays off. Having returned from their Mongolian tour, the Chicago orchestral pop ensemble just released a new video for the fourth single off their critically lauded sophomore album. In it, bandleader Matt Priest finds himself the subject of a very creepy cult ritual. This beautifully-shot video even delves into a Tool-reminiscent stop motion sequence before it's through.

Interview: Rabble Rabble

By Rachel Angres

Rabble Rabble have been known to be minimalists in their formula as a four-piece Chicago band since 2009. They have recorded in true DIY style, from playing open-mic sessions at local dive bars and composing them into live albums, to setting up recording studios in a barn upstate with an 8 track tape machine and other vintage gear. The band released their latest tracks, "Why Not" and "Long Hook," as a 7" single last year and recently took a break for a few months, but are returning with new songs at a free show on Monday, April 30th at the Empty Bottle (with Heavy Times and Lion Limb--email for tickets in advance).

We caught up with two of the four members--Ralph Darski (interesting fact: also the co-owner of Cafe Mustache in Logan Square) and Matt Ciarleglio (interesting fact: also works at the Empty Bottle and Bourgeois Pig Cafe):

WCR: Names and instruments you play?

Ralph Darski: Guitar, bass and vocals.
Matt Ciarleglio: Bass, Guitar, backing vocals.

Strangest venue or gig you’ve ever played?

MC: We’ve been pretty notoriously throwing Halloween shows the past few years that have been getting more and more out of hand. Three years ago some guy dressed up like Gallagher essentially threw an entire watermelon at us. And then some dude tried getting naked on stage and I punched him in the face.

RD: That Halloween show Matt is talking about ended up pretty much being a riot. With bottles getting thrown and fists all around. We managed to finish our set however. Another strange gig was one of the first shows we played on our first tour. It was in Kent, Ohio at a pizza/gyros joint. We were expecting to play the hip college bar in the town but the promoter double booked that night so we got moved to the pizza joint. Basically the night consisted of us gettin’ hammered, my amp setting on fire, our van getting stuck in the mud and then we had to argue with the kitchen manager to get some free pizzas as compensation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Go to There: April 17 - 23

By Andrew Hertzberg

Magic Milk
Tuesday, April 17th: Summer Girlfriends, Magic Milk, Bigcoulor, Swimsuit Addition at Lincoln Hall (8 PM, 18+, $8 adv, $10 dos)
I hate to admit it, but Loud Loop Press actually like some really good music. To prove it to you, they’ve set up this little shindig. If you're not familiar with all of these bands by now, here's a great chance to catch 'em all in one go.

Wednesday, April 18th: The First Time: First Apartment at Beat Kitchen (8 PM, 21+, $10)
The good people at Chirp Radio are doing something a little different tonight. Performers tell about their first apartments and songs are played involving those experiences. Go and break up your midweek monotony.

Thursday, April 19th: The Field Auxiliary at Empty Bottle (9:30 PM, 21+, $10)
The Field Auxiliary write genuine pop…generally. They provide plenty of curveballs to keep things interesting though: over-layered vocals counter the dead on harmonies, a bit of dissident keyboards stray from conventional melodies, and calamity that is newest single "Calamity City" provides enough hooks to balance out the, well, calamity. Check ‘em out opening for Brooklyn electronic dark-pop duo Tanlines.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Interview: Sean McConnell of Cold Country

By John Taylor

On paper, everything about Cold Country shouldn't work—fuzz-folk is a genre that, by now in 2012, has surely been exhausted. But leave it to frontman Sean McConnell and his talented band to convince skeptics otherwise. McConnell's sense of rhythm and melody are, like McConnell himself, no-nonsense and infectiously optimistic. You've heard harmonica before, but you've never heard it played this cheerfully. The songwriting follows suit; awkwardly brilliant anecdotes such as “We could dance/ around your room/ we could fall in love/ I hope it happens soon” (“Fly On Your Wall”) are delivered with such heart and sincerity that you can't help but believe in McConnell and his band.

Read on for an interview with McConnell, and be sure to come out tonight for the band's free show at Live Wire Lounge in support of their newly released EP.

WCR: Tell me about the harmonica! Loved the playing.

Sean McConnell: I remember my dad had this harmonica and I used to play it all around the house. That was years ago. When I started this new project, I loved the sound of the harmonica, so I picked it up again. I actually want to go back home and find out where that harmonica is. It's in the house, in this drawer. It was always there. I would pick it up and play it sometimes, and then I lost track of it.

Dylan comparisons. Do you get that a lot?

SM: [Laughs] Luckily, no one's called that out yet. Every time I play the harmonica, I expect someone to say something. But no one's brought it up. It could be something where everyone in the room is like, “Don't say it.” I'm a huge fan of Dylan, of course, but I don't think just because he played the harmonica that nobody else could do it again.

Record review: Sonoi - 'Tropics of Holland'

By Sasha Geffen

In a musical landscape where many bands seem to be making as much noise as they can muster, it's refreshing to see an artist regard silence as a tool rather than an enemy. The latest LP from art-pop trio Sonoi embraces the hollows and the blanks that many musicians might shy away from for fear of trying their listeners' patience.

A sparse dream of quiet country, Sonoi's sophomore effort Tropics of Holland threads together sources from across a wide timeline, from the haunted tones of vintage Americana to Grizzly Bear's swirling chamber-folk to the modes King Crimson used to adopt when they unplugged their guitars and tossed their drums to the side. Rustic guitar licks and full, airy beats play among piano and brass sections so subtle it'll take you a few listens just to realize they're there. A few Yankee Hotel Foxtrot alien flourishes trickle in here and there, but for the most part the decor inside this remote cabin is strictly organic. If a computer ever touched this record, you'd never know it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Show preview: Julie Meckler, 4/15 at The Whistler

By Gene Wagendorf III  

If you're the kind of person that uses their non-football-season-Sundays for resting your 5 Hour Energy and whiskey riddled soul, The Whistler has a show that ought to be right up your alley. WCR readers might know Julie Meckler as the one pretty thing about local junkyard rockers Rambos, but that band's horror-tinged garage stylings are a far cry from Meckler's solo work. The French-turned-Chicagoan chanteuse lives closer to Mazzy Star than to the morgue, drifting through travel-weary ballads with a haunting lilt and somber charm. Songs like "Mexico" are vaguely reminiscent of The Children's Hour, a magnetic combination of fragile guitar work and eidolic swooning. What makes Meckler's music captivating is the deliberate delivery of her words. Even in moments of romantic lament there isn't a syllable lost in excess or hyperbole- or to paraphrase Phillip Lamantia, there is never "a spoken word caught in its own meat saying nothing." If that doesn't have you interested enough to check out this free show, here's the video for "Manhattan."

Video: Get a dose of 'Crazy Pills' from Archie Powell & the Exports

By Frank Krolicki

After giving us the first taste of their upcoming record Great Ideas in Action with the track "Metronome," Archie Powell & the Exports are offering up another morsel with a video of first single "Crazy Pills." And what a tasty morsel it is. The song is a downright infectious power pop rocker that will probably get stuck in your brain after just seconds, and the video proves these guys could easily win top prize for "band who appears to be having the most fun" (even when performing tunes about frustration). I think it's safe to say Great Ideas will be one of the must-hear Chicago releases of the year. You can get it on May 1st, or listen to the whole thing early at the band's April 26th listening party at Township. There's also a record release show set for Friday, April 27th at Subterranean, which you can get tickets for here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Go to There: April 11 - 16

By Frank Krolicki

This week marks a very special edition of Go to There. Instead of the usual seven nights of show recommendations, you get six! (OK, which actually means it's late and less good than usual, but "special" sounds better than "crappier"). In any case, read on for some ideas on how to spend the next few nights.

Wednesday, April 11: The Pear Traps, Coffin Ships at The Whistler (10 PM, 21+, FREE)
About a year ago WCR's Andrew Hertzberg reviewed of the Pear Traps' self-titled album, mentioning a "Joy Division-goes-Americana aesthetic." If you're rightfully intrigued, you can get in on that aesthetic for free Wednesday night at the Whistler, where you can also catch fellow Chicagoans Coffin Ships.

Thursday, April 12: Mutts, Driftless Pony Club, Sharpless, Hemmingbirds at Beat Kitchen (8 PM, 17+, $10)
A "best emerging artists" showcase courtesy of the Deli Chicago featuring four Windy City bands worth checking out.

Friday, April 13: Disappears at Lincoln Hall (10 PM, 18+, $12 advance, $14 at door)
After getting a good deal of attention in 2011 with their album Guider and the addition of Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, Chicago psych-rockers Disappears have been continuing strong this year with the release of their latest album Pre Language. Friday they'll play Lincoln Hall along with Lotus Plaza and Implodes.

A few Chicago music news bites

  • Do-Division Street Festival, happening June 1st-3rd on Division from Ashland to Leavitt, has revealed some of the bands in its music lineup. So far, Le Butcherettes, Antlers, O'Death, Murder by Death, BBU and Mannequin Men are set to play, with more announcements to come.
  • The Lollapalooza lineup doesn't officially come out until this Wednesday, but if you want to speculate head over to where they've posted an alleged Lolla internal memo listing the acts set to play. If you choose to believe, we're in for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Jack White and Florence & the Machine, to name a few. We'll find out for sure tomorrow!
  • Gapers Block reviewed Friday night's show with Wild Flag and Hospitality at Metro.
  • Chicago folk-rock band Paper Thick Walls are going to score and star in a film inspired by their music. "We Grew Up Here," an indie film directed by Kevin Pickman, will feature PTW members Eric Michaels and Kate Schell and tell the story of "a musician who goes searching for his ex-girlfriend and his hometown after both go missing." There is a Kickstarter set up with more details to help raise funds for the project.
  • Greg Kot of the Tribune interviewed Chicago artist Willis Earl Beal, whose album Acousmatic Sorcery came out last week.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Video: Unicycle Loves You throw a crazy dance party in 'Garbage Dump'

By Frank Krolicki

Watching people dance around crazily never really gets old. Unicycle Loves You clearly know this, having chosen to to create the new video for their track "Garbage Dump" all around this very concept. In addition to members of the band, the clip features a colorful mix of party-goers including girls with lasers coming out of their eyes, a masked dude in a zebra suit, a couple of zombies/ghouls and a truly frightening clown (clowns are typically frightening, but this one goes the extra mile with a gnarly monster hand!). "Garbage Dump"--which opens the band's excellent, recently-released record Failure--is a song perfect for shouting along to while dancing around like a fool, so the video is pretty much spot-on. See for yourself below, and catch ULY when they return to Chicago from touring the record with a show at the Empty Bottle on Tuesday, April 24th (with Terry Malts).

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Catch Chicago's A Lull, Outer Minds at Pitchfork Fest 2012

By Frank Krolicki

A Lull
Although they take place in our city, both Pitchfork Music Festival and Lollapalooza have always included a pretty sparse selection of Chicago bands. And while you'll probably still need to hit up the various street festivals around town to get your fix of home-brewed sounds during summer 2012, Pitchfork's latest lineup announcement has revealed two locally-based acts that you can plan to catch in Union Park this July--A Lull and Outer Minds.

The two bands were announced today along with a list of others, including Wild Flag, Beach House, Cults, Real Estate, Atlas Sound, and more. These join previously-announced acts such as Vampire Weekend, Feist, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Dirty Projectors, Hot Chip, Sleigh Bells and Flying Lotus. You can see the full lineup here.

Experimental, percussion-driven indie rockers A Lull have been busy over the past year, releasing their debut LP Confetti as well as a follow-up EP, Confetti Reprise. They also released videos for two songs--"Some Love" and "Weapons for War." And oh yeah, a Springsteen cover. For the next week, you can stream Confetti in its entirety via Mush Records, and you might also want to grab a free download of the track "Some Love" while you're at it. Check out the Brothertiger remix of the song below. A Lull play the fest on Sunday, July 15th.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Go to There: April 3 - 9

By Andrew Hertzberg

A Tundra
Tuesday, April 3: A Tundra at Burlington (9 PM, 21+, $5)
The vaguely jazzy and dominantly chaotic, constantly moving sounds of A Tundra make them quite a unique group. Fans of puns are required to check out last year’s Ides of Parch. Opening the show is the psychy-proggy Health & Beauty. 

Wednesday, April 4: Metronomy at Lincoln Hall (9 PM, 21+, $15)
Looking for some cool grooves by a group that's listened to their share of Roxy Music? English four piece Metronomy has been making some funky tunes for over a decade, and locals Hey Champ opening for them are sure to keep the energy up all night. 

Thursday, April 5: Architecture at Empty Bottle (9:30 PM, 21+, $8 or FREE w/RSVP)
The three ladies in Architecture make hauntingly beautiful dream pop, best exemplified by "In the Morning." Though a trio, each member is multi-instrumental, allowing for grander experiments. Get there early to give a Chicago welcome to Brazilian melodic indie-poppers Some Community and local shoegazers Videotape.

Gold Motel want your Instagrams

By Frank Krolicki

Photo: Matt Wignall
Like the idea of one of your photos being used as artwork on Gold Motel's upcoming sophomore album? The Chicago indie pop quintet is inviting you to make it happen with a new campaign that asks any fan with an Instagram account to submit photos with the tag #goldmotelalbum and a mention @goldmotel by April 15th, after which they'll review all of the submissions and select a few to make a part of the record. For more information, check out the band's latest FanBridge mailer.

While they're still putting the final touches on the album, which follows up 2010's Summer House, you can get a taste right now in the form of the immensely hummable track "Leave You in Love," playable below. Another way you can get your Gold Motel fix while you wait for the record is by heading to their next Chicago show on Friday, April 27th at Metro with JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound and Blah Blah Blah. Click here for more information and tickets.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Maps & Atlases preview new LP with 'Fever'

By Frank Krolicki

Locally-based quartet Maps & Atlases are set to put out their sophomore album Beware & Be Grateful on April 17th, and are offering a taste right now with a free download of the track "Fever," which you can check out below. The tune slinks along with a breezy, lighthearted groove, with the earthy vocals of frontman Dave Davison guiding the melody forward. Honestly, I don't remember the band's music sounding so immediate or hooky before, and I'm liking the vibe.

Beware & Be Grateful follows 2010's Perch Patchwork and was recorded throughout 2011 with producer Jason Cupp at ARC Studios in Omaha. Fun fact: to coincide with the new music, Maps & Atlases have teamed with with Chicago roaster Intelligentsia to offer their own blend of coffee. You can get it along with a pre-order of the album here.

You can also check out the band live on Friday, May 11th at Metro, where they'll kick off a headlining tour in support of the record. 

Maps & Atlases - "Fever" by Barsuk Records