Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New track from The New Diet - 'Miles and Days'

By Sasha Geffen

Emerging with their first material since the Common Cold cassette release last November, The New Diet hollow out enormous hazy caverns in your ear-space with new track "Miles and Days." Don't be fooled by the slow start: "Miles and Days" ends up flailing, howling and gnashing its teeth by the time it's through. Androgynous yelps dart over billowing chords as this thundering vessel of a song rockets towards the outer reaches. Applying lo-fi grit to an ambitious scope, The New Diet layer shoegaze textures over a driving build to create a fantastically exciting sound.

"Miles and Days" will be released in June on a split 7" with Binary Marketing Show on Already Dead Records.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Go to There: May 29 - June 4

By Andrew Hertzberg
My Gold Mask
Tuesday, May 29th: Run DMT at Burlington (9 PM, $5, 21+)
No, not the dubstep Run DMT, but the band that features members from Magic Milk and Big Colour. Check out this summery jam that swelters along with this current heat wave.

Wednesday, May 30th: Victor Villarreal at Empty Bottle (9:30 PM, 21+, $8 / free with RSVP)
Cap’n Jazz, Owls, and Ghosts and Vodka member performs solo. This year’s Invisible Cinema offers enigmatic guitar work in a range you can anticipate given his previous bands.

Thursday, May 31st: Cool Devices at the Burlington (9 PM, $5, 21+)
With songs with names like "Primitive" and "Come Get Me" and an album recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio, you probably already have an idea of what Cool Devices sounds like. No frills rock that thrives in a left-of-center world.

Video: Nathan Xander - 'I'll Try to Be Good'

By Sasha Geffen

A country drive takes a turn for the grisly in this stylishly melancholy video for Nathan Xander's "I'll Try to Be Good." Keep an eye out for this local songsmith's new self-titled album in the coming months. Word on the street has it he's been busy putting the finishing touches on a whole pile of fresh material.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Lollapalooza 2012: Chicago artists in the lineup

By Frank Krolicki

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound
Each year, Lollapalooza offers up a handful of locally-based artists in its lineup. We'd always of course love to see more getting a turn in Grant Park, but we're happy that the following Chicago musicians will be representing what our city has to offer this year. When planning your Lolla schedule, be sure to add them to it!

JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound (playing on Saturday, August 4th)
If you're even casually into the Chicago music scene, chances are you're already familiar with these guys. Their packed-with-attitude soul rock started to gain attention a couple years ago after they released their much-loved cover of Wilco's "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart," and since then they've continued to build a following with frequent full-on live shows and a debut album titled Want More. If you're looking for high-energy at Lolla, this is one set you won't want to miss.

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound - Everything Will Be Fine by Windy City Rock

Empires (playing on Saturday, August 4th)
Empires aren't afraid to sound big. Many of the band's peers aim for a more subtle, abstract approach, but Empires make their impact with soaring rock sounds, never shying away from a full-blown chorus, something that is more apparent than ever on their latest full-length, Garage Hymns. The band has gotten quite a bit of attention over the past few years, first from their debut 2008 album Howl, and later from making it to one of the final four slots in Rolling Stone's first ever "Choose the Cover" campaign.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Record review: Exit Ghost - 'Move Alone'

By Sasha Geffen

Exit Ghost have always been good at stretching a note. Their ineffable likability comes not from their ability to craft unique or intricate musical patterns, but to take the ones you've heard a thousand times and imbue them with a very particular glow. 

Not an easy feat considering the ever-multiplying alt-country scene of the Midwest, but Exit Ghost stomp, romp and jangle all over their debut LP as if no one had ever welded a violin to a Stratocaster. Classical strings and glockenspiels lilt in and out of guitar noise, but they're couched in enough dusty air to avoid the tarnishing archetype of the barnyard rock band--even when frontman Evan Holmes waxes lyrical about the steel silos that stud the Midwestern roadsides. 

With a couple very solid EPs to rub together, Exit Ghost were ready to move on into the space of the album. On their first full-length, they evolve from the familiar terrain of straight, bombastic folk rock to deeper and more resonant compositions.

A few Chicago music news bites

YAWN Happy Tears artwork
  • Lollapalooza has launched its Lolla Remix Throwdown" contest for 2012, offering entrants the chance to win a spot on Perry's Stage at the fest in August and other prizes. Check out the details here.
  • YAWN is planning the release of a new EP. It's called Happy Tears and will be out June 20th on FeelTrip Records. For a YAWN refresher, check out our review of last year's full-length Open Season. In other news with the band, you'll be able to catch them at Wicker Park Fest on July 28th.
  • Mutts want to release a double LP titled Separation Anxiety/Object Permanence, and they've started a Kickstarter project to help fund it.
  • Fernet-Branca kicked off a contest aimed at local musicians that seems pretty worth entering. The top three finalists win $500 and perform at Reggies on June 10th, after which a winner is selected and moves onto a national round, where they have a chance to win VIP passes to Pitchfork Music Festival, an opening gig at the Fernet-Branca aftershow and more. Entries can be submitted through this Facebook app.
  • Details have been released for the 4th annual Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, which is set for July 20-22 in Logan Square. Main stage music headliners include Disappears, NOMO and Ana Tijoux. Check out the fest's site for more info.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Show review: Fungi Girls, Slushy at Favorite Records

By Gene Wagendorf III 

Favorite Records continued their recent string of excellent free concerts on Sunday, this time with an afternoon show that served as a nice warm-up for the closing day of the Hozac Blackout Fest. More refreshing than air-conditioning, Slushy showed up armed with a sack full of two-minute garage pop ditties and a charming sense of humor. When singer/guitarist Chris Kramer suggested he'd rather dance than play guitar, I almost believed him. His smooth, day-at-the-beach delivery was washed in layers of echoes and fuzz, allowing it to blend seamlessly with the chugging bubblegum of Slushy's dual guitar bop. Drummer/guitarist Brent Zmrhal's stomping rhythms and wonky loops fattened up the otherwise light series of songs, which never got so weird that they lost their cotton candy grooves. Their back and forth, both musically and between songs, felt like watching two kids splash water at each other in a pool, but with drifting, lollipop solos and a healthy dose of distortion. If ever there was a band that should go back in time and play a show at Kiddieland, it's Slushy. Their sunny melodies and Kramer's soft, excited vocals almost require funnel cake and lemonade.

Record review: Many Places - 'Another Oath'

By Jonathan White

Just as everything else we experience throughout the year swings in a seasonal pendulum of varying flavor, our year’s flow of music tends to follow the trend. Many Places, songwriting project of Chicagoan Kevin Rieg, conjures together those exact subtleties in debut album on Tandem Shop Records titled Another Oath. The themes are reflective, concentrating on renewal and progression through crude acoustic melodies, tender percussion and layers of proverbial lyricism.

Another Oath is a collection most appropriate for a blissful walk through one of Spring or Autumn’s most sedative days. The record’s intimate sound was developed inside a 10' x 8' room of a coach house, where it was written and recorded during same time making for a multifaceted conclusion to a work rooted back to 2009. Back then was when Rieg first plucked the first chords to the would-be capacious album closer, “Low Clouds."

“Helmet Hug,” Many Places’ introductory single, is chocked with shady, shivery guitar grit dampened with hollow synth and muggy vocal. “Blankenship,” a swaying instrumental, is more transition marker than song, dutifully preparing the slate for “Iowa," a wholehearted tale with a parading snare rhythm about the obviously venerated state. “Gold Leaf” has a simply bright melody that gradually arrives at and ends intricately. Another more distinguished instrumental, “Brontosaurus,” may not bolster its sound to the Jurassic creature it shares a title with, but stands as a majestic interval toward the end of the track list.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Go to There: May 22 - 28

By Andrew Hertzberg

Mark Sultan
Tuesday, May 22nd: Holy Wave at the Mutiny (9 PM, 21+, FREE)
Check out cryptic Austic psych-rockers on a rare Tuesday night show at everyone's favorite punk dive. Sounds like the opening credits to a Rob Zombie film. Like minded CRYS from Indianapolis and locals the Sueves and Energy Gown open.

Wednesday, May 23rd: Running at Rainbo Club (9 PM, 21+, FREE)
According to the Facebook event, “Running is playing in the corner of Rainbo Club, next to the CSI pinball machine, for 12 minutes.” Check out a rare show at one of Nelson Algren’s former jaunts.

Thursday, May 24th: Mark Sultan at Empty Bottle (9:30 PM, 21+, $10)
This is the release party for the Shimby Presents: Live at the Empty Bottle album. Mark Sultan (of the King Khan and BBQ Show) is a bombastic solo performer, combing punk flare with blues swagger. Opening the show are Outer Minds, who are featured on the compilation and are playing at the Pitchfork Music Festival in July, and Magic Milk, who play Do Division next week, and have a recent EP out themselves.

Friday, May 25th: Le Tour at Coles (10 PM, 21+, FREE)
If you feel like some psych-rock can get too far into the wanker territory, then check out Le Tour. With more of a bluesy approach to the genre, the trio can craft some decent melodies amidst the corruptive freakouts.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Interview: Leaf Bird

By Rachel Angres

photo: Jacob Hand
Chicago's own Leaf Bird are set to release their new full-length album Diamonds From the Cherry Mine Vol. 1 on June 22nd via Chicago-based cassette label, Plus Tapes. The band will celebrate the release on the same day at Reversible Eye along with fellow Chicago acts  Heavy Times, Bone & Bell and My Dad. They will also be appearing in Brooklyn on June 17th at Zebulon, alongside up and coming Philadelphia-based Power Animal and New Jersey-based Slow Animal. We caught up with Larry and Tyler of the band to ask a few questions.

WCR: Names, instruments you play and an interesting fact about another member of the band?

Tyler Beach: Guitar, vocals and keys.

Larry Robertson: Guitar, vocals.

LR: Tyler has a very strange super power. He's immune to the chemical Capsaicin.

TB: It's really weird, but I don't feel any burning sensation when I eat spicy food. No matter how spicy it is. I just don't have any sensitivity. I even put JalapeƱo juice on my eyeball one time and nothing happened. Pepper spray doesn't work on me either.

Strangest venue or gig you’ve ever played?

TB: We used to play a bunch of crazy house shows with our old band, Fingers & Toes. I remember playing as part of a burlesque--like, circus freak show--back, in like 2006. There was a lot of crazy nudity going on. We wound up playing at like 6 a.m., when the sun was coming up. I remember one time our old band, Fingers & Toes--who was a six piece at the time--took pot brownies just before going on. Back then we used to do completely improvised performances. We played for like 3 hours straight.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Show review: Xiu Xiu at Lincoln Hall, 5/17

By Gene Wagendorf III 

Little under an hour before the somber anniversary of Ian Curtis's death in 1980, Xiu Xiu was onstage at Lincoln Hall zipping through a bright and inspired cover of his last song, "Ceremony." Jamie Stewart's guitar glistened and scrunched over the song's pitter-patter percussion, lending it an appropriate brightness and fragility. While the muscle of Peter Hook's bass was missing, Stewart's more operatic approach to the vocals allowed Xiu Xiu's version to evoke the same sense of captivating desperation. That balance between frenetic emotion and moments of glammy, quirky bombast was firing on all cylinders throughout the entire set. "Beauty Towne," from the recently released album Always, moved forward with a deep, hip-swaying groove over which Angela Seo sprinkled synthetic ripples and electronic blurping. The disconnect between the emotions the instruments conjured and Stewart's trademark this-is-my-last-song delivery forged a kind of sunny gloom pop, or what I imagine MGMT would sound like if they were very, very sad.

Video: Maps & Atlases - 'Remote & Dark Years'

By Frank Krolicki

I admit, I've always had an instant negative reaction every time I've heard the term "math rock." I don't think math is very fun. It was always one of my least favorite subjects in school, so why would I want math infused in my music? Having seen Chicago's own Maps & Atlases described with those words many times, I've been a bit cautious about diving into them. But it seems on their latest album Beware & Be Grateful the band has toned down their mathiness in favor of melodies that are more memorable and an overall spirit that, as a listener, I find a lot more appealing to take part in. One example is the track "Remote & Dark Years," which recently got the video treatment with director George Salisbury (who's the principal art director and video director for the Flaming Lips). Check it out below.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Show review: Tutu & The Pirates at Favorite Records, 5/12

By Gene Wagendorf III

The story of my first experience with Tutu & The Pirates is probably the same as the rest of my generation's: Joe Losurdo's magnificent documentary You Weren't There: A History of Chicago Punk, 1977-1984. Of all the grungy misfits featured in the film, Tutu stood out as the most intriguing characters. Their combination of tongue-in-cheek lyrics, Ramones riffs and glam style made them impossible not to notice next some of their more severe and angsty contemporaries. So much great punk is serious, urgent and relentless that it's easy to write off poppier bands with boner humor sensibilities as little more than teenage kitsch. You know, 'cause rock and roll isn't about fun. Luckily for the uncool, 2010 saw the release of Suburban Insult Rock for the Anti-lectual, a compilation of old Tutu & The Pirates material. Two years later it's still got me bopping my head and giggling.

Fun is the operative word when talking about Tutu, who, despite being regarded as the first punk band in The Windy City, don't carry the stench of a nostalgia act. Frontman Li'l Richie Speck took the stage at Favorite Records in a dilapidated cowboy hat and tight silver pants, a solid indication of how seriously he and his band are taking themselves these days. "Delinquent Rat," a grimy, bopping love (?) song found Speck delivering lines like her hair glistened red and it glistened black too/ she smelled just like a lama who'd been locked up in the zoo and I'm in love with a delinquent rat/ I just wanna eat her cheese/ I really wanna lick her skull. "Wham Bam Son of Sam" moved with a slightly faster sludge riff, its slapstick chorus bringing about the first of several rounds of pogoing from the crowd. The audience was as diverse as you'd expect, a motley collection of La Mere Vipere veterans (the show coincided with Club Foot's annual Vipere Reunion Party), hipsters, young punks and a couple of toddlers. The little ones seemed to dig the music as much as everyone else, a testament to how good the hooks were. If any band is a reminder that pop-punk wasn't always a dirty word, it's these guys.

A few Chicago music news bites

  • Riot Fest & Carnival, which will take place September 14-16 at Humboldt Park and Congress Theater, has released its first wave of artists announcements. Among the bands revealed so far are Rise Against, Iggy & the Stooges, Elvis Costello, The Gaslight Anthem, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Built to Spill, White Mystery and many others. You can check out the full list so far plus ticket info and additional details here.
  • Chicago favorites Canasta are celebrating their 10th anniversary. In honor of existing for a decade they'll play a show on June 2nd at Schubas, the same place they played their very first show back in 2002. To coincide, a Daytrotter session will also be released on June 1st. Click here for tickets and more info on the show.
  • reviewed of Maps & Atlases new LP, Beware and be Grateful.
  • Chicago Mixtape talked to Quintron prior to Saturday's Quintron and Miss Pussycat show at the Empty Bottle (which our own Andrew Hertzberg reviewed). Listen to the interview here.
  • Gapers Block has a review of Saturday's Andrew Bird show at the Auditorium Theatre.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Go to There: May 15 - 21

By Andrew Hertzberg

Tuesday, May 15th: Yawn at Burlington (8 PM, 21+, $5)
I feel like we haven’t seen much of Yawn recently. They seemed to play every other day there for a bit. Maybe they burned out? Well hopefully their recharged and ready to rock the small room at the Burlington.

Wednesday, May 16th: the Hecks at Crown Tap Room (9 PM, 21+, $5)
Did Gene’s review last week make you want to check out the Hecks? Head to the Crown Tap Room for the first night of Get Bent’s multi-city one year anniversary party. Music’s hard to come by, but as always, Gonzo Chicago had the cameras rolling on a show at Ball Hall earlier this year for a taste. Nones and Strychnine play too.

Thursday, May 17th: Hollows at Subterranean (8 PM, 17+, $8)

If you’re looking for an entire solid lineup of local acts then look no further. Tonight is the record release for Hollows LP V is for Vulture, which propels a girl-group sense of melody through surf-rock leads. Reliable garage-psych trio Radar Eyes, ominous post-punk four piece Coffin Pricks (also celebrating a record release), and self-proclaimed “indie-pop / kitten-core” five-piece Summer Girlfriends open.

Show review: The Laureates at Quenchers, 5/11

By Gene Wagendorf III

The Laureates
Sometimes catching a heinous, Record Store Day-ruining flu can lead to pretty good things. Not long after catching Running at Reckless I puked all over the outside of my pal's car and had to be taken home a quivering, sloppy mess.The worst part? I never made it to saki to see The Runnies, who everyone tells me kick ass. Later that weekend, between racing to the toilet and cursing my own existence, I found time to download their record, You Can't Win, from Candy Dinner's wonderful little website. As anyone who has had a day off in the new millennium (is it still new?) will tell you, it's damn near impossible to avoid burning a few hours clicking links and riding the internet rabbit hole. Candy Dinner very helpfully features a "You might (probably will) also like" section next to each of their albums. A few clicks later and boom, I discover The Laureates.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Show review: Quintron and Miss Pussycat at Empty Bottle, 5/12

By Andrew Hertzberg

The story of Quintron and Miss Pussycat runs deep. Far deeper than I knew going into the Empty Bottle Saturday night. The NOLA couple formerly called Chicago home – an extensive profile of their history was chronicled in the Reader a decade ago. The two have cultivated a following over the years and are always looking for and creating something bizarre and left-of-center. Quintron blares on his distorted Hammond keyboard with a natural Southern swagger, accompanied by his patented Drum Buddy. Miss Pussycat handles backing vocals, and oh yeah, did I mention she put on a puppet show to begin the set? The story of a grizzly bear that travels through outer space to defeat a vampire is a perilous one, but it must be told.

As for Quintron’s candle-lit set, it was much more energetic and amplified than I imagined after hearing recordings. My ears were ringing before the show was even over. Listening to last year’s Sucre du Sauvage (which was recorded in a 2010 New Orleans Museum of Art exhibit) isn’t by any means a tranquil experience, but Quintron gets intense live. Seated at a keyboard behind the grill of Lincoln, equipped with a crash cymbal and hi-hat, and the aforementioned self-designed drum machine, Quintron belts out his campy, R&B tinged “Swamp-Tech” that wouldn’t be out of place soundtracking a B horror film. Miss Pussycat helped out on vocals, sometimes with high-pitched yelps, sometimes more subdued and melodic, but ever so consistent with the maracas. I couldn’t help but think at times what a great collab this duo could make with the Fiery Furnaces. Can someone set that up please?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Show review: Black Dice, The Hecks at Bottom Lounge, 5/7

By Gene Wagendorf III

The Hecks
On an evening where the city was draped in a thick layer of fog, The Hecks provided a most appropriate soundtrack. At times devilishly ominous, then surprisingly bright, the Chicago duo's only misstep was not having any music for me to purchase post-show. Grimy riffing slogged over focused, pugilistic percussion to create a tension almost as thick as the brume outside. The songs, at their best, were interesting musical moments strung together by adept pacing and knowing restraint. A soft melody aped the sounds of a city slowly being taken apart. Dissonant chimes exploded into clinking whirlpools, howling guitars abruptly halted and bowed to subdued pop licks and danceable beats. Vocals rolled out like warm taffy over the noise, at times lacking punch but never misunderstanding their place in the music. As each collection of sound reached it's logical conclusion The Hecks jerked the reigns and shifted aim. Like any good jockey, the band knew when to push and when to ease up. I couldn't help but feel like I was witnessing the beginnings of something fantastic. Let's get these guys a record, eh?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Go to There: May 8 - 14

By Andrew Hertzberg

Dastardly (photo: C.B. Lindsey)
Tuesday, May 8th: The Hudson Branch at Lincoln Hall (8PM, 18+, $10)
Looking for some music appropriate for the constantly dreary weather we’ve been experiencing? The fancy guitar stuff brings to mind American Football, but fronted by Ben Gibbard as opposed to a Kinsella (although I found myself thinking of a more grandiose Owen while listening to World Kid).

Wednesday, May 9th: Architecture at Township  (9 PM, 21+, $5)
Keep the dreamy and somber sounds going. But this time it’s a bit more minimal and electronic based. The trio seems to have been everywhere this year so far so if you haven’t seen ‘em yet, go get to it.

Thursday, May 10th: Dastardly at Subterranean  (8 PM, 21+, $10)

This is gonna be the alt/country/folk/whatever quintet’s last Chicago gig until September. But more importantly, things have been flaring up between them and openers the Shams Band. The latter have recently started a community parks clean-up program, but Dastardly’s not too into it. Check this link to the AV Club that recaps the stories (with videos too!).

Friday, May 11th: Ryley Walker at Gallery Cabaret  (8 PM, 21+, FREE)
Why not keep the folk thing going? Except this night is based more around solo artists, creating ominous backroad country. Walker is a John Fahey for the modern world. Johnny Young headlines, with Walker in the middle, and it’s opened by the Sacred Mountain Singers and Bowl of Dust & Co.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Interview: Jim Carroll of Unicycle Loves You

By Frank Krolicki

photo: Meagan Fredette
Earlier this year Chicago-based trio Unicycle Loves You released their latest LP Failure, a half-hour's worth of fuzzed-out, pop-tinged rock and roll that's completely unsuccessful at living up to its name. From the opening jolt of "Garbage Dump" and "Wow Wave Cinema" to the addictive noisepop rush of tracks like "Bitch Eye" and "Piranha," it's arguably the band's best work yet and has become one of my favorite releases of 2012 so far.

The new music brought a busy few months for ULY, including a trip to SXSW, the release of a couple videos ("Garbage Dump," "Piranha") and a multi-state tour in support of the record. Now that the tour is over and things have at least temporarily settled down a bit, frontman Jim Carroll (no, not that Jim Carroll) took some time to answer a few questions about Failure, the recent shows, future plans and more. Read on to see what he had to say.

WCR: How did the tour go? Any good tales to tell?

Jim Carroll: Amidst the ill-attended and sucky shows throughout the tour, we did find ourselves in some amazing situations. One of my favorite nights was at Kansas City’s Middle Of The Map Fest. We were at odds with each other, and that made for a much more aggressive performance overall. But on top of that, our good friend and frontman of Kansas City’s The Wheelers (whom with we’re putting out a 7” split later this year) Greg joined in on the insane performance and then took off his shirt revealing “Soy Bomb” on his chest and writhed around us while we played ”Garbage Dump.” The cameras started flashing and the show became a complete riot. It was probably the most authentic punk rock moment of the whole tour. We have it on video.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Show review: Spiritualized at Metro, 5/3

By Andrew Hertzberg

Jason Pierce (
Like the greatest novels, Spiritualized lead man Jason Pierce is full of nuance. Lyrics that resolve heroin addiction with religious contemplation, and influences that range from free jazz and psychedelia to gospel and girl-group. It’s hard not to look for symbolism in everything. Why his backing band wore black, while Pierce and his backup singers wore white, for example (is there a cleansing power in singing?). His albums take years to make, partly due to his attention to detail, partly because he’s recently been stricken with illness. 2008’s Songs in A&E came after a bout with pneumonia, and read any interview with him this year and he’ll mention chemotherapy and joking about how making music under pain meds isn’t as great as making music under fun drugs.

But playing live is a different story. After suffering through these illnesses and meticulously recording an album for a couple years, Pierce finally gets to let loose on stage. He doesn’t have to worry about making a permanent fixture, just something beautiful in the right now.

The set at Metro Thursday varied widely, reaching back all the way even to a few tracks off 1995’s Pure Phase. But it started off with "Hey Jane," the nine-minute lead single off the recently released Sweet Heart, Sweet Light. It starts off as a classic rock and roll song until it dissolves into cacophonous chaos, only to be resurrected again. A screen behind the band projected scattered images of traffic, adding to the fast-paced knock to the head that track is. On "Lay Back in the Sun," Pierce sings “I’ve got a fire in me,’ which throughout his career has been a consistent and damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t type of imagery. "Rated X" slowed things down a bit, with Pierce switching to a microphone that cuts the low frequencies, which makes it sound like he’s broadcasting from outer space.

While most of the attention was placed on Pierce, his backing band definitely kept up with him. Guitarist Doggen (Tony Foster) handled the ear-splitting wah-stomped solos and Kevin Bales’ drumming was subtle and subdued, but always appropriate to the nature of the song. While on their albums we get saxophones, string quartets, harmonicas and full choirs, the five-piece band with two backing singers offered just as much live and helpfully showcased some of the more understated sounds that get lost on the recordings.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hear two new tracks from Clip Art

By Frank Krolicki

photo: Brad Meese
While Chicago indie pop act Clip Art's recorded output has been minimal so far--they released a 5-song EP titled Broken by Design in 2010--the quality of their tunes and live shows has made them a band worth keeping on the radar. Now, they've built up their catalog a bit with two new tracks that are available as "name your price" downloads on Bandcamp.

The first track, "Death v. Decline," is musically jaunty, providing an instantly appealing backdrop for Andy Rosenstein's smooth, clear vocals and clever lyrics. Like Broken by Design's intro track "Dead Letter," it's got immediate hooks and a classic pop sound. The second song, "Pains for the Young," has a similarly breezy vibe with a bit more of a subtle approach. Both are fit for repeated listens. Check them out for yourself below, and catch Clip Art live on Tuesday, May 8th when they play Lincoln Hall with The Hudson Branch and The Belfry Hollers (8 p.m., 18 and over, $10. Tickets here).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Video: Cains & Abels - 'Stay Home Tonight'

By Sasha Geffen

With its nearly imperceptible narrative, the video for Cains & Abels's standout track "Stay Home Tonight" remains arresting on the basis of its simple yet perplexing imagery. Lead singer David Sampson wanders the city at night; a row of driverless cars pulse their headlights in unison; Sampson sets off smoke bombs at a house party. Like the song itself, the video's literal content is opaque, but the tone immediately engages.

The new Cains & Abels LP My Life is Easy is out now on Whistler Records. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Go to There: May 1 - 7

By Andrew Hertzberg

Eleanor Friedberger
Tuesday, May 1st: Eleanor Friedberger at Schubas (8 PM, 21+, $14)
One half of the left-field pop act Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor takes the stage solo tonight. While FF have made a name for themselves that stand out, Friedberger doesn't try to just rehash the same sound. Last year’s Last Summer LP carries a sense of the theatric along with quality songwriting, falling somewhere in between Neko Case and Amanda Palmer. Friedberger also plays SPACE in Evanston the following night (8 PM, AA, $12-22); Brooklyn indie-pop trio Hospitality opens both shows.

Wednesday, May 2nd: Occidental Brothers at the Whistler (10 PM, 21+, FREE)
Never listened to the afro-jazz quintet? Here’s a perfect chance. The group that’s played big stages and major festivals all over the world (from the Pitchfork Music Festival to the Montreal Jazz Festival) takes over the tiny Logan Square art gallery / cocktail bar.

Thursday, May 3rd: Spiritualized at Metro (8 PM, 18+, $25 adv / $27 dos)
Jason Pierce is one of the most brilliant songwriters today. With Spiritualized, he combines shoegaze, gospel, blues, and noise into one glorious, life-affirming sound. Sweet Heart Sweet Light is the band’s seventh studio album and has gotten near unanimous critical acclaim. Bring your earplugs.