Thursday, January 31, 2013

Podcast: New Canyons

By Kriss Stress

WCR has joined forces with Notes and Bolts to bring you a regular podcast full of Chicago music goodness. Check out a stream and overview of the latest episode below.

Where's the snow been? I'm not complaining, but I'm definitely waiting in dread for sheets to hit us at once. Maybe you are, too? While waiting for the inevitable blizzard, check out the latest episode (084) of Notes and Bolts, where we have Andrew and Adam from New Canyons hanging out and talking synthesizers, drum machines, and why Nine Inch Nail's The Fragile is totally worth yr time. New Canyons play tonight at Empty Bottle with Lightfoils and Bloody Knives.

New Canyons: Pitch Black
Peter Gabriel: Intruder
Blouse: Controller
Bear In Heaven: Cool Light
Engineers: Let's Just See
Clan of Xymox: Medusa
Red Flag: If I Ever
New Canyons: End Colors

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Record review: The Hecks - 'Trust and Order'

By Gene Wagendorf III  

Few bands have as strong a first year as The Hecks, who took the city by storm opening for the likes of ONO and Black Dice while being named "Best New Rock Duo in 2012" by The Chicago Reader. For all the gigging and positive press, the band's only physical release was a split tape with Nonnie Parry on Exotic Aquatic. That changes next month, as Moniker Records is set to release Trust and Order, a 7-inch that offers listeners who lack a Walkman or Teddy Ruxpin the chance to enjoy The Hecks in the privacy of their own pajamas. Or someone else's.

The snap of Zach Hebert's drums signals the start of "Trust and Order," a slow build of rolling snares, bustling maracas and peripatetic strings that pulsates in a field of almost limitless possibility. Akin to Sister-era Sonic Youth, The Hecks' approach to songwriting seems to be the stitching together of fascinating sounds- deconstructing pop-licks and moving them out of time or out of tune, creating something all-together more rewarding, or at the very least far more strange. Andrew Mosiman's luminous guitar leads push Hebert's percussion into a splashy frolic, galloping towards an implied explosion that seems almost interrupted by his own tar pit-drawl. The track avoids completely blasting off, instead coiling in tantrum before slowly unwinding into a meditation of fuzzy chords and soft pattering. This ability to keep an audience on its sonic toes is one of the band's true strengths, and it makes the record nearly as engaging as their frenetic live sets.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Go to There: January 29 - February 3

By Andrew Hertzberg
Desert Soap (via Facebook)
Tuesday, January 29th: Desert Soap, Charming People at Hungry Brain (9 PM, 21+, FREE)
Mellow out at the Hungry Brain with the Cat Stevens / Harry Nilsson vibes of Desert Soap. The sultry, Phil Spector-meets-dream-pop sound of Charming People play as well.

Wednesday, January 30th: Deep Sleep, Songs for Gods at the Whistler (9:30 PM, 21+, FREE)
If Chandeliers, Icy Demons, Killer Whales, or Michael Columbia mean anything to you, then get ready to add Deep Sleep and Songs for Gods to the list of names that guarantee a synth-filled, funky night.

Thursday, January 31st: Chicago Songwriter Allstar Assault at Café Mustache (8 PM, AA, FREE)
Hosted by Gabe Liebowitz of Dastardly, this evening presents a billion locals performing a couple songs each. Artists include Donnie Biggins (the Shams Band), former WCR contributer Bobby Minelli, Stan McConnell (Santah) and many more (full lineup here).

Friday, February 1st: J Fernandez at Big Forever (9 PM, AA, $5)
The bedroom-pop artist has been receiving some decent blog-buzz lately, due to J Fernandez’s ability to make music equally introspective, engaging, and thoughtful. Bomb Banks and Coffin Ships play as well; full info on Lake Paradise.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Podcast: Pink Frost

By Kriss Stress

WCR has joined forces with Notes and Bolts to bring you a regular podcast full of Chicago music goodness. Check out a stream and overview of the latest episode below.

Today's 83rd episode of Notes and Bolts is a particularly special one as it marks the second time members of Pink Frost have been on the show--except, this time out, they're marking the release of a new 7" that is dropping tomorrow at an in-store over at Saki Records, which the Frost will be playing with Scott Cortez of Astrobrite as well as PlusTapes alums Coins. A lot to be excited about!

In other news, Notes and Bolts are teaming up with our besties over at BLVD Records to release Pink Frost's forthcoming sophomore effort on delicious vinyl. Here's the press blurb:

"Notes & Bolts and BLVD Records are happy to not only announce a most excellent partnership for an upcoming dual/split release, but also that this dual/split release (the first of many) is for awesome Chicago gazey psychedelic rock heavyweights PINK FROST (formerly Apteka)!

Following a cassette release of their "Gargoyle Days" album and a brand new 7" single (both on Notes & Bolts), the two Chicago labels will be joining forces to release the vinyl LP version of Pink Frost's highly anticipated upcoming album, due out this spring!"

The LP will be out in late Spring/early Summer while the new 7" will be in the N&B webstore on Monday.

Check out the podcast below, or download from iTunes here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chicago artists launch project pairing new music with green tea

By Melissa Bordeau

Andy Angelos & Phil Lomac
Remember the days you would get so excited to purchase a newly released CD? You’d listen to the music as you flipped through the album artwork, amazed by the beautiful cover art and photography? Today, the popular way of obtaining music is to go onto iTunes and hit purchase; the artistic format that once was there is diminishing. But thanks to Chicago-based Andy Angelos and Phil Lomac there is a new way to obtain your music that keeps the artistic value alive.

Angelos and Lomac created Tea for Tyrants, an innovative idea of distributing music along with tasty green tea and a collectible tea card.

The Tea for Tyrants project was launched on January 14th, with around 20 days currently left to reach its $7,500 goal via Kickstarter in order for the initial product run to take flight. 

In the meantime, find out more information about the project in our interview below with Andy Angelos.

WCR: How did you come up with the idea of pairing tea with music?

AA: Phil Lomac and I are both life-long musicians and were preparing to launch a new EP last spring. The typical approach to launching an album had been 1) Make downloads available online 2) Host shows or tours 3) Hope to gain some traction via iTunes, Spotify, etc and collect some paltry royalties. This method is really frustrating and usually demonstrates the predicament of independent musicians – the supposed “ease” of information distribution online is countered by an abundance of choice and scarcity of attention to make developing an audience difficult.

So the idea stemmed from frustration with current options and a desire to attach music to a product that people would purchase regardless of their familiarity with our music. Just get the music into their hands. Tea was a logical product since we both had experience as consumers and connoisseurs of the product.

Kickstarter seemed to be a good platform to gauge interest and raise some funds for the initial product run (tea and packaging).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Record review: Speck Mountain - 'Badwater'

By Andrew Hertzberg

In listening to Badwater by Speck Mountain, I am reminded of the Nietzsche quote, "better know nothing than half-know many things." Researching this quote, I was led to the Wikipedia page regarding the Hedgehog and the Fox. This reference comes from an ancient Greek poem, and has been translated to "the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." While many artists strive to be a fox, they become merely a jack of all trades. On their new album, Speck Mountain are clearly the hedgehog. They have found a sound that draws from ambient-pop and space-rock, and explore the depths of these subgenres without a hint of trying to break themselves of the limitations. Although not a huge leap from their previous albums, the band does find themselves with cleaner production and overall a more refined sound.

This is not a demanding album, but that doesn't necessarily detract from it. In fact, that may be one of its strengths. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon Speck Mountain, but I remember it was the song ‘Slow So Long’ that drew me in. With sparse drums, ambient background synths, warm guitar leads, and Marie-Claire Balabanian’s even warmer vocals, the song feels effortless in its seduction of your ears. The B-Side to the single, “Run, Honey, Run” was released put online recently as well, which is a bit rougher than the rest of the album, while still reflecting many similar themes.

Podcast: Songs for Gods

By Kriss Stress

WCR has joined forces with Notes and Bolts to bring you a regular podcast full of Chicago music goodness. Check out a stream and overview of the latest episode below.

Here in episode 082 of Notes and Bolts, we're hanging out with Emma, Harry, and Chris of Songs For Gods to talk about space, celestial bodies and what it is to juggle ten thousand projects without losing any quality (and really, they don't - everything they touch is great - Harry and Chris' other band, Chandeliers, stand as prime proof). Tune on in!

Download from itunes by clicking here. 

Songs For Gods - Boss

This is our first song where Emma sings actual words. So its got a deeper meaning. I have a song that I wrote called "all things are lights" and it has real words in the singing too, so that one's also a deep cut.

Brenton Wood - Oogum Boogum

This is the best 45 rpm that I found laying in a huge pile at the Shape Shoppe before we cleaned up, there was like 400 of them..

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Go to There: January 22 - 28

Klang! (photo credit: David Sampson)
By Andrew Hertzberg
Tuesday, January 22nd: Klang! at Bar Deville (9:30 PM, 21+, $5)
Here’s the curveball choice of the week. The jazz quartet led by clarinetist James Falzone continues its weekly January residency at the craft-cocktail bar. Check out full details on his website, and his latest release Brooklyn Lines…Chicago Spaces on bandcamp.

Wednesday, January 23rd: Soup and Bread at Hideout (5:30 PM, AA, $donation)
The weekly event returns for its fifth year and runs til mid-April. Each week has its own theme; this one is The Ocean. Featured chefs can be those behind the stews at some of your favorite restaurants, or people giving it a first time try. Check out S&B’s website for more details. (all proceeds help local food pantries)

Thursday, January 24th: Soft Speaker at Hideout (7 PM, 21+, $10)
Soft Speaker has a new single and it rocks out like a lost MC5 single. It is forthcoming off the International Scheiße, Dummkopf! EP which they are currently running a Kickstarter to help press on vinyl, as well as their LP Turkish Mindbenders. This night doubles as the release party for MAKE: A Literary Magazine’s newest issue.

Friday, January 25th: Panoramic & True at Coles (10 PM, 21+, FREE) 
The eight-piece orchestral-pop group continues its support of last year’s Wonderlust, inspired in equal parts by Max Ernst, Bob Dylan, and all things Canadian. The group also released a new single, “Gunslinger,” at the end of last year. Videotape and House Sounds open.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A few Chicago music news bites

  • Head over to Gapers Block to catch up on some of the sets from this past week's Tomorrow Never Knows fest, including write-ups on Chelsea Wolf, Free Energy, The Amazing and more.
  • posted about the new single, "Stones," from rowdy local rockers Vamos. Click here to see what they had to say and give the track a listen.
  • The Chicago Reader interviewed Chicago electronic producer Mister Lies (aka Nick Zanka), who played this year's Tomorrow Never Knows fest Sunday night and has a debut album coming out next month.
  • You might have seen posts about The Bright White here on WCR before, but if you want to get better acquainted in under three minutes, check out this promo video the band just released.
  • Are you up to speed on the current legal issues surrounding The Congress Theater? If not, Jim DeRogatis has plenty of words for you about it here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Go to There: January 15 - 21

By Andrew Hertzberg
Wild Belle (from Facebook)
Tuesday January 15th Nootka Sound at Schubas (8 PM, 21+, $6)
Nootka Sound is an inlet off the Pacific Ocean against Vancouver Island in Canada. It is also a local indie-jazz group, headlining a record release show along with like-minded artists that expand the realm between jazz, funk, soul, and pop.

Wednesday January 16th Born Ruffians at Lincoln Hall (9 PM, 18+, $15)
The Canadian trio known for yelping vocals, angular guitars, and impatient tempos has been quiet for a little bit, but the promise of a new album is on the way. This show kicks off the Tomorrow Never Knows Festival at Schubas, Lincoln Hall, and the Hideout that goes on through Sunday.

Thursday January 17th Wild Belle at Lincoln Hall (9 PM, 18+, $15)
Continuing with TNK is a Chicago band that’s been on numerous watchlists for 2013. The core duo relies on siblings Natalie Bergman’s wonderful vocals and Elliot’s baritone sax, creating a unique combination of African and Jamaican influence.

Friday January 18th Hemmingbirds at Beat Kitchen (8:30 PM, 21+, $8)
Hemmingbirds released The Vines of Age in the fall of last year. “One of our main goals is to weave some beautiful arrangements with moments of dissonant chaos,” guitarist Yoo Soo Kim told Alternative Press, a theme the group succeeds with throughout the indie-rock record.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Show review: Gel Set, Magic Key, Matchess at the Empty Bottle, 1/9

By Sasha Geffen

Magic Key

Even as tablets become as common to see onstage as stratocasters, odds are the performers behind those nests of sequencers, wires, and keys will be male. Synths and the computers that house them changed the way we write and perform music, but they haven't done much to shake up its gender breakdown. Maybe now there's an even thicker wall between women and popular music; the role of musician and that of programmer are both traditionally, implicitly assigned to boys.

Which is why it's wonderful and refreshing, even radical, to catch an evening of solo women exclusively wielding electronic instruments. On Wednesday, the Empty Bottle showcased three Chicago producers, all female, who were as deft at navigating networks of electronics as many of the venue's guests are at commandeering a fretboard.

Better known as Verma's lead vocalist, Matchess (the project name of Whitney Johnson) folded her own voice into the heavily processed cascades of a single electronic organ. Winding a vintage Ace Tone through a series of pedals, Johnson complicated the minimal with a set of mixing gear and effects tools hidden from the audience inside a hardshell suitcase. Without percussion or guitars, Matchess channels a similar psychedelic spirit to Verma's long-form stoner rock, but renders it in soft, winding meditations rather than full-blown volcanic landscapes. Set against the Bottle's real-time silhouette projections, Matchess's performance initiated the kind of trance you're lucky to enjoy from a full ensemble. Her quiet, professional presence drew focus away from the songs' origin and into the atmosphere around her--the light, the space, the rolling vapor of the music.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

This weekend: Psych Fest 4: Into the 4th Dimension

By Andrew Hertzberg

(poster by Matthew Ginsberg, from Facebook)
In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, Psych Fest organizer Matthew Ginsberg was asked about what attracts people to psych-rock. “It's a new world, but not too far removed. It's creative, colorful, dark and light,” he responded. Looking over the ten bands playing this year’s two-day fest, it’d be hard to come up with a clear cut definition of what psych-rock actually means. For a fest (now in its fourth year) that is said to promote one genre, well, it’s a bit all over. While many bands will surely have similar influences, they express their own creativity through those three different outlets: colorful, dark, or light. It’s sure to make for an interesting weekend. Here’s a brief rundown on each band to help you decide where on the spectrum you dig:

Friday night, January 11th

Mako Sica: Maybe some eerie sounding free jazz is what you’re looking for. Buried behind layers of reverb, this three-piece is more in line with Sun Ra than Jefferson Airplane.
Variety Lights: Listening to Variety Lights Central Flow right after Mercury Rev’s Yerself Is Steam is an exercise in contrasts. While Rev frontman David Baker is back with Variety Lights, he’s swapped the more classic psych sound for a modernized electronic soundscape.
Dark Fog: Fuzzed out guitars, trippy vocals, explosive drums. Yup. Sounds like Dark Fog.
Plastic Crimewave Syndicate: If you pay any attention to the psych scene in Chicago, you know who Steven Krakow is and what he does with PCS. Never for the faint of heart; bring earbuds.
Energy Gown: The newest band to the scene on the bill, Energy Gown have been steadily playing around town, hypnotic in their repetition, and unique for the weekend with male/female vocal harmonies. Check out their new I Watch the Sun EP.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Show review: The Orwells, Twin Peaks, Slushy at Space Club HQ, 1/5

By Gene Wagendorf III  

Slushy | Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III
"Party at the Moon Tower. Full kegs. Everyone's gonna be there."

Set Dazed and Confused in 2013 Chicago and what you get is Slushy, Twin Peaks and The Orwells playing a show at Space Club HQ. What better way to celebrate the end of Winter Break than catching three of Chicago's finest rock bands in a pitch-black warehouse for five bucks? Yeah, it's been a while since I was a CPS student, but these three bands did a damn fine job of making me feel like all I had to worry about in the world was making out and scoring beer. Ok, fine, so maybe much hasn't changed since high school (save that now I can buy booze anytime I want because I'm an adult. Sort of.).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Go to There: January 8 - 14

By Andrew Hertzberg
Bitchin Bajas (from Tumblr)
Tuesday, January 8th: Bitchin Bajas at Hideout (9 PM, 21+, $5 / $15 for 4-show pass)
Tonight’s the first night of a January residency for the Bitchin Bajas, the side project of Cave’s Cooper Crane. Every week promises a different foray into a synthesized, ambient / experimental world with possible guest musicians. Bitchin Bajas also play Pysch Fest at (you guessed it) Hideout on Saturday night.

Wednesday, January 9th: Magic Key at Empty Bottle (9 PM, 21+, $8 or FREE w/RSVP)
Magic Key is Aleks Eva in a more synth-based version of Aleks and the Drummer. In fact the whole night features “four young ladies performing s[yn]thtastic solo sets” with Gel Set, Sara Weis and Matchess opening up.

Thursday, January 10th: Radar Eyes, Speck Mountain at Lincoln Hall (9 PM, 21+, $8)
One of my live bands with one of my favorite albums of 2012 kicks off the year right. Radar Eyes’ ferocious garage rock should be familiar to you by now, and it’ll be nicely contrasted with the more subdued and introspective sound of Speck Mountain to open up.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A few Chicago music news bites

  • Chicago Mixtape shot the breeze with Anthony Cozzi of Radar Eyes. Take a listen to the interview here.
  • To end 2012, took at look at some of the year's finest music videos to come from local bands.
  • This week put up some photos and a writeup of December 19th's Tegan and Sara show at the Cubby Bear.
  • The Tribune's Greg Kot interviewed rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson, who was in town on New Year's Eve to headline the Double Door.
  • Chicago dream-pop/shoegaze band Panda Riot have a new album, Northern Automatic Music, set for release on February 19th, and are offering a preview on Soundcloud via the track "Black Pyramids." Check it out below:
Panda Riot - Black Pyramids by Saint Marie Records