Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween from RFC!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Live Review: Juana Molina@Old Town 10/28/05

Juana Molina's album, Tres Cosas, is an experimental, ambient jewel from my World music collection. Juana Molina on stage, however, was not at all what I was expecting. Her instrument set-up was bizarre for a solo act. She had an odd contraption with many knobs on top of a set of multiple keyboards, a myriad of pedals and wires, and a guitar. The way she played her songs was fascinating, she began with a guitar riff or a keyboard chord/melody and recorded it. Then she looped that sound and continued with her song. Her music can be haunting, but her live presence was the complete opposite. In fact, she had a sense of humor! Song intros, funny stories, and even a French serenade peppered the performance with a light feeling. I still have yet to decide if I liked her personality. On one hand, she is poking fun at herself. On the other hand, is making music a joke to her? At times it was hard to tell where her performance was coming from--then again, this also could be attributable to the fact that I don't speak Spanish. Attitude aside, the quality of her voice was not disappointing. Molina has a very pure voice and it resonated with perfect tone throughout the Old Town School of Folk Music. -Megan Timmons Editor's note: Couldn't agree more with Megan about the strange juxtaposition between Molina's live and recorded presence. Listening to her records, I always thought she sounded a bit dark and mysterious. On stage, she was a total flake! A bit confused by the whole experience, I looked up Molina's bio the next day on AllMusic and it explained everything: "[Molina] is best known in South America as a comedic television actress." Here I was expecting to see Argentina's answer to Beth Orton, and it turns out she is more like Argentina's answer to Lisa Kudrow...if she were to take her "Phoebe" routine and attempt serious music. Granted that is short changing Molina quite a bit, but remember Phoebe's "Smelly Cat" song? Well, Molina sang "El Perro" (the dog) where she literally barked and whined like a dog for well over the last minute of the song. Needless to say, I'll never be able to listen to Molina in the same way again.

When you're hot, you're hot...

The local sports scene hasn't been the only piece of Chicago placed prominently in the national spotlight lately...the local underground music scene has also been getting a lot of love this month thanks to the good people at XLR8R magazine: Issue 91: Chicago Rocks! Our fourth annual city issue jumps into the heart of Chicago, a place that has most of the XLR8R staff wanting to relocate offices. We got a chance to uncover what goes on on in local music, fashion and design, both old and new, all the while falling more deeply in love with The Windy City. Thrill Jockey founder Bettina Richards sets the tone of the issue with her personal intro to Chicago, then we follow up with over 40 features including Steve Albini, DJ Funk, Struggle Inc, Galapagos 4, Hefty, Chocolate Industries, Ron Trent, Pit er Pat, Drag City, Groove Distribution, a photo essay by Matthew Taplinger, Lumpen, Consumer Research & Development, an invaluable city guide and much more.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Brazilian Booty Bash!

I knew Diplo was going to be at Sonotheque this Friday, but I didn't know it was going to be a Brazilian Booty Bash! Hell ya, I'm totally there.

In all seriousness, though, this should be a great show...except that there are like 6 other great shows going on that night (not to mention all of those Halloween parties your friends are throwing), so it's going to be a tough call on what to check out. Chances are you already know about Diplo, so here's the scoop on DJ Marlboro via the Sonotheque website:

Fernando Luís Mattos da Matta, aka DJ Marlboro, is currently one of Brazil's most exciting DJs, whose setsspecializee in Baile funk, the cutting edge Hip-Hop hybrid that comes straight from Rio de Janeiro's favelas. This "Ambassador of Funk" as he is known, was nicknamed Marlboro because he comes from Méier, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, far from anywhere, "further than the land of Marlboro." is hard to resist a Booty Bash, might be a good option if your friend's costume party turns out to be lame. Whatever you decide for Friday, all I've got to say is pace yourself... Halloween isn't even officially until Monday!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Majorie Fair back in town...again

Received this listing via The Onion events newsletter: Marjorie Fair are hitting the open road this fall playing dates with Doves, Tegan & Sara, The Redwalls, Northern State, and Youth Group. Check them out at this intimate Apple in-store event as they preview their live show and songs from their latest album, Self Help Serenade.They will also perform later that night at Park West with Will Hoge. E-mail promotions[at] with "Marjorie Fair" in the subject line for your chance to win a pair of tickets and and iPod Shuffle! OK, first many times has Majorie Fair been in town as an opener already this year?? Without even trying, I've somehow managed to see them twice already...and I swear I've seen their name on at least two or three other random bills since. Now they're opening for Will Hoge this weekend and will be opening for the likes of The Doves, Redwalls, Northern State, etc. the rest of the fall. Damn, these guys get around! Despite inadvertently seeing them twice, I still really don't have a good read on the band. They do meloncholic pop ala Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, Red House Painters, etc. (a genre that I dig), but I'm not completely sold on their version of it (a bit too derivative, perhaps?). However, they don't completely suck either...which is probably why they keep bouncing around between so many opening slots and not headlining their own gigs. Second, "win a chance to iPod Shuffle"??? Didn't they discontinue those things??? (good-bye Shuffle, hellooo Nano!) This seems like a really shitty giveaway... an outdated piece of technology left over from the Apple Store's basement and a pair of tickets to see a second-rate band?? Don't e-mail your contest entries all at once, I'm sure The Onion's e-mail server is already struggling to keep up with the demand for this! The Apple Store is located at 679 N. Michigan, the Marjorie Fair in-store is Saturday at 2pm

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

New Releases Tuesday (10/25)

Various Artists - This Bird Has Flown (Razor & Tie) I can't remember the last time I've been so annoyed at a single release....I absolutely DESPISE this record. To be fair, I haven't listened to it in its entirety, but I keep hearing countless tracks from it via KEXP, KCRW,, etc. and it's driving me up the wall. In general, tribute albums almost always suck (exception to the rule: that Lee Hazlewood tribute on Astralwerks) and this one really takes the cake. There are already like a million Beatles and Beatles-related tributes out there already, does anybody in their right mind really think that someone like The Donnas are going to be able to bring something new to the table? "Oh my god, I've never got 'Drive My Car' ride before, but after hearing Donna A. sing it, I totally understand the genius of this song!!" If the sheer redundancy of this project wasn't bad enough, the performances here are absolutely worthless. The paint-by-numbers covers are boring and the reinterpretations are unbelievably annoying. In fact, I think The Fiery Furnaces may have actually replaced William Shatner for the title of "Worst Beatle Cover Ever" with their butchering of "Norwegian Wood." I've always kind of thought there should be a law against covering The Beatles, and now I think this law should apply doubly to indie rockers. Do yourself a favor, avoid this record at all costs and pick up a cheap used copy of the real thing. Releases out today that ARE worth your time: Annie - DJ-KiCKS (K7) Calvin Johnson - Before the Dream Faded (K) Quintron & Miss Pussycat - Swamp Tech (Tigerbeat6) Rogue Wave - Descended Like Vultures (Sub Pop) Tom Vek - We Have Sound (Startime Int'l)

Monday, October 24, 2005

DJ Who??

I didn't stick around long enough at Sonotheque last Thursday for the Biz Markie performance, but I did discover this great DJ who was the opener. He goes by "DJ Mel" and is apparently the hip-hop buyer for Waterloo Records in Austin, TX, which is an amazing store on par with the Amoeba stores in California. I wasn't able to find much else about DJ Mel and he seems to be a relative unknown outside of Texas...but damn, this Lone Star can spin! After a solid 20 minutes of cutting some of the best new hip-hop jams, he started dropping in some sick 80s samples. He mashed-up Men Without Hats with 50 cent, Ying Yang Twins with Janet Jackson and even dug deep in the crates to scratch up some Nu Shooz. Yes, that's right, I said Nu Shooz...the one-hit wonder band who struck synth-pop/dance gold with "I Can't Wait." DJ Mel even managed to make Hall & Oates sound cool. I was at the bar ordering a drink when he played "I Can't Go For That," and everyone around me went crazy. I'm sure Biz was great as well, but what Mel put together was an ideal set for me. Mostly new, mostly hip-hop but with a dash of 80's blended in to keep things unpredictable and interesting. It's a formula that I've always advocated, but Mel nailed it down as good as anyone I've heard.

Live Pics: Quintron fundraiser at Iron Studios

Fresh in the RFC Live Photo Archive are pictures from Saturday's Quintron benefit show at Iron Studios. Unfortunately, I missed the Magas set, but I did catch most of the very entertaining Paper Rad performance and the entire closing set from Chicago's very own Bobby Conn. Click here for the complete set of pics from the night.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Quintron Benefit tonight in Bridgeport

I don't usually make posts on the weekend, but I was trying to catch up on the events/concert calendar this morning and had to pass this along (via RottenMilk). Fundraiser for Quintron (New Orleans Artist Fund) featuring Paper Rad, Doo Man Group, Gay Nerds, Paper Rad Videos, Bobby Conn & Magas 9pm at Iron Studios 3636 S Iron St 2nd floor If you haven't heard the story yet, quirky New Orleans indie electronic pop artists Quintron and Miss Pussycat lost everything when Katrina ripped through their home/recording studio/music venue in the Ninth Ward. For more on the story and the latest updates, go to: They'll also be in town themselves next week on the 31st at The Empty Bottle, which (in my opinion) should be the hottest ticket for Halloween night.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Metric @ Empty Bottle 10/18/05

M-eh-tric I like Metric. Their new release, Live It Out, is good. Their performance Tuesday night at the Empty Bottle was enjoyable. In about three weeks I think I’ll be over all three. Emily Haines and company have a sound and a style that they manage well. They’re a wonderful mix of synth pop and punk and are catchy and danceable and rockin-outable and often make me want to, and feel like I could, go out and kick some ass. But their sound just doesn’t stay fresh for long. At first listen Live It Out was exciting and when certain songs came on I’d stop what I was doing, give them my full attention and say to myself, Damn, this is good shit. It took less than a week for me to get slightly bored, especially when I realized that this was nothing the Brits weren’t doing in the nineties and the New Wavers in the eighties and every Pseudo Punk since Punk could be pseudo. Not that taking from those who came before is condemnable. But I think that Metric is trying too hard, or perhaps not trying hard enough. They sound like they’re playing it safe and the result is blah; I want them to either shed all pretense and start banging their guitars against the walls, or to go the other way and start wearing matching shiny suits and sunglasses. They’re halfway to that kitsch that would make them amusingly endearing. The Empty Bottle stage was decked in tube lights that ran along the floor and amps and even Joules Scott-Key’s drum kit. The house lights dimmed and a recording like a strange answering machine message from a B-horror film ran a few minutes before Metric hit the stage. Haines in her little black dress, messy blonde hair and with dark circles around her eyes looked like Uma Thurman after a lost weekend. Guitarist Jimmy Shaw and bassist Josh Winstead wore dress shirts and skinny ties. Only Scott-Key in his slacker jeans and shaggy hair didn’t look like he had just come back from a halfhearted nu-New Wave cocktail party. The first half of their set consisted mostly of tunes from the new album, which Haines later commented she thought flowed well with the older stuff, despite critics’ apparent shock that they had jumped into rock with Live It Out. But rocker Emily Haines unfortunately is not. There were certain moments, like during “Glass Ceiling” and “Patriarch on a Vespa” when she abandoned her synths, grabbed the mike for dear life and let her jarring voice yowl, that I could see the punk rocker trying to break out of the post-punk. But for the most part she had the stage presence of a sexy automaton channeling Deborah Harry, throwing in pretentious head banging and running in place with high kicks that revealed her twiggy legs, and perhaps a little more. I hate to turn this review into just an assessment of Haines’s performance but she is undoubtedly the biggest draw to the group, and her onstage insanity overshadows what the fellows in the band are doing, which isn’t much. Winstead even had time to stick his hands in his pockets when there was nothing else for him to do. During the show there were exactly four drunk guys in front of me and one behind, and all of them were dancing awkwardly, knowing that Emily was singing only to them. If anything I’ll give it to Metric for being able to make grown straight men dance like little gay boys. During the closer, Dead Disco, Haines leaned over the stage, got in the face of some guy in the front row, stuck the head of the microphone into her mouth and screamed. The guy looked up at her as if concentrating seriously on her refined performance. Give me a break. We all know what was going on in that dude’s jeans. It was a fun performance. The energy was high and the sound was tight. Metric played for an hour, having to pack up early without an encore in order to be done in time for the later show, which was fine by me because this was the loudest concert I’d been to in a while and my ears were dead. Still, when the lights went up and we made our way out, part of me was looking back, hoping to see the band stumbling back on stage wearing boas, smoking pipes and chucking beer bottles at each other. No, what I really wanted was for the guys to come out bare-chested, wearing black lipstick and pleather pants while Haines dressed like Michael Jackson and told us all to go fuck ourselves. My god the possibilities are endless.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Select Media 04

The 4th installment 0f the Select Media Festival kicks off tonight in Bridgeport with an opening party at Hey! Cadets (1st floor of The Texas Ballroom), 3012 S. Archer. Leading the soundtrack for tonight's festvities will be the "epic stoned out jams" of Warhammer 48K. Direct from Columbia, MO, the band is the brainchild of Cooper Crain, the soundman for local favorites Mahjongg. Also on the bill are fellow psychedelic Columbians Jerusalem & The Starbaskets, the self-described “spazztasmic ejaculation of gabber gabba bomb beat cheap trix for the old millennium post-rave spectacle testicle wallet watch" of Carpet of Sexy and a one woman musical machine disguised as a human unicorn known as Soft Serve. The entire festival lasts until November 13 and there are waaaay to many events to list here. Pick up a copy of the latest issue of Lumpen (#97) or go to for the complete run-down.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Sonotheque's got what you neee-eeed...

The diabolical Biz Markie returns to Chicago Thursday night for another one of Scion's free DJ nights at Sonotheque. The event starts at 9pm, with opening DJ sets by Austin's DJ Mel, Twlight Tone of Greet Weekend and Tone B. Nimble of All Natural. Again, the event is free, but there is one catch: in order to gain admission, you have to qualify for a ticket by drag racing a Scion down Chicago Avenue and beating the time of the person in line ahead of you. Come on, I'm not even going for it... OK Biz, you got me...all you have to do is RSVP by clicking here. Must be 21+ as always and they recommend arriving early as the RSVP does NOT guarantee your admission to the event. In other words, they overbook the shit out of these things and if the house is full when you arrive, you're going to have to wait outside until someone else leaves.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New Releases Tuesday (10/18)

Animal Collective - Feels (Fat Cat) sez: Feels is the band's seventh album to date - their sophomore effort for Fat Cat - and sees them again kicking off from their previous release to explore another different direction. Where Sung Tongs was largely acoustic-based and the product of just two members of the Collective (Avey Tare and Panda), Feels is in contrast a full group effort (also including Geologist and Deakin). Moving further away from the suggestion of folkish affinities; it is electrified, rhythmically more urgent, and overall a considerable denser work. Boards of Canada - The Campfire Headphase (Warp) Damn! It's already been 3 years since Geogaddi was released? I still crank up that record on a fairly regular basis like I just bought it a few months ago. ("1969" sill kicks my ass!) When you make albums as good as these guys, 3 years in-between records goes by quick. John Cale - Black Acetate (Astralwerks) New solo record from legendary producer and Velvet Underground alumnus. The Beeb sez: Like a cross-section of his whole career layered with the funkiest contemporary electronica, Black Acetate is, in turns, startling, edgy, doomy and filled with rock 'n' roll thrills that really do hark back to his best work on Island records (Sold Motel, Turn The Lights On)... What's most amazing is the fact that both his voice and his muse seem to be in tip top form. As he says on ''Brotherman'': 'I've got reams of this shit.' Depeche Mode - Playing the Angel (Mute) Thanks to the help of producer Mark Bell (of LFO and Bjork fame), I thought Mode's 2001 Exciter release amazingly kept the band sounding fresh and musically relevant some 20 years into their career. Unfortunately Bell isn't back this time around and my initial thoughts are that this may be a step back for Depeche Mode... sort of like how The Cure unsuccessfully tried to recapture their Disintegration glory days with Bloodflowers. Even the cover art is derivative of vintage 80's Mode. That being said, I do really like the lead single, "Precious." ALSO... Lightning Bolt - Hypermagic Mountain (Load) Silver Jews - Tanglewood Numbers (Drag City)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Josh Abrams live set at Danny's

Usually home to great DJ sets, Danny's is hosting a rare live performance tonight, with local bassist Josh Abrams. Perhaps best known for his work with Town & Country, Abrams is a gifted jazz musician who has recorded for the Delmark label and performed with numerous other avant-garde jazz projects including Sticks and Stones with Chad Taylor and Terminal 4 with Fred Lonberg-Holm. You may also have seen Abrams playing live with frequent collaborator Scott Herren, aka Prefuse 73. Tonight's live quartet will consist of: Tomeka Reid- cello Nicole Mitchell - alto flute David Boykin- bass clarinet Josh Abrams- bass The performance is slated to start around 9pm, with the set lasting about an hour. DJ sets from Abrams and Biz 3's Ben Fasman will follow. Can't make it tonight?? No problem, Abrams will be taking over live duties at Danny's for the next few Mondays. Danny's is located at 1951 W. Dickens, just off Damen Ave.

Live Review: Wolf Parade @ Schubas 10/14/05

So I’m standing in the middle of the room, trying to get the most out of Robbers on High Street’s normally tight, rockin’ show, straining to hear over the abundant conversation around me, scowling at the losers who are screaming in between songs, “Wolf Parade!” I’m listening to all of this and thinking to myself, do I really want to like a band with fans like this? Do I really want to associate with a crowd that would ruin a phenomenal act’s set just because they are erroneously placed as an opener? An opener to a band that was thrown together two years ago and are now riding on the coattails of more established, more credible acts. Do I really want to buy into their trendster hype? I frickin’ love Wolf Parade. When I’m deaf at thirty, fifty-three percent of the blame will lay with these past few months and my obsession with these nascent northern lads. They aren’t the neatest, most talented group, and most of their praise is presently founded in buzz, in everyone’s rush to discover the next Arcade Fire before anyone else; still, there’s something intriguing in their sound, and while they certainly have a long way to go, it’s already obvious that this is a band that will be delectable for years to come, providing they find a way to keep together their style that sounds moments from breaking apart. The band in question came out around midnight to face a ravenous, sold-out crowd. Guitarist and vocalist Dan Boeckner declared that they were going to try to “play pretty” for us. Oh the irony. Wolf Parade’s music is anything but pretty. It’s uncomfortable and messy at best. They began with “It’s A Curse,” the dark rocker that has Boeckner singing like he simultaneously wants to be a bubble gum pop star and a metal thrasher. “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghost,” a personal favorite featuring the neurotic warble of Spencer Krug, came up next. They played at a manic pace that had me screaming out my new mantra (“But God doesn’t always have the best goddamned plans, does he?”) like I was a dejected high school kid on speed. “We Built Another World” had Boeckner and Krug passing vocals back and forth like jaded lovers, and I realized that in this relationship lies a great deal of what makes these guys so damn hot. There’s something disconnected about their sound: whereas other bands with two principle, competing songwriters take either the early Lennon/McCartney approach (complete cohesion) or late Lennon/McCartney approach (total separation), these two come together magnetically like they desperately want to kill each other. This disjointed quality creates tension, a passive-aggressiveness that translates into something alluring as hell. Throughout the show Boeckner and Krug didn’t talk to each other, didn’t look at each other. They stayed on opposite ends of the stage and most of the time it seemed that they were playing two different songs, with Boeckner banging around stage like the punk rock god he’s probably imagined himself becoming since he was ten, and Krug seated behind his keys playing more subdued and intently. During the closer, “Dinner Bells,” Krug was in his own little peaceful world, singing his ballad, eyes closed so he did not see the rest of the band going haywire, pounding guitar, banging the hell out of drums and tambourine and even wind chimes like they were pissed off that Krug was making them play such a sissy song. They played for about an hour, running through most of Apologies to the Queen Mary, adding for the encore “Disco Sheets” from their self-titled e.p. They also included four tracks unreleased by Sub Pop, which were relieving in their revelation that the band has material waiting in the wings that is as energetic as anything they‘ve already put out. Wolf Parade is already relatively huge. Their album has only been out for three weeks, but it was familiar to most of the people in Schubas Friday night. “I’ll Believe in Anything” and “You Are a Runner and I am My Father’s Son” set off the crowd as if they were tunes it had been waiting years to hear played live. Some enthusiastic fans already know all of the words (Is it wrong to admit that I am one of them?). As big and buzzy as they are right now, they are only going to grow in popularity. I don’t want them to. Not only for my normally selfish reasons, but because I don’t think it will be possible for them to function in their present state on a larger scale. This is a live band. On stage they lack all the musical awkwardness that is apparent on their recorded material. Their energy is so raw and fragile that I don’t see it holding up at an auditorium-level. I’m sure they’ll be able to stay together as a band-- indie kids are going to flock en masse to these guys-- but I don’t think they’ll be able to maintain that enticing vigor I witnessed this past weekend at the back of a bar on Southport. Technorati:

Fog returns for another free show

In cased you missed him back in March, Fog is back for another free show tonight at the Empty Bottle. Show starts at 9:30pm with openers Thee More Shallows and Fraction.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wilco Tickets on Sale Tomorrow

A reminder, tickets for the recently announced Wilco benefit show for victims of Hurricane Katrina go on sale tomorrow at 11am. Unless, of course, you've got the money to shell out for a VIP box...those are on sale now here. (tell 'em RFC sent ya!) Unlike the Pearl Jam benefit show at House of Blues a couple of weeks ago, at least this show is affordable to the general public, with tickets ranging from $35 to $50. (although, you have to buy them through Ticketbastard, so count on paying another 7-10 bucks more each) Speaking of Jeff Tweedy, his former partner in Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar, will be in town on Saturday for a Sun Volt gig at The Vic. Think Jay will wake up early to be one of the first in line to buy tickets to the Wilco benefit? Finally, in other Wilco news...the latest release date from on the forthcoming Live in Chicago DVD is November 15. In case you haven't heard, it's a 23 song collection of live Wilco jams collected from the three nights (sheduled specifically for recording purposes) they played in May at the Vic. You can preorder your copy here.

Album Review: Zuco 103 - Whaa!

Last year, I discovered this band that blew my mind. They completely challenged my ideas of how world music could sound. I had always thought that all world music either had a salsa beat or some archaic instrumentation. Little did I know that some of the most innovative music I would come across would be from a Netherlands-based band with a dynamo Brazilian singer named Lilian Vieira. This band is none other than Zuco 103. Their release that first knocked me out was Tales of High Fever, released on Six Degrees records in 2002. It was an interesting mix of hip hop, electronic, tropicalia, trance, and traditional world beats that was bliss to my ears. Now Zuco 103 is back with the equally innovative release, Whaa!. This band is never boring...they can roll from a reggae-themed song to samba beats to booty-shaking electronica. What surprised me was the diversity of world fusion on this album. Tales of High Fever had a tone, but this album is energetically sporadic. Whaa! starts with "Na Mangueira", a track with shoulder-shaking beats and an almost sarcastic delivery in the vocals. Vieira even sounds a bit nasaly on this track, but it somehow fits the overall tone of the song. The next standout cut is "Mayfly" where Lilian sings sweetly to the listener over a mildly jazzy beat. "Vivinte" is a 3 minute, 36 second seduction with some great electric guitar moments. My favorite track on the album, "Futebol", is actually sung in English. It is a well-crafted Pop song that hits you with a shimmy-inducing chorus. All in all this is a solid album that delivered what this group had proved to me last year: world music does not have to sound traditional. It can be modern, innovative and surprising. I recommend this CD highly to anyone who enjoys a smooth voice, world fusion, and a fascinating mix of slow melodies and hot beats to keep you guessing. -Megan Timmons

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The indie kids love the David Cross!

RFC Chief Image Coordinator Nicole discovered this music video gem from The New Pornographers, starring everyone's favorite indie rock comedian David Cross. Don't forget, The New Pornographers sold out show is a week from today (10/20) at Metro.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Disco night moved!

Chances are by now you've heard about the dirty hipster disco night Wednesdays at The Big Horse Lounge and Taco Bar. Well, word on the street is that Caesar, the dancetastic DJ responsible for the night is taking his disco antics to Thursday nights at a new venue near Dusty Groove, at 1130 N. Ashland. Party starts at 10pm, $2 donation at the door. While there is no bar at this venue and no cheap Mexican food up front, this space is owned by people who run three taco stands on the same block(which would be La Pasadita, right?). I guess vintage disco cuts and cheap Mexican eats just go together!

Live Review: Dungen@The Empty Bottle 10/8/05

On the surface, Dungen is one 70's rock cliché after another. Big hair, bell bottoms, epic vocals, soaring guitar, a dash of Hammond organ and even a flute solo or two. The only thing missing are violin-bowed guitar solos. However, despite this Nordic raping and pillaging of the Classic Rock 101 songbook, experiencing Dungen live is a revelation...this isn't retro-rubbish, these 4 lads from Sweden are the real deal. While you'd never guess it from seeing them live, Dungen is essentially a one-man band project, lead by singer/multi-instrumentalist Gustav Esjes. Esjes is reported to have recorded "just about every drum beat, fiddle note, guitar lick, organ sound, bass strum & flute whisper" on their most recent album Ta Det Lugnt, their debut in the States. Sure enough for the live show, Esjes, looking like a cross between a Robert Plant, Roger Daltry and Peter Frampton, did jump around between guitar, organ, and flute while also handling lead vocals. However, percussion-wise, Esjes only handled tambourine duties and most of the guitar was handled by lead man Reine Fiske. A part of the recently assembled full-band version of Esjes' Dungen project, Fiske really stole the show with his Norse Godlike guitar chops. Not only was his playing amazing, but the sound that emanated from his Marshall stack was downright euphoric. Via a vintage Strat, he achieved this amazingly warm analog sound that had just the perfect amount of distortion and echo. The sound was so strikingly late 60's/early 70s pyschedelia that you'd swear he had bought all of his gear from a garage sale at David Gilmour's house. Speaking of which, as much as I think Dungen is a fresh talent that borrows pieces of rock's past rather than flat out stealing from it, they do highly remind me of the post-Barrett, pre-Dark Side version of Pink Floyd...only with more rock and less prog. I noticed the similarity in guitar sound on the album right away, but seeing them jam out live took me back to some of the more rockin' moments from the Floyd's cult video classic, Live at Pompeii. (the track "Lejonet & Kulan" is very "Saucerful of Secrets," especially live) Above all, as much as I like their latest album Ta Det Lugnt, I don't think it gives the band justice. Dungen is truly a band that you need to see live. Esjes is an amazing talent, and somehow he's assembled a full supporting cast that can not only keep up him, but actually make his psychedelic visions sound even better live. Easily one of the "tightest" bands I've seen in a long time, I'd recommend Dungen to not just retro rock fans, but to anyone who truly appreciates the work of talented musicians.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

New Releases Tuesday (10/11)

Adult. - Gimmie Trouble (Thrill Jockey) Full-length Thrill Jockey debut for the Detroit electro, make that trio. Samuel Consiglio, aka "Tamion 12 Inch," has now become an official third member of the band. Dangerdoom - The Mask and the Mouse (Epitaph) Yes, it's finally here...the long-awaited collaboration between MF Doom and Dangermouse is now yours for the taking. Features guest appearances by Ghostface, Cee-Lo and Talib Kweli...and, of course, plenty of hijinks from the Adult Swim cast. Gang of Four - Return the Gift (V2) Seems like I've been hearing about this release forever as well...essentially a "greatest hits" except that the band went back in the studio and rerecorded new versions of their classics. Tom Verlaine - Warm & Cool (Thrill Jockey) Re-issue of a 1992 instrumental effort from the ex-Television guitarist. Be on the lookout for another Television reunion in the near future. Paul Weller - As Is Now (Yep Roc) Long live the Modfather! By most accounts, this is his strongest solo outing in years. ALSO... The Clientele - Strange Geometry (Merge) Constantines - Tournament of Hearts (Sub Pop) Deerhoof - The Runners Four (Kill Rock Stars) Dirty Three - Cinder (Touch & Go) Matt Pond PA - Several Arrows Later (Altitude) Mouse on Mars - Live04 (Sonig)

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Smoke Debate Continues...

Interesting article in yesterday's Sun-Times about what local club owners think of the proposed smoking ban in Chicago's bars and restaurants: Bruce Finkleman, owner and manager of the Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, has one of the smokiest music clubs in the city. Finkleman is for the ban, but he has reservations, among them where smokers would go..."If I was making the ordinance, I would propose that every place would have a smoking area," Finkleman said Tuesday. "And that area would have to be ventable that was satisfactory to both sides. It's like a weird 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' when there's 50 people smoking in front of a building and you have to walk by this cloud of smoke to get inside." Obviously, there are some logistics to be worked out first, but if they can work things out to satisfy both patrons and club owners, a smoke-free Chicago would be heavenly. I remember the first time I went out to clubs in California and couldn't believe how much better I felt. Not only did all my clothes not smell like ass the next day, but I also had more energy to go out during the night and didn't feel nearly as shredded in the morning.

But, as you may have guessed, I'm a non-smoker and I'm a bit biased. RFC readers, what do you think??? I've heard from many fellow non-smokers who agree with the ban, but I'd love to hear some thoughts from the smokers out there as well. Will this put a damper on your late-night debauchery? Click on "comments" below and vent away...

For more information on the smoking ban, check out

Live Review: John Vanderslice @ Schubas 10/8/05

No Caffeine Required By Robyn Detterline On Saturday night John Vanderslice stopped by Schubas in support of his fifth full length, Pixel Revolt, a delicate effort that has grown on me slow as a fungus. For the past week I‘ve been coming back to these tunes like I would an album that comforted me during desperate times some years ago. Each track flows into the next with a beautiful cohesion known by few artists nowadays. In a world of indie rock where we have on one end neurotic, Ritalin-deprived acts, and on the other those that like to pretend to be despondent and dependent upon Prozac, Vanderslice falls not in between but outside of the spectrum. Since his debut in 2000 he’s refrained from being a part of any particular scene or style, and herein lies both his downfall and his genius. There are moments when a Vanderslice song fades into the background, lost to your stockpile of music that does nothing particularly for you either way. He can be frustratingly insipid. There are other moments when the beauty of his understated folk-pop tunes shines, drawing your attention and beckoning you back, such as on “Farewell Transmission” when the gorgeous timber of Vanderslice’s smooth voice combines with crushing lyrics. There’s also “Exodus Damage,” perhaps the most sweetly laidback song of nihilism ever written. In “Plymouth Rock” the musical complexity is so foundational you barely recognize it exits. But turn up the volume and you’ll catch the splendor of scraped acoustic strings layered over electronic loops and drifting ambiance. So going into the show I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a little concerned that that the vibe would be so calm and Vanderslice so tidy that I’d be yawning incessantly. But it didn’t take long for my worries to dissipate, and ultimately I was treated to one of the most charming performances I have ever seen. The show began disjointedly with openers The Double. They’re native New Yorkers and it shows, as they sounded like a loud, raucous mix of Joy Division and Guided By Voices. Schubas can only handle so much synth and distortion and feedback till it all turns to muck. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy their set. It’s just not what I was expecting. After being deafened by The Double (Come on now, who really thinks to bring ear plugs to a John Vanderslice show?) the crowd mumbled and waited for Vanderslice and his band to set up. I looked around and realized that, at 24, I may have been the youngest person in attendance. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many shorthairs at a show. I was the only person there whose hair fell in her eyes. Boy did I feel pretentious! At 11:30 Vanderslice and company began with Pixel Revolt’s opener, “Letter to the East Coast.” The track is drum-less and Vanderslice, along with bassist David Broecker and Moog man Ian Bjornstad huddled around the front of the stage, playing modestly and setting the tone for an affable and intimate performance. On “Plymouth Rock” drummer Dave Douglas joined in, along with the clapping crowd. This song performed live highlighted that subtle complexity often overlooked in Vanderslice’s music. Whereas the recorded track holds all those light electronic goodies, the live version was much heavier on the bass and drum end. For many songs it took hearing them played live to realize how much substance there is to this music. Although the keyboard was passed from band member to band member throughout the show, they could only recreate so much electronic landscape on the stage. But the band made up for this lack by prolonging the instrumental portions to certain songs. This worked most effectively on “Angela,” which ended with this cool little stretch of spacey Moog. Overall this song was a highlight for me, because I’ve never seen someone sing so passionately about a dead bunny. I’d seen pictures of Vanderslice before but I wasn’t expecting him to be so cute and silly. He reminded my of a younger, slightly more animated version of my high school band teacher and I just wanted to give him a big hug. I hadn’t expected him to be such a bouncy, happy little guy. The show consisted of a fairly even mix of songs from all of Vanderslice’s releases, and also a nice combination of sounds, from the gritty bar-band lounge of “CRC7173, Affectionately,” to the floating “New Zealand Pines,” to the pop rock “Me and My 424.” Each tune was delivered tightly and enthusiastically. I didn’t yawn once. At the end of the main set we were given a special treat when Peter Hughes of the Mountain Goats was invited onstage to lead in the clapping for “Pale Horse.” Preceding the encore Vanderslice mused about what bands were supposed to do at Schubas at such a moment, seeing as there’s no backstage to where the group can disappear. He decided that going outside was silly, and the band didn’t make any sort of pretense of exiting. “Just pretend we’re not here,” he said, at which command our already eager cheers exploded into a frenzy. But even though we were laughing, our eruption was no charade. It was an honest display of affection and appreciation for this wonderfully soft voice in modern rock.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Check out the Dangerdoom record before it hits stores

So yesterday I was a guest on WHPK's Radio Zero and I cranked up some new Dangerdoom for J. and Mike. After rave reviews from the Radio Zero gang yesterday, now today I see Nicole hyping up the Dangerdoom on her blog. No doubt, y'all! It's MF Doom and Danger Mouse, what did you expect? Anyway...I was going to recommend to Nicole to check out more tracks on the Danger Doom page on MySpace, but then I noticed you can now stream the entire album for free! Check it out this weekend, I'm guessing they'll probably take it down as soon as The Mouse and The Mask officially hits stores this Tuesday (10/11). You digs already?? Pre-order your copy here. Technorati:

For the Indie Yuppie who procreates

Thursday, October 06, 2005

RFC Interview - Laromlab

Headlining Saturday night at Big Horse is a former Chicago artist known as "Laromlab." Armed with a laptop, 8-bit music software and a sexy interpretive dancer, Laromlab rocks his audiences with a unique brand of electronic music he calls "Crisco Disco." RFC recently caught up with Laromlab via e-mail to discuss his upcoming gig and what it's like being an electronic artist living in Kentucky. RadioFreeChicago: Tell us more about your music...obviously the first thing that comes to mind is that it sounds like the soundtrack to a Nintendo game. How do you make your songs sound like this and what was your inspiration for doing so?? Laromlab: My music is the product of a dysfunctional childhood. Today most parents just tend to plop kids down in front of a television or a video game and they think it won't mess us up... well look at me! I started out doing electronic music in 1998 and just got bored with the tasteless Fruityloops drum beats and synths and needed something more. I first found out about Gameboy tracking (the Gameboy Camera actually has 3 16-step sequencers built into it) and moved onto a product called Little Sound DJ (which Bjork sold on her website for awhile). Then I decided I wanted a "beefier" sound out of my music so I looked around the Chiptune message boards for something that said it had a little more bass and quickly stumbled on the SID chip of the Commodore 64 and the Vic20. So I decided to stop using an actual Gameboy and start using an emulator with software and also added a Commodore 64 emulator to the mix with MusicMachine64. My inspiration is more or less out of a love for the sounds these machines make and the machines in general. I think something like what I do just sounds better even if one is not aware of how it is produced. I have yet to this day heard some of the sounds that the SID chip produces even rivaled in any other program or on any other synth. The simple answer is: it just sounds cooler! That's why I gave it the name "Crisco Disco!" RFC: I hear that you used to live in Chicago...why did you decide to leave? I also hear that Laromlab is backwards for "Balmoral," the street you used to live on here? L: The real answer is not so exciting, but the long and short of it is I moved here before I got a college degree because I loved the city so much. I decided that life without a college degree was not for me so I came back to Bowling Green, Kentucky...which if you talk to anyone who has lived there, has a certain quality that sucks you back into it. It is a crappy little town, but I love that crappy little town! I definitely have plans to move back to Chicago someday...and yes I used to live on Balmoral Ave in Andersonville, right at Foster and Clark. It is by far one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago. When I come back I will definitely be scoping out that area again, assuming it hasn't gotten all "yuppiefied" RFC: What can we expect from your live show? L: Dancing! Dancing! Dancing! The show at the Big Horse Lounge on October 8 is gonna be the only show on this tour where my very beautiful colleague Madame Pink Pearl will be accompanying me!! Without her I am nothing! My live shows are usually left up to the audience to create a ruckus outside of my wall of beats and synths but when Pink Pearl is on stage we pack a one-two punch! Pink Pearl is very skilled in interpretative dancing (but not that cheesy pretentious stuff!!) and will more than likely provide a bubble show for everyone in attendance. Also the audience is always encouraged to be a part of our festivities, I prefer a party atmosphere in the club or bars that I perform in! RFC: What's in store in the near future for Laromlab? More tours? A new record?? L: Well, I don't plan on slowing down anytime soon. I still have yet to do a really huge tour and I would love to do that at some point. At the end of October I am heading out to the Southwest and I'm sure will be playing the likes of Memphis and Oklahoma City as well as other locales in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas. As for a record, I have a new one pretty much finished. It is a piece I have been thinking about for a while where I thought of a huge list of countries and decided to write songs in the same Crisco Disco style (but maybe with less Disco and more Crisco) that represented each country. For instance, "I Love Antarctica" has a very frigid but happy vibe to it, which is how I think of Antarctica and "I Love Iraq" has a very militaristic vibe and a very marchy sound to it! RFC: Anything else we should know about Laromlab? L: Just please come out and support me if you see I am playing a show in the area. It is really rough touring right now with the gas prices [so bad] and all of the support at shows helps keep me on my way to the next show! And don't forget to check out some of my music at: Laromlab's Saturday show starts at 8pm with openers I Don't Mind the Air, The Oaves, Pyrite, and STAR. The Big Horse Lounge is located at 1558 N. Milwaukee. Also, Laromlab will be performing as an opening act Monday night (10/10) at Nihilist, 2255 S. Michigan Ave., Apt 4E. Festivities begin at 8pm. --- More facts about Laromlab: Favorite memory of Chicago: Costello's Deli in Logan Square (by far the best deli in all of the land) Favorite Nintendo game: Definitely Tetris. I take on all challengers! Currently listening to: Numbers "We're Animals", Andrew Thompson "Egad", any quintron and Miss Pussycat,any Lightning Bolt and Foxhole "We the Wintering Tree"(these are my hometown guapos) Best thing about living in Kentucky: like I have to answer that....Bourbon!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

QOTSA to rock Belmont Army Surplus

UPDATE: Might want to check this out first if you're planning to rock out on Belmont with Homme Thursday night: Pick up the latest QOTSA CD, Lullabies To Paralyze, at any Chicagoland Tower Records location, and we'll [The Onion] get you V.I.P. priority access into this awesome event. For more info, visit any Tower Records location in Chicagoland. I left this out initially to avoid the gratuitous Tower and Onion promotion, figuring that the whole thing was open to the public and the V.I.P. pass from Tower would just be a way to bypass the lines or sit in the front row. However, Gaper's Block reports that a clerk at the store said that you must obtain a wristband from Tower in order to attend. Again, might want to verify this first before heading over there. Meanwhile, as far as I know, no purchase necessary to attend the Liar's Club 10th anniversary party with Eagles of Death Metal. ----- While they'll be rockin' the suburbs Friday night at the Allstate, on Thursday (10/6) Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age will be keepin' it real in the heart of the city. At 8pm, QOTSA will be doing a live in-store performance at the soon-to-be evicted Belmont Army Surplus. Then afterwards, Homme will dive into the nearest phone booth and transform himself into an Eagle of Death Metal for a special live show at Liar's Club to celebrate the bar's 10th anniversary. Belmont Army Surplus is located at 945 W. Belmont, right next to the red line 'L' stop...Liar's Club can be found at 1665 W. Fullerton, near the corner of Clybourn, Ashland and Fullerton.

Acid Party!

If you're a fan of glitchy frenetic techno ala Autechre, you'll want to check out this show Friday night at Rodan with Warp and Schematic recording artist Richard Devine:

Party starts at 10pm with opener The Flashbulb...admission is FREE. Rodan is located at 1530 N. Milwaukee, right next to Reckless Records in Wicker Park.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New Releases Tuesday (10/4)

They don't call it "Rocktober" for nothing...a slew of big name releases from both the majors and the indies kick off the month this Tuesday: Major Labels: Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine (Sony) Apparently those peaceful protests worked?? Sony finally caved and released this album, which they originally threw back at Apple's pouty face when it was completed the first time. OK, they didn't literally throw it back in her face, but this isn't exactly the feel good "Foxtrot" story of 2005 either. For some reason they decided to shelve most of the original Jon Brion production work and opted to re-record with 50 Cent's producer Mike Elizondo. OK, so now Fiona Apple is produced by Fiddy's man and Kanye is produced by Jon Brion? Is anybody else confused by all this?? Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better (Sony) I can't imagine these wee Scottish blokes ever topping the success of "Take Me Out," but they're probably good for at least a few more NME cover-worthy singles. Is the new record any good? I can't really tell, I personally was sick of these guys the first time around (when they were called The Strokes). However, The Fork gives it an 8.3, so that means everyone will now automatically like it, right? Twista - The Day After (Atlantic) Though recently latching on to the coattails of Kanye's superstardom, this hometown hero has been putting out albums for years. Shit, I remember him kickin' it once on an episode of In Living Colour during its heyday, when he was known as Tongue Twista (an homage to his mind-blowingly fast rhyming skills). This new record features production by Timbaland, Neptunes, Toxic, Cuzo, and David Banner as well as appearances by Pharrell Williams and Jamie Foxx. Indies Broken Social Scene - S/T (Arts & Crafts) Well over a year before the Arcade Fire's astronomical rise to stardom, these guys put the Canadian indie-scene on the map in 2003 with their underground smash, You Forgot It In People. Technically their third release, I'm guessing this record still probably gave the band plenty of "sophomore slump" headaches in the studio while trying to follow-up their own success as well as that of their countrymen, The Fire. My Morning Jacket - Z (Ato) Oops...I guess technically these guys are on a major label. If I remember correctly, "Ato" is a subsidiary of Atlantic? Nevertheless, they still don't sound like a major label band...or really any other band for that matter. Are they rockers? folksters? A jam band that doesn't completely suck? I'm not sure what to call them, but I think that's why I like them. Anybody want to chime in on whether its worth seeing them live when they play the Vic on the 22nd?? Can't forget about these either... Atmosphere - You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having (Rhymesayers) Dungen - Stadsvandringar [reissue] (Astralwerks) The Fall - Fall Heads Roll (Narnack) Friends of Dean Martinez - Lost Horizon (Aero) Hem/Autumn Defense - Birds, Beasts, & Flowers[ep] (Arena Rock) (Int'l)Noise Conspiracy - Armed Love (Caroline) Lesser Birds of Paradise - String of Bees (Contraphonic) Make Believe - Shock of Numbers (Flameshovel) Magic Numbers - S/T (Capitol) Screaching Weasel - Weaselmania (Fat Wreck) Talking Heads - Brick [Box Set] (Rhino) Yesterdays New Quintet - Sound Directions: Funky Side of Life (Stones Throw)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Live Review: Arcade Fire@The Riviera 9/28/05

Never Shout Arcade Fire by Robyn Detterline Wednesday night at the Riviera Theatre, your voice would have been lost in the cacophonous chorus of all the other hoots and hollers from all the other gazillion people who love this band as much as you do. The Arcade Fire may be too big for indie rock's good. In a year they've gone from Arcade-sumunuh-who? to selling out the 2500-person capacity Riv. After openers Wolf Parade finished their set the dude behind me asked his friend, "Are you ready for The Fire, man?" That’s right. They’re already "The Fire." They're selling thousands and thousands of CD's in every record store in North America. They've taken over Sigur Ros' spot as every celebrity's token favorite cool rock band. They're pun-tastically hot. The Riv was wall-to-wall with a diverse crowd of folks that could have just as easily been waiting for Mclusky or Tori Amos. At five till nine The Arcade Fire picked up their guitars and violins and French horns and took the stage, opening with "Wake Up," a needless command as the mantric "ohs" from the audience all but smothered the band's own chorale. Their underground buzz manifested itself as an explosion of neurotic devotion as every gray-haired man and every pixie girl belted along every word of every song, and I could just picture them listening to Funeral every day for the past year, manically carving "purify the colors, purify my mind," into their flesh. Vocalist Win Butler led the brigade through their set of popular tunes, throwing in Dylan and Bowie covers, and some gems from their (as obscure as any Arcade Fire product can still be) eponymous debut, including "I'm Sleeping in a Submarine" and "Headlights Look Like Diamonds." The guys and gals on stage threw in cheesy theatrics, like biting and mock fighting, and in weird moment of compulsion Richard Reed Parry was wrapped in the cords from his bandmate's neo-Revolutionary jacket. In between acts the gang was free to lounge in the onstage funeral parlor-esque sofas; however, the energy was so severe there was little need to do so. The Arcade Fire capered through most of Funeral, an inevitable set as the band’s repertoire is still limited. Butler seemed apologetic for this lack of variety, musing that the they’ve been in Chicago four or five times, and they aren’t coming back again until they have "one million" new songs. Our laughter was tinged with fear because this band is so strong and bizarre, the promise doesn’t seem so far-fetched. The group finished with the deceptively sweet "In the Backseat." Regine Chassagne’s voice, chilling and powerful, carried us to the song's apex; however, from there the end fizzled, with each member of the band seeming to stop at their own leisure, leaving me with the dissatisfaction of an anti-climax. I didn't know it was over until the house lights came up. In the confusion there was a dazed stumble for the exits, but soon the exodus came to a standstill. It took twenty minutes just to make it to the lobby, and I didn't understand why until I found out Thursday morning that I'd missed the real encore: the group decided to trek to the vestibule and do an impromptu acoustic jam session, a fitting touch from a band incapable of stopping their own awkward romp down the path of pop rock heroism. Technorati: