Wednesday, November 30, 2005
With a full horn section in tow, John Forbes and the boys in Tijuana Hercules cranked out their patented bluesy garage rock jams last night at The Abbey. Check out the full set of pics in the RFC Live Photo Archive. Click here to download Tijuana Hercules MP3's via their website at TijuanaHercules.com.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
New Releases Tuesday (11/29)
New releases are virtually non-existent this week, so here's a couple of holiday shopping ideas: Insound's "Indie-Rock-In-A-Box" On-line indie music shop Insound.com has compiled a list of their top 100 selling CDs of 2005 and are featuring a special box set deal. If you purchase 10 or more albums from the list, they'll knock off 25% of the total, cancel the shipping charges and wrap it all in a stylish "Indie Rock Box." I'm Dreaming of an RIAA-free Christmas The 15 Minute Hipster recommends filling the stockings of your friends and family with music exclusively by independent bands and artists so your holiday shopping doesn't "indirectly help fund the RIAA's nefarious activities." Check out this invaluable site to find out more about the evils of the RIAA and how you can find out what bands are members. You can also simply shop by record label. If an artist is on an indie label like Matador or Sub Pop you're almost always guaranteed RIAA-free material. RFC Recommends If you like to buy your music via Amazon.com, be sure to scroll down to the "RFC Recommends" links on the right hand column of the site. It's about as painless as shopping gets, and if you buy directly off the link, Amazon makes a small contribution to RFC 's weekly beer fund.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Seven Indie Favorites from 2005: Part Two
Alligator The National (Beggars Banquet, April 12) I could say, Let’s all lounge in our smoking jackets on pleather sofas, drink martinis and discuss seedy politics while there’s a subtext of sexual ferment thick in the air, and let’s pretend that we’re blasé about the entire New Year’s thing, that we’re not anxious about not having a date to whatever geeky underground rock function we’re attending. Let’s pretend we’d actually prefer to sit around talking about the best and worst music of 2005 than to be working our way into the pants of a gorgeous drunk person. And during this discussion of best and worst music we’ll stumble across the albums that best describe our sophisticatedly hapless metropolitan lives, so let’s place Alligator here. Let’s pretend that The National has created for us spectating music critics an anthem of an album that let’s us lament our repressed emotional tenderness, our oversexed, over-tortured, sentimental lives in the city’s chic underworld. This is when everyone looks at me like I’m a moron. But hey, a music geek can dream, can’t she? Actually, no, she can’t. So I won’t say this. I will say that The National has a gift for musically blanketing languor in all of the pretty and incongruous facades that we machinate every day in our trivial lives. Alligator is like an eccentric novel in which The National rummages through its thematic and often stirring lyrics, its cast of cynical characters and classy manic depression to fashion polished sound vignettes that are as beautiful as they are dismal. With this album The National has moved from its alt-country fizzle and exploded into a listless folk rock that better suits its urbane narratives of life in the American city. This change is immediately apparent on the album opener, “Secret Meeting,” which consists of a relaxed yet mature style that’s fresher than anything the group’s done before, but doesn’t veer far from the characteristic National sound that makes it an individualized band. The subtly layered vocals and instrumentation--sustained, undulating guitar lines, prominent drum underpinning--interplay with Matt Berringer’s bleak vocals to create a sexy nonchalance that rivals Leonard Cohen or Lou Reed. Equally unflappable is “Karen,” which has Berninger at his most jaded singing, “Karen put me in a chair/Fuck me and make me a drink/I’ve lost direction and I’m past my peak.” Some of the ennui is lost in the musical interaction of minor and major hooks in the bridge and chorus. It’s a song of desperation clinging to hope that introduces two of the album’s chief characters: Karen, who appears again--namely on the album’s climactic “City Middle” and perhaps allusively on other tracks--and also America. Berninger pleads, “Listen. You better wait for me/No, I wouldn’t go out alone into America,” and thus the paradoxical beauty of egotism and disillusionment begins. The primary backdrop of the album is New York, which appears as the hard-hitting and sleazy Manhattan on rocker “Lit Up,” and resigned in the reflective “Daughters of the Soho Riots.” The tone of this latter tune has all the purity and coolness of sixties folk; you can almost hear Paul Simon lamenting over the piano and acoustic guitar, “Everything I remember, I remember wrong.” Alligator is perhaps The National’s Bookends: at once it’s heavy and delicate, playing upon themes that are not exclusively American, but The National labels them as such and so the emotions and predicaments are intrinsically urban and pessimistic. “Looking for Astronauts” sounds relatively blithe with prominent violin and the light, meandering guitars of Aaron and Bryce Dessner, and the active bass line of Scott Devendorf. But Berninger sings “You know you have a permanent piece/Of my medium-sized American heart;” he identifies himself as this romantically melancholy figure and thus, while the couple is looking towards the stars he’s simultaneously musing, “Isn’t a little too late for this?” And what album about the woes of the upper middleclass is complete without alluding to the spirit-crushing world of corporate America? On “Baby, We’ll be Fine” the protagonist prays for his boss’ praise; he puts on an argyle sweater and a smile after a forty-five minute shower and says to himself, “I don’t know how to do this.” He lives through, “stilted, pretending days” and tries to convince himself repeatedly of the song title’s ironic hope, but ends with the mantra, “I’m so sorry for everything.” Alligator is mostly wearisome, but there are moments when this lassitude is camouflaged and so listening to the disc doesn’t turn into an exhausting affair. On “Abel” there’s a driving bass and heroic guitar to rival any eighties Americana rocker, and while we don’t overlook the fact that Berninger is roaring, “My mind’s not all right,” it is easy to miss that he’s not singing it in an errant moment of disaffected angst but in one of regret and desperation. On “All the Wine” the hero is “a perfect piece of ass/Like every Californian.” Berninger creates a delicious juxtaposition between his stoic timber and the arrogant lyrics, so that the effect of “I’m a festival, I’m a parade” is cleverly poignant rather than comic. The National’s characteristic polyphonic, single tone guitar lines gradually build into distorted chords that are harnessed and saved from becoming an overdone, standard rock climax. “City Middle,” utilizes similar techniques and a sophisticated layering of sounds. Violin floats along with bassoon and glistening guitar, creating a slight drama that’s neither pretentious or hokey. The overall effect is open and emaciated so without careful listening it’s easy to overlook that all these discrete parts are happening simultaneously. The lyrics supply the reference for the album title (“I want to go gator around the warm beds of beginners”), and Karen has returned as the protagonist’s means to the city middle “where it’s random, and it’s common versus common,” just like the “weird memories” he has of her “pissing in a sink.” As the second to last track on the album it serves as a fitting climax. The lyrics are remorseful and reminiscent, reflecting the revelation that this American life is banal but at the same time all the romance that we crave and have spent our lives chasing. It’s a painful concept relevant to the ironic urban collective, and in this conventionality negates any chance of anyone turning Alligator into an album manufactured to deflect us from the fact that The National is going through a midlife crisis. Because they aren’t. There isn’t a disingenuous note on this album. Alligator is a beautiful crystallization of a band not afraid to shed its skin and reveal the beauty of its maturing pains.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
We had never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving before...
As much of a tradition as cranberry sauce and stuffing, yes it's time once again to dust off your copy of Arlo Guthries' "Alice's Restaurant" and spin it all Thanksgiving morning. http://radiofreechicago.blogspot.com/2004/11/tradition-almost-as-essential-as.html
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Last minute show tonight at Big Horse
This just in... Tigerbeat6 recording artists Genders will be headlining a bill tonight at everyone's favorite taco bar/music venue, The Big Horse. Currently on tour with Adult., some tour van problems left the band stuck in Chicago, so they hooked up this minute gig tonight at Big Horse. Show starts at 10pm, drink specials will be had. Genders will be back opening for Adult. Friday at the Logan Square Auditorium. That show starts at 8:30pm, with a post-party at Lava Lounge directly following the show. Don't miss any of the electro-madness.
New Releases Tuesday (11/22)
It's about time...Sufjan's ode to our beloved state is finally available on the vastly superior analog vinyl format. This irritating analog delay is becoming far too commonplace lately, and the conspiracy nut in me swears that record execs are doing this on purpose in an attempt to sell more product. For example...the first couple of weeks after a release date the CDs are going to fly off the shelves because everyone is excited about the new album. After a month or two, the excitement dies down and sales dwindle down to nothing. Then, just when the record is almost forgotten...BAM, collector's edition vinyl! Excitement builds again and some people may end up buying the album for a second time because they were too impatient to wait for the vinyl release. As far as sleazy music industry behavior goes, this is about as tame as it gets...however, it still really pisses me off. Why should I be punished for having discerning ears? Also out this week... Ray Davies - Thanksgiving Day [ep] Seu Jorge - The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions [i.e. Jorge sings Bowie] Queens of the Stone Age - Over the Years and Through the Woods [Live DVD/CD]
Monday, November 21, 2005
Live Pics: The Clientele@The Abbey 11/21/05
English indie popsters and Merge recording artists The Clientele serenaded Chicago with their dreamy autumnal jams Saturday night at The Abbey. Speaking of which, Pat Sansone and John Stirratt of The Autumn Defense (and Wilco) were in attendance and Sansone even joined the British trio on stage for one song (as pictured above). Check out the full lot of pictures here in the RFC Live Photo Archive. For best results, click on "view as a slideshow."
Friday, November 18, 2005
Seven Indie Favorites from 2005: Part One
Yes, it’s time for looking back and creating lists. It’s time for bundling up and growing bitter. Please address your scathing and sneering letters to email@example.com. That’s the only reason people read these things, isn’t it? So they can complain and dissent and form a more correct opinion than the critic and thus feel better about themselves. So consider this a big shiny holiday present to you, my ironic and bourgeois friends. A ten spot to feed your ego. Actually, a seven spot to feed your soul. My seven favorite releases from 2005, year of the cocky Rooster and natural disasters. Notice my wording here. My seven favorites. Not the seven best. I’m going to come right out and say that I’m not an indie music elitist. I’m not going to compile a list based on the consensus of critics who spend their days and nights working out mathematical equations they use to determine an album’s brilliance. Plug in the bpm, multiply by the number of throwbacks to obscure postpunk acts (but subtract for obvious influences by Joy Division, The Fall, or David Bowie), etc. I don’t have that much time on my hands. So instead I’ll reveal my 2005 benchmarks. These are the albums I felt were important for either the artist or the world of indie music at large. They’re albums that reek of style and sensuality. None of them are particularly ground-breaking or intellectual, but they do demonstrate average folks making honest attempts to create memorable music. Most importantly, these are the releases that attached themselves to my psyche over the past twelve months, the tunes I couldn’t get out of my head, the lyrics I turned into email signatures, the music that consistently made me--yikes! Dare I say it? Happy. Apologies to the Queen Mary / Wolf Parade (Sub Pop, September 27) The boys in Wolf Parade are always the first to admit that Wolf Parade sucks. And in the traditional sense, they do. Apologies to the Queen Mary is replete with loose guitar work, missed chords, washed out vocals--all embedded in one giant chunk of disarray. It’s impossible for Wolf Parade to be tight. This band is pragmatically jumbled. Dan Boeckner’s “Same Ghost Every Night” is one of the laziest songs I’ve ever heard. Each line--systematic drums, progressive keys, sketchy guitar--is distinct and detached, held together weakly by Boeckner’s vocals, which are all but drowned by the resultant muck. Additionally the musicianship is horrible. Simple arpeggios and fills, juvenile plucking and pounding that makes me wonder if any of these guys knew how to play before the band came together two years ago. So why the rave? Why was this album more addictive than anything else released this past year? Because while Dan Boeckner’s vocals are barely heard, they’re heard as a buried plea trying desperately to break through madness. Because the music is so shoddy that it’s either miraculous or genius that it is able to be kept together and molded into structured pop tunes. Apologies to the Queen Mary is the “Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte” of indie rock. It’s a whole lot of nothing that adds up to something illogically satisfying. The characteristic Wolf Parade noise is that of this chaotic polyphony, of muddled guitars, pesky electronics, and uplifting keyboards. Another trademark--if a band this young can have any--are the discordant underlying vocals that echo like a sinister chorale throughout the album, serving on tunes such as “We Built Another World” and “Modern World” as a buoy for Boeckner’s droning voice, while on the poppier “Shine A Light” they add a flare that becomes annoying if you pay too much attention. And while we’re on the subject of voices, why is everyone so interested that Krug’s bears a resemblance to Bowie, but no one’s pointing out that Boeckner’s timbre is no shabby semblance of Cobain? Apologies is split between songs constructed by these two primary craftsmen, the latter having tendencies towards a more lo-fi grunge resonance, while Krug likes to be a hyper twit bent on getting as much racket into a song as possible, whether it’s his breathless, tumbling lyrics on “Grounds for Divorce,” or his musical indulgence on the sluggish “Dinner Bells,” in which the vocals end around the four minute mark, but the tune keeps going for another three just so the guys can amuse themselves by making a cold and distant clamor that leads to nowhere. This song probably sums up Wolf Parade better than any; it’s an awkward attempt at a ballad, with its sloppy and laborious guitar, delicate, subtle piano, ethereal electronics and vocal reverb. Juxtaposed with this is a marching drum beat and raucous pick scrapes across distorted electric guitar strings. Even when these guys make an effort to be sweet they end up sabotaging their own attempt at sincerity. But the result is less mockery and more self-conscious, like they’re freshmen punks frightened that anyone will find out they actually are vulnerable, that they actually have hearts. The lyrics on Apologies go in just as many directions. There’s the dejected “Modern World” in which Boeckner sings, “I’m not in love with the modern world/It was a torch to drive the savages back to the trees.” Then there’s the absurdity of “Fancy Claps” with Krug declaring, “We can lie in a homemade canoe/You can put me in your hair/I’ll be happy there.” There’s no poetry here but there is wit and modest poignancy. The tone is of resignation; “Shine a Light” has Boeckner declaring somberly, “You know our hearts beat time out very slowly/They are waiting for something that never arrives.” Krug’s acquiescence is more accepting and on “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts” he turns this ache into ammo: “I’ve got a hand/so I’ve got a fist/so I’ve got a plan/It’s the best that I can do.” All this despondency leads the album into the happy little silly love song that is “I’ll Believe in Anything,” which I will boldly declare is the greatest song released this year on any album anywhere. Yes. It is. It begins as an unassuming, simple pop tune with the lyrics, “Give me your eyes/I need sunshine” and the guitar line mimicking the melody. It’s all so ingenuous with the exception of the hooking drum fills that foreshadow the complex upsurge that is to come. Krug’s voice goes into the frantic bridge (“I could take another hit for you/And I could take away the trips from you/And I can take away the salt from your eyes….) and he loses his quirky warble, taking off with a strength not heard elsewhere on the album and leading to an explosion of sound that is potent and chaotic and glorious. There’s a denouement, but then it starts all over again and becomes painfully climactic, scrumptiously excruciating in its inability to stop. A lot of debuts are surrounded in hoopla, and no one knows until years later whether the commotion was merited. Wolf Parade’s quick usher into the limelight was no doubt aided by the buzz surrounding brethren Arcade Fire, and it’s possible that they’re going to bloom prematurely. In fact, I’m fairly certain they will. I don’t see them being around in ten years; maybe not even five years, and it’s a beautiful thing. They’re this bright burst of energy in the modern scene that can’t seem to strike a balance between being pretentiously sober and annoyingly gimmicky. It’s been awhile since a band has been earnest and exuberant in equal measure, as manifest by an unpolished sound that’s charged with static. No one seems to want to make static anymore. No one wants to be anything less than quantum. Wolf Parade takes us back to that base punk sentiment: great music doesn’t have to overreach, great artists don’t have to strive for innovation and perfection. All they have to do is harness whatever capabilities they have, to let loose their personalities and passions and flaws and guts and create a fucking rock song that the kids can dance and pound their fists to.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Everybody will be killed with discounts!
This weekend, Hyde Park Records will be celebrating its 1 Year Anniversary with live in-store performances, free snacks galore and insane discounts. In fact, the word on 53rd Street is that "everybody will be killed with discounts." Local ethereal rockers Arks are scheduled to play Friday at 8pm, while DJ King Titan & Crew will be spinning the tunes on Saturday. If you're a fellow North Sider like myself who loves rekids, it's seriously worth the trip down there. They have an amazing selection of vinyl and, unlike Reckless, everything isn't always so damn picked over. In fact, last year for their opening party I dropped like 90 bucks because I found so many cheap used LPs and 12"s that I'd never been able to find elsewhere. Here's the official info: Hyde Park Records 377 E. 53rd St.Chicago, IL 60615 (773) 288.6588 www.hydeparkrecords.net Click here for map
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I'd be disgruntled with my life too if I had to market Ben Gibbard side projects...
Check out this hilarious rant from a former Sub Pop employee who got burnt out from the scene and is now pawning off his Postal Service gold record on eBay: (via Brooklynvegan) After my departure from Sub Pop Records in June of this year I took a spiritual journey to find my ancestral roots in the continent known as Eurasia. As I traveled I became more in touch with myself and began to realize that there are bigger things to life than money and so called 'Indie Cred.' As I returned to New York for the CMJ festival I became aware of how much working in the music industry can be a soul sucking experience. At the tender age of 25 I was already jaded...
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
New Releases Tuesday (11/15)
Wilco - Kicking Television: Live in Chicago (Nonesuch) Damn, I was really looking forward to the live Wilco DVD, but as you probably already know, that release got shelved, and the result is this two-CD consolation prize. Actually, the CD set was scheduled to be released anyway, as a companion piece to the DVD, and the oddly prophetic "Kicking Television" was indeed its original title. Regardless, this will still make a great holiday gift for all the Wilco fans on your shopping list. (Speaking of the holidays, it's pretty much all gravy from here on New Releases Tuesday...nothing but box sets, live albums, best-of's and other stocking stuffer fare through the end of the year. ) Lady Sovereign - Vertically Challenged (Chocolate Industries) Make way for the S - O - Veeeee! This is an excellent little ep to hold stateside fans (who don't buy singles like they do in the UK) over until her proper full-length debut drops later next year. Features the hits "Ch-Ching," "Random" and a couple of remixes. If you missed her show at Sonotheque in July, make sure you secure your ticket to her upcoming gig at The Empty Bottle on the 6th of December.
Monday, November 14, 2005
?uestlove returns to Sonotheque
Friday, November 11, 2005
Weekend Music Outlook
In addition to the highly recommended Tom Vek bill Sunday night at Schubas, there's also a couple of great shows on Saturday. At the Abbey, RJD2 is headlining a great night of underground hip-hop with openers DJ Relm, Glue and Ohmega Watts. I've raved about RJD2 plenty here before, but I'd also have to recommend getting to the show early to check out Ohmega Watts. Based in Portland, OR, Ohmega Watts is a 25 year old producer and MC (known to his familiy as Milton Campbell) who creates old school funky hip-hop jams ala Jurassic 5. Also on Saturday, Meiotic is presenting Eliot Lipp as a part of their "Your Formula Life" series at Tiny Martini in Logan Square. Lipp is a former Chicago resident who cranks out a delicious blend of electro and instrumental hip-hop. Click here for my complete preview of the show and the full details of the event.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
RFC Interview: Tom Vek
Tom Vek is a 24 year old multi-instrumentalist from London who has been generating all sorts of buzz on both sides of the pond thanks to his amazing debut record, We Have Sound. Recorded in his father's basement, the record combines raw garage rock energy, subtle electronic touches and rigid, angular funk. RFC caught up with Tom Vek via email on his current North American tour that will be bringing him back to Chicago this Sunday at Schubas. RadioFreeChicago: First off, love the new record...an amazing debut. You basically wrote, performed and recorded the whole thing in your dad's basement?? It sure sounds one hell of a lot better than 99% of the basement/garage recordings that I've ever heard. (not just in sound quality but also in the writing, instrumentation, vocals, etc.) What's your secret? Tom Vek: Well thanks very much! I've been pretty much locked in there in any spare time I've had over the years. I'm well aware the stereotype of recording in a garage and of that "garage sound," but garage rock wasn't what I was trying to achieve, you know? I was spending most of my time working out how to get it to sound as hi-fi as possible, which I think kinda forced a little bit of innovation and free thinking as I wasn't content with the garage sound, although [the song] "If I Had Changed My Mind" couldn't be any more garage rock. So maybe that kinda outlook on it gave it an optimistic excitable feel. More specifically, working with the producer Tom Rixton helped me to do some things, mainly with computers, that I've never been able to do before. It was like using it as an instrument, only to do things that only a computer could do. RFC: What was the original inspiration for creating these songs? Did you have any strong musical influences that made you want to become a recording artist yourself? TV: The thing is this spans back to when I first discovered instruments and their relationships, which was more from actual instruments themselves than necessarily other music I was listening to. It's [been] so long ago that I can't remember the first time I felt it, but I have felt it ever since, you know? It's just a natural thing. If I didn't feel like doing it, I wouldn't. RFC: Was it difficult trying to get a record deal in America? I first heard your songs on KCRW a few months ago, well before the domestic release of the record. Did the love from Nic Harcourt and Co. help speed up the process a bit? TV: A lot of stuff had happened in the UK that meant there were people who we could talk to and wanted to talk to us. I signed a fairly serious worldwide deal in the UK for the license of this record and some more so on paper. There was already a setup in place, but after playing SXSW some really enthusiastic independents got in touch and amazingly we managed to license it back to an independent, which I think was totally the right thing to do because this record IS an indie record and its really good that its being presented appropriately. RFC: How is the tour going? Do you have any crazy stories from your time in The States so far? TV: Well, my live drummer walked out last night so I guess that's crazy. Looks like I'll be drumming from now on. I did it on the record so I don't see why not. RFC: Finally, what can we expect from your live show? TV: At the moment I'd very much like to know that myself. SPEED ROUND: What's in heavy rotation right now on the tour bus?: The new Constantines record, Tournament of Hearts incredible. Best thing about touring America: Wi-fi access everywhere Worst thing about touring America: Crap tea...seriously. I have actually packed my own teabags this time. Favorite post-show drink: I have to alternate each night to keep it fresh. I think tonight its the "veksterminator" which is whisky and apple tango. It tastes like ginger wine but it makes you angry. Best artist/band from the UK that we haven't heard yet: The Chap (thechap.org) Tom Vek's Sunday (11/13) show at Schubas starts at 8pm, with openers Mobius Band and Walter Meego. Don't miss this show, this is an amazing line-up and admission (18 and over) is a ridiculously cheap $8 bucks. For more info about Tom Vek, check out www.TomVek.tv. Crank up his latest singles at www.myspace.com/tomvek. Technorati: Tom Vek
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Free PBR+shots of GBV=indie rock heaven
This is classic... (via Metro's email list) ---- The Onion and Pabst Blue Ribbon Present... GUIDED BY VOICES PRE-RELEASE PARTY FOR THE ELECTRIFYING CONCLUSION DVD Come to this FREE special screening of the new DVD of GBV's final show, filmed at Metro on New Years Eve 2004. Pre-order the DVD and receive a free GBV shot glass (pictured above) and poster! Free Pabst Blue Ribbon from 7-8PM! FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2005 7PM-10PM / 21+OVER / FREE! SMARTBAR / 3730 N CLARK ST / CHICAGO
RFC Night...now with balls!
Don't forget, bowling tonight in Hyde Park with some of WHPK's finest...stay tuned here tomorrow for RFC's interview with Tom Vek. -------- After a long hiatus, Radio Free Chicago Night returns next Wednesday and this time we've joined forces with WHPK-FM, aka "The Pride of the South Side," for a night of DJs, debauchery, booze...and bowling? Yes, that's right, we're going to get our bowl on with a party at Seven Ten Lanes on 55th Street in Hyde Park that will feature four solid hours of live DJs spinning indie rock, post-punk, techno, hip-hop, funk/soul, indie pop, IDM, grime, breakcore, punk rock, and more. Manning the decks from WHPK will be DJ Colin, DJ Personal Bankruptcy, DJ Chitty Chitty Bling Bling and DJ Misplaced Modifier. Closing out the night will be a set from yours truly, DJ Lucifer Sam. Here's the official details: RFC Night with WHPK Wednesday, November 9th 8 pm ‘til midnight SEVEN TEN LANES 1055 East 55th Street (773) 347-2695 Admission is free and open to all ages Must be 21+ with valid I.D. to drink (duh!)
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
New Releases Tuesday (11/8)
Kate Bush - Aerial (Sony) It's been 12 years since her last record, but Kate Bush is back with a vengeance with a double album and an amazing new single, "King of the Mountain." Wordly downtempo radio host John Diliberto (from PRI's Echoes) puts in his two cents on Amazon: With its Depeche Mode-influenced synth pads, electro pulses, and lyric cadences, "King of the Mountain" is vintage Bush pop. But many of the songs attain more epic proportions, like the dynamic "Joanni," a hymn to Joan of Arc. It's the second disc--a suite called A Sky of Honey--on which Bush really comes into her own. Using metaphors of the turning of the day and the flight of birds, she orchestrates a meditation on the cycles of life...embracing her relatively new motherhood, as well as the death of her mother, Aerial is a deeply personal album, and a welcome return from one of pop music's true icons and vocal wonders. Also check out these fine releases: Beastie Boys - Solid Gold Hits (Capitol) Gris Gris - For the Season (Birdman) Knut - Terraformer (Hydrahead) Tarantula A.D. - Book of Sand (Kemado) Tristeza - A Colores (Better Looking)
Monday, November 07, 2005
Rob Mazurek returns as São Paulo Underground
Formerly the ringmaster of the Chicago Underground Duo/Trio/Quartet, trumpet virtuoso Rob Mazurek is back with another new project, the São Paulo Underground. Why the name change? Well, these days Mazurek resides in Brazil and he's been working on a new jazz combo there with local musicians Maurício Takara (drums) and Guilherme Granado (vocals, samples). In town this past weekend as a part of the MCA's Tropicália exhibition, the São Paulo Underground will also be performing tomorrow night for a special "Empty Bottle presents" live show at Sonotheque. Doors open at 10, admission is $10, must be 21+ to enter. Takara and Granado will open with DJ sets.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Live Review: The Go! Team @ Metro 10/29/05
So, I thought the thing with Brits was that they like to lounge on sofas, wearing black clothing and an overall despondent demeanor that prohibits them from moving; they like drinks straight up and chain smoking and complaining about all that is beneath them, which is everything, which means that they will never, ever, write happy pop tunes about not being defeated, and about everyone being a V.I.P., and they will never, ever, wear little black skirts and fluorescent orange tops and fuzzy pink antennas while jumping around a stage, singing about rocking the microphone. And never. Never ever. Never will they giggle. This wasn’t just a Halloween performance. This wasn’t a British band in disguise. This is how The Go! Team always is. On my way to the show I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to sit back and listen. M.C. Ninja made it her job to get everyone moving, everyone participating. Whether it was chit chatting with the crowd in that hyper British accent everyone at the Metro Saturday night was too drunk to understand, or trying to conduct a massive crowd cheer, she was not satisfied with solely owning the spotlight. It was a whirlwind of a show, clocking in about an hour with the gang running through several tracks off its album Thunder, Lightning, Strike, and also trying out some new tunes. It’s odd that a band so eclectic in nature-mixing guitars and electronics and sampling and brass orchestrations and an ever changing soundtrack-could at the same time be a band absolutely meant to be seen live. Ian Parton is the mastermind behind this outfit and easy to miss onstage; he was everywhere and nowhere at once, humbly moving among instruments, keeping the flow going while Ninja upfront worked the crowd. They played to the backdrop of pop art screen projection, a tactic I don’t think I’ve ever before seen utilized at the Metro. During surging pop rockers like “We Just Won’t Be Defeated” the stage was alive with all the members of the team coming together in frantic euphoria. For the soft and sweet “Hold Yr Terror Close” it cleared, leaving drummer Chi Fukami Taylor alone to lead us in a jaunty sway. The group returned for “Huddle Formation,” and with characteristic animation Ninja divided the crowd in half for a group cheer. I was on the “Team! Team-team! Team!” side. And yes, I took my duty seriously and actually shouted aloud. So did everyone. Perhaps Ninja appeals to the wounded inner cheerleader in all of us. So maybe the Brits have moved on without we yanks realizing it. Maybe we’re behind in the times so that now it’s our music that’s drab and mechanized and pretentious. But I like to think that it’s not as simple as that, and that The Go! Team is really something special. The idea of this band is kind of annoying, and if you let them, they’ll sound like some hip hop entrepreneur trying to mix the Spice Girls and make it kitschy cool. But that’s not the ultimate effect of Parton and company. Recorded there’s sophisticated layering of dance beats and rockin’ hooks and catchy phrases and bluesy harmonica that sounds not contrived but spontaneous. On stage there’s a reigning of this impulsive sound so that anything that, for a lesser live act, could be messy and strident and just plain irritating, is actually a pleasure to listen to. And to dance to. Don’t forget the dancing.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Okkervil River wants your requests
Okkervil River are back in town again this weekend (at the Abbey) and apparently this time they're taking requests! Via BrooklynVegan: "We’re taking requests for this tour, and they can be sent to the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. Sets are filling up fast, so send those requests in soon. If you can, though, try to limit them to one or two – we’ve been getting a few e-mails for, like, 15 songs. " Okkervil River plays Sunday night (11/6) at the Abbey Pub, with openers Minus Story. Show starts at 9pm, tickets are $12 at the door. Must be 18+ to attend. Check out Okkervil's latest video here
Live Review: Broken Social Scene @ Metro 10/28/05
I almost had my eyeglass repair toolkit confiscated at the door. But the head security lady stopped my accoster, saying, “This is a mellow show tonight. We’re letting almost everything in.” Mellow? Ha! I honestly don’t know what stopped me from taking that skinny, inch-long screwdriver and stabbing it into the temple of the guy standing next to me--such was my frenzy, so much was my compulsive energy driven by this show. All right. That’s a lie. The last thing Broken Social Scene makes you want to do is assault people. Last Friday at the Metro it was more about delivering cross-country dedications from sweethearts, more about “Raise your hand if you’re in love.” Lest you groan I’ll attest that this is the one band in your lifetime that can pull off these sugary shenanigans. This isn’t a didactic group crusading for world peace. This isn’t a gang of politicians pretending to be musicians or a gang of musicians pretending to be politicians. It’s just a good ol’ fashioned rock band that isn’t afraid to be passionate. And optimistic. By god, they’re downright cheery. The entire show was like a weekend party where friends come and go as they please, picking up an instrument on a whim and contributing for a few songs, disappearing for a while and then coming back again. If a person didn’t leave the stage he stood off to the side, saluting those playing with a raised bottle of beer, or else admiring with awe and applause. The glorious cycle of band feeding off crowd energy and crowd feeding off band energy is what animated this show. This was Broken Social Scene’s first time playing the Metro, and the guys revealed that the event was a dream come true for them, as they knew about the club’s legendary reputation. The crowd did not disappoint, and the band’s excitement was hard to miss. This was definitely the liveliest show I’ve seen in this mopey town. At any given time there were eight or more people on stage jumping, swaying, skipping, dancing, running across the stage to play eight bars on a trumpet, then running back again to pick up a guitar. The set lasted around two hours and the sound was solid all the way through. On tunes like “KC Accidental” and “Superconnected” the band created a luscious chaotic mass of beauty that sent the kids spastic. On the mantric “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl” singer Lisa Lobslinger, taking over for the absent Emily Haines, mellowed them with her wispy voice and baby doll demeanor. For the last half of the set Leslie Feist joined the fun and on “Almost Crimes” rocked the drums and air guitar when she wasn’t singing counterpart to a behoodied Kevin Drew, who may have been battling an illness but still sounded strong. Broken Social Scene has restored my faith in the Metro. Anymore I hate going to shows in Wrigleyville because the band always turns out to be bigger than I realized, the crowd further removed and lazy, simply there because it’s the Metro and whoever’s playing there must be cool because the Metro is cool. On any given night it seems like half the crowd knows one song or less by the band, and it’s not due to the artists’ newness or obscurity. It’s because the Metro seems to no longer be about getting fucked by music but about trying to fuck the cute little girls in spaghetti straps or the handsome buff boys in baseball caps. But last Friday there was an energy I haven’t experienced at the Metro in years. Broken Social Scene has only been around a few years but has already procured a loyal mass of fans whose good vibes rival any Phish cult. It was refreshing to hear for a change collective voices singing along and not an incessant, messy clatter of hundreds of apathetic conversations. Whether or not you love a band, if the group around you is going insane with passion for the music it makes the show a gazillion times better. If this passion is merited, well, then you have the epitome of live shows. I think that with Broken Social Scene, indie rock finally has a live act worthy of a devoted following of tripped-out, obsessive nomads. Technorati: Broken Social Scene Also check out more photos from this show in the RFC Live Photo Archive
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
New Releases Tuesday (11/1)
Looks like the record industry is also a bit hungover from the long Halloween weekend...very limited release schedule today. In fact, the one big name release today, Nirvana's Sliver collection isn't even that significant because it's just a shortenened rehash of last year's box set. Anway...here's the short list: Goldfrapp - No. 1 [ep] (Mute) Allison, why must you tease us like this? UK fans have been enjoying your latest full-length record since August and all we get is this 6-song EP? Sun Kil Moon - Tiny Cities (Caldo Verde) Second release from Mark Kozalek's post-Red House Painters project. Imogen Heap - S/T (RCA) Debut domestic release from the vocalist of Frou Frou.