Friday, March 31, 2006

Moz listening party/Awesome, I Fucking Shot That!

Tonight at 9, The Onion is hosting a Morrissey listening party at Delilah's in celebration his latest release, Ringleader of the Tormenters. Be the first on your block to hear the new Moz, plus get a limited edition 7" record if you're one of the first 30 people at the party. Delilah's is located at 2771 N. Lincoln Ave. ALSO TONIGHT... The Beastie Boys concert documentary, Awesome, I Fucking Shot That debuts tonight at the Landmark Century Theatres, AMC River East and the Century Evanston 18. Word on the street is that it's Nathanial Horblower's finest work yet.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Coming to a Theatre Near You!

If you live on the North Side, that is. The long-awaited documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston will be released to a ravenous public tomorrow. The Landmark Theatre will be one of a few places in the country to screen the film about underground pop’s favorite living manic depressive. In 2005 the pic played at Sundance and earned director Jeff Feuerzeig a best director award. Who doesn’t love a dreary documentary about middle-aged men with frazzled hair/expressions who create art and music that straddles the line of neurotic indulgence and innocent genius? Hopefully the film will bring Daniel’s intriguing story and eccentric art to a wider audience; at the same time, let’s hope it doesn’t bring him too much attention, because part of what makes him so endearing is that he still isn’t a part of the pop iconography that he worships so much.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Live Review: The National@Double Door 3/24/06

The National has been struggling on the indie circuit for years now, and it's great to see the band finally get it's due. That said, there were still an amazing amount of people talking during their set and a very random crowd made up almost entirely of people over 6'4" in height (men and women, I swear- apparently the National caters to the freakishly tall demographic) and a few silly fratboy-types who actually high-fived between songs, and reached over several people to do so. Still, the band put on their usual impassioned intense show made up mostly of songs from their latest album Alligator, again skipping over two of their arguably best songs, "Karen" and "Friend of Mine." I was pleasantly surprised to hear them play the gorgeous "Wasp's Nest" from the Cherry Tree EP, a song recently featured (sort of) in Syriana (playing in the background at a bar George Clooney was drinking morosely at). Opening the night was The Cloud Room, another Brooklyn band that has an interesting back story and one incredibly poppy song that Pitchfork deemed "the smash that wasn't", "Hey Now Now." Sadly, none of the rest of their music lived up to that song, not even the one apparently about Elenor Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces, which we learned about after the singer told a too-lengthy story about trying to talk to her about doing a song together only to realize she wasn't listening to a word he was saying. Meh.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (3/28)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones (Interscope) Show Your Bones is what happens when you put your finger in a light socket,” says singer Karen O. “Maybe there is some of that electric current flowing through the tracks of our album illuminating us from the inside out for you to laugh at and cry to or fry to. Or not.” Karen O, drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner recorded the album with producer Squeak E Clean and mixed with Alan Moulder. The follow-up to 2003’s Fever To Tell, Chase says “in the early stages the music was STRETCHED WIDE and then tightened up.” Watch Karen O.'s beer-spillin' antics live next month at The Riviera April 14. Ghostface Killah - Fishscale (Def Jam) Fifth solo album from the Wu-Tang MC. Vice magazine raves, "What more could be said about Ghostface at this point? His musical contributions are unsung, yet unmatched. He’s single-handedly responsible for the soul sampling that made Kanye famous, the emo raps that became Jay-Z’s blueprint, and the Clarks Wallabees that got you through life without wearing a pair of square shoes. His retrofuturistic slang is inimitable. He gave truck jewels a new cultural significance. He’s the only reason you own a bathrobe….So how does this year’s upcoming Fishscale manage to recapture and even transcend Supreme Clientele’s magic? … the results are spectacular…A cryptic, experimental, and decidedly left-field classic album."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Quickie Album Reviews: Voxtrot, Pink Mountaintops, and B&S

Voxtrot - Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives With their second EP, Voxtrot continues to prove that they're willing to work harder for your satisfaction -- both musically and lyrically -- than nearly every other pop band out there today. The eponymous title track is such a charmer that it could completely prop up the rest of the disc, but there’s plenty of likable material to be found here. Pink MountaintopsAxis of Evol Axis of Evol’s premiere track New Drug Queens barely has enough time to suggest you should “Tell your mama gonna stay out late tonight” before it ends, but oh how you’ll build up a sweat in that short time. While the next song Slaves, offers eight minutes plus of psychedelic mojo jojo that threatens to turn you into one of those guys in college who took a few hits of acid and was never quite the same... Even though there are a few skippable bits, several tracks like these manage to make this the best stoner rock album since The Queens of the Stone Age’s Lullabies to Paralyze. Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit Should they be called The New Belle & Sebastian now? This radical change in sound takes the band into some interesting places (one track even sounds like it could be from T Rex...), but if you let your itunes wander into Tigermilk once this album finishes up, you’ll likely begin wistfully recalling the days of B & S’ incredible, early work. Courtesy of RFC's L.A. Correspondent Joe Fielder.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Mini-Interview: Mr. Scruff

When DJs are booked to play SmartBar, most are generally content to spin for just about an hour or two. However, this isn’t nearly enough time for England’s Mr. Scruff. The Mancunian mixer famous for his cheeky scribble cartoons is scheduled to perform a full seven hour set this weekend, essentially playing the club from open until close. RFC recently caught up with Scruff, known to his friends and family as Andrew Carthy, to find out the motives behind his deck-hogging madness. Radio Free Chicago: Your upcoming Chicago gig is advertised as a 7-hour set??? How do you keep the floor going that long? Also, why are you subjecting yourself to such a long night when you could very easily just fly in for a quick 60-90min set? Mr. Scruff: I always try and play the whole night wherever I go. That is the way I spin at my UK residencies, and I think it is best if I give everyone the ‘real deal’, so to speak. As for keeping the floor going, I get to warm up & create a mood for the first hour or two, and then get busy for the next five hours! I play a lot of styles of music, so that your feet don’t get bored. RFC: It seems like you play Chicago a lot...what do you like about playing here? Scruff: I like the city, the musical heritage, the food, the people (great dancers!), and I really like the SmartBar. It has a good, homely, underground family atmosphere & a great soundsystem. RFC: What else is on tap for Mr. Scruff in 2006? New album, mixes, cartoons??? Scruff: Roughly in date order, there is a collaboration with Quantic (giraffe walk), a Jazzanova remix, a Big Chill compilation, and then hopefully volume 2 of the Solid Steel mix album, and a new artist album...but don’t hold your breath for the last two!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Album Review: Senor Smoke / Electric Six (Metropolis Records)

Stupid music is, um…stupid. Call me a snob. Call me uptight. Call me pretentious, I don’t really care. Call me a red-stater to your blue. A blue to your red. Call me a posin’ hipster who wouldn’t know a fun time if it jumped up and bit her in the polyester vest. It ain’t no thang. I know the truth, and so I cannot be hurt by your name calling, you feeble-minded, reverse-discriminating, wrong, wrong, wrong person with bad taste in music, you. Ha! I’m going to state this simply. Senor Smoke by Electric Six is an awful album. It’s not that I’m against fun, garish, ironic music. Les Savy Fav? Indeed. McLusky? Yes please. Art Brut? I can dig it. What do these outfits have that Electric Six does not? Brains. You can be fun and smart at the same time. In fact, most people would be of the opinion that in any sort of art, these two characteristics are mutually dependent. What’s that you say? Electric Six isn’t interested in creating art? Hmm. Am I supposed to say then, that if this is the case, Senor Smoke is an amazing album? I don’t think so. Senor Smoke consists of one cheesy-bad electro garage rock song after another, which draw upon what most of us hate about music from the late seventies and early eighties: murky, over digitized synth work, predictable power chord progressions, and needlessly overwhelming bass lines. There’s a reason the artists who are advancing the modern music scene don’t mimic hair bands and disco rock: it’s terrible music. There’s no refinement, no technical intricacy, no thought. If you tell me this is the point, that what makes Electric Six innovative is its total lack of respect for the compulsion in today’s music scene to progress for the sake of progression, to create noise for the sake of being able to say I’ve made something unlike anything ever before created, then I’m going to come right back and say that Rob Schneider is a comedic genius. It’s not even the fact that Electric Six isn’t doing anything new. If this album was melodic and full of hooks and beautifully classic pop structures, than I could at least respect a variation on a theme. If it was aesthetically pleasing in the least I wouldn’t have a problem. But what we have here is Dick Valentine talk-screaming in his annoyingly frenetic, raspy voice over various tracks that all sound the same. Electric Six practices no restraint, yet there is nothing pushing the envelope of musical risk-taking. Simple beats, choppy yet boring guitar work, and atrocious lyrics inundate what could have been an interesting experiment in lofty indie pop backlash. If the lyrics were cleverly sardonic it would perhaps salvage a part of this album. Instead we’re subjected to banal, gratuitous, outdated references (“We’ll karaoke all night long/We’ll Macarena till the break of dawn”) and social criticism as profound as the musings of any sixteen-year-old, angst-ridden poet (“Stevie's joined a corporation/Another bee for the beehive/Johnny makes love to a dummy/Says, ‘Ain't it good to be alive?’") It’s painfully obvious that the men of Electric Six are in love with themselves. It’s one thing to reject trends. It’s one thing to make music that is purposefully unpleasant. But when you regurgitate crap people were regurgitating two decades ago, and you don’t have any good reason to do so, if you’re creating idiotic music as easily as an idiot would, I’m sorry, but you can’t expect anyone to give a shit about what you’re doing. Putting out a bad album isn’t a matter of a band’s confidence in its ability to be ironic. It’s a matter of a band thinking so highly of itself that it doesn’t care if it wastes the time and money and eardrums of the people who give it the opportunity to record its bad music in the first place. On Senor Smoke Electric Six tries too hard (or not enough) to be pop culture whores, and the result is unimaginative and anything but ironic. It’s revoltingly indulgent and…well, stupid. Electric Six plays the Double Door on Monday, March 27.

Live Review: The Wedding Present@Double Door 3/12/06

After retiring the Wedding Present moniker in 1997 to pursue his epic pop project Cinerama, David Gedge resurrected the "Weddoes" the last year for a brand new album and tour. Hardly a household name in The States, The Wedding Present are legends in the UK and are arguably one of the biggest indie pop acts to come of England outside of The Smiths. In their career, The Weddoes managed to chalk up 18 UK Top 40 singles, a feat undoubtedly helped by the fact that one of their biggest fans was the legendary BBC DJ John Peel. (“The boy Gedge has written some of the best love songs of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Era. You may dispute this, but I’m right and you’re wrong!” -John Peel) Leading his latest version of The Wedding Present, David Gedge pulled out a wide range of hits spanning the duration of his career at their recent Double Door show. Dating all the way back to 1985, The Wedding Present has always been a bit of a "one-man band," with a rotating cast of drummers, guitarists, etc. backing up Gedge through the years. This latest incarnation was no exception, and with a new youthful line-up in place, it almost liked Gedge was the "hip dad" singing and playing guitar with his kids' rock band. In fact, before introducing one of the Weddoes earliest singles, Gedge quipped, "this next song is almost older than our drummer." Superficial impressions aside, Gedge and his current Weddoes (Terry de Castro on bass/backing vocals, John Maiden on drums and returning guitarist Simon Cleave) did an admirable job of tearing through the entire catalog. Gedge may look a bit older these days, but he certainly hasn't lost any energy. Overall, the band was tight and wasted little time in between songs. Gedge made an occasional quip or anectdote here and there, but most of the time they went from song to song without hardly even a breather. I have to admit, I only recently became a fan of David Gedge's work a few years ago via Cinerama and I was still in grade school when The Weddoes debut album, George Best, was released, so I really have to basis as to whether Wedding Present '06 lives up to Wedding Present '86. I can't say that I was blown away by this recent peformance, but there's no doubt that Gedge is a great songwriter and still has plenty of gusto in him to keep the Weddoes going for a few more years. Check out more pics in RFC Live Photo Archive...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (3/21)

Loose Fur - Born Again in the USA (Drag City) The Tweedy/O'Rourke/Kotche side project returns with another batch of fine tunes for Drag City. Amazon sez, "originally seen as Jeff Tweedy's noisier outlet, it's arguably as tuneful as his main band's most recent releases." The Editors - The Back Room (Kitchenware) Yet another band of late that comps the sound of classic Joy Division, though at least these guys are British (I'm looking at you, She Wants Revenge) and actually hail from Manchester. Liars - Drums Not Dead (Mute) After what many considered to be a sophomore slump with the odd They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, the New York-based band moved to Berlin and are now back with what many are calling their best album yet, worthy of a sweet 9.0 on the 'Fork. Also this week... Richard Ashcroft - Keys to the World (Virgin) Howe Gelb - Sno Angel Like You (Thrill Jockey) Madlib - Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2 (Stones Throw) Mates of State - Bring it Back (Barsuk) Ms. John Soda - Notes and the Like (Morr Music) Gary Numan - Jagged (Metropolis) Quasi - When the Going Gets Dark (Touch & Go) Josh Rouse - Subtitulo (Nettwerk)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Pitchfork vs. Intonation

Anybody else notice that Pitchfork hasn't even acknowledged that the Intonation Festival exists this year? Obviously there's still some bad blood there...but you'd think they'd at least would have given them a quick blurb about the headliners being announced just to be diplomatic. Or perhaps in classic Pitchfork form, mention snarkily that "the other festival at Union Park" has booked Bloc Party and The Streets. It seems kind of lame just to ignore the elephant in the room, so I'm going to have to give the 'Fork a big Stephen Colbert-style "wag of my finger" on this. Stay here on RFC and we'll keep you updated on all of the latest Intonation and Pitchfork Fest news. Speaking of which, here's the latest line-up for Intonation: 6/24 The Streets, The Stills, Lady Sovereign, Boredoms, Jose Gonzalez, Chromeo 6/25 Bloc Party, Jon Brion and the latest for Pitchfork: 7/29-30 Spoon, Yo La Tengo, Silver Jews, Tapes 'n Tapes, Mission of Burma, Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Mountain Goats, The National, Jens Lekman, Hot Machines, Man Man, Aesop Rock

Friday, March 17, 2006

Kanye, Wilco, Lips, Ween, etc. to headline Lollapalooza

Yes, the long-awaited Lollapalooza '06 line-up is here and it's damn good: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West, Manu Chao, Wilco, Death Cab For Cutie, The Raconteurs, The Flaming Lips, Ween, Queens of the Stone Age, The Shins, Common Matisyahu, Ryan Adams, Umphrey's McGee, Sonic Youth, Thievery Corporation, Sleater-Kinney, Nickel Creek, Blues Traveler, Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers, Iron & Wine, Poi Dog Pondering, The Secret Machines, Eels, Panic! At the Disco, The Disco Biscuits, Reverend Horton Heat, The Smoking Popes, Andrew Bird, Gnarls Barkley, Stars, Cursive, Blackalicious, Editors, Lyrics Born, Lady Sovereign, Calexico, Nada Surf, Feist, Aqualung, The Frames, The Hold Steady, The Go! Team, Mates of State, Pepper Particle, Wolfmother, Sound Team, The M's, Husky Rescue, Sybris, Ohmega Watts, etc, etc, etc. plus more bands still to be announced? Even better than Lolla '05, no?

Powerbook Deathmatch!

Check out "electronic music's new cultural phenomenon" this Saturday for free at SmartBar: LAPTOP BATTLE CHICAGO Saturday, March 18 Tickets: Free 21 & over Doors: 7:30pm / Show: 8pm >The laptop battle is a competitive event for laptop musicians to match their skills against one another. Battles are chosen randomly and conducted in 3 minute rounds. A panel of judges decides which contestant advances to the next round, single elimination style. > It's a fusion of sound design, composition and stage performance, and a chance for laptop musicians to prove their skills in battle and develop techniques and strategies. For more information, visit laptopbattle.org.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Weekend Preview: Saturday, March 18

It is the curse and the blessing of living in a large metropolitan area that brings choice squires of underground rock through our thoroughfares in droves thicker than Lake Michigan sludge. As RFC’s chief indie rock correspondent, I would like to take it upon myself to help lead you crazy pasty white folk through what might be a perplexing ordeal on this St. Paddy's Day weekend: choosing the right show. Like Aristotle, every indie kid knows the world is comprised of four elements: ambience, buzz, cred, and rep. Using these criteria to evaluate five artists that will land on our shores this Saturday, March 18, I hope to aid you in uncovering what act it is that your oversized Leprechaun heart truly desires. 1. Arctic Monkeys Ambience: the Metro should be the perfect setting for you to get your Brit power pop groove on. You and all the other eighty million kids going to this sold out show. Buzz: Presently approaching its zenith. Beware of falling conductor caps. Cred: Well, they’re saying Arctic Monkeys are the saviors of British music, and they're hailing vocalist Alex Turner as the next Morrissey. Who’s saying these things? I don’t know. Rep: All accounts indicate these lads are bursting balloons of volatile energy. Could be hit or miss, depending upon how drunk the band and/or the crowd becomes. 2. Mike Doughty Ambience: Old Town School of Folk Music. Yawn. But an appropriate venue for an old indie townie who plays folk music. Buzz: Yeah, like, ten years ago. Cred: Seems to be going down at a steady pace since he went solo. But he does have his faithful followers who swear by his genius. Rep: Mr. Doughty is a charmer who, between acoustic guitar strums, does a lot of pleasant bantering with the crowd and isn’t afraid to make jokes. So expect a laidback show. Expect guffawing and warm fuzzy feelings of love in your tummy. 3. Shipping News Ambience: Shipping News’s intricate drone should fill up Schubas just fine, and perhaps dissuade the drunken yuppies from crawling in from the tavern, leaving the indolent head bobbing to we who really mean it. Buzz: Ha! They don’t even have a functional Myspace page. Cred: Eh. Their latest effort might not be the best, but it’s nothing that’s ruined their credibility as an under the radar, under-appreciated indie pop goody. And their utter lack of buzz only adds to their street cred. Don’t be afraid of the non-hype, kids. Rep: As far as I’ve read, they put on a modest, tight show that might not blow you away, but it just might make you a fan. 4. Akron/Family Ambience: The gritty indie haven that is the Empty Bottle. Akron/Family’s pop delicacy might be lost in the muffled mess of bar chat and bad acoustics; however, this might not make a difference (see rep). Buzz: A/K’s hype was so 2005. Things have calmed, people have stopped thinking about top ten lists, and in 2006 they’ve become hipster-approved. Cred: Fairly solid. They’re on Young God, a label unsurpassable in its quietly quirky and chic respectability, and critics agree that last year’s self-titled album and split release with Angels of Light actually deserved the critical praise critics gave them. Rep: Their live show can be described in the following outburst: “Weird. Bizarre. Oww, noisy! WTF! Was that good? I think I’m in pain. I think I might like it.” 5. Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers Ambience: The Abbey Pub. The Abbey Pub? These psychos should be playing in a dilapidated garage somewhere, during a garage party thrown by the pimply punks who make your sandwiches down at the Jimmy Johns. Buzz: These guys are way too fucking cool to have ever been buzzworthy. Cred: They’ll never win a Grammy, they’ll never be invited to Spin’s birthday party, and no critic will ever worship them. Rep: Apparently they’re only the greatest live act on the planet!!!!!! Front man J.D. Wilkes is manic and unashamed and will delight you with cartwheels and karate kicks and every other spastic dance move he fancies. Be prepared to be disturbed into a frenzy. In conclusion: Don’t sell your Arctic Monkeys tickets on Craigslist. But don’t buy Arctic Monkeys tickets on Craigslist either. Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers might be your best bet, but the more adventurous will probably want to hit the Bottle and take a chance on the bizarre indie pop noise of Akron/Family. Do not, however, count out Shipping News and their sleeper capability. I just don’t think I’d want to be on the corner of Southport and Belmont on St. Patrick’s Day Saturday. I’m not that adventurous. Of course I’m not. That’s why I’m a chief indie rock correspondent.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Austin or bust

Featuring something like 120,000 bands this year (actual figure may vary), the 20th annual South By Southwest Music festival kicks off tomorrow in Austin. You've probably already seen the SXSW feature this week on the 'Fork, but I also recommend checking out a post that Brooklyn Vegan pointed to earlier this week from a Blog called "Crackers United." In addition to the usual barrage of showcase balancing tips, the site also links to some other essential on-line SXSW resources like SXSW Baby!, Showlist Austin and See You in the Pit. Click here for the complete article, but first, let me echo what are probably the two most important rules of SXSW: • Catch as many free day shows and parties as you can (preferably ones that offer free beer + bbq + swag). • Drink Shiner beer, not Lone Star.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (3/14)

Nicolai Dunger - Here Is My Song You Can Have It I Don't Want It (Zoe Records) The Swedish music scene has brought the world many great pop acts over the years and has recently been a hotbed for edgy indie rock. But Sweden has not been known for introducing amazing singer-songwriters to the world. Until now. Enter Nicolai Dunger, a former professional soccer player who was discovered by a producer while he sang on a balcony in his hometown and gave up his sports career to pursue his passion for music...Nicolai is a tremendous talent whose voice recalls the joyful pastoral soul of vintage Van Morrison and the melancholy crooning of both Tim and Jeff Buckley. On his latest relesase, Nicolai is backed by the mighty Mercury Rev. Dunger's aching melodies and soulful vocals mesh with Mercury Rev's dreamy yet driving sound seamlessly and with an ease that reflects the fun the musicians had playing together. -Amazon.com Devo - Devo 2.0 (Disney) What the hell is this garbage???? This is sacrilege!! The original members of Devo rerecorded ten of their old songs (some with revamped lyrics) and two brand new ones with Devo 2.0, a group of five talented kids aged 10 to 13...Devo is one of my favorite bands," Buena Vista Music Group EVP & GM David Agnew said in a recent interview. "I think their music was years ahead of its time--and is timeless... it's playful and great to dance to, which is the key to any good kids' music. When you consider that Disney has been responsible for some of the most popular children's music of all time, and that most people trust Disney to bring them music that is appropriate for their kids, it seemed like a winning combination to me." -Amazon.com

Monday, March 13, 2006

RFC Interview: Magnet

Formerly of the band Libido, Norwegian singer/songwriter Even Johansen has returned with The Tourniquet, his second full-length album as “Magnet.” Upon release of his 2001 solo release, Quiet & Still, critics labeled Johansen as "Thom Yorke trapped in a David Lynch movie." While still retaining his trademark melancholic croon, this latest effort finds Johansen a bit more optimistic and pop-friendly. RFC recently caught up with Johansen to discuss his new direction and what lies ahead for the talented Norse troubadour. Radio Free Chicago: First off…I just wanted to say thanks for the interview. I’ve been a fan of your work ever since Quiet & Still, that record completely blew me away…Speaking of which, after recording under your own name, what made you decide to continue on as “Magnet” versus just “Even Johansen.” Even Johansen: Thanx for the kind words! ... After Quiet and Still was released under my name proper, I realized that it wasn’t my name proper musically, so there was a deal struck between me and myself to never release anything under that name again. RFC: How has your writing and performing changed since your days with Libido and Chocolate Overdose? EJ: Now that I’m my own man so to speak, and not in a band, it’s much more of a lonesome effort to both write and perform, and since I’m turning slowly into a recluse, that’s just the way I like it the best. RFC: Your music has been described more than once over the years as “melancholic,” yet this new record is lyrically quite optimistic at times, was there anything in particular that inspired the positive vibes? EJ: I wanted to write something a little more direct and positive to reflect the good vibes in my life, nothing more particular than to try and be honest in my writing, RFC: Your hometown, Bergen, Norway, has been called a “hit-factory” town…what is it about the city or area that you think makes it conducive to producing great music? EJ: There’s a great vibe in Bergen for making music at the moment, could be because it rains so fucking much that there’s nothing else to do…. RFC: You also recently lived for a few years in Scotland…how was that experience and why did you decide to return to Norway? EJ: Living in Scotland makes you realize how un-articulate you are. They have an inspiring command over the English language that makes me want to try harder with words. I’ve always wanted to live on a farm, and Bergen being the only place we could afford one…… RFC: What can fans expect from your North American tour? (full-band? solo acoustic performances? Back-up hype dancers?) EJ: I’m going to play and sing the songs like I’ve never done before, without any kind of distracting backing dancers……. RFC: After your current tour, what do you have planned for Magnet in the future? EJ: I’m due to start recording my next album four days after I get home, so that’s where my head is going to be at for the summer. My little head can only plan that far ahead at a stretch, so what comes after that I do not know yet. pheeeeew. SPEED ROUND If you could curate your own musical festival or tour, what would the line-up be? I would be supporting The Beach Boys. That’s it! What is your favorite Norwegian delicacy? We eat lam ribs at Christmas. Unbeatable!! Best thing about touring The States? Without a shadow of doubt, the audiences. If you weren’t a musician, what would your occupation be? I’d be a harbour pilot. ---- Unfortunately, Even won't be making it to Chicago on his current tour of The States. However, you can catch him this week at SXSW...Thursday night at 18th Floor Capital Place and Friday afternoon at Cedar St. Courtyard. If you're not making the trip to Austin this year, you can check out his appearance on KCRW today at 1PM on "Morning Becomes Eclectic."

Friday, March 10, 2006

Intonation Announces Headliners and Pre-Sale

Let the confusion begin... The Intonation Music Festival has announced its headliners for it's two day festival in Union Park, the event is scheduled to take place one month before The Pitchfork Music Festival in the same park. Like the Great Schism, that separated the Eastern Orthodox Church from the Vatican, these two groups once a collective creator of an Indie Rock mecca last summer, have split like the Red Sea and are promoting there own respective festivals. Last year, the Intonation Music Festival was curated by Pitchfork Media, this year Vice Magazines have taken the reigns with fellow promoters KEXP bringing along some of the top acts represented by Vice Recordings, hence the headliners for Intonation being THE STREETS for Day 1 and BLOC PARTY for Day 2. You can expect to see some of the other Vice Recording artists to make an appearance as well, ie. DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979, THE STILLS, and CHROMEO, with many more acts to be announced. Lineup Update As of 3/14/06: Day 1: The Streets The Stills Lady Sovereign Boredoms Jose Gonzalez Chromeo Day 2: Bloc Party Jon Brion Panthers The Intonation Music Festival will take place in Union Park: June 24-25, 2006. Tickets will be $20 for One-Day Pass or $35 for a Two-Day Pass.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

WZRD off the air...again!

As much as I've railed against WLUW for its incessant fundraising and top-heavy budget, on the other end of the spectrum we have WZRD. While they operate on a shoestring budget, don't conduct any pledge drives (Northeastern still covers their basic expenses) and have no full-time staff members, it would seem that maybe they should look into doing just a little fundraising (how about a Wizard bake sale?) and/or hire some sort of manager/director/consultant, as the station seems to have trouble just staying on the air. Last February, the station went silent for a couple of weeks because their FCC license expired and no one remembered to renew it. Now 88.3 is off the air again because their operating board is broke and they don't have a back-up. Word on the street is that they're looking for someone to drive it to Michigan (?!?) to get it fixed. Well, that shouldn't take too long...I'm sure they'll be back on the air in no time. (sarcasm strongly hinted) I guess they couldn't afford to hire a local engineer to fix it? Meanwhile, they have at least kept the Webstream running at www.wzrdchicago.com. They're not broadcasting live, but they are running some very interesting archival programming that explores the depths of the station's 32-year-old music library

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Live Review: dios (malos) @ Double Door 2/20/06

I’m sorry, but unless you’re Sigur Ros, or perhaps Mogwai or Interpol, unless your loftiness is thematic and merited and earned, you have to fucking smile. If you’re the opening indie bar band at the Double Door whose musical talent and ingenuity is still in the rudimentary stage, you don’t have the right to act lethargic and appear apathetic. If all you have under your belt are lackluster releases that do little on their own to grab my attention, when I see you live (especially on a Monday night) you have to play your sweet little hearts out, you have to jump around and yelp and sweat like there’s no sweatin’ tomorrow, otherwise I’ll write a bad review and publish it on the Internet where millions of trillions of music fans can recall it with the touch of a greasy finger, the same greasy finger that in two minutes will go to Ticketweb and not purchase passes for the next dios (malos) show. I’m not the most thorough of note-takers, but never before have I used a single word so often to encapsulate my exact thoughts on a performance. Blah. Over and over again. Blah blah blah. The only interesting focal point of the night was vocalist Jose Morales, and this is because he did volatile onstage theatrics such as putting up the hood of his parka and using his bottle of beer for a guitar slide. Drummer Jackie Monzon looked so indolent that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him yawn, and he ended the show without one hair out of place. Bassist JP Caballero perhaps had to concentrate too much on playing to be able to enjoy himself, and he looked around like a listless supermodel when he wasn’t watching his fingers. From the start, with “Feels Good Being Somebody,” dios (malos) sounded slightly under pitched and under tempo. I’m not sure if this shortcoming was a product of inability or of apathy; perhaps it was both. Overall the musicianship was not fantastic. The sound often felt labored, especially during guitar solos and drum fills that recalled high school talent shows in which a group of kids got together and practiced one song to death and performed it with no magic. There were other technical distractions. Morales had to slap his mic and fiddle with his pedals to get them to work properly. On closer “Later Skater” he once again fell to his knees to manipulate pedals, which is fine except that it disrupted his vocals, and he was behind his keyboard so that all we saw was the top oh his parka hood bobbing around. This isn’t the most dramatic position in which to end a show, unless you’re setting your guitar on fire, which dios (malos) definitely was not doing. Even if you’re not the most talented musicians on the planet, a show can be salvaged by showmanship that exudes heart and invokes vitality. If you hit wrong chords and miss pitches I’ll still love you if you make me laugh; if I’m dancing by the end of your set, rest assured I will revisit you the next time you come around. But dios (malos) fell flat in many regards. They don’t create the liveliest of tunes; however, even when the opportunity readily presented itself, such as during the sprawling epic “Epk,” the band sounded, well, blah. There was no belting grandiosity. No sparks. I just wanted to shout “Stand up and scream! Bang your fucking head! You’re jamming!” I’m not sure they would have heard. I’m not sure dios (malos) hears much of anything while performing, and this makes for one horribly frustrating show.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (3/7)

Goldfrapp Supernature (Mute) Trip-hop siren turned sex-pop kitten Alison Goldfrapp returns with her third full-length album. Originally released in the UK last August, the NME called Supernature the "Best Pop Album of 2005." We're not experts on pop albums here at RFC, but we do agree that this is a fine record. For you downloading types, check out the tracks "Ooh La La," "Ride a White Horse" and "Fly Me Away." Stereolab Fab Four Suture (Too Pure) With the tragic death of longtime keyboardist/vocalist Mary Hansen in 2002, the divorce of founding members Laetitia Sadier and Tim Gane earlier that year and the release of a career-spanning CD/DVD box-set, Oscillions from the Anti-Son, in 2005, one might guess that prolific lounge-popsters Stereolab would soon be packing up the synthesizers and drum machines at their space-age bachelor pad. However, despite recent turmoil, 9 full-length albums and a bazillion other comps, singles, b-sides and eps, the band amazingly still seems to have plenty more blips, bleeps and Moog flourishes left in them. A brand-new full-length is slated for 2007 and Fab Four Suture is a new CD collection of singles compiling a series of 7” vinyl tracks released last fall with a brand new triumvirate of 7’s released this week. And if that wasn’t enough, the band is hitting the road again for another full US tour this month, landing them at The Vic this Saturday Herb Alpert - Whipped Cream & Other Delights Rewhipped (Shout Facotry) The coolest title in your grandpa's record collection gets a modern upgrade courtesy of Thievery Corporation, Mocean Worker, John King (Dust Brothers), Anthony Marinelli and more. More often than not, "revisited" projects like these tend to do little more than taint the reputation of the original work, but this one actually turned out pretty damn good. The first three remixes are near perfect, (Marinelli's take on "Green Peppers" is especially recommended) and overall this release is an essential pick-up for lounge and downtempo electronica fans. More great rekkids out this week: Devics - Push the Heart (Filter) Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Ballads of The Broken Seas (V2) Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti) Mogwai - Mr. Beast (Matador) Mudhoney - Under a Billion Suns (Sub Pop)

Monday, March 06, 2006

More festival tickets to buy

Don't forget, tickets for the 2006 Intonat...err, I mean the Pitchfork Music Festival go on sale today. Returning to Union Park on July 29-30, the event will boast 36 of the world's finest indie acts for the low low price of $30. The full line-up is still TBA, but the 'Fork is tempting eager ticket buyers with these confirmed acts: Spoon Yo La Tengo Mission of Burma Ted Leo/Pharmacists Mountain Goats The National Jens Lekman Hot Machines Tapes N' Tapes Also, in the far less distant future, the Fork is presenting a kick ass party next Friday (3/17) at SXSW with a stellar line-up of mostly electronic artists booked by the fine people at Chicago's Windish Agency. The free daytime event at Emo's Annex will feature DJ sets by RJD2, Ladytron and Audion(aka Matthew Dear); plus live performances by Art Brut, Love Is All, Jose Gonzalez, Spank Rock, Hot Chip, Death Vessel, and the Juan Maclean. For you Austin faithfull out there, might want to pace yourself Thursday night so you're able to crawl out of your hotel before 4pm to check this out.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Is Everybody That Excited to See The Chili Peppers??

Did everybody get their Lollapalooza pre-sale invitation e-mails yesterday? 3-day pass tickets were on sale for $45, but if you decided to "sleep on it," you're already SOL. In fact, even if you were just a bit slow on checking your e-mail yesterday, you probably missed out. The 3,000 tickets alloted for the pre-sale sold out in just 34 minutes! Your next chance to buy tickets will be March 16th, when the official line-up will be announced. The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been confirmed, and the rumors were pretty strong about a Pumpkins reunion...so who else will be on the bill from Lolla's glory days? What essential buzz bands from this year will cause the most hype? Who will win the "Arcade Fire Award" for best performance? Click on "comments" and start speculating away!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

RFSL Band of Week: Thailand

Have you checked our new sister Blog in L.A. yet? Here is Joe's first "Band of the Week" pick on Radio Free Silver Lake: After spending several months playing local venues like The Silver Lake Lounge and The Scene Bar, Thailand is taking a break to finish off their first album before summer-time rolls around. If you haven’t heard them before, you really ought to head to their myspace page and download the four tracks the band has posted. They’re all really goddamn good and have made frequent appearances in mix cds I've made for friends since I first had the band recommended to me last year. The songs are immediately likable indie pop, with lyrics that are both smart and catchy, and are at least a little reminiscent of that early Manchester sound. While the band hides out to create more, the least you can do is to bone up on the music they’re gracefully providing you for free, yes?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cover your ears!

In honor of Mogwai's return to Chicago tonight at the Logan Square Auditorium, RFC presents these hearing loss prevention resources: H.E.A.R.: Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers A non-profit hearing information source for musicians and music lovers. Earlove: High Fidelity Hearing Protection A Chicago-based company specializing in earplugs specifically designed to reduce overall sound level while preserving sound quality (i.e. no distortion or muffling of voices, environmental sounds, or music). The Earplug Store Go to a lot of shows?? Buy here in bulk! Vater Percussion: A Guide to the Problem of Hearing Loss that Drummers Face As a drummer and musician, your hearing is the most important instrument you can have. Unfortunately, proper precautions are often overlooked by drummers/musicians because they think wearing earplugs is "not cool". BBC: Danger! High Volume Steve Lamacq investigates the risks of listening to loud music in this BBC Radio One audio documentary. Newsweek: "A Little Bit Louder Please" More than 28 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss, a number that could reach 78 million by 2030. The latest science, new treatments—and how to protect yourself. Rolling Stone: "Music Making Fans Deaf" How the iPod generation may be losing its hearing without even knowing it.