Friday, April 28, 2006

Quickie Album Reviews: Molecules, Essex Green, & The Little Ones

Molecules - 23 Factory Slaves (Self-Release) The LA-based Molecules’ recipe for success involves harmonizing male and female vocals, heavy use of organ, samples from old news broadcasts, and almost psychedelic moments of pure jamming. When these elements come together just right, they’re a force to be reckoned with, such as on stellar tracks Get Out of the Car and DNA Forever. The Essex GreenCannibal Sea (Merge Records) With three singer/songwriters in this Brooklyn-based band, it’s no surprise that it this album goes off in a few distinct directions, some with more of a folk flavoring, some more country rock, but all with a pure pop heart. The upbeat track Don’t Know Why stands out as the easiest to immediately embrace, while the other songs warm up more slowly. The Little OnesSing Song EP (Branches Recording Collective) They might not have invented infectious indie pop, but, geesh, sometimes it seems like The Little Ones should at least share the trademark for it. If songs like Lovers Who Uncover and High on a Hill off of this six-track EP don’t make you want to smile and hop around, your heart could very well be made of stone.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Concert review: Ladytron w/ the Presets @ the Metro, April 21

I walked into the sold-out Metro just as the opening band was beginning their set. I wasn’t expecting much from a band I knew absolutely nothing about, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Presets, an Australian electro-goth duo clearly influenced by Joy Division/New Order; it’s the type of stuff the Faint has been trying to do and succeeding at only on occasion. The singer’s Flock of Seagulls haircut, excessively tight jeans and ill-fitting t-shirt made for quite the spectacle as he thrived around the stage, occasionally pushing buttons on the electronic equipment that littered the floor. Meanwhile, the drummer kept the pace alongside a booming bass that ripped through my insides for 45 minutes straight. Further research revealed that this band has a debut album coming out this month, which would definitely be worth looking into. After a short break, Ladytron's four disgustingly beautiful band members came on stage joined by an additional drummer and bassist and proceeded to play almost robotically. This fit their robo-sound very well and was pretty much exactly how I would have expected them to play, though it did get boring at times. I wouldn’t be surprised if frontwomen Mira and Helena were actually fembots (fembots sporting very weird priest/nun-like clothing that only people in bands can pull off), and watching them perform made me wonder if their home country of Bulgaria is actually a land of gorgeous, fair-skinned, dark-haired androids. Thankfully, the band broke the image in time for the encore, when they began to show a bit of emotion and get the audience involved with some dancing, handclapping, and an extended electronic jam of "Seventeen," by far the most exciting moment of the night. Ladytron's set leaned heavily on songs from their latest album, The Witching Hour, including highlights "Destroy Everything You Touch," "Sugar" and "The International Dateline,“ while still managing to please the crowd with older hits like "He Took Her to a Movie," "Playgirl" and the aforementioned "Seventeen." For the first half of the show, it seemed the audience wasn’t sure whether or not it was possible to dance to Ladytron’s methodical electronica, as heads bobbed and feet shuffled nervously. Eventually, as the beer flowed and the end of the set approached, all pretenses fell to the wayside as people began pushing up to the front of the stage to flail wildly in my personal space, completely out of sync with the music. The Metro’s recent (and otherwise welcome) switch to a smoke-free environment revealed its sole flaw: no cigarette smell to cover up the sweaty BO scent. Blech. See more pictures from the concert at the RFC live concert photo archive.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Version '06 Music Guide, Week 2

Version '06 heads into week two with even more music performances: Wed 04/26 @ Heaven Gallery(1550 N. Milwaukee, 2nd Fl) The Brown Party 1) bass guitar, kick drum, mounted tom, hi-hat, ride, crash, cabasa,clave, shaker, slide, drum machine 2) snares, guitars, floor toms, microphones, boys singing like girls, 3) dudes, delay pedals, beers a piece, 4) Keyboards, amps, tambourines, girls on each arm. Brenmar Someday Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Brenmar Someday creates music that doesnot easily fit into category. He constructs tunes out of old dusty records, digital and analogue synthesizers, microphones, samplers, and found sounds; he arranges, records, and produces these tunes in the comfort of his room/studio. An electronic musician who’s just as comfortable on stage as he is in his studio, the combination of real-time drum programming, multiple synth lines, and improvisation makes for an exciting and unique live show. Ove Ove consists of Brian Hank Henry and Tony Janas. They are a sonic visual experience not unlike an avalanche. DJ Respect and DJ Jazzy Respect Wed 04/26 @ Happy Dog (1542 N. Milwaukee, 2nd Fl) Jennifer Thompson: Poly Block A work in progress that experiments with the dynamics of conversation between improvisational movement/dance composition and sound.Featuring Bubblegum Shitface, Randall Christopher Bailey and others. Thu 04/27 @ South Union Arts(3636 S. Iron) International Noise Awards Part One: Sweet 16 16 of Chicago's illest sonic hustlaz are throwing down intheultimate battle for the ultimate prize. Get schooled in competitive noise battles where YOU decide who is the freshest knob twister, the crunkest feedback enforcer, the baddest circuit bender. Noizers battle tournament style with 30 seconds per competitor. Placing rounds arefought freestyle, the championship is 30 seconds of freestyle, 60seconds of processing in the Fuck Shit Up round. MC/Producer duo Boatman & Short host and award the grand prize: a contract with Terry Plumming Records, home to the finest hoes of noise Babylon. Fri 04/28 @ Sonotheque THE OFFICIAL UNOFFICIAL BOOTLEG ART-NO-CHICAGO-VA-FEST-ISMS 101 EXTENDED ART DANCE REMIX REJECTS SOCIAL featuring DJs Logan Bay and Flosstradamus and video work by John Beasley, Paper Rad, E*rock, Barkley’s Barnyard Critters. Sat 04/29 @ Iron Studios Cave This Columbia, MO-based ensemble plays rhythmic yet noisy Kraut-rock style jams and includes members of Warhammer 48K, Mahjonng & Jerusalem and the Starbaskets. Cry Blood Apache Austinites Cry Blood Apache mobilized in March 2005 under a stringent"non-booking" performance philosophy (i.e. busking and crashingorganized shows as preferred methods of performance). CBA's sound blossomed accordingly, pulling inspiration from desolate industrialruins, unspoiled Hill Country terrain, and bustling city sidewalks inequal measure. A compact setup of drum machine, bass, synth, and guitarprovides a street-ready wall of electro-hum while the atmospheric whispers of vocalist Kaspar Glass add a dash of mad, yet humanist, prophesy. Glass' unique flute melodies weave their way above the technological roar, projecting an earthy sense of New Age mysticism. To date, the group has played Austin train yards, the San Antonio Riverwalk, downtown alleyways (in Houston and Little Rock), Larry Flynt's Hustler Club (Shreveport LA) parking lot, a Galveston Massage Parlor, and even an impromptu concert inside the Texas Music Museum. Skarekrau Radio St. Louis's Skarekraü Radio is composed of a rag-tag team of mischevious youthfulites trying their damn hardest to entertain you with their bardic tales of merriment. Some might think it is the work of a psychotic musical mastermind toiling away at horribly misunderstood work. Some think it is throw-away comic rock written by a diseased ferret for his parents 36th wedding anniversary. Some people don't think anything of it. Most people don't even think! But Skarekraü Radio thinks. They also laugh, fart, cry, scream, belch and scratch their privates! They also play music. This will be their first Chicago show since 1999! Slow Jams Band New York's Slow Jams Band takes typical hip hop themes—bongs, babes, bling—and explodes them in absurd mixed media performances that combineobscure theatrics, lots of sampling, intentionally dumb humor, and live sex acts. Rich Porter's "Bug Sized Mind" Barnyard Critter collaborator and Providence-based disaster artist. This is a solo project of Load Records "Wizzards" duo, fresh from a recent tour with Lightning Bolt. Power electronics to take you into the outer atmos-fear. Mildew Shape-shifting experimental noise made by two brothers from Milwaukee. On any given night, it is unclear what version of Mildew will show up. Sometimes it's aggressively harsh, other times mind-shatteringly psychedelic, and every once and a while, it's straight up wacky. Obelisk & MC Cat Genius Goofy abstract hiphop set to minimal jams from Columbia, MO. FReakOUT (beautiful future) Milwaukee WI art star Frankie Martin and her boombox present a dance performance. This Is My Condition Lawrence Kansas's one man rock and roll machine plays guitar and drums at the same damn time! Mudboy Providence-based musical circuit bent spell caster plays a highly modified church organ. Walking a fine line between noise and classical-it's a strange world. Half art rock, half vision quest. Mudboy has been called "the missing link" between Load Records and Last Visible Dog by the Blow Up magazine. DJ Liz Armstrong

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 4/25

Eleventh Dream Day - Zeroes and Ones (Thrill Jockey) First new record in six years! The veteran local rockers will be cranking up their new jams May 18th at the Bottle and will also be embarking on a full U.S. tour this summer. Tom Verlaine - Around (Thrill Jockey), Songs and Other Things (Thrill Jockey) Not one, but two new records from the former Television leader. Songs and Other Things is a pop record with the "soaring guitar and poetic lyricism of his past efforts." Around is an instrumental record inspired by postwar noir film scores. The Streets - The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living (Vice) On his debut album, Mike Skinner boasted, "you won't find us on AltaVista...cult classic, not best seller." For better or worse, those days are long gone for this Birmingham geezer, and now comes the inevitable album about being famous. The Fork gave it a respectable 7.0, but The Guardian wasn't nearly as forgiving. Also out this week... Elf Power - Back to the Web (Rykodisc) Rakes - Capture/Release (V2) Starlight Mints - Drowaton (Barsuk)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Live Review: Voxtrot w/Irving@Empty Bottle 4/15/06

After opening sets by two bands that sadly I didn’t really pay much attention to, five nicely dressed men walked on stage. Who were these men? Well, they were Irving! A band that I have been looking forward to seeing after listening to their new album, Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers, nonstop throughout the previous week. They kicked it off with "Situation," a song that makes me wish that I still had a car…it’s one of those perfect spring time cruise songs. They sadly didn’t play too long, reaching into a few songs off their new album, an older tune, and what I believed they said was a newer song. Their set sounded amazing and hopefully they will come back to the area to play a longer set. After hearing all the Voxtrot hype, it was finally my time to check them out. Usually “hype” bands tend to disappoint me live, but their set managed to rock me…rock me so hard that it took me almost a week to write about it. The band’s sound was tight throughout the night as they played their danceable indie pop songs. The band was refreshing to see live as they authentically looked to be having a fun time, especially with singer/guitarist Ramesh Srivastava dancing all over the stage as he sung and played his guitar (sadly showing more energy than the audience…but hey it was the Empty Bottle). Voxtrot squeezed their songs from the two EPs, plus a couple that didn’t catch my ear as being familiar, into an hour long set. I am proud to say I walked away from the show with a smile on my face, and it wasn’t just from all the Old Styles and bourbon that managed to enter my mouth. I came in only know a handful of Voxtrot songs, but walked away a huge fan. I totally recommend to anyone to get anything they can from both bands and check them out live. -Brian Johnston

Friday, April 21, 2006

Mini Review - Spank Rock@Empty Bottle 4/18/06

Hip Hop crammed into a little space is the best because you just might encounter a rapper while in the spectator stance. MC Spank Rock (Naeem Juwan) strolled right pass me with his white hoodie and a martini. Before I knew what hit me, the martini went on the stage and the mic stand fell into the crowd into his hands. The beat began and the rap flowed…MC Spank Rock was right in front of me rapping like it was his last night on Earth. That intensity lasted for another hour and a half with 3 turntables and a guest MC, Pase Rock. The party rocked while they tore through the hits “Put that Pussy on Me”, “Backyard Betty”, “Bump”, and “Rick Rubin”. At one point in the set Spank asked, “Why are you all so hyped?” Spank Rock’s music is a combo of booty beats, Gameboy arcade riffs, synths, and dirty lyrics-a unique combination that would get any music lover hot. Although, it didn’t hurt that the performance had enough energy to fuel a rocket to the moon. And left in the dust was a brief B-Boy dance off…prolonging the concert after it ended. Trust me Spank, none of us were ready to go! -Megan Timmons

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Intonation/Pitchfork Update

A quick festival update...if you didn't happen to catch the news from Chicagoist or Jim Dero at the Sun-Times earlier this week, both Intonation and 'Fork added big name nostalgia acts to their line-ups. At Intontation, Roky Erickson, the former lead singer of '60s garage rock legends The 13th Floor Elevators has been added to the Sunday, June 24 bill. Over at the Pitchfork Music Fest, Ryan Schreiber says, 'I'll see your cult rock icon and raise you with 60's Brazilian tropicalia cult favorites Os Mutantes.' According the Pfork Fest website, Os Mutantes haven't played live since 1973 and this will be their only American festival appearance. If you're still keeping score at home, here's the latest line-up for the Pitchfork Music Festival: JULY 29th Silver Jews The Futureheads Ted Leo / Pharmacists Art Brut Destroyer Mountain Goats Band of Horses Man Man Hot Machines Biz 3 stage: Matmos Dominik Eulberg Ada Ghislain Poirier 8 Bold JULY 30 Os Mutantes Spoon Yo La Tengo Devendra Banhart Mission of Burma Aesop Rock The National Jens Lekman Tapes 'n Tapes Chin Up Chin Up Biz 3 stage: Diplo Tarantula A.D. Tyondai Braxton Bondo Do Role

Live Review: Subtle @ Abbey Pub 4/15/06

Why do I go to live show after live show? It’s an elusive chase. Ninety-five percent of the time the idea of seeing a band is better than the reality, and it seems anymore that I leave a show liking the musicians less than I did going into it. It’s not that I’m looking for a life-altering experience. All I want is energy. All I want is to hear a great sound, to see a passionate performance, to feel I’m a part of something reflective of the beautiful, happy process of creating art. At the very least, I want to be entertained, but it seems nowadays that groups take themselves too seriously, or else they don’t enjoy what they’re doing, and so they run through lackluster shows with scowls upon their faces and this only makes me grumpy. So why do I go? Why don’t I spend Saturday nights in my apartment, relaxing in the bath, listening to CDs and eating cartons of Soy Delicious? Why do I put myself through the misery of going to painful show after painful show? Because every once in awhile and act like Subtle comes around. Every once in awhile I find myself at a show where all of the elements come together and I forget where I am, what time it is, that there’s a tall guy in font of me blowing smoke in my face. I forget that I’m at the Abbey Pub. I feel like I’m at a fucking great show and nothing on earth exists besides the riot on the stage, the music on the air and the groove in my booty. I’m sure it helped that this was an earlier show, and as on old lady approaching the quarter-century mark I’m usually ready for bed by the time the opening band comes on. But with a seven o’clock start time Jel hit the stage with daylight still filtering through the windows, and his hard-hitting beats, along with the quirky energetic rock of fellow opener Fog, whisked me though the hour and a half before Subtle began its set. The proscenium itself was a tell. Anytime there are large red forks hanging form the ceiling and a backdrop not-so-subtly suggestive of female genitalia, you know you’re in for, well, something, whether awful or extraordinary. Despite these signs I was still not expecting what I got, and that’s one of the liveliest, one of the tightest, one of the best performances I’ve ever experienced. No exaggeration. Subtle came out in outfits of matching coral, with Doseone donning a ruffled blouse and the faux fur of a zebra around his shoulders, out of which he pulled many a cheesy, inexplicable prop. If you’ve never seen Doseone, just picture, in look and in mood, Al Franken dropping sweet rhymes and you’ll get the idea. He wore big, ugly spectacles and an electronic belt complete with scrolling marquee. He moved around the stage lithely, grabbing from various places random knick knacks he would sing to for a second before moving on to the next. The focal point of the stage was a bust with striped head and removable skullcap, out of which Doseone pulled even more goodies. Despite all of this movement and impulsiveness, the sound was incredible. While you usually expect a fun performance to be sacrificed for a glorious noise or vice versa, here nothing was lacking. The beats, sampling, and instrumentation came together seamlessly and powerfully behind the words of Doseone, which were as smooth and breathless live as they are on record. For an hour they played a packed set featuring much of A New White and also some new tracks, and the breaks between songs were few and scant, except to let Doseone make good-natured, deprecating musings on our whiteness. A good time was indeed had by all. Cumulatively this was the show you think about when you think about live shows. It was the epitome. It was the reason why I’ve wasted so much time this year covering blah after blah.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Version '06 Music Guide, Weekend 1

The fifth annual Version Fest (aka Version '06) kicks off tomorrow night with an opening party at Sonotheque. If you're not familiar with the event, Version is a 17-day long festival focused on emerging art, technology, and social activism. As usual, the festival also brings with it a barrage of musical performances amongst the numerous different exhibits, programs and installations. Below is a brief run-down of this weekend's music madness: Thu 04/20 @ Sonotheque Warhammer 48K Hailing from Columbia, MO, Warhammer 48K is possibly the finest psychedelic stoner prog-metal ensemble in the country. Jerusalem & the Starbaskets Lo-fi folky pop from Columbia, MO that gives way to psych drones and synth rumbles. Jeremy Freeze sings songs of Doom and of werewolves delight while Kim Sherman manages to hold everything together (just barely) with her hypnotic beats. The Mummy Old funky jams from Milwaukee's Mummy. DJ Kyle Dade An eclectic mix of indigo chillbient waterfall and floetry cloud forms. Fri 04/21 @ Iron Studios [3636 S. Iron] Juiceboxxx Teen-dream posi-rap sensation from Milwaukee will make U sweat. E-Rock E*Rock is from Portland, OR. He works with a variety of visual and audio mediums as well as motion graphics and video. Benn Jordan (aka Flashbulb) The Rephlex Records breakmaster known as the Flashbulb will take a walk down memory lane in this special 1992 Acid themed set. It’s A Trap Piercing spazz-out dance-punk from Dance to Panic cholos. Mirajj Fucked up top-40 cover band butchers the hits in da-glo body suits all awash in a neon haze. Far Rad Are you a part of the Far Rad movement? You better be, or else you will be held accountable for your actions when the time for the spirtual cleansing of your getting down-ed-ness is upon us! Pamphlets explaining their position, with crude little stick figures to illustrate it, will be dropped across the Chicagoland area educating the masses on how Far Rad will rock you into submission, until there is no way to fight back. Eavil McKinley Park's own dark electro duo. Minimal synths and bursts of noise meet sweet beats and brooding vocals. Cool Runnings DJ Collective Jamaica's finest DJ team, all deckep out in matching jumpsuits and dreadlocks. Sat 04/22 @ Iron Studios KK Rampage Three of the ugliest young men from Chicago play improvised punk rock that's loud and obnoxious and sounds like it's not improvised. Alexis One half of Princess presents a one man gospel-circus, cartoon-necessary schizo-rap New York hillbilly, aged and innocent provocateur, Alexis has emerged with the craziest music currently available, which is only to say it is the most familiar. From joy to mourning and back again and none of it harder or easier than it has to be. The most familiar music in America. Amerika’z Meth Problem II Terry Plumming's terrorist karaoke supergroup returns for another go-round. Rotten Milk is selling the rights to shave his mighty beard during this show on e-bay. It is uncertain what other chaos might ensue. Soft Serve Terry Plumming's queen of noisy-electro-fuck-pop freakout returns to Chicago from the West Coast with a backpack full of pedals for this performance. Lazer Mountain You will never believe four kids from the Quad Cities can rock this hard or this spastically. Aspic Tines Aspic Tines will enslave some and make others dance. DO NOT RESIST! Typewriter Typewriter is the twisted children's story of a cow, two giant rabbits, a talking dummy, an evil hospital administrator, Santa Claus and a decapitated polar bear set to blistering live hip hop beats. I Am the Liquor A new Dance to Panic band that pays homage to the greatest of vices, the booze. Featuring members of It's a Trap, A Drunk with A Gun & Spiderlegs. It'll be a miracle if they stay standing through their whole set. DJ Hunter Husar

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (4/17)

Spank Rock - YoYoYoYoYo (Big Dada) After a raucous New Year's Eve performance, Spank Rock returns to the Bottle tonight for another celebration of sorts...the launch of their debut full-length album, YoYoYoYoYo. For an act that had a spazzy hit single titled "Put That Pussy On Me," it would be easy to discount these guys as novelty club track one-hit-wonders. However, this album is actually quite solid and it's not all 140BPM booty house. There's still plenty of raunch, but overall YoYoYoYoYo is a relatively subdued hip-hop album that you don't have to be crunked up at 3am to enjoy. Of course, the emphasis here is on relatively, as there's still plenty of Baltimore club flava here to move the dance floor...especially on tracks like "Bump" and "Rick Rubin." Richard Butler - Richard Butler (Koch) Not to be confused with the former guitarist from Suede, Bernard Butler, the voice of the Psychedelic Furs and Love Split Love, Richard Butler releases his debut solo album. Erasure - Union Street (Mute) Hmmm...a new organic acoustic CD from a band synonymous with the electronic synthesizer sound of the 80s? Sounds like it might suck. Most likely a "true fans only" release. Also this week... Cities - Cities (Yep Roc) Dresden Dolls - Yes, Virginia (Roadrunner) Elefant - Black Magic Show (Kemado) Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea (Fat Possum) Frog Eyes - Bloody Hand (Absolutley Kosher) Lovely Feathers - Hind Hind Legs (Equator) Secret Machines - Ten Silver Drops (Reprise) Stereophonics - Live From Dakota (Vox Populi)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Beware of the Cobra Snake

Do you like drunken hipster and celebrity party photos? Are you a hipster that likes to get drunk and do outrageous things in front of the camera? Well, make a b-line to, clear your date book for tomorrow night and start working on that outfit. Tomorrow night for Dark Wave Disco's 1-year anniversary party at Sonotheque, Dim Mak label head/founder Steve Aoki will be spinning as "DJ Kid Millionaire" and he's bringing his good buddy, Mark "The Cobra Snake" Hunter. The Cobra Snake is an underground paparazzi icon in L.A. who apparently has no real job and just goes around taking pictures at all the hippest parties around town. I have to admit, as much as I loathe the whole "scenester" thing, the Cobra Snake takes some great pictures and his Web site is pretty damn entertaining. So load up on the PBR and Sparks and do Chicago proud tomorrow night! Party starts at 9p, admission is free before 10.

"Sparks will fuck you up, man!"

Friday, April 14, 2006

Mini Interview: Soul Position

Tomorrow night at The Abbey Pub, DJ/producer RJD2 returns to Chicago for what seems like the 20th time in the last six months. This time around he'll be performing as one half of Soul Position, his ongoing collaborative project with rapper Blueprint. RFC recently caught up with the underground hip-hop heroes to talk about their current tour and latest release, Things Go Better With RJ and Al. RFC: So...why do things go better with RJ and Al? Blueprint: Ha...I think we’re in a better place now. It’s a funny title to us but it has a hidden meaning. It’s were we’re at and what we’ve had to go through to get to this point. RFC: What is the inspiration for the lyrics on this record? Blueprint: Everday life kind of…I try to make it something that anybody can get. I’m not on any mission to confuse or make people have to listen to it five times in order to understand what I’m talking about on a particular song. I don’t think that’s what Soul Position is here for. We here to kind of expand things in…maybe widen the door for us and our peers by just using what the average person can relate to or laugh at or identify with. RFC: Any interesting stories from past Chicago gigs? Blueprint: I had a period where everytime I would go there bad shit would happen…like flat tires, equipment would fail, getting lost for three hours. I finally got out of that in 2004. I'm hoping that only normal things will happen this time. RFC: What can we expect from this Saturday's show? RJD2: There’ll be some surprises…it should be fun. Don’t worry, you won’t need to keep it real. You won’t need to cross your arms. Get drunk and have fun and dance. Pretend that you’re going to see Ja Rue, only the music is better.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Intonation Update

The Vice-curated Intonation Festival has released another round of confirmed acts who've signed up to rock Union Park this June. The latest adds are: BLUE CHEER - First Chicago show in 25 years! ROBERT POLLARD - Champion beer chugger/ex-Guided By Voices frontman RHYMEFEST - Chicago MC and Kanye West collaborator ERASE ERRATA - San Francisco’s angular chaos queens THE SWORD - Retro-metal madness from Texas FAVOURITE SONS - NYC indie rockers and Vice Records roster members BILL DOLAN - Local funk maven and former 5ive Style guitarist If you're keeping score at home, here's the latest line-ups for each day: SATURDAY JUNE 24: The Streets• Lady Sovereign• Boredoms• The Stills• High On Fire• Devin The Dude• Jose Gonzalez• Chromeo• Erase Errata• 90 Day Men• Favourite Sons• Kano SUNDAY JUNE 25: Bloc Party• Dead Prez• Robert Pollard• Jon Brion• Blue Cheer• The Sword• Lupe Fiasco• Annie• Rhymefest• Constantines• Panthers• Bill Dolan• Tyrades

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

RFC Interview - Irving

You know that trick where you talk to your pet Golden Retriever in an excited voice – you know, the one usually reserved for questions like "Who wants a treat?" or "Do you want to go for a WALK?!" – but say terrible or misleading things, instead? You’d realized that you could sneak most comments past him by just saying them in an upbeat, animated voice. ("Who wants to go to the vet and get neutered?!" "You do?!?" "Oh, good boy! Let's go!!") Los Angeles indie pop act Irving pull off the musical equivalent of that routinely, singing sad songs couched within the happiest of melodies. This time, you're the dog and might miss the line about how "I think I know what they meant when they said you were gone" or "I wish my brain had a map to tell me where my heart should go" because you're too distracted bopping your head back and forth to the music. The band first perfected this with their debut album Good Morning, Beautiful, then further refined with their I Hope You’re Feeling Better Now EP, and again most recently with their new album Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers, which they’re touring in support of right now with the likes of Voxtrot and Essex Green. And you know what? Like any obedient Golden Retriever, we love them for it. We recently sent a few questions to three out of the five Irvings – specifically, singer/bassist Alex Church, singer/guitarist Brian Canning, and singer/keyboardist Aaron Burrows – about what brought them to this point and the process of recording their recent album. When did the band first start? How did it come together at first? Alex: The band started in 1999. Brian, Steven and I were friends and had been messing around together for a while, making 4-tracks and whatnot. Had aspirations of having a real band someday. A friend asked us to play at her art opening. We had no idea what we were doing, but it came together somehow and the show was so well received it sort of pushed us to continue. Brent came along month later. And a couple of years later came Aaron, replacing our original keyboard player. What bands inspired you originally? And more recently? Alex: I think I'd have to say the biggest early influences were Belle & Sebastian, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, the Beatles, the Kinks, Velvet Underground... But it's a lot more eclectic now. We're a bit older and more experienced so we don't idolize bands so much. I think now we're more inspired by ideas here and there, but not so much any particular band... How long have you been working on the new album? How is it different from your first album and EP? Brian: It was about a two-year process. I would say that it is similar in the sense that we still write sad songs that are dressed up with a happy melody, but other than that this album is much different. Every album we make will be different from its predecessor. We would never want to make the same album twice. Aaron: The process we adopted in the making of this record was new for us. Each member of Irving would spend time writing songs on their own and recording them as demos at home. We would then bring all of the material together for a listening session. Typically we would have about ten to fifteen songs contributed by all members of the band. We would spend a week listening to each other’s work, getting familiar with the sounds and writing. Then we would vote on our favorite tracks that we wanted to work on for the record. This would typically yield four to five songs. At this point we would rehearse and then go in and record the tracks. We did this process three or four times for this new record. We also adopted the mentality that we weren't going to rush things in the studio. We did a lot of producing and part writing while in the studio. So, while the whole record writing and recording process took about two years, I think we all really enjoyed the new approach and learned a lot from making this record. But just as Irving's song writing evolves, I think our approach to creating music will also evolve. We've already discussed the possibility of making the next Irving record more under a more immediate and spontaneous way. The sound of this record differs from the earlier material in part because of the process we adopted. There are more intricacies in some of the part and melodic writing and we spent time developing new sounds. Overall, I think it's a little darker and edgier than earlier material. But it still maintains it's pop focus. I just saw your video for Situation. Nice. Is it your first? How did it come together? Brian: Yes, this is our first music video. We had this idea to do a black and white contrast video for "Situation", and when Steven started to sing the words would come out of his mouth. Then Josh Forbes contacted us to do a music video and we told him our idea and he liked it and then he had the idea of shooting us playing in front of a green screen and then adding in the artwork of Max Micelli. We were a big fan of Max Micelli, so we agreed. We were very fortunate to work with both Max and Josh, they are very creative and really nice guys. Alright, last question: Who are your other favorite bands from the L.A. scene? Alex: Lavender Diamond and Silversun Pickups. Brian: Sea Wolf and The Movies. Aaron: Silversun Pickups and Earlimart. That's it. Thanks your time, guys. Irving opens for Voxtrot this Saturday night(4/15) at The Bottle. As usual, show starts at are $10, 21+

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (4/11)

Built To Spill - You In Reverse (Warner Brothers) Doug may be getting old, but he can still kick out the jams! A little eye problem has put him on the bench for a while, but he'll be back in September to rock the Metro for the bazillionth time. Calexico - Garden Ruin (Quarterstick) Hot off last year's collaboration with Iron & Wine, the Calexico boys are back on their own with the proper follow-up to 2003's Feast of Wire. Eagles of Death Metal - Death By Sexy (AntAcidAudio) The Dream Boys dynamic duo is back. This Joshua Homme produced album sounds exactly the way God intended live rock and roll to sound: raw, sleazy, and spiffy. It's more hook laden than your old job at the bait shop. Put your dancing shoes on. ( Whaaaa? This is got to be the lamest promo copy I've seen in quite some time. Hopefully this record doesn't suck nearly as bad as this sales pitch. Lots more goodies this week... Aloha - Some Echoes (Polyvinyl) Crystal Skulls - Outgoing Behavior (Suicide Squeeze) Gotan Project - Lunatico (XL) Josephine Foster - A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing (Locust Music) Ladytron - Extended Play (Rykodisc) Lambchop - The Decline of Country & Western Civilization, Part II: The Woodwind Years (Merge) Mono - You Are There (Temporary Residence LTD) Parts and Labor - Stay Afraid (Jagjaguwar) Pretty Girls Make Graves - Elan Vital (Matador) Josh Ritter - The Animal Years (V2) Peter Walker - Young Gravity (Dangerbird) Imaad Wasif - S/T (Kill Rock Stars) Wilderness - Vessel States (Jagjaguwar)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Das gut techno

RFC favorite Apparat returns to Chicago this week for a blitzkrieg of Berlin techno on SmartBar Tuesday night. A co-owner of the uber-hip Shitkatapult label with T. Raumschmiere, Apparat’s music sensibilities fall somewhere in-between the smoothness of his Orchestra of Bubbles collaborator Ellen Allien and the monster truck stomp of Raumschmiere. On record, Apparat can even be a bit atmospheric and moody, but as his MySpace bio states, "his live performances are known for kicking some ass!" And that's not just some hyperbolic publicist BS either...You know when a show is so good that you immediately go out and buy the record the next day? Apparat’s opening set a couple years ago at the Empty Bottle actually inspired this cynical author to do just that. Festivities begin Tuesday at 10pm, with openers Chris Widman, Yard, Miles Tilman and M50. Price at the door is a stupidly cheap 5 bucks. Orchestra of Bubbles will be out next month on Allien's BpitchControl imprint.

Friday, April 07, 2006


Ah, a rainy Friday...a perfect time to catch up on some new music clips via the RFC video vault. (all clips in QuickTime) David Bowie - Serious Moonlight (new live DVD of 1983 tour) "Heroes" (check out that powder blue suit!?!) "Young Americans" "China Girl" Richard Ashcroft - Keys to the World "Break the Night with Colour" Metric - Live it Out "Poster of a Girl" "Monster Hospital" Check out Metric live next Thursday(4/14) at Metro

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Touch and Go to Celebrate 25th at Hideout

Venerable local record label Touch and Go will be celebrating their 25th anniversary this fall with a massive block party bash at The Hideout. A few of the artists already schedued include: The Black Heart Procession Calexico CocoRosie Didjits (all original members) Enon Ted Leo + Pharmacists Pinback Scratch Acid (all original members) Shellac In all, the block party will feature "25 bands in 2.5 days," the weekend of September 8-10. Ticket information and sales are forthcoming...keep your eyes peeled to for more info and updates.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mini Review - Art Brut@Metro 3/30/06

After the wacky antics of Gil Mantera's Party Dream, seeing Art Brut live was almost anticlimactic. Don't get me wrong, they didn't just didn't seem like their live act brought anything more to their the material. The genius of Art Brut lies almost solely Eddie Argos' cheeky lyrics, which he pretty much just speaks, rather than actually sings. On record it cracks my shit up, but live this formula never really translates well for me (see LCD Soundsystem). Finally, in a strange way, watching Art Brut live almost reminded me of a more mentally stable version of the Wesley Willis Fiasco. Not exactly, of course...but the combination of a backing band that ironically rocks out really hard with a frontman that talk-sings humorous songs that essentially all sound the same did bring back some memories. As always, more pics available at

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

New Releases Tuesday (4/4)

Irving - Death in the Garden Blood on the Flowers (Eenie Meenie Records) A huge favorite over at Radio Free Silver Lake, Irving are an L.A.-based 5-piece that have been described as the "Beach Boys scoring a Hitchcock movie." In support of this sophomore release, the Irving boys will be playing The Empty Bottle a week from Saturday with headliners Vox Trot. Morrissey - Ringleader of the Tormentors (Sanctuary) That California sun seems to be reinvigorating Morrissey as he's back with yet another new album of Mozzy mope anthems. Recorded by Tony Visconti, this one's supposed to "rock" more than previous releases and the press for the album even claims that it's "the most musically disturbing record Morrissey has made since Meat is Murder." The Flaming Lips - At War with the Mystics (Warner Bros.) Another much-heralded "return to the rock" from a veteran act, At the Lips' 12th record and first in four years. I heard this record in its entirety in February when I was in L.A., but it was like at 5am at a friend of a friend's house after a long night of drinking. It seemed like it sounded pretty cool?? But let's be honest, at this point Wayne Coyne could cut of record of himself belching the alphabet and I'd still probably buy it, so I'm probably not the best judge of this record. Also this week... American Princes - Less and Less (Yep Roc) Rahim - Ideal Lives (French Kiss) Rainer Maria - Catastrophe Keeps Us Together (Grunion) Soul Position - Things Go Better with RJ and Al (Rhymesayers) Subtle - Wishingbone (Lex) Various Artists - The DFA Remixes: Chapter One (DFA/Astralwerks)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Live Review: Gil Mantera's Party Dream@Metro 3/30/06

Supposedly two brothers from Youngstown, OH, Gil Mantera and his bandmate “Ultimate Donny” are two very strange dudes. If they are actually brothers, they must have been dropped on the head a lot as babies, or mom let them eat a few too many paint chips. Watching them open up for Art Brut last Thursday at Metro, I was completely dumbfounded by their look, their music and their stage persona. The best description that I can come up with is that they’re like combination of bad late 70’s arena rock, cheesy 80’s soundtrack pop and maybe a dash of 90’s Euro-dance schlock. Despite all of these painfully awful influences from which they obviously draw from, nothing about their performance seemed ironic or overly tongue-in-cheek. Seemingly oblivious to any sort of kitsch factor, Ultimate Donny sang his heart out and Gil danced his ass off as if he was, in fact, rocking out in his very own party dream. I don’t think that their music really stands up on its own (in fact, some of it is downright awful), but I have to admit, their live show is pretty damn amusing…mostly in a baffling WTF?? kind of way, but still amusing nonetheless. Case in point, toward the end of their set, Gil sings a solo drum machine-backed version of “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac using a vocoder and proceeds to strip to his underwear in the process. Later in the song, he’s joined by Donny, who also strips to his skimpies. The whole thing was completely asinine, but instead of rolling my eyes and leaving for the bar, I’m captivated by the musical train wreck and can’t look away. I don't know...maybe they're just on a lot of drugs, or maybe they are really a little "special," but whatever the case, Gil Mantera's Party Dream are a trip and (for better or worse)this was easily one of the most entertaining shows I've seen in quite some time. Lots more pics of the Party Dream in the Live Photo Archive (click on "view as as slide show" for best results)