Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Live Review: (International) Noise Conspiracy@Beat Kitchen 5/27/06

After an incredible set by The Fever (as reviewed by Carlo), Swedish rockers The (International) Noise Conspiracy came on stage with a mission: to rock the ever living shit out of the sweaty, all ages crowd at the Beat Kitchen. Mission Accomplished! Dennis Lyxzén is in every sense a man born to entertain, he knows how to make a crowd go ape shit with his smooth as a baby's butt dance moves, jumping off anything on the stage, and propaganda-filled banter. The Noise Conspiracy boys blazed though much of their last release, Armed Love (which slowly managed to grow on me), and favorites from Survival Sickness ("Smash It Up") and A New Morning, Changing Weather. The one thing the show lacked compared to other times I have seen them was Dennis' anti-capitalism speeches, which is always fun to look around and see half the audience confused on whether or not to cheer along with his the FBI is going to kick in and take everyone in as possible terrorist. But as usual, the band was extremely energetic, and the crowd ate it up. During "Capitalism Stole My Virginity," the kids scurried around to get the chance to support Dennis feet as he walked on top of the crowd singing (I managed to hold him up and get a little hand shake...I swear if I ever became gay, Dennis would be on my top of my "have to do" list). I wish I had like 20 more thumbs so I could give the show 22 thumbs up, but take my word, go see these guys if you haven't yet...nothing but outstanding music that is guaranteed to have you shaking your ass within seconds, with one of the best front men in rock to entertain the living hell out of you. Also, being my first time at the Beat Kitchen I was surprised on how great the sound was during each of the band's set. The venue is pretty decent overall, decent drink prices, friendly staff, and the cleanest bathrooms I have ever been to in a bar/venue. The audience was also refreshing as everyone was cool and full of energy...probably my first time at an all ages show and not getting annoyed. -Brian Johnston

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 5/30

Not surprisingly, not much going on this New Releases Tuesday following the long holiday weekend. However, there are a couple of albums you may want to check out: Boards of Canada - Trans Canada Highway [EP] (Warp) As if there wasn't enough misconception about these guys being from the Great White North (they're actually Scottish), they've now named their latest release after a major highway there. However, according to AllMusic, this is a "mini-concept LP" inspired by an actual trip by the Scottish brother duo in which they travelled from St. John's, Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C. This six song EP includes the previously released album track "Dayvan Cowboy" plus four new tracks and a Dayvan remix. Peeping Tom - S/T (Ipecac) Yet another new project from Mike Patton (Faith No More, Tomahawk, Mr. Bungle, etc.), this album is reported to be have been six years in the making. Featuring collaborations from Amon Tobin, Bebel Gilberto, Massive Attack, Kool Keith and even Norah Jones, word on the street is that this is Patton's most accessible work since Faith No More. Also this week... Les Claypool - Of Whales and Woe (Prawn Song) Herbert - Scale (K7) Mikaela's Fiend - We Can Driving Machine (Strictly Amateur) Modern Machines - Take It From Somebody (Dirtnap Records)

Monday, May 29, 2006

Live Review: The Fever@Beat Kitchen 5/27/06

Dirty, raw, and filled with bloody truth: The Fever aim to reach their fist out into the crowd and hug you in their brooding world of intrigue. The Fever have experienced a shift of musical focus since their 2003 release of Red Bedroom, and I rather enjoy the new direction. Their way too short opening set was filled with mostly songs from their new album In The City of Sleep, which is noir-filled soundscape where Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and John Lennon drink tea and shoot at carnivale dogs in grainy black and white, as audio tremors travel up you legs and shake your body. Lead singer Geremy Jasper gave a top notch performance, shifting effortlessly between screaming emotional outbursts and sweet sonic melodies, drummer Achilles Tzoulafis hammered out a call for all to bob their heads and stomp their feet, and organist J. Ruggiero layered on the textural harmony with tastes of euphoria and melancholy. Some notable standouts include "Crying Wolf", "Labor of Love" (from Red Bedroom, which got everyone dancing), and "Waiting for the Centipede" (my personal favorite): a dog and pony show anthem sauntering it's way down the dimly lit halls and through the mirrors of the fun house. The Fever brought a dose of high energy and a full force torrent of emotion-filled rock-n-roll. Each song packed a heart filled tortured punch, that left you wanting to hear a few more songs. Despite the time constraints, The Fever definitely tore through their solid set with great ferocity and skill. Hopefully, they will come through Chicago soon with higher billing. If you haven't heard In The City of Sleep, I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you like The Apes, The Features, or Firewater.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Chicago Innerview Showcase Tonight

Tonight at The Beat Kitchen, local indie music monthly Chicago Innerview will be hosting the second edition of their new monthly music showcases. This time around, local popsters Paper Airplane Pilots will be handling headlining duties, along side two Brooklyn-based bands, Lowry and The Bowmans. Get the full scoop at Innerview's Ghost Media Blog where you can also find out about a "hot shit" freebie courtesy of Innerview publisher Jay Gentile.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Who doesn't love experimental Australian drone?

Tomorrow at 5:30pm, Reckless on Milwaukee will be hosting a rare in-store performance from Australian experimental artist Oren Ambarchi. Here's the official scoop from Reckless HQ: Oren has released several albums on labels like TOUCH, SOUTHERN LORD, IDEA, STAUBGOLD and TZADIK to name a few...his albums are a unique take on guitar minimalism, focusing on low-end drone yet his sound is that of pristine tones and almost glacial layers of sound. It's soothing, gorgeous, and sometimes unnerving...his last release for Touch "Grapes From The Estate" was a gorgeous amalgamation of minimalism and (dare we say) post-rock shuffle...He is currently in the states touring with SUNN O))), but with Friday being the Sabbat he will NOT be performing at the Logan Square Auditorium and this will be his ONLY Chicago performance, and certainly one not to be missed! But wait, there's more in-store fun this weekend at Reckless... Former Melivns and current High on Fire bassist Joe Preston(aka THRONES) will be performing an in-store Sunday at 4pm on Milwaukee and over at the Broadway location, direct from the armpit of the nation (aka Indiana) comes Metro-headliners Murder By Death for an acoustic in-store performance at 2pm on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Free Imogen Heap performance

Thursday night's Imogen Heap show at the Park West is sold out, but you can still check out the former Frou Frou vocalist tomorrow by heading over to the Apple Store for lunch. She'll be performing a free in-store at noon sponsored in part by the world's finest news source, The Onion. If you're not familiar with Heap's work, think Björk or Beth Orton, only with more vocal loops and overdubs. The Apple Store is located at 679 N. Michigan Ave.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 5/23

The Walkmen - Hundred Miles Off (Record Collection) Album number three from the NYC indie rockers. Nothing here as powerful as "The Rat" or as catchy as "We've Been Had," but lead single "Louisiana"(recorded pre-Katrina) should give them another run at the top of the college rock charts this year. Mission of Burma - The Obliterati (Matador) The second studio album since their reunion in 2004 (and only third full-length of their career), these 80's post-punk cult heroes have now actually produced as much material in the new millenium as they did in their original heyday. Scott Walker - The Drift (4AD) First record in 9 years from the legendary enigmatic avant-pop crooner. Also this week... Murder By Death - In Boca Al Lupo (Tent Show) Don Peris Go When The Morning Shineth (Badman) Ocrilim Anoint (I & Ear) Osaka Popstar - Osaka Popstar and The American Legends of Punk (Rykodisc) Phoenix It's Never Been Like That (Astralwerks) Tilly & the Wall - Bottoms of Barrels (Team Love) Vetiver - To Find Me Gone Dicristina (Stair Builders)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Live Pics: Frog Eyes w/Sunset Rubdown@Schubas 5/18/06

Friday, May 19, 2006

Quickie Album Reviews

Grandaddy - Just Like The Fambly Cat (V2 Ada) Grandaddy’s swan song is as good a farewell gift as any band can give. Instead of phoning it in, as many bands in the midst of breaking up might do, they chose to record what might be their best work yet. At turns soft, sunny and playful, others frenzied, frantic and desperate, it’s an album packed with more ideas than most bands have in an entire career; a rich aural experience that rewards repeated listens. – Gabe Burger Division DayBeartrap Island (Self-release) Lines like "A dirty kid with insects all in your mouth," "I want your blood inside my head," and "Are you a murder friend?" represent the sort of lyrical absurdity you can expect from Division Day’s first full-length album, but try to dislodge them from your mind and you’ll find them all steadfastly in place. Catchy, varied, and original, Beartrap Island is a must-have release from one of indie rock’s most shockingly unsigned bands. – Joe Fielder The Electric Soft Parade - The Human Body EP (Better Looking Records) ESP has assembled a strong batch of well-produced, well-studied pop/rock tunes in The Human Body EP. A band that wears its ambition, and its influences, on its sleeve, their sound makes it no secret they want to be BIG. Originally released in the U.K. last year, the U.S. release gets an extra psychedelic workout, The Captain. Standouts include Cold Word, the epic Everybody Wants, and Kick In The Teeth (which has a riff that must’ve been raided from Josh Homme’s footlocker). – Gabe Burger

Thursday, May 18, 2006

RFC Interview: Walter Meego

After countless DJ sets around town recently and a sold out headlining gig last month at the Empty Bottle, local funky electronica trio Walter Meego reemerge tonight at the Dark Room in a brand new incarnation they call "Super Meego Soundsystem." Combining the performance aspect of their live show with the seamless flow of their DJ sets, the Meego Soundsystem will mix, edit and loop tracks on the fly via a wired mix of turntables, laptops and other electronic gadgets. RFC recently caught up with Meego's Jarrett Spiegel to discuss more about the band and their latest scheme to get the dancefloor moving. was last week's DJ gig at Betty's. Any crazy debauchery go down with the bondage/Bettie Page theme? Last week's gig at Betty's was good fun. It was the first time we ever performed our Super Meego Soundsystem set (we did it kind of sneakily) and people seemed to be up for it. The Super Meego set is something we're all really excited about getting out and playing. The music is really, really fun and we have a lot of fun doing it. There wasn't any really excessive debauchery at the event but our manager won a raffle for what turned out to be a vibrating, two-pronged dildo that was infused with pressure-sensitive lights (L.A. Gear-style); so that was pretty amusing.

For those who may not be familiar with your work, explain more how "Super Meego" differs from the regular ol' Walter Meego?

The traditional Walter Meego performance is more like going to see a regular band. It's just us playing instruments on stage and playing OUR songs. The Super Meego Soundsystem is something we're ultimately only interested in playing for clubs. It's a lot more like a DJ set than a performance. It's a combination of different musics, most of which is other peoples'. While seeing us perform live is like a general live performance where you'd want to be attentively viewing, the Soundsystem set is something you're gonna want to dance to. Our interaction will likely be lesser and the focus will be on the jams.

What do you call your style of music? (electro-pop? experimental? dance?)

We don't really have any sort of genre-specifictitle for what we do. I guess its ultimately just pop music. We try to make pop music thats fun and palatable but also a little experimental by nature (think groups like Gorillaz or Basement Jaxx).

What's the next recording project for Walter Meego?

The next recording project we're doing will be our next single. The immediate plan is to continue releasing a series of singles. The next 12" will comeout on Brilliante. The A-Side will be titled "Romantic" and will come out on September 19th in the U.S./October 17th in the UK. It will be accompanied by remixes from our friends Salva and Flosstradamus and will also be the subject for our first music video.

Sounds good, but you got to get an album owe to the people. Oh, by the way, which one's Walter?

Unfortunately, there is no real Walter. The reality is that we're kind of like Wu-Tang - we form like Voltron. The only difference is, when we form, we become a guy named Walter.

Water Meego's latest single, "Hollywood," is out now on Brilliante Records. For more info, check out

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hefty gets crunk!

As a part of their ongoing 10th anniversary celebration, local electronic stalwart Hefty Records has unleashed a new flossed-out megamix of label favorites mashed up with the hottest mainstream hip-hop tracks. Ever wondered what Mike Jones would sound like rapping over Savath & Savalas? Missy Elliott backed up by John Hughes? E-40 produced by Eliot Lipp? Wonder no more and download the 40-minute mix here, put together by L.A.'s edIT.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 5/16

Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers (Third Man/V2) "...Whether it’s the middle-eastern flavored title track, the glammed-up Store Bought Bones, or the glorious pop/rock of Together, from start to finish, Broken Boy Soldiers doesn’t disappoint." Also, if you're bored, crank up Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him" to hear the inspiration for the riff in the hit single from this record, "Steady As She Goes." Twilight Singers - Powder Burns One (Little Indian) sez..."Possibly his best effort yet, Greg Dulli returns under the Twilight Singers moniker with a record that more closely resembles his Afghan Whigs material than any of his previous solo outings. A wide range of guests include Joseph Arthur, Ani DiFranco, and ex-Whig John Curley." Also this week... Boris - Pink (Southern Lord) Controlling The Famous - Automatic City (The Militia Group) Dinosaur Jr. - Green Mind [Reissue] (Rhino) Dinosaur Jr. - Where You Been [Reissue] (Rhino) Espers - Espers II (Drag City) Home & Garden - History and Geography (Exit Stencil Recordings) Mae Shi - Terrorbird (Strictly Amateur) Radio 4 - Enemies Like This (Astralwerks) Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope (Sire) Russian Circles - Enter (Flameshovel) Thievery Corp. - Versions (18th St. Lounge) Whirlwind Heat - Types of Wood (Brille)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sigur Ros w/ Amiina @ Lyric Opera House 5/9/06

After taking an elevator up to the balcony accompanied by a tuxedoed usher as polite applause rippled across the theater for openers Amiina, I knew this wouldn’t be a typical rock show. In a venue that regularly hosts performances of Die Fledermaus and Cosi fan Tutte, Sigur Rós’ epic compositions and enormous sound still seemed fit to share the stage, even if the fans in attendance were not typical of the Lyric Opera House’s usual black tie audiences. The four Icelandic women of Amiina wowed the crowd with their skills on the strings, incorporating bells, electronics, and even the saw into their short opening set. The strings were the focus of every song, with the quartet sitting in a small square atop a tall platform, seemingly unaware an audience existed. As each song progressed, various members left the platform to smoothly wander the stage from instrument to instrument, building the sound gradually in the typical post-rock style Sigur Rós made popular. Amiina’s sound was also very reminiscent of another Icelandic band, Mum, especially as the precious tinkling of the bells were looped and layered through the Apple computer that rested incongruously on stage. After thanking the audience with some very adorable broken English, the band wrapped things up with an uncharacteristically danceable song with a serious beat. After taking in the beauty of the Lyric’s interior and hitting up the nicest bathroom I’ve ever used at a concert, the lights dimmed and the curtains drew back to reveal the band positioned behind a sheer white screen. Easing into “Glósóli” from their latest album Takk . . ., the shadows of the band and their instruments moved across the screen as they played from behind while faint gray video of leaves blowing and feet stomping projected onto the stage. The sound grew gradually, eventually filling the entire room with the final minute’s heart-pounding drums and singer Jon Thor Birgisson’s piercing voice, every note of every instrument crystal clear. As the song finished and the crowd cheered, the screen rose to reveal the band, the women of Amiina perched on their platform in the familiar square position, Jon standing awkwardly in front of the microphone at the center of the stage with his guitar and bow in hand. After that stellar beginning, the band’s set focused primarily on songs from their most recent albums, the rockin’ Takk . . . (“Hoppipola” and “Sæglópur” were definite standouts) and the far more mellow and sedative ( ) (Yu-si-yo!), which often left me wanting to close my eyes and just take in the sounds in peace. The lighting very much complemented the show as video continued to stream on a screen behind the band; the greens, blues and reds flashed across the stage in perfect timing with the music, while the shadows of the various band members could often be seen along the theater’s side walls. Meanwhile, the band stood rather rigidly on stage, with most of the movement coming from the sways of the members of Amiina as their arms flowed with the bows of their strings. Only once did Birgisson speak, and whether it was broken English or unintelligible Icelandic (or maybe Hopelandish?), no one in the audience was quite sure what he said. After briefly leaving the stage to more of that polite applause, the screen lowered in front of the band again as they returned to the stage to close out the show with "Untitled #8" from ( ). Building their sound very gradually while the lighting strategically revealed the silhouette of a different band member each second, the band eventually made its way to a booming ending as strobe lights flashed across the audience and forced me to turn away my eyes and plug my ears while Birgisson’s ear-splitting siren voice soared above the massive wall of sound. Blind and deaf, but pleased, Sigur Rós dropped their instruments and left abruptly, returning to the stage seconds later for a final bow to their thrilled audience.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Chicago Rocks once more

This weekend, local collective/record label Molemen Inc. presents Chicago Rocks, an annual event showcasing some of the best hip-hop acts in the city. Now in its fourth year, Chicago Rocks kicks off tonight at the Abbey Pub and continues Saturday night at Metro. For more information and a complete talent line-up, visit

Thursday, May 11, 2006

KEXP launches Blog

KEXP, the independent radio station in Seattle "where the music matters," and sponsor of this year's Intonation Fest, has launched their own Blog. The new site features exclusive DJ commentary, music news, podcasts, live performance pics and more. KEXP has long been a leader in enhancing their terrestrial broadcasts with live and archived content available on the Web, and this looks like another great feature that should serve to solidify their worldwide popularity even further. Check it out at

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Gnarls Party

As if a Bettie Page theme night complete with a sex toy raffle and "special guest dominatrix" wasn't enough, Life During Wartime's "Pussy Galore" night tomorrow at Betty's Blue Star Lounge will also double as the official CD release party for Gnarls Barkley's St. Elsewhere album, which just hit shelves yesterday. Get there early to hear the album in its entirety and enter to win your very own copy of this must-have release. Stay later for DJ sets by DJ Mother Hubbard and Walter Meego. Stay really, really, really late to get punished by Mistress Crimson. Full details follow on the flyer below.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 5/9

Gnarls Barkley - St. Elsewhere (Downtown)There's no doubt that Cee-Lo Green is indeed a soul machine; and when paired with the hottest indie producer in the game, the end result is a brilliant new project with massive underground cred, yet loaded with mainstream appeal. Case in point, lead single "Crazy" just strolled into its 6th straight week at the top of the UK singles charts. If for some reason you haven't heard what will likely be the single of 2006, get your ass over to the Gnarls MySpace page and crank that shit up! For everyone else who hasn't lived under a rock the last few weeks, check out this great performance on Top of the Pops where the Gnarls airline crew slows things down a bit and cranks up the soul. As much as I wanted to declare St. Elsewhere my top album of year without hearing anything else coming out in the next seven months, turns out Gnarls Barkley are mere mortals as not every track here reaches the brilliance of "Crazy." That being said, this is still a shoe-in for my end of year top 10 list and they've already got my vote for "best new artist" of 2006. Grandaddy - Just Like The Fambly Cat (V2) Jason Lytle is packing up and moving to Montana, but he left us with one final Grandaddy album to enjoy while he reevaluates his life and contemplates his next musical direction. World Party - Dumbing Up (Seaview) Karl Wallinger's 5th World Party album finally sees the light of day in America a mere 5 and a half years(!) after its original UK release. Unfortunately, things have been a bit rough for this Welsh pop genius since the last time we've heard from him. Not satisfied with the handling of his '97 release Egyptology, he terminated his major label deal with Chrysalis/EMI. Not long after, his manager died of cancer. Then, in 2001, a few months after the original release of Dumbing Up, he suffered a serious aneurysm which put him out of commission for two years. Luckily, things are finally getting back together for Wallinger. He's started his own label, is re-releasing his entire back catalog and even played a gig at this year's SXSW. Even for hardcore fans who already own the import, this domestic version is worth picking up for its inclusion of two new tracks and a bonus DVD that includes a complete World Party video anthology. Neil Young - Living with War (Reprise) "Let's Impeach the President"...couldn't have said it better myself, Neil. Also this week... Ane Brun - A Temporary Drive (V2) Beirut - Gulag Orkestar (Bada Bing) Black Heart Procession - The Spell (Touch & Go) Camera Obscura - Lloyd, I'm Ready To Heartbroken EP (Merge) Danielson - Ships (Secretly Canadian) Eighteenth Day of May - S/T (Hannibal) Electric Soft Parade - The Human Body EP (Better Looking) Everyothers - Pink Sticky Lies (Kill Rock Stars) Jolie Holland - Springtime Can Kill You (Anti) Lansing-Dreiden - Dividing Island (Kemado) Like Young - Last Secrets (Polyvinyl) Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast (Matador) Model/Actress - S/T (Thick Records) Old Haunts - Fuel On Fire (Kill Rock Stars) Plain White T's - Hey There Delilah (Fearless) Pony Up - Make Love To The Judges With Your Eyes (Dim Mak) Shearwater - Palo Santo (Misra) Snow Patrol - Eyes Open (Interscope) Stills - Without Feathers (VICE) Wooden Wand - Harem Of The Sundrum And The Witness Figg (5RC)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Yet Another Festival Update

This just in at RFC newscentral... Ghostface Killah, the Wu alumnus who recently struck critical acclaim with his new album Fishscale, has been added to the Intonation line-up, squeezed onto the June 28th bill in between Lady Sovereign and The Streets. Pitchfork also recently announced more hip-hop to their bill, adding turntable whiz A-Trak, Baltimore booty fiends Spank Rock and local duo Flosstradamus. Other recent adds to the Fork line-up include RFC techno favorite Matthew Dear, local jazz legends Chicago Underground Duo and a collaboration matching Jeff Parker of Tortoise with Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline of Wilco. Damn, these line-ups just keep getting better and better...

Quickie Album Reviews

Sunset RubdownShut Up I Am Dreaming (Absolutely Kosher) Certain songs haunt whereas others are haunted. Seething with shuttering spirits, Shut Up I Am Dreaming is an album inhabited entirely by songs of that latter nature. All at once raucous and ethereal, it’s what one should expect from Spencer Krug, Wolf Parade co-marshal, Frog Eyes sideman, and emerging songwriter of increasing skill, promise, and prominence. – Josh Berquist The RaconteursBroken Boy Soldiers (V2 Records/Third Man) Although most “supergroups” tend to come and go like bad relationships, let’s hope The Raconteurs’ honeymoon period lasts a little longer, since The White Stripes' Jack White, solo-artist Brendan Benson, and the rhythm-section of Cincinnati’s excellent Greenhornes have simply captured lightning in a bottle here. Whether it’s the middle-eastern flavored title track, the glammed-up Store Bought Bones, or the glorious pop/rock of Together, from start to finish, Broken Boy Soldiers doesn’t disappoint. – Gabe Burger CaspianYou are the Conductor (Dopamine Records) Somewhere in the unmapped musical terrain between the wintry-pretty instrumental work of Austin’s Explosions in the Sky and SF’s power chord laden Fucking Champs lays Massachusetts’ Caspian. With their debut album You are the Conductor, they put the rock in post rock, then drop it in some deep, dark river to drown you in sound. – Joe Fielder

Friday, May 05, 2006

Live Review: Pinback @ Logan Square Auditorium 4/30

Live music is a fickle friend. You see a band once and the sound is as crisp and centered as a decently-mixed album, you see a band twice and the noise is as muffled and imbalanced as if you were listening to your little brother’s lo-fi punk trio through the basement heating duct. Sometimes crowds are intense, fueled by excitement and egged on by beer, sometimes crowds are lame, fueled by beer and egged on by boredom. Sometimes a band you hate puts on a good show. Sometimes a band you love fizzles and crumbles before your lionizing eyes. Your assurance wavers. Your heart is crushed. In your live music life, adoration swells and deflates, loyalties wax and wane, indie bands come and go. But Rob Crow and his beard are forever. The high school gymnasium that is Logan Square Auditorium is perhaps the best setting for Pinback, because they’re as geeky as a prom band and they set the tone for sophisticated dance offs that unite rather than divide the chic sexies and bizarre outlanders of indie rock fandom. At ten o’clock Crow, Zach Smith and company began their set with the cool and panging “Bloods on Fire” then strolled into the leisurely “Yellow Ones.” While this might sound like a less than explosive opening, Pinback is not the band to emulate themselves, and what lacked electronically onstage was made up for by the stepping up of drum and bass and tempo, and every song was transformed from glistening, listenable pop to radiant rock nothing less than infectiously groovin’. The crowd did leave something to be desired. Tracks like “Syracuse” and “Penelope” had the catchiness of dance pop and the potency of electro punk but most seemed content with at most a head bobbing; however, Pinback has a core group of diehards and they dotted the floor with their convulsive jives and injected the air with their growling sing alongs. And it was a chatty crowd, indeed. This was my fourth Pinback show and they’re always the same; Rob Crow making quixotic exclamations that may or may not be jokes, the crowd answering back, Zach Smith ducking in with a jab. This time around Crow kept whispering “Satan” into the microphone, and some pranksters in the crowd tossed balloons around and drew pictures of penises on them and wrote wacky things like “vaginas love Kalamazoo.” And then in a rare showing of sincerity Crow pointed out that his wife was in the balcony, holding his son in her arms, and that this was the first time he had heard his daddy play. Ahh. Inevitably there were some sound issues, and on the softer, midtempo tracks such as “Soaked” and “Boo” the mix was off and a tad mushy, and Smith’s vocals overpowering; however, there was no lack of that glorious Pinback subtlety and layering, and the epic, fan favorite “Grey Machine,” and the rocker “AFK,” which closed the main set, were solid and viscerally electric. They came out for a five-song encore and in total the boys were on stage for nearly two hours. The energy didn’t falter once, and when it was done I realized that my feet didn’t hurt and my back didn’t ache because I’d been dancing so much. Yes, indeed, Crow and Smith are good for the joints, soothing on the muscles. So I defy thee, Sir, to partake in a Pinback show and not feel as if the fo sho has just been injected back into the rock show. Crow and Smith tour so much in various guises that they had better know how to maintain novelty and energy in a live setting or else their worlds minute-by-minute will have little meaning and fans will disown them despite their basement studio pop perfection. It’s easy to worry that a duo who relies heavily on loops and laptops will be little more than uninspiring on a stage; you are with Pinback, however, in the hands of professionals, so fret not. Lace up your dancing kicks, loosen your elbows, and remember that it’s the quiet ones you need to look out for. Any jerk can put on a frantic show, or a dull show, or even something in between and passable. It takes true masters to be slow and steady and sparkling, and on stage Pinback has the exact refinement of volatility that is the key to this indie girl’s wounded heart.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Mini-Review - Wrens w/Tapes n' Tapes@Schubas 4/29/06

When did Thax Douglas become the Camera Flash Police at shows? Saturday night at the Wrens/Tapes 'n Tapes show at Schubas, he appeared to be watching the crowd the entire time for the occasional flash, ready to pounce and ask the offender to please turn it off because it's "annoying." Not as annoying as Thax constantly pushing his way back and forth through a sold out audience. If Schubas didn't want people using flash, they'd make a policy and have the bouncers tell people to stop. The venue is brightly lit enough anyway that you hardly notice the flash, and it's small enough that flash can actually make for a good picture. Too bad I forgot my camera! Other than that, the show was great- Tapes 'n Tapes put on a nice little performance, although I think "10 Gallon Ascots" didn't quite kill the way I'd hoped it would- the chorus is so anthemic, it needed to be louder and more passionate. "Insistor" and "Cowbell" were great, though. All fears that the show might be overrun with people there just to see the latest buzz band were quashed as the crowd was definitely a Wrens' crowd. I'd seen the Wrens put on a great show at Schubas two years ago, but somehow this time around they were even better, with more energy and new versions of songs. They opened with an awesome version of "This Boy Is Exhausted," with just two guitars and vocals quietly introducing the song before the rest of the band took the stage to finish it up big. The songs drew mostly from The Meadowlands, making me wonder if they have new material on the way or if they just wanted to please the audience with the favorites. The between song jokes were hilarious and they poked fun at their age ("yeah, back when I was like, 30"), their skill, their popularity, etc. A great show overall... -Nicole Chavas

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Version Music '06, Week 3

Damn...this thing is still going on? Version '06 heads into its final week with another batch of music mayhem. Wed 05/03 @ Elastic Arts (2830 N. Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Fl) Lobisomem Paul Giallorenzo/Jason Stein/Charles Rumbach trio Thu 05/04 @ South Union Arts THE NOISE AWARDS Movies have the Oscars and TV has the Emmys. Theater has the Tonys and crappy pop music has the Grammy's. But what about noise music? This year during Version>06, Terry Plumming and friends present the first ever International Noise Awards. Join us at the historic South Union Arts club and watch the drama unfold as dozens of social misfits vie for such honors as Best Circuit Bending, Most Authentic Onstage Checking of Email, Worst Tour Itinerary, Most People on Stage at One Time and Best Feedback. Performances by Bloodyminded, Brotman & Short, Rotten Milk vs. Bubblegum Shitface, Pommel, Spunky Toofers, Metaphysical Playroom, Mr. Fuckhead, Hookworm, Buttfuck Pussy and suprise scene celebrity special guests will make the night complete. Fri 05/05 @ IIT McCormick Student Center Re:actor Norwegians Gisle Frøysland, John Hegre and Anders Gogstad will show a mix of interactive sound/video installations in a room wired with laser beam sensors and robotic cameras that are used to trigger video/audio based on movements from the audience. It will first be presented in the evening as a stand-alone installation only driven by the audience. Later at night it will be shown as a club performance where the artists will jam along with the input from the audience. Radio Concert with 15 radios* by Maia Urstad Winter Carousel Terrior Bute 3-man synth rock from Milwaukee WI. Panda Express A band about wild animals, fast food and short shorts. Randall Bailey plays noise, Rotten Milk plays drums, Heather Marie Vernon plays trumpet, sings and makes sounds with her mouth. MegaZilla Columbia MO based drums and bass two-peice. Sir Edmund Hillary and The Sherpas Music borne out of a desire for societal change. Our sense of community is defined by grievance with our surroudnings. Much of what is wrong with music in our world is steadfastly avoided by The Sherpas. The tenet of profitability has led to bland populism which requires a media blitzkrieg to stir the masses. The tenet of consistent performances has led to rigidity and predictable songs. The tenet of professionalism makes creative musicians forget what they are supposed to be doing. The Sherpas individually bring their own ideas to each performance with a tabula rasa. The Sherpas will move you with their music. 10 Monorhythms a performance by Marc Arcuri & Bubblegum Shitface The Dolphin Champaign Urbana's number one noise band. Inshi An avant-motion-sickness-tightrope walk prestidigitation in the vein of Orthrelm and the very few like, featuring a member of Skin Graft wunderkind Yowie. Lightbox Orchestra Fred Lonberg Holm's free music supergroup. Stelios Valavanis & Insect Deli Surround sound electroacoustic performance. TV Pow Chicago's longest-running free-improv laptop trio presented in surrorund sound. Xianggang Delight A Chicago-based musical group that has been performing regularly since summer 2001. Their aim is to synthesize the following two elements: the post-global economic and social theories of Saskia Sassen and the rock group The Who's musical output from 1965. They employ handouts, choreography and various techniques (such as explosives) to "raise up" the audience; additionally, every song is accompanied by an illustrative video. Fat Battery From Norway. Knut Vaage, Alwynne Pritchard and Thorolf Thuestad. Instrumental improvisation with electronics, found objects and specially constructed instruments. GOAT The Guild of Acquired Technology plays improvised noise music with an arsenal of circuit bent equipment. Intense Situations of Peril: Chicago Sat 05/06 @ Iron Studios One final throwdown hidden away in Garfield Park, featuring performances by Killer Whales, Water Babies, Chandeliers and Lazer Crystal. DJ sets by Mikhael Unicorn, Hunter Husar & Bitch Ass Darius. Sun 05/07 @ South Union Arts Closing night of Version 'o6 features performances by: The Bubble Wrap Bride and Groom The Bubble Wrap Bride (Tracey Jakubick) is a fetishistic/homocidal girl next door/everywomen who loves bubble wrap paper above everything. In the bubble wrap wedding certemony she will be joined to the more introverted but equally goofy bubble wrap groom (Vittorio Carli) who wants to become famous at any cost. Both will be wearing bubble wrap wedding outfits, and the bursting of a bubble will produce an orgasm like reaction from the bride. McDonald's Rhythmic noise rock featuring members of Coughs, Mayor Daley and Panda Express. David Diarreah One man indie-rock encyclopedia sings songs of sorrow, plays guitar backwards and soaks up the feedback. Mucca Pazza This marching band's members number in the dozens! They will lead a rousing parade down scenic Union to an afterparty at the Skylark.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 5/2

Ellen Allien and Apparat - Orchestra of Bubbles (BPitch Control) Combine the smooth dance groove of BPitch Control founder Ellen Allien with the darker moodiness of Shitkatapult co-head Apparat and you get the best electronic record of the year so far. Of course, it helps to have a penchant for Berlin techno, but I'd still recommend this to anyone with a vague interest in DJ culture. Wolfmother - Wolfmother (Interscope) With an album that opens with the hum from a tube-amp turned all the way to eleven, followed by a bombastic Bonham drum blast with dual-riffing guitars in tow, it must be time to turn the black light on, spark a doobie, and launch into stoner rock nirvana. Steeped in the rich traditions of Sabbath, Blue Cheer, Deep Purple, Leslie West, and JRR Tolkien, this CD is as the first track claims, "Colossal." -Gabe Burger The Charlatans - Simpatico (Sanctuary) It's been over 15 years since they first hit the charts with their Deep Purple-robbing single "The Only One I Know" and about 12 years since all their Madchester peers fizzled out, but amazingly the Charlatans are still at it. Jon Auer - Songs From The Year of Our Demise (Pattern 25) Another flashback from the early 90s, the co-founder of Seattle popsters The Posies returns with his first full-length solo effort. Also this week... Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror (Backporch) Baby Dayliner - Critics Pass Away (Brassland) Black Keys - Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough [EP] (Fat Possum) Brandtson - Hello, Control. (Militia Group) Court and Spark - Hearts (Absolutely Kosher) DeVotchka - Curse Your Little Heart EP (Ace Fu) Gomez - How We Operate (ATO) Human Television - Look At Who You're Talking To (Gigantic) Love of Everything - Superior Mold and Die (Record Label) Sunset Rubdown - S/T (Absolutely Kosher)

Monday, May 01, 2006

RFC Interview: Bird Names

One of the hardest working bands on the local experimental scene of late is a gang of crazies known as Bird Names. While thier self-released debut may come across as a bit harsh to the uninitiated, Bird Names is a beast that is best appreciated in a live setting. RFC recently caught up with Bird Names ringleader David Lineal to talk more about the band and their upcoming live gigs, which includes a show Tuesday night at Happy Dog (1542 N. Milwaukee) as a part of Version '06. For those who aren't familiar, tell us…who are Bird Names? The Bird Names is an experimental pop group that lives in Chicago. We've been around in guises sloppy or regrettable for a bit, and made a long album of songs from a big pile that's added to regularly. The album is named Fantic Yard: fantic as in aphanasis, a psychoanalytic term referring to the public revelation of one's most intimate secret and the unbearable shame that goes along with it, so dealing in a way with fantasy. The music is structured like honky-tonk country with lots of repeating and we all really enjoy making and playing it. We barely rock at all though we fairly often roll and try to muster whatever shambly charm we might as compensation for our limitations. What degree of investment or concern does this group, this Bird Names warrant? Would you like listening to them? Not that much. Your lips might get caught into a grin at some novelty, maybe you'd furrow your brow or raise something sour as though compelled, but probably you'd wander to the bar area at the show or carelessly put back on the new [Stephen] Malkmus album. A friend said to me once, 'I like your band okay but i cannot understand why you'd want to make music like that.' The recordings are a sight low-fi which in our drunker moments we think of as low truth. Low truth: who would hear low truth? Cool dads and weirdos and narconauts maybe. We don't have Mr. Holland's 40 years, you know? How and when did the band form? Two years back and we've fallen in and out of members to our current 4.5 and a half dozen mediocre names because music's the only modern art most people give a damn about. Otherwise we'd be pamphleteers or dancers or something. Your lyrics tend to have a bit of a childlike quality to them, yet at the same time your music can be quite loud and brash…where do you draw your musical inspiration from? We put on the stereo to romance and groove to Fela Kuti, Captain Beefhart, Patti Paige, Roy Orbison, Hawkwind, the Boswell Sisters, and a billion more. The right good music will make you feel inspired? Right, and a ludic attitude that leads to the soulful pleasures of free creative industry. Honest unaffected pursuit of cooperative play done rightly makes for most of whatever merit the group has. We pluck our dispositions more than instruments and at least ably battle back silence. So yes: the ethos of play and laughter, old music, and the world's poisons, which are too generic to cart much tragic weight. On a similar tip, I've seen you perform live a couple times where it almost seemed like one pair of earplugs might not be adequate enough hearing protection…yet I also saw you perform once where you did a completely acoustic set that sounded equally as amazing. Which version of Bird Names do you prefer and which direction do you see the band going more towards in the future? Playing electric, the Bird Names have been and always will be an irresponsible organization: incoherent, abrasive, young adult, cursed with a finger painter's eye for precision. We've been lately on a long hair turn, like bearded-era beach boys grotesqued and more puerile, playing unmicrophoned acoustic mellowly, with a good space of recorder. Nothing too loud to blanket over the recorder. The latter set-up is more aurally pleasing: folks can say, oh i get it...a pop band. Turning up the commune vibe lessens the brusqueness, but too the catching sting of our voice. We're charting an infusion of half-baked politics to remedy this, with sights to be the maxim gorky of radical centrism: so fond are we of this political attitude, so violently must we prod and suffocate it. Your band is a bit larger than your average 3 or 4 piece garage rockers, has it ever been difficult keeping everyone together and on the same page? In terms of keeping it together musically: accuracy over precision, you know. Playing a loft in Bridgeport isn't illuminating the book of Kells: we relish and cultivate our limitations as musicians and remain fairly open to playing poorly for whatever reason. Interpersonally: we drink from like attitudinal waters and hold a non-egoistic understanding of the project. We've lost and gained a few special members, like most bands, because playing experimental pop won't pay for your low rent life style or even often get you laid. What's in store in the near future for Bird Names? We're playing a handful of dates in Chicago [5/2 at Happy Dog, 5/13 at South Union Arts w/ Faun Fables, 6/2 at the Shape Shop(2255 S. Michigan) w/ 2% Majesty] before a June journey to Dixie and the East Coast. Probably at one of these shows a Bird Name will banter on too long of his/her 'disagreement with the organization of our society.' Probably passion in some quarters of the band for Paul Simon's Graceland will remain high. Probably the Bird Names will continue lightly discussing a cover of 'bolero' but never get it together. We may throw out another album before the summer's up, too. Where can people find and/or buy your music? A man could hop to Reckless Records or a handful of other independent stores in Chicago that carry Fantic Yard. Predictably, we've got a smattering of tunes and other informative baloney over on myspace: