Monday, July 31, 2006

Look at all those hipsters!

Whatever your opinion is of festivals, hipsters, or indie rock, you can't deny that events like the Pfork Pfest make for some unbeatable people watching. RFC's Senior Indie Rock Summer Festival Crowd Photographer Rory O'Connor compiles his favorites from the weekend here. (feel free to make your own "do's" and "don'ts" page and trade with your friends!)

Pitchfork Pics, Day One

more to come...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

First Thoughts From Pfork Pfest

First, the obvious. In terms of attendance, this festival was a certifiable smash. By Friday, no tickets remained and by early Saturday, Union park was overflowing with hipsters. The southbound Ashland bus that I took at about 3 on Saturday was even teeming with hipsters, who judging from the exuberant conversation buzz I overheard, had all journeyed to Chicago from various other parts of the Midwest. I'm sure many indie rockers would argue that Pitchfork's line-up was far superior to last month's Intonation Fest, thus the sell-out crowd that seemed almost twice as large. However, I'd attribute the crowd surge to the vast reach of the trendsetting hype machine that is Pitchforkmedia.com. Intonation '06 probably retained the core local base of fans, while Pitchfork Music Fest '06 took that Chicago base and raised it with their legions of dedicated indie rockers from across the country. Sure, this year Intonation had Vice Magazine, which is hugely influential in its homebase of New York, as well as much of Europe. However, outside of Chicago, I'm guessing Vice's Midwest reach is pretty thin, while every 12-24 year-old music junkie from Keokuk to Kalamazoo is just a click away from reading about the next big 'Fork-sanctioned indie smash. If it wasn't obvious already, there's no doubt now that Pitchfork is no longer just a cult phenomenon. Pitchfork has now officially hit the mainstream. "Indie" is truly the new "alternative," and just as the likes of Lollapalooza, KROQ and MTV's Kennedy ushered in the flannel shirt era, Pitchfork has become the torch bearer of this generation's movement.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Camera Obscura Rescheduled

from Empty Bottle newscentral: Camera Obscura show rescheduled Due to a freak power outage, we've had to move Friday's CAMERA OBSCURA show from the LSA to the Empty Bottle, for a special early show on Monday July 31st, 2006. **Tickets purchased for the Logan Square will be honored for this show. A huge show just got more intimate. A limited amount of tickets still remain.

Friday, July 28, 2006

No more tickets!

Sorry procrastinating indie rockers, but according to the "buy tickets" page on the Pitchfork Festival website, individual Saturday passes, which were the last available tix in the lot, appear to be sold out now as well. As a devout procrastinator myself, I would hope for my fellow slackers that they've set aside a few extras available at the gate an hour or two before the event, but then again maybe not? Of course, there's always CraigsList...and hey, maybe this event has gotten big enough that there will actually be a healthy lot of scalpers loitering out front?

Pitchfork Aftershows

If the heat doesn't exhaust you during Pitchfork this weekend, and you're not saving your ticket stubs for your amazing scrapbook. Then, you can relinquish those stubs for free admission after the 'fork and keep your rock buzz going over at the Metro, Schubas, Hideout, or Martyrs'. Some viable options include: On Saturday, Martyrs' is hosting the Third Russian Rock Festival (Don't really know any of the bands but could definitely be interesting); The Hideout is featuring local angular rock band, The Jai Alai Savant with DJ Sets by Major Taylor and Ted/Leo's Pharmacists among others; while over at The Empty Bottle you can get your metal/pysch rock fix as Danava, Functional Blackouts, and Plastic Crimewave Sound will all play. Also, Jason Lytle (of Grandaddy) will be playing a solo show at Schuba's, this one may be a little trickier getting in, as it may sell out. On Sunday, check out DJ sets over at Smartbar by Diplo and Bonde Do Role; or cruise over to the Empty Bottle for the indierock circus that is Lonesome Organist. If any of these shows interest you, I would recommend showing up as soon as you can after the fest, space is sure to be limited.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Lolla MP3 preview

I’m sure most people right now have their minds on the Pfork Pfest this weekend (95+ degrees each day with a heat index of 105…sweet!), but fellow local Blogger Can You See The Sunset from the Southside is continuing his quest today to post an MP3 from every single artist playing Lollapalooza. On tap today: Ween, Lyrics Born, QOTSA, Dresden Dolls and Andrew Bird.

Live Review: Dirty on Purpose/Say Hi To Your Mom @ Beat Kitchen 7/21/06

The following is more a tale of regret than a concert review. I have no one but myself to blame. The signs were there, if only I would have taken heed. -Rory O'Connor My first warning arrived a couple of weeks ago after receiving a copy of Hallelujah Sirens, the latest release from Brooklyn’s Dirty on Purpose. After several listens, I found myself trying to decide whether I even liked this album or not. Better yet, did I even remember the album? I determined I had absolutely no opinion on the matter. So when I learned the band was coming to town, I decided to see if their live performance would kick me off the fence in some direction. Forward to Friday, the day of the show. I decided to check online to confirm a start time for the show. As I perused the Beat Kitchen website I found the band was oddly absent from names playing the venue that night. It was only after making a phone call that I learned they would be in the opening slot for the early show, which meant a 7pm start time. I don’t know who I was kidding, I am lucky if I am waking from a nap at 7pm on a Friday, let alone ready to go to a “rock” show. After a late start for the show, a delayed ‘El’ and some severe miscalculating on the CTA website regarding the best route to the Beat Kitchen (I refuse to believe the distance I walked was .8 of a mile.), I arrived to the show a solid 20 minutes after the scheduled start. Under normal circumstances arriving to a show at 7:20pm would be quite ambitious, but tonight it was late. The absurdity of this fact should really not go overlooked. In my time I have endured many concert irrationalities, but for some reason this latest incident really stuck with me. (In fact, it may only be outdone by the 3 hour wait time Guns n’ roses used to willingly impose upon its fans during their “Use Your Illusion” tour.) So I entered the back room of the Beat Kitchen to see a room about 1/3 full, including the standard 20 feet of no man’s land between the opening band and the crowd. I ordered a beer and stationed myself up towards the front. What ensued can best be described as uninspiring. I found the live show I was watching elicited the same response for me as the album: indifference. At times the band did seem fairly polished. There were moments were it seemed to come together, but it became increasingly difficult to care. In defense, I should say this was not entirely the fault of the band. The audience was non-existent, other than some intermittent clapping in between songs, but even that seemed labored. With the exception of the lead guitarist (who was really the only sign of life in that room), the band didn’t really look like they cared to be there any more than the crowd. We all collectively decided to simply go through the motions. Finally, the set came to an end. I could have called it a night right there. I even could have made it over to Subterranean in time to catch DeVotchKa. However, the masochist in me decided to stick around for the next band. Within minutes, I realized my error in staying. I didn’t know anything about the early show headliners, Say Hi to Your Mom. Although, I can say with a certain amount of confidence their music may not be best suited for live performance. They had even less charisma than their openers. I took a look around me and actually saw some people yawning. It wasn’t even 9pm. I decided that I had seen enough and it was time to go salvage was left of the night. I would like to mention again, the audience and the time of show were chiefly responsible for the dullness of the evening. With that said, I am utterly convinced that is this very type of indie rock show that led RFC’s own Chief Indie Rock Correspondent to declare “I hate indie rock shows.” It all became clear to me. This show was enough to turn anyone jaded towards the whole genre. Download: Dirty On Purpose - "Light Pollution" (MP3)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Quickie Album Reviews - TV On The Radio, Two Sheds, The Western States Motel

TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain - 4AD Records With a who's-who guest list of indie rock stars in tow, the Brooklyn band unleash their second full-length on the world. While it may not contain any instant "singles" like the first, it is a more fullfilling experience in it's entirety. Strange, but swingin', TV On The Radio are still making music unlike anyone else out there. - Gabriel Burger Two Sheds - Strange Ammunition - UnderAcloud Records This wife/husband led act from Sacramento spin haunting portentous lullabies with surprising range and variety. A hard candy surprise -- with a hidden track cover of The Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer that steals hearts. - Joe Fielder The Western States Motel - The Western States Motel - Firebird Field Recordings Delicate, charming, summer pop music. Maybe not in quite the same epic compositional weight class as The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, but with a heart as similarly big as all outdoors. - Joe Fielder

Live Review: DeVotchKa @Subterranean 7/21/06

There are few bands who are truly deserving of the hype that they receive, but DeVotchKa is definitely one of those bands. Dubbed by Filter as "the best band in America you never heard of", DeVotchKa delighted the sold out crowd at the Subterranean with it's unique hodge-podge of sound. After enduring a tediously boring set by Now It's Overhead, one of the opening acts that sound like a bad Placebo rip-off, Jeannie Schroder, with her upright bass and Tom Hagerman with fiddle in hand, took the stage softly strumming an instrumental opening. Shawn King and Nick Urata blared their trumpets from the balcony like heralding angels in a roaming mariachi band, surprising us on the mainfloor. The rambunctious crowd howled, stomped, clapped, and cheered, as this party was underway. With the whole band together on the quaint stage, they rumbled through their set, which included mostly songs off their 2004 release How It Ends as well as their recent Curse Your Little Heart EP. Nick Urata, armed with a Grecian guitar, an acoustic, a theremin, two microphones, a bottle of red wine, and a voice that sounds impeccable live (with it's innate bittersweet melancholy) crooned his heart out. DeVotchKa's sound is an amalgamation of influences, from the mariachi oompa bass and trumpet calls on We're Leaving, to the wandering gypsy whirling dervish on Such a Lovely Thing fueled by a skittish accordion, to the disparate, sorrow indie rock akin to The Dears on How It Ends, they definitely have cultivated a fertile musical garden. Despite some noticeable audio issues: with feedback and lack of effects on the violin for the first half of the set, the majority of the crowd seemed unfazed by these minor imperfections, and lauded the musicians with chant-a-longs and crazed dancing that shook the Subterranean's floor. Urata thanked the crowd with a swig of his wine after each song, and a well deserved encore. Seeing DeVotchKa live, really makes you appreciate these fine musicians much more than merely listening to their CD. It won't surprise me at all, if next time they swing through Chicago, they will be headlining the Metro or Riviera.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Wicker Part Street Festival, Day 2

Kirstiecat continues her insanely comprehensive coverage of this weekend's Wicker Park Street Fest, adding more from day one and finishing up day two.

Os Mutantes Preview

(via Brooklyn Vegan) The New York Times has a review of Os Mutantes' show last week in New York. I think it's complimentary, but the author seems to spend more time fawning over their mystique than actually providing a critical review of this particular performance. Also, I'm not sure if I just overlooked it before, or if it really wasn't mentioned, but only 2/3 of the band has actually reunited. Original member Rita Lee has been replaced by hired gun Zélia Duncan. Stereogum has additional coverage, as well as a couple of downloadable MP3s from the band's 1968 debut record.

New Releases Tuesday - 7/25

Silversun Pickups - Carnavas (Dangerbird) The long-awaited full-length from L.A.'s current best live act is quiet-loud-quiet indie rocking at its near finest. Those used to the band's earlier demo recordings might scratch their heads at the reworked versions of some of their old favorites, but the album's excellent new material delivers in its stead. Perhaps not quite full potential for SSPU, but still not to be missed. - Joe Fielder Download: Silversun Pickups -"Well Thought Out Twinkles" (MP3) New York Dolls - One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This (Roadrunner) After an ugly run in the late 80's/early 90's as lounge blowhard "Buster Poindexter," David Johansen has returned to his bad-ass punk roots and resurrected The New York Dolls...or at least what's left of them (may require registration). Download: New York Dolls - "Dance Like A Monkey" (MP3) Spoon - Telephone/Soft Effects(ep) (Merge) Long out of print, Spoon's debut album from 1996 has been remastered and repackaged with their follow-up EP from the following year, Soft Effects. Download: Spoon - "The Government Darling" (MP3) Jurassic 5 - Feedback (Interscope) Ouch...I didn't think Amazon actually printed up negative reviews, but the blurb at the bottom of this release actually says, "There are a few outstanding tracks, but overall this is a hip-hop album that sounds as if it were written by a corporate committee--each song directed at a particular demographic--rather than a mini-manifesto crafted to get your fists pumping and/or your feet moving." I knew the loss of Chali 2na a while back would be a major blow to the group, but I had no idea it would turn out this bad.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Wicker Park Street Festival, Day 1

Kirstiecat reviews Slumber Party, Hidden Cameras and Telefon Tel Aviv at Day 1 of the Wicker Park Street Fest.

Pitchfork vs. Intonation, part 2

While I’d still have to give the Intonation the award for “most diverse bill,” it looks like the Pitchfork Music Festival already wins the prize for “most ambitious.” In addition to the main event this weekend, the Fork crew has lined up a full week of events, including a free lunch concert everyday downtown at the Cultural Center. Highlights include Walter Meego on Tuesday, The Office on Thursday and a Curtis Mayfield tribute on Friday. Then, every night this week the Siskel Center will be screening more music mayhem, starting yesterday with the Icelandic rock doc Screaming Masterpiece and ending the week with the film version of Ziggy Stardust. For the complete run-down, check out the "activities" section on the official festival website at www.pitchforkmusicfestival.com.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Movie Review: Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Man

It’s funny because you grow accustomed to someone’s voice and you start to identify with it so completely that it’s cherished like none other. That’s how Leonard Cohen is to me. I like his voice over time as well, the more melodic and softer younger Cohen to the slightly more gruff crooner that he is now. And, let’s face it, there are so many brilliant poets and musicians and artists that never get recognized during their lifetimes for their work. I’m glad Leonard Cohen isn’t one of them. This film is a tribute to him and focuses on performances done in his honor by quite a range of musicians. There are some really great performances by Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, the McGarrigle Sisters, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Beth Orton, The Handsome Family, and Antony amongst others. It opens up with Nick Cave singing “I’m Your Man,” and later on we hear about Cave recalling how he was so excited to have found out about Leonard Cohen when he was younger because this separated him from the other people in his small town. Nick Cave also does a really great rendition of “Suzanne,” which is the better of the two covers in my opinion. (Then again, I also think that “Suzanne” is the better song) Rufus Wainwright does a trumped up version of “Everybody Knows” and brings down the house a bit when he sings many of the versus of “Hallelujah.” Jarvis Cocker’s “I Can’t Forget” is a bit of a let down (he would have been much better suited for “Everybody Knows” because of the lyrics he’s used to working with) but Antony (of Antony and the Johnson’s) version of “If It Be Your Will” is ethereally beautiful. The major downfall and criticism I have of the film is twofold. The first is that it relied way too heavily on Bono interviews. Bono is right to call Cohen a rare talent but meanders a bit when talking about Cohen at times in a way that seems downright un-insightful. At one shocking point, Bono, who would probably see paint drying as a religious experience, says he doesn’t feel the religious experience in Cohen’s music. (So I guess he hasn’t actually read the entire lyrics of Suzanne when Cohen speaks of Jesus only being able to be seen by drowning men.) It’s a pity that the filmaker decided to allow Bono to sing on “Tower of Song” as well as it completely ruined that verse for me. The second problem of the film is that it was made for already fans of Leonard Cohen. The disadvantage there is that anyone coming to see this film without a real knowledge and sense of history provided by listening to Cohen’s songs does not have enough chance to hear the songs as they were originally created by Leonard Cohen. It may have been a good idea to play segments of the songs as they were originally recorded in the background as they were showing pictures of Cohen as a child or hearing him talk about certain albums. Overall, however, the film is still recommended for anyone who has a real love of poetry, lyricism, and music. My favorite parts included: seeing pictures of Leonard growing up in Montreal, hearing Rufus Wainwright talk about Cohen nursing a baby bird back to health, and hearing Cohen read the preface to his newly translated Chinese version of Beautiful Losers. It was also just a great thing to witness the obvious honor it was for many of these great musicians to be covering his material. You could tell that it was a really immense thing for them to do and that their love for Leonard Cohen’s songs run deep. Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Man continues its run at the Music Box this weekend. Download: Leonard Cohen - "Suzanne" (MP3)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

RFC Interview: Balún

From the country that brought us Ricky Martin and Raggaeton, two of the most obnoxious music trends in the past decade, comes Balún, a new trio from Puerto Rico who refreshingly aren’t concerned with living “la vida loca.” Instead, the members of Balún have opted for a laid-back artistic approach, subtly infusing native sounds with electro-acoustic pop and indie experimentation. After a couple of critically acclaimed EPs, Balún made their full-length debut last month with Something Comes Our Way, released by Chicago's Brilliante Records. Now the trio are embarking on their first US tour, which brings them to Schubas tonight for a headlining show with Brenmar Someday. RFC caught up with Balún last week via the magical tubes of the Internet to find out more about this unique new project. So…tell us about Puerto Rican music scene, I'm guessing most of our readers aren't familiar it. If there is one thing to be said, it is that it has grown in the past few years. Right now the electronic, garage, shoegaze, reggae, ska, punk and hip hop scene is very active in terms of live shows and some bands releasing albums. Although some groups are more prolific than others, there is something to be found for almost everyone. Your records sound more Northern European than Latin, I assume you are fans of bands like Sigur Ros, Mum, Royksopp, etc.? What are some of your other musical influences? Your assumption is correct my friend. Musical influences for us come from many sources. I mean there are bands like Slowdive or Cocteau Twins, and The Arcade Fire which we really like and listen to together. We also enjoy finding out about bands and records that are coming out just now, and all of this makes a mark on you and consequently on your musical output. But then there are songs like "Gente,"(from Something Comes Our Way), which was heavily influenced by the comedy group The Lonely Island. All in all, I feel that the aforementioned bands have influenced us along with Autechre, The Clientele, The Breeders, Bjork, Mum, Pavement and, Los Caifanes. What other cutting-edge bands would you recommend from the Latin scene? Súperaquello, Jaime Sin Tierra, Nuuro, Juana Molina, Pepito, Carrie, Gustavo Cerati, Le Mans, Allá, and .Tape. How did you end up on the Chicago-based Brilliante record label? They contacted us. I guess they got to know Balún via the net label Observatory Online and although we had plans to release a record with Skylab, it fell through, and Brilliante came to the rescue. What can we expect from your live show? We have been working to perform a set that is very representative of our latest release Something Comes Our Way. It will be an electro acoustic experience accompanied by some beautiful visuals that Javier Roman (an architect friend of ours) did specially for the tour. Have you had a chance to tour The States much? It is our first time in the States so we are very excited to be playing these dates. Anything else you'd like to tell our Chicago readers? Thank you for reading about Balún. Please come check us out! In addition to tonight's show at Schubas, Balún will also be playing the Country Club Gallery on Saturday, Tower Records on the 26th and South Union Arts on the 27th. Download: "Snol" (MP3) "Hay Una Piscina en La Nube" (MP3)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Live Review: Buzzcocks @ Double Door 7/15/06

There’s definitely something to be said for bands like The Buzzcocks who have not only stood the test of time musically but can bring together generations of fans to see them in one place. Playing to a sold out show, the Buzzcocks played about 75 minutes total and were pretty generous with revisiting their back catalogue. The crowd was ecstatic to see their idols in such great form and showed this by moshing, pogoing and crowd surfing (at least twice, security guards had to forcibly remove two crowd surfers from the stage.) Despite all of the physical action, the Buzzcocks never missed a beat.

After opening with the title track of Flat Pack Philosophy, they were soon playing old favorites. Diggle was particularily animated, holding up his guitar high and swinging his mike while Pete Shelley played and sang with a youthful vigor. Both their newer songs and older material were tight. Flat Pack Philosophy is consistent with their best output and is a revved up high energy affair. You can hear songs from it by visiting their MySpace page.

The encore to the main set was especially nice as they played some songs that truly have become classics for any punk rocker including “Sick City” and “Ever Fallin in Love.” Witnessing such legendary intensity left us feeling both elation and well worth exhaustion. Read Matt Berlyant’s review of their show at Irving Plaza in NYC here.

Complete Setlist: Flat Pack Philosophy Wish I Never Loved You Sell You Everything Reconciliation I Don’t Exist Soul Survivor Big Brother Wheels I Don’t Mind Harmony in my Head Autonomy Friction Romance Why Can’t I Touch It? 16 Don’t Know What To Do With My Life Fast Cars What Do I Get? Love You More Breakdown —————— Sick City Noise Annoys Orgasm Addict Ever Fallen in Love Oh Shit

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

French Kicks 2K

Also out today is the new French Kicks record, which their label is proclaiming to be an "experimental pop masterpiece" and the year's first truly "hot" album. Luckily, you don't have to solely rely on record label hyperbole to decide whether to pick this one up. Check out the album yourself with this preview audio stream: French Kicks - Two Thousand You can also hear their recent performance and interview on WNYC here.

New Releases Tuesday 7/18

Golden Smog - Another Fine Day (Lost Highway) The "Midwest Supergroup" returns for another batch o' alt-country/pop/rock jams. Rocking this current line-up of the Smog are Gary Louris (Jayhawks), Jeff Tweedy, Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum), Marc Perlman (Jayhawks) and Kraig Jerrett Johnson (Run Westy Run). MSTRKRFT - The Looks(Last Gang Records) Debut full-length from MSTRKFRFT, the dance-tastic side project from Jesse Keeler of DFA 1979 and his producer pal Al-P. Psalm One - The Death Of Frequent Flyer (Rhymesayers) Southside Chicago native Psalm One has been reppin’ the Windy City on the mic since 1998. A cross between Lauryn Hill and Devin The Dude, Psalm stands ready to follow in the footsteps of fellow Chi-town greats Kanye West and Common, while taking her place next to up-and-comers like Lupe Fiasco. The self-proclaimed quirky B-Girl and former chemist ushers in a new breed of "Rapper Girl" with the release of her Rhymesayers debut, "The Death of Frequent Flyer." -Amazon.com

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bobby Gillespie beat up

Damn this picture is creepy!! I've been waiting for an excuse to post this insanely bad promo pic of Primal Scream leader Bobby Gillespie, and found the perfect opportunity this morning via NME: Bobby Gillespie assaulted in Madrid Primal Scream singer Bobby Gillespie is recovering after being beaten up in a bar in Madrid on July 14...Gillespie's manager Rab Andrew said..."He's fine, back home and sporting a couple of black eyes." I hate to say it, but with a photo like the one above floating around, you sort of deserve to get your ass kicked. In other Primal Scream news...the new album SUUUUCKS! The recent Pitchfork review that gave it a 2.3? Yeah, it's that bad, and the 2.3 rating may have even been a bit generous (I would have given it a 1.64). Seriously though, I don't know what's up with these guys. I can't think of any other band that can jump around from brilliance (Screamadelica, XTRMNTR ) to mediocrity (Evil Heat, Give Out But...) so fluidly. If you're still curious to hear what this train wreck sounds like, here's some audio streams of the latest Primal Scream single: "Country Girl" (QT) "Country Girl" (WMA)

Live Review: Elephant Micah @ The Hideout 7/13/06

The slow sad wonders of Joe O’Connell make up what is known as Elephant Micah. Joe sat down at the piano making us all witnesses to his melancholy as he sang with his sweet lull of a voice songs about birds and relationships. Softly, he pleaded: “Take these vague feelings from me. Leave only the true meaning” in his song, “Dividing Our Horizon.” Live, his voice had a bit more of a tenor quality with just a touch of vibrato at times. I can see fans of The Doleful Lions, Hayden, and even Neil Young being really drawn to his songs. After playing a few songs on the piano, he moved to guitar and played solo for a few songs before he was joined on stage by Beth Remis of Static Films who provided beautiful harmonizing backup vocals and violin accompaniment as he sang: “Was I cold in the ground by the time I managed the sound of the names and the hymns they were singing?” Overall, I found Elephant Micah disarming and even as he asked the question, “Is it all just a fiction?” he was also reassuring: “There’s no underground. There’s light shining everywhere.” Here are a couple of links to my favorite songs he has posted on his mp3 page: The Environmentalist Mt. Neil Young -Kirstiecat

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lollapalooza Aftershows Announced

Lollapalooza is three weeks away, the lineup is being finalized with some nice new additions like My Morning Jacket and Oh No!Oh My!, so the time to decide what bands to see at what time slot is upon us. In hopes of making some of those choices easier Lollapalooza has announced their official pre-parties & aftershows, so start training for those 14 hour festival days: August 3, 2006: Lollapalooza Pre-party with Blue October @ Double Door - 8pm Official Lollapalooza Kick Off Show and Party with Mates of State w/Cold War Kids @ Abbey Pub - 10pm August 4, 2006: The Official Day One Aftershows Lake Trout w/Salvo Beta @ Abbey Pub - 10pm Of Montreal w/DJ Kevin Barnes @ Schubas - 10pm Thievery Corporation @ Metro - 10pm Blackalicious w/Lyrics Born & Ohmega Watts @ HOB Doors @ 10pm The Secret Machines @ DarkRoom Doors @ 9pm August 5, 2006: The Official Day Two Aftershows The Frames w/Nada Surf & Elvis Perkins @ Metro - 10pm Blues Traveler w/Particle @ HOB Doors @ 10pm There are also some unofficial aftershows worth checking out as well, the Empty Bottle has got you covered all weekend-long with A Silver Mt. Zion on August 4-5, The Dirty Things on August 6; the Bottle is also presenting Kelley Stoltz at the Subterranean on August 4th.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Festivus Overloadus

It seems like a just a couple of years ago that I was thumbing through an issue of Q Magazine and jealously resenting all of the summer festivals with the amazing line-ups (most notably, Glastonbury) that the Brits got to enjoy. Now in 2006, it seems like everyone and their brother is trying to start the next Glasto here in The States. The trend seemed to have been sparked by Coachella, and then just exploded everywhere. Intonation, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, Desdemona, Bumbershoot...and now there's Hedgpeth?. As if Intonation, Pitchfork Music Fest, Lollapalooza and Milwaukee's Summerfest wasn't enough in the area, we now have the Hedgpeth Festival just an hour and a half north in lovely Twin Lakes, WI, near the Illinois/Wisconsin border. Headliners include The Flaming Lips (who apparently are physically unable to turn down any festival invitation), They Might Be Giants, The Go! Team, Primus and Kings of Leon. Oddly enough, Hedgepeth is the same weekend as the Pitchfork Music Festival, though I guess we're really talking apples and oranges here. So what has caused this sudden resurrection of the summer festival in The States? To be fair, a couple of the aforementioned festivals have been around for quite some time. Bumbershoot is apparently in its 36th year, and of course Lollapalooza first started in the early 90s. Since "indie" is the new "alternative," one of my theories is that the cycle has just come back around. Now that real bands who play real music are back in vogue, there's a large enough fan base to support the festival scene again. Still, across the board, the festival scene is definitely as big as it has been in quite some time, if not at an all-time high. We've had a lot of big festivals through the years, but I can't think of any other era where we've had so many festivals going on at the same time. So what are your theories? Is this a good thing for music or is the market overly saturated? Are festivals here to stay or is this just a trend that's going to fizzle out when the music cycle shifts again? Discuss...I'll expect your 200+ word essays in my inbox by tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Live Review - Richard Swift @ Schubas 7/5/06

Richard Swift is a musician for anyone who wants to listen to songs where the strength is in the lyrical content. As Richard sings himself in “The Novelist,” 'Try to write a book each time I speak.' He is, in a word: endearing. Some of his songs can linger towards a dreamy melancholy. ("The Novelist," for example, is full of these dreamy little segues that remind you of what Citizen Kane’s life might have been like before he was taken away as a boy.) At other times, as in "Walking Without Effort," he is hopeful and triumphant (“You with your beautiful heart!”) Overall, he is incredibly worthwhile. Although you cannot buy his upcoming album yet, which is entitled Dressed Up For the Letdown, you can now purchase Walking Without Effort and The Novelist, which have been repackaged and released as a double album for one incredibly low price. You can hear songs from these and his soon to be released album by going to his webpage (the songs will play and cycle through automatically) or his MySpace page Live, his singing was supplemented by the playing of his backup band, The Sons of National Freedom. He switched off and on between guitar, harmonica, and keyboard while other band members filled in the songs with drums and bass. It really came together well and the songs were very engaging to listen to live. He played mainly songs off of The Novelist while interjecting some of his new ones. The exception to this was when he played an encore of “Beautiful Heart,” which was amazing live (he definitely has the same vocal range that comes through on the studio recording.) Other highlights were “Lady Day,” “Lovely Night,” and “Looking Back, I Should Have Been Home More.” -Kirstiecat

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Roger "Syd" Keith Barrett 1946-2006

Iconic psychedelic cult figure and Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett has passed at the age of 60. Read the full story from the NME UPDATE: Click here to listen to WFMU's extensive Syd Barrett tribute that aired earlier this morning. (high quality archive stream expires 7/25)

New Releases Tuesday - 7/11

Thom Yorke - Eraser (XL Recordings) Guess Thom was as bored waiting for Radiohead's follow-up to Hail to the Thief as the rest of us. Peaches - Impeach My Bush (XL Recordings) Back and raunchy as ever, Peaches 3rd release features guest appearances from Joan Jett, Josh Homme and her old roomie, Leslie Feist. Muse - Black Holes and Other Revelations (Warner Bros) For you rockers out there still waiting for Radiohead's return to rock ala The Bends, this new Muse record will probably hold you over better than Thom's solo release. Check out the new single, "Knights of Cydonia" here. Rhymefest - Blue Collar (J-Records) The debut record is here...hopefully now Rhymefest can finally drop that annoying "guy who co-wrote Jesus Walks" moniker. Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche (Asthmatic) I'd like to nominate this record for most obnoxious album cover of the year so far.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mini-Interview: The Western States Motel

Wake up, wake up, you’re sleeping the day away, sings The Western States Motel’s Carl Jordan in the first few moments of his band’s debut cd, due out later this month. A million mysteries, they whisper your name. They’re lines like many on the album -- lyrics with images of broken playa above the city at night, views of a small town with nothing to do, an ocean in your eyes, and being so high up you never want to come down – which when they hit just right, imbed themselves in your brain and make it clear they have no intention of leaving. It’s pop music at its most unabashed, without pretension, all heart, and catchy as a mother-fucker. We recently talked to Carl, figuring the best time to ask him about the construction of The Western States Motel was right now on the eve of his album’s release. Hi, Carl. So, where you from? How long have you been making music? I’m originally from Monterey, CA. Spent a few years in Santa Cruz, and now I live in LA. I started playing an acoustic guitar when I was thirteen, but for me, just as exciting was spending every dollar I had on my first 4-track. How did you start The Western States Motel? I found myself without a band for the first time since I could remember, and for whatever reason, I thought I'd just try working on some songs by myself. I started in on some recordings I intended to use as a score for this short film that was bouncing around my head, but I eventually ditched the film idea, and slowly shifted my focus to actual songs with vocals and all that. I recently enlisted a couple of friends to play the songs live, and now were a band. How long have you been working on these songs? Wow. A few of the songs on the album began to take shape as long as three years ago. A good portion of it was created within the last few months though. Who or what are your influences? (I’d have to guess driving in the desert and sleeping on the beach would be at least part of the latter.) Yeah, I love being out in the desert for sure, and definitely get a lot of inspiration from any sort of uninhabited expanse. It’s funny that you mention sleeping on the beach, though, because thats probably going to be the plan for some of these out-of-town shows we’ve got lined up later this year. And the album is done now, correct? Yes. Though I’m waiting for it to be delivered. I’m hoping it shows up before we drive to San Francisco. You mentioned to me before that you’ve got a tip of the cap to a well-worn old blues line in the song, Southwest Planez. What was it again? One of these days and it wont be long, you’ll look for me baby, and I’ll be gone. It’s a line that’s probably been around since the very beginnings of blues music and eventually appeared in different variations in songs by Zeppellin, Johnny Cash, Velvet Underground; I’m sure there’s tons more. I listened to a lot of blues when I was first learning guitar, so over the years, as I discovered those other bands, I realized they were all using that same line. Cash only uses the first half, but it’s sung the same way you hear it in those other places. You’ve got a few dates up the California coast in support of the albums release. What’s next for you after that? I think we’re just planning on doing as many little trips around the state as we can, trying to get the album out there. There are already some new songs to record, but that process probably won’t get going for a few months. I’d love to do some music for a short film, but not that one I was talking about earlier. Who are some of your favorite bands in LA right now? There’s these guys I’ve seen play at El Compadre a couple of times while eating dinner. I don’t even know if they have a name, but they rule. That's it. Many thanks for your time, Carl. Thank you, Joe.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Live Review: Andrew Morgan @ Schubas 6/29/06

I’ve seen Andrew Morgan play about five times over the last couple of years and each time it’s a bit different depending on the musicians he brings to accompany him. This night, he was accompanied with drums and tambourine on some songs, but overall it was a more intimate affair. Although he played some songs off of his last album, Misadventures in Radiology, he played many new songs that he’s working on recording for the his next release, A Simple Plan. These songs held up well and sounded consistent with his previous work, so if you love Misadventures... (and if you don’t have it, I would recommend buying it), you’ll probably love his upcoming album as well. Andrew is whispy but pained, sincere and delicate. He’s also a really good person. If you get the chance to see him, you are lucky. This world is a less bleak place when we can all share in something so special as music like this. Unfortunately, this may have been his last Chicago show for a while as he is planning a move to Boston. This is a big loss for the local scene, but we should be thankful we had him this long. -Kirstiecat

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Live Pics: Seu Jorge @ Millenium Park 6/29/06

Updated in the photo archives today are live pics from last week's free Seu Jorge performance at Millenium Park. In case you were wondering...Yes, Jorge did a couple of Bowie covers; "Rebel Rebel" and "Ziggy Stardust."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Free For All Frapp-cast

Unfortunately it seems that Chicago has been left off the Goldfrapp live bandwagon for the time being, but you can catch up on all things Frapp-related with a new Podcast series direct from the band: "We're going to be doing a series of free for all Podcasts. Episode ..1, "The PodChat", is the first in the new regular series and is on iTunes NOW." Subscribe directly by entering: http://www.goldfrapp.com/frappcast.xml (Use the "Subscribe to Podcast" option in the Advanced menu in i-tunes.

Live Review: Ray Davies @ Taste of Chicago 7/4/06

I remember the time when I first heard The Kinks. Aside from their radio hits “Lola,” and “You Really Got Me” I hadn’t really heard what they had to offer the world. I didn’t truly experience them until after college when I came across a couple of pivotal albums: Arthur(Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) and The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society. My first thought then was: Why wasn’t this band just as successful as the Beatles? The more albums I listened to, the more I saw the reflective spirit crossed with music that could just as easily take the form of melodic folk songs as they could catchy rock songs. So when you look at someone like Ray Davies, it’s impossible to just see simply a musician because this man has legendary status. Ray Davies, thankfully, isn’t the type of musician that turns his back on the history of his own music and refuses to play his old songs. In fact, he welcomed the nostalgia and it was clear that he still enjoys playing his Kinks material. He was also pretty vibrant while playing and while conversing. He tapes the environment of cities he’s in and he played some of Chicago back to us. He also asked us to be nice to him and make sure to invite him to BBQs, reassuring us that even though he didn’t eat meat, he’d come. He had the jumps and moves of a much younger man and it was hard to feel like the music was even dated at some points. He also had the support of another guitarist, a bassist, drummer, keyboardist and female backup singer on most tracks which worked nicely with both recent songs and old favorites. Although he did play solo material from his latest record, Other People’s Lives, he began his 90 minute long set with “Low Budget” and soon played a rocking version of “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” (one of my favorite songs, although I am most partial to “Rosie Won’t You Please Come Home”). One of the best songs he played stylistically was “Sunny Afternoon” because he stayed true to his soft and reflective original. He also stayed true to the way “All Day and All of the Night” as well as “You Really Got Me” were recorded and he made these rockers just as effectively loud and catchy as they were when released. It was a real honor to see not only him perform but to be in the presence of such an individual. -Review courtesy of Kirstiecat

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 03, 2006

New Releases Tuesday - 7/4

Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways (Lost Highway) You can't get any more American than Cash, so I guess it's appropriate that his last release comes out on the 4th of July. Once again under the guise of Rick Rubin, the vocal tracks for American V were cut in the months prior to his death in September of 2003, but the musical arrangements weren't worked out until last year. Cash's posthumous backing band includes Beck pal/side guitar pro Smokey Hormel, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench from Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, Matt Sweeney of Chavez fame and Ekoostik Hookah percussionist Johnny Polansky. Includes the usual batch of covers and spirituals, as well as the last song that Cash ever wrote, "Like The 309."