Sunday, October 08, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Every few months, without fail, I thoroughly convince myself that this 80’s revival/trend/fad/ whatever it's labeled these days, is on its last breath. Not only have I been wrong every time, but I have grossly underestimated just how far people are willing to go. I comfort myself in the certainty that it will run its course eventually. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the 80’s too, but when the worst elements of a decade start to resurface it becomes just downright troubling. With this in mind, I entered the Double Door last Wednesday night. As I made my way into the main room, I glanced toward the stage to make sure I was not as late as a clock would have me believe. As I peered from the back of the room something returned my gaze from the stage and it was front and center. It was unmistakable what stared back at me, it was a key-tar. Yes, that hybrid mutt of an instrument, half keyboard, half guitar and unofficial spokesman for 80’s music. I panicked and immediately descended for safety into the depths of the lower bar. I figured I could wait this one out until the set came to an end. I am all for hearing new music and keeping an open mind but, it was too early in the night and I was far too sober to face a key-tar. I approached the bar, ordered a beer and quickly gulped some of it down to keep composed. I could still hear the music, muffled above me, penetrating my temporary place of refuge. “Hmmm” I thought, after a few minutes “it is actually a pretty catchy little number.” The bartender turned toward the only other patron below and said, “Man, that keyboardist is killer.” The patron agreed. I wondered if they even knew the sound they were hearing was coming from a key-tar. Regardless, I couldn’t help but agree with them on the matter. I decided it was my duty to go upstairs and get a closer look and I am glad I did. The band, Hello Stranger, does subscribe to that 80’s pop sound, much in the way “the Sounds” do it. Keyboard, or rather key-tar laden tracks filled with hook after enticing hook all played with a genuine vitality. All this was funneled through lead singer Juliette Commagere, who was dressed as if she just walked off the set of Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” video, while combining Patti Smith grit with the sex appeal of a younger Debbie Harry. What can I say, I have always been a sucker for Debbie Harry. Sure they closed with "Thunderstruck," complete with a key-tar intro channeling Angus Young's classic guitar line...and sure this only cements the fact that this 80’s revival is alive and well with no apparent end in sight, but when it is done well and delivered in such effective packaging, who cares? At the very least this Los Angeles-based band allowed me to make peace with the key-tar for an evening, and that has to stand for something. I had definitely missed the buzz about Hello Stranger because by the time Nous Non Plus took the stage the crowd was noticeably smaller. I can’t recall where I first heard about Nous Non Plus, but I admittedly knew very little. Early on it became apparent that the band was not to be taken very seriously. As the show progressed, this idea only became more evident, thus the music a bit more palpable and entertaining. At times the band could rock, much in the manner the soundtrack to European Vacation could rock. After listening to a song about Paris Hilton, whose title shares the very same name as said celebrity’s infamous sex tape, I had to wonder if there was anything remotely serious about the band. Perhaps they are more of a French version of Spinal Tap, only they are supposedly not actually French. Nonetheless, the band did seem to get pockets of the crowd dancing about, including openers Hello Stranger. I suppose the music might make some good background music at a party, but I wouldn’t give it much more credibility than that. Click here for the complete photoset (Words and photos by Rory O'Connor) Download: Hello Stranger - "Take It To The Maxx" (MP3)
Chicago’s very own 1900s are fantastic. They blend the best of melodic '60s pop with full rich harmonizing that makes your heart ache. Both the vocals of Edward Anderson and the two female vocalists, Caroline Donovan and Jeanine O’Toole make for songs that are like sugary sweet candy leaving sticky residues in your brain that you can’t possibly forget. The keyboard and violin always add a nice touch live as well and the new songs, which have become a more substantial part of their set, made me long for the release of an upcoming proper full length follow up to their debut ep Plume Delivery on Parasol records. My only regret is that they did not play my favorite song of theirs, “Patron Saint of Mediocre.” However, “Bring the Good Boys Home” and “A Coming Age” are always great treats.
Chicago is very lucky to have the 1900s here and one other thing I will say is that no matter how many times I see them live, I never tire of hearing these beautiful gems. Their set always seems to go too fast and end far too soon. I hope the 1900s have a really long career ahead of them with many more songs in store because it seems each new song of theirs I hear, I am just a little bit happier to call this city my home. Setlist: Bring the Good Boys Home Collex Not Wrong A Coming Age Wool Oh No Shoot to Kill Acutiplantar View the complete photoset here
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
powered by ODEO Also, be sure to check out this infectious lead single from the band's self-released debut, Arco Isis:
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Live Review: Built to Spill @ Metro 9/16/06
New Releases Tuesday - 10/3
Monday, October 02, 2006
(Doh!) Bandwidth Headliner Flakes Out
Beck Listening Party Tonight
Also, it's "Beck Day" today on the Beeb's 6Music channel, where they'll be spinning tracks from the new album as well as featuring a plethora of classic Beck jams. John Peel heir apparent Steve Lamacq will also be sitting down for a chat over tea and crumpets with the man himself at around 12p local time.