Monday, October 05, 2015

Friday, October 02, 2015

Big Freedia helps Elliphant add some serious swagger to 'Club Skunk Now'

Mich and I are famously always out of town when Big Freedia comes to play Chicago. But not this time! Big Freedia's got a show at Bottom Lounge on November 10 and the guest appearance in this video only makes me more excited to finally get a chance to catch her on stage!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Dirty Ghosts skips the sophomore slump.

Photo by Liz Caruana
Finally got around to listening to the new Dirty Ghosts album this afternoon. I'm saving a slightly longer review for Chicagoist—most of my reviews there are now going to be in Quick Spins round up form so I can package a few together at a time—so look for that next week. The tl;dr of it is the band is still really good at putting together rough edged "underwater soul."*

The album is out tomorrow but you can stream the whole thing below. That should convince you to shell out a few bucks for it, right? They're on tour and I recommend catching them, since their live show is a little more Joan Jett than you'd expect.

*A term I coined when their original Biz 3 publicists sent me their original demos in '09. His reply was, "Thank you for not saying “lo-fi” -- that drives me nuts!"

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I fell in love with a robot.

This is for the rare subgroup of people that read this site that aren’t already familiar with Alex Garland. 

Garland wrote The Beach, which was later into a movie by like-minded filmmaker Danny Boyle, which led to the two collaborating on two films I think are great, 28 Days Later and Sunshine (the latter film being one I can watch over and over again without ever tiring of it). Garland made his directorial debut earlier this year with Ex Machina, a movie that puts the scene and philosophy back at the heart of a term like science fiction thriller. And it is a thriller.

I watched it last week and immediately ordered it on Blu-ray, and watched it again earlier this evening, discovering that while the surprises and twists that can only be delivered upon the first viewing were now absent some of their power, the film as a whole resonated more powerfully. The subsequent viewing allowed me a bit of detachment from the action, giving me the freedom to focus more on some of the subtexts and story bits I missed the first time around.

If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It’s a stunner. Check out the trailer, though do so knowing the exposition in its first couple lines doesn’t actually happen in the movie—the film deals with exposition far more gracefully and intelligently.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I'm a drummer in a wedding band.

Well, not really. But if I was, I'd probably end up looking an awful lot like this....

Monday, September 28, 2015

What if Bleachers' debut was reimagined by an all female cast?

What if Sara Bareilles, Charli XCX, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tinashe, Lucius, Elle King, Brooke Candy, Rachel Antonoff, Sia, MØ, Susanna Hoffs, and Natalie Maines all tackled songs from Bleachers' Strange Desire and made them in their own image? Imagine no more!

usually I wouldn't just cut and paste soething from an artist, but since is my personal site and In really like what Jack Antanoff has to say when it's in his own words, here's the full skinny on this album.
“terrible thrills vol. 2 
i love female voices. i wish i had one. when i write songs i typically hear things in a female voice and then match it an octave lower so i can hit the notes. that's why so many bleachers' songs are sung so low. i could change the key but i like things sounding like a male version of what in my head was a female-sung song. I've always written this way. so with that in mind i wanted to release a version of my record that spoke to how it was written and the ways i originally heard it in my head before i recorded and sang it. i think it's important for people to know where the songs come from and why the songs come out sounding the way they do. i hear my music as my interpretation of a song I'm writing as a female in my head, so i wanted to make that a reality with the artists who inspire me to write in the first place.  
i first had this specific idea 6 years ago when i was making the 3rd steel train album. that's why this is volume 2 --- because volume 1 happened for the self titled steel train album. the "terrible thrills" concept is something i see being a thread through different bands and projects i do. its non specific to any band or record - it's just speaks to the way i hear music. i think every record I make should have a female companion record to go with it. 
the process making this was all over the place. some artists fully recorded and recreated the versions, some i worked with them on. the collection is completely bizarre thing for me to listen to because it feels so personal as to how i write. it feels like the part of my process that I'm suppose to keep to myself or something and hearing it in headphones is utterly strange and wonderful. 
one more note on TT is that this is and was always meant to be free for everyone to hear. this project took a year and tons of recording sessions and through that we all felt very proud that something as intense as a full album could be given to the people who bought the original work as a further look into it. I've loved how the strange desire record cycle has grown and changed constantly over the past year and a half. as i write this from the studio where I'm making the second bleachers album, i see terrible thrills as the final chapter for strange desire. ok- enjoy it!! talk soon”
Download Terrible Thrills Vol. 2 for free, right now! 

Yeah, you have to do it through Google Play Music, but whatever. Download each track individually once you snag the album and you can listen to it free of Google's player.

Friday, September 25, 2015

My Cruel Goro make me want to go go go.

My Cruel Goro hails from both Italy and Iceland—though I have no idea which members of the trio are from which location, or if the fact their bio says the band is from "Iceland-Italy" means one of them is suspended halfway between the two at all times.

The band practices the kind overdriven super-buzzy pop-rock explodin' kind of music that pinpoints the back of my head and causes fireworks to explode on the insides of my eyelids. It's super fun stuff that is over far too soon. In an age where most bands release too much music, it's rare to run into one that leaves you literally, and yes I'm using that correctly, wanting more.

Here's hoping their self-titled debut EP, which you can snag for free below, is actually just testing the waters and there's already a lot more in the can ready to run with. Because I'm already playing these three songs to death.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A footnote to my choice for Song Of The Summer.

Via the artist's website
No sooner do I weigh in on what my choice for Song Of The Summer is—read it now if you haven't yet!— than one of my new favorite podcasts, Switched On Pop, goes ahead and dissects that same song quite wonderfully!

I'm going to assume they did so once they saw how much I liked it and then rushed the post up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Summer's officially over, so what was it's song?

Sunset Voyage, photo by Robert Boake
I wrote up a piece about the Song Of the Summer frontrunners, disputed the one that Billboard crowned as the winner, and offered up my own (correct) choice. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More unreleased Triple Fast Action stuff? Yes, please!

Triplefastaction's original promo shot—how very '90s! Photo by Gene Ambo
Triple Fast Action (or as I always typed it, Triplefastaction) was one of my favorite Chicago bands. I was just getting into the scene and my girlfriend at the time knew of few of the guys. I of course was immediately suspicious. These were guys in a band so they must be after my girl! I hoped they were terrible. And then I heard them on a compilation she helped to put together, and that song, “New Goo,” wasn’t amazing, but it was enough to prove to me they weren’t going to be terrible.

They put out a single for “Revved Up” and it kicked ass. And then their debut album came out and while there were indulgent moments—more indulgent than I had expected after seeing them live—it to kicked ass. And then a second album came out and it was better than the first, even if they had jumped ship from a Major Label to an Indie, I still viewed it as a huge step forward.

So of course they broke up. And Wes Kidd (guitar/lead vocals), Brian St. Clair (drums), Kevin Tihista (bass/vocals), and Ronnie Schneider (guitar/vocals) went their separate ways.

Over the years I’ve hoped they’d regroup, but it appears the epic show they played at The Metro on May 24, 1998 was truly their last (a show I still have fuzzy memories off due to too many bears, but the sight of every touring guitarist they ever had joining them onstage for "Superstar" is forever etched in my brain).

In the early aughts I emailed their Wes since I’d heard he was burning CDs of their unreleased recordings an b-sides, so he graciously emailed me one, and that was the last time I thought I’d hear anything “new’ from the band.

Well, stumbling around the inter webs today I realized the band, or someone affiliated with the band, has a Soundcloud account and has been not only posting tracks off that CD Wes sent me, but they’ve also been posting stuff I’d never heard before! This is very exciting, even if it is all really old stuff from 1994 and earlier. But who cares, to me it’s new Triplefastaction!

I’ve collected the tracks that weren’t on that CD Wes sent out below, but I recommend going to the full page for more goodies, including album tracks.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ryan covered T-swizzle and it's AMAZING.

The history of rock and/or roll is dotted with people reinterpreting other people's songs. Hell, The Beatles and The Stones built the genesis of their musical legacies on the backs of the bands they took all their original references from. In fact, most of the time they were building off their influences, those influences were contemporaries of theirs.

So the idea of Ryan Adams taking his cue for his latest album from another contemporary like Taylor Swift isn't that strange. Except for the fact that this contemporary muse built portions of her career on the back of his output. So the snake has officially eaten its tail.

 But a step back.

Let's do a simple math equation—Taylor Swift = Insurgent country + Pop + I don't give fuck all about what is supposed to sell or not. Which sounds a lot like Ryan Adams at certain points in his career. Add to that, Swift has admitted that Adams was a huge influence and once you're faced with his whole album cover at her vaunted grasp towards mainstream fame you'd be forgiven for thinking, nay screaming, "What the fuck?"

Is this a joke?


One listen to Adams' 1989 proves two things: a) he's able to channel any source material and make it sound good, and b) with Taylor's material he's got something he can make sound great. All of Swift's melodies make it through, but Adams adds a melancholic tinge to all of it that, surprisingly, hearkens back to Swift's earlier days. All the sheen is stripped off in favor of the heart that lies beneath. And, while an album of covers, may stand as Ryan's masterpiece.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Not to sound like a cliché, but...

...this Friday could not come soon enough. I have a lot going on, on a number of levels, and though it all am battling these killer allergies I mistook for a lagging summer cold for weeks. I never get hit by allergies this time of year, but this has knocked me on my butt. Every morning I wake up and my eyes don't want to open, feeling swollen shut, and each limb feels like it's moving through a pool of thick gel because I'm so logy. Sooooooo—yay Friday!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

This made MY day.

Now go read my review and listen to The Kickback's excellent new album.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Read ALL of the Riot Fest coverage.

The Prodigy, photo by me
Festival season is over. Long live festival season. TL;DR? Riot Fest caped off the summer with a triumphant move to a new park that not even rain and muddy fields could make soggy or soften.

Longer read? Try these out.

Monday, September 14, 2015

And with that...

...the summer music festival season draws to a close. And I survived another year. Amazingly,

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Beard rock? We Hunt Buffalo rock.

Photo from the We Hunt Buffalo Facebook page
Their press release quotes another publication describing the stoner anthem architect as "beard rock." The phrase made me chuckle, but I know what they're getting at. If you don't you will once you hit play on the track below, a teaser from their new LP Living Ghosts, out September 25.

When I first started listening to this album I at first thought it was a little cartoonish but it grew on me really quickly. Taking root and making itself at home, almost without me noticing. Like a slowly encroaching beard...

Tuesday, September 08, 2015