Thursday, March 31, 2022

Kate Bollinger delivers intimate sounds with technicolor brilliance.

Photo by Jonathan Roensch
It was softly snowing this morning, and as the sun's light illuminated the clouds above it created one of those magical moments where two things that shouldn't collide do and open up a new view of the world in that moment.

I had a similar sensation listening to Kate Bollinger's forthcoming Look at it in the Light, an EP that manages to present her songs using really intimate production techniques while sacrificing none of the audio fidelity.* And the songs flow so naturally from Bollinger and her band that they simltaneously seem surprisingly refreshing and inevitably excellent to my ears.

The full EP isn't out until next month, but the songs streaming as a preview now do an excellent job of making my case for why you should be excited for its release.

*I caught myself writing "it sounds like it was recorded in a closet with a full band with excellent gear" and realized the "closet" description was directly inspired by my memory of first encountering Lou Reed's "closet mix" of The Velvet Underground. And there's your peek behind the curtain for today!

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Nerdy One.

After many, many years, the Chicago 2-piece Tuff Tamale has debuted their very first video ever for the first single from their upcoming full-length LP, Kitten Trapper Keeper! 

More later.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Marveling at Märvel!

I am certain there are longtime fans of Märvel, but the band was entirely new to me, and I confess when I fired this album up my expectation were low. A trio of Swedish musicians who perform under aliases* and originally met in Colorado (?!) as exchange students 20 years ago? If they'd been around that long and were good, how have I never heard of them?

But, one of the nice things about being a music critic for over 30 years is that I've chosen a passion that has the ability to continually surprise me.

On Graces Come With Malice, Märvel combines garage rock with touches of metal and tops it off with a healthy dollop of of groove that, to my ears at least, takes its cue from the swaggier KISS songs out there. It's a playful album that seriously rawks, and in the end the image perfectly fits the package in ways I could not have anticipated.

The full album isn't out until April 22, but you can get a taste of a few of the singles before then. Perfect to rock out of the work week and into the weekend!

*The King is on guitars and vox, The Burgher plays bass, and The Vicar holds things down on the drum kit.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Disco H?

I had no idea Kevin made this, so thanks to the latest (and rather excellent) LIFERS podcast episode for cluing me in.

Now, let's dance!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Get gritty and groovy with Gill Brothers Band.

One side effect of the last two years is sometimes forgetting an album I wanted to write about has been released. But in the case of Gill Brothers Band I was so smitten by the promo I immediately pre-ordered their debut album—to me it's worth it to at least have access to WAV files of the music I love, and in this case they added some live bonus tracks not on their promo. So when it popped up in my email that I could finally download the album I knew it was time to tell you abut it!

Gill Brothers Band is stacked with great songs, many of them carrying a down-n-dirty, slight twangy vibe grafted onto a full-on rock and/or roll attack. I know in some circles "classic rock" may be something one sneers at, but this is capital "C" capital "R" Classic Rock in the best sense of the phrase. I mean, it sounds like these folks have spent plenty of time in sweaty practice spaces perfecting their organic chemistry, and Gill Brothers Band is a shining result of those efforts.

Bonus points for their ability to confound expectations too! The first time I listened, I thought the album had ended and my tankPHONE had moved onto shuffle, bringing in tunes by Meat Puppets and Hiawata! ... and then I realized, nope! Gill Brothers Band was still going strong and showing their range.

Give it a spin and pick up your one copy today!

Friday, March 11, 2022

Raise yourself "High Above The Sun" with Magic City Hippies.

Photo by Fro Rojas
Every once in a while someone will yell out "DJ Tankboy!" when they see me and I forget that for a good 15 year stretch I would do 5-7 hours sets multiple nights a week on top of all the other jobs I was doing in other sectors of  my life. And that doesn't even count my early days of house parties and residences I had at The Gallery in Normal, IL in the early '90! Old habits die hard though, and when I listen to music I still pick out songs I'd use in a set today, even though I have no active interest in actually DJing again.

If I was still DJing long sets though, "High Above The Sun" from Magic City Hippies* off Water Your Garden would be a great hour-two tune, as it amps up the funky vibes while simultaneously burying them in a shiny indie-influenced-basement-party package of sound. It'd a good bridge between songs as the evening ramps up, and one of those numbers I'd deploy to get the people still sitting to start swaying or tapping their toes, and get the folks who might be standing to start bouncing a little.

Which means it is also an excellent song to ease us into the weekend!

*A true sign of my growth over the years? I didn't immediately delete an album sent to me by a band with "hippies" in the name.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Tune into Yot Club's "Cannel 4" for the vibez.

Photo by Paige Margulies
Keeping this brief since ... you know what? It doesn't matter why. Let's just get to the song!

Yot Club’s Santolina EP mixes genres and sounds, but I like them best when their tunes sound like a lo-fi basement disco party.* "Channel 4" is built with minimal parts for maximum impact and my favorite part of the tune are the stabbing synth strings.

The song isn't so much a pick-me-up as it is a bridge between moods, but it's perfect for me as I type this in the pre-dawn light.

*This is the part where I should note that Yot Club had a popular tune on TikTok, and it seems to have helped raise their profile. So if you're not an old, Yot Club might already be old news to you. But you should dig this track either way!

Monday, March 07, 2022

This is not a review of 'The Batman.'

So I did not go opening night, or even opening day, but I couldn't wait until next weekend so I did end up getting a ticket to see The Batman early Sunday morning based on the number of empty seats remaining in the theater I was going to. It wasn't until later that I noticed the tickets were for the film in 4DX, but by then the other early movies were packed and I thought to myself, having never seen a movie in 4DX before, "How different can it be?" 

Um, very different.

I guess if you like being thrown around like you're on a rollercoaster whenever there is onscreen action, maybe you would dig it? Me? I prefer to actually see the movie instead of trying to keep from getting whiplash. I honestly couldn't describe 70% of the action scenes to you because it was impossible to focus on the screen as you're thrown all over the place.

It. Was. A. Terrible. Experience. So if you ever are tempted to see something in 4DX ... DON'T.*

Oh, what did I think of the actual movie? The story? The visuals? The content of the film?

O.K., I know the headline says "this is not a review" and it most certainly is not, but I thought the movie was pretty, pretty good! Now to see if I can wait the 45 days for it to come to HBO Max or if I'll be too tempted to plunk down dough for another ticket for a regular screening so I can finally watch those action scenes...

*This does not pertain to a movie developed to leverage 4DX—as in a short film to replicate a particular and well-mapped experience. At least I assume there is material like that out there. Because if the thought of "we'll get people into the theater with premium experiences!" means this is a premium experience ... well, then give me my home viewing experience over 4DX any day.

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

An unusual feeling has settled in ahead of 'The Batman' for me.

I am very excited about the new The Batman movie but realized I didn’t feel the usual urge to buy a ticket to see a movie like that on the first day. Heck, I remember suffering through a loooooong P4K-music-fest Friday after seeing the midnight showing of ‘The Dark Knight’ the night before, and I was first in line to see ‘Batman’ in 1989, forcing my family to buy tickets and go even while we were on vacation. But this time around with The Batman … not so much.

In trying to figure out why I think I landed on two reasons:
  1. As a standalone Batman movie, spoilers are less of a cause of anxiety for me with The Batman. I’m expecting a good story but since it’s not a part of a larger “universe” for now I guess I’m not so worried the story could be “ruined” for me.
  2. The fact it appears many, many people in Chicago are treating the reversal of mask and vaccine mandates as “the pandemic is over!” So I’m not super pumped to be in an enclosed, packed theater. 
I think I still hope top see it this weekend—I’m more comfortable with super early morning showings of movies these days—but it’s still weird to me that I don’t FEEL like I HAVE to see it right away.

How 'bout you? You gonna see the film?