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)
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...
The Raconteurs – Broken 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
Caspian – You 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
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.
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...
Wed 05/03 @ Elastic Arts (2830 N. Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Fl)
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
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
3-man synth rock from Milwaukee WI.
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.
a performance by Marc Arcuri & Bubblegum Shitface
The Dolphin Champaign
Urbana's number one noise band.
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.
Fred Lonberg Holm's free music supergroup. Stelios Valavanis & Insect Deli Surround sound electroacoustic performance.
Chicago's longest-running free-improv laptop trio presented in surrorund sound.
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.
From Norway. Knut Vaage, Alwynne Pritchard and Thorolf Thuestad. Instrumental improvisation with electronics, found objects and specially constructed instruments.
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.
Rhythmic noise rock featuring members of Coughs, Mayor Daley and Panda Express.
One man indie-rock encyclopedia sings songs of sorrow, plays guitar backwards and soaks up the feedback.
This marching band's members number in the dozens! They will lead a rousing parade down scenic Union to an afterparty at the Skylark.
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."
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)
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: www.myspace.com/birdnames.