Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Preview: Method Man, Redman, and B-Real/Concord Music Hall

Hip-Hop, Rap No Comments »

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RECOMMENDED

1999 called, it wants its concert back because this show is going to be THE BOMB.

In case you’ve never listened to rap music, Method Man and Redman have been making head-nodding, gangsta-leaning jams together since 1994 and are still two of the best rappers out there. If you don’t believe in soulmates, at least in a creative sense, these two could change your mind. B-Real is the front man of Cypress Hill and sold more than eighteen million albums. His nasally vocals are legendary, and while he has released countless hits, no one can resist or avoid “Insane in the Membrane.” Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Tune-Yards/The Vic

Indie Pop No Comments »

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RECOMMENDED

Tune-Yards gets a bad rap at times because multi-instrumentalist/mastermind Merrill Garbus has such an off-the-wall stage presence and technicolor style that discussion of the music sometimes gets lost in favor of Garbus’ performance and bold persona. Tune-Yards’ latest release, “Nikki-Nack,” was a level up for Garbus and Tune-Yards, taking what could have easily been a garbled musical mess—a combination of afro-beat drums, R & B, and nonsense children’s rhymes all topped off with a glossy pop sheen—and making it not only a cohesive whole, but a compelling musical statement and a confidently realized signature sound. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Dope Body/Township

Hardcore, Punk No Comments »

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RECOMMENDED

The first time I saw Dope Body was when they opened for Future Islands at Lincoln Hall in 2012 and I’ve been enamored with the band ever since. I’ll forget about them for a while, then one of their songs will come up when my iPod is on shuffle, and I am immediately transported back to the pure anarchistic joy I experienced listening to Rage Against the Machine for the first time in my older brother’s purple Mitsubishi Galant. Turn your nose up at Rage Against the Machine all you want, but I pity any reader that doesn’t know this feeling. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: King Tuff/Subterranean

Punk No Comments »

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RECOMMENDED

King Tuff is touring to promote his new release “Black Moon Spell” on Sub Pop Records. This album is the ideal last fist-in-the-air for summer releases. It’s chock full of pump-up jams about LPs, sex, drugs, and embracing one’s own misfit status. This is the soundtrack to pre-gaming for a crazy night out in the kitchen with your best friends. Produced by Bobby Harlow, also known as the “Burger Guru,” a reference to the current Burger Records sound, and a huge player in the garage rock revival, “Black Moon Spell” is slightly lowbrow, but is such a fun listen and a solid release from beginning to end. Read the rest of this entry »

You Ought to Know: The Unrepentant Humanity of Montreal’s Ought

Emo, Indie Rock, Rock No Comments »
Photo: Victoria Davis

Photo: Victoria Davis

Ought’s debut LP, “More Than Any Other Day,” begins with a track called “Pleasant Heart” that’s led by an instrumental which inspires anything but its title. Its shaggy, stabby guitar and mathematically puzzling drumming take us to singer/guitarist Tim Beeler’s Kinsella-esque howling as the track unravels into a dissonant string-led soundscape.

But Ought manages to feel warm and familiar—endearing; cute, even—in their angst. A clarion of believable hope always emerges from its darkness. The band’s plainly existential lyrics and daring style have drawn easy comparisons to The Velvet Underground and Talking Heads, but it’s their charm which makes these similes most possible. Their character is big enough to mention them as carriers of a long, great, lively pop lineage.

It’s Ought’s humanity that stands tallest at the Empty Bottle on a Saturday night in September. As Beeler somehow balances the dual personalities of his voice and guitar, the crowd shuffles closer to the stage with air-hugs and smiles, like they’d just really like to have a beer with these fellows who anthemically shout about being “excited for the milk of human kindness.” Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The Eternal Summers/Lincoln Hall

Indie Rock No Comments »

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RECOMMENDED

This Roanoke, Virginia trio provides a powerful combination of alternative, indie and jagged punky hooks—everything you could ever want to dance, drive or listen to. There is lush guitar foundations reminiscent sometimes of Radiohead, but the pulse of early Cure and the bounce of Pylon comes through in many of their songs. The Eternal Summers provide a great recipe of one chiming guitar, ironic, high-powered but not screaming, firm female vocals, and a tight pummeling backbeat duo that never lets things get out of control.

Their new album, “The Drop Beneath”—produced by Doug Gillard of Guided by Voices and Nada Surf—on Kanine records is excellent, but live, they let it all hang out and some of their earlier work, such as “Wonder” from “Correct Behavior,” are some of the best pop anthems of the last couple of years. They open for We Are Scientists and Surfer Blood at Lincoln Hall—but don’t be late or you might miss the best band on the bill. (Bart Lazar)

October 8 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 North Lincoln, (773)525-2508, 8pm, $20, 18+

Preview: Ana Tijoux/Subterranean

Latin, Rap, World Music No Comments »

AnaTijoux

RECOMMENDED

Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux has been quite busy of late—just in 2014 she collaborated with the likes of Julieta Venegas, Oscar-winner Jorge Drexler and many others while embarking on a massive tour that included stops at Millennium Park and the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York. Her sound blends North and Latin American influences—she has a solid band that includes guitars, percussion, keys and drums. In addition, her backup singers are also skilled MCs who have the chops to share many of the tunes, freestyling whenever there is space to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Banks/Metro

R&B, Singer-Songwriter No Comments »

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RECOMMENDED

We’re in the age of single-named indie-pop chanteuses (i.e. Lorde, Kimbra). But L.A.-based singer-songwriter Banks (full name Jillian Banks) was a relatively unanticipated addition to the indie music buzz bin back in 2013 with her nineties trip-hop-influenced single “Before I Ever Met You.” Now on the heels of her debut release, “Goddess,” she’s garnering more comparisons, this time to indie R&B acts like The Weeknd. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Warpaint/Vic

Post-punk No Comments »

warpaint-press2010-608x402RECOMMENDED

Warpaint is the kind of band that indie-rock fans lose it over because they’ve got an original sound and solid songwriting but still fit within a very familiar musical aesthetic. In this case, it’s early eighties post-punk, in the vein of Siouxsie and the Banshees. The L.A. quartet’s 2014 self-titled release sees the band move into expanding their sound for their second album; in their recent singles “Disco/very” and “Keep it Healthy,” singer/guitarists Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman chant like voices drone and twine together with a discoesque beat that’s reminiscent of CSS, then move into a dreamy, swirling guitar lullaby. Lately the band’s members have been in the press as much for their outspoken thoughts on feminism and rock as they are for their songs, but music is their primary message and the band is in their element when performing live. (Keidra Chaney)

October 5 at The Vic, 3145 North Sheffield, (773)472-0449. 8pm, $25, 18+

Preview: Agent Orange/Double Door

Punk No Comments »

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RECOMMENDED

Consider this a Riot Fest after-after-after show. These surf-punk veterans are more than thirty years deep in a pretty legendary career, playing music that today’s FIDLARS and Metz base their entire sounds on. Formed three years after and less than fifty miles away from the also legendary Black Flag, Agent Orange is less of a “punch everyone around you” kind of punk and more of a “shred the gnar” vibe, though I’m sure there’s some punching involved. Agent Orange is a band that any punk or garage fan loves, even if they’ve never intentionally listened to them. Read the rest of this entry »