Successes in a vast array of the new millennium’s bigger garage groups only emboldened drummer-turned-frontwoman Frankie Rose. Her 2010 solo outing skirted around the periphery of the genre she’s most associated with, as tunes like “Must Be Nice” sound like it should be decaying on the b-side of a late-sixties single in your parent’s basement. Working with the same music on so many different projects, though, must have become tiresome. Rose’s new disc, “Interstellar,” discards her past, leaving sixteenth-note floor tom beats behind. There’s a difference between sounding cool and sounding icy. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s an act—Captured! By Robots—in which a principal player built a few robots to perform musical gestures. Instead of the end result approaching the magnificence of robots playing robotic-sounding rock tunes, it’s just a punk derivation. Battles, a New York City ensemble wheedled down to three members since Tyondai Braxton’s departure, actually sounds like robots composing and enacting those writings. Instead of a cold “2001” feel to the proceedings, the band peppers its mechanical-sounding works with a repetitious smattering of vocals, which in the past were contributed by band members.
While the group’s forthcoming “Gloss Drop” (Warp Records) was recorded with Braxton in tow, he jumped shipped near its completion. Forced to reassess not just the tracks which were laid down, but Battles as a whole, the remaining members opted to rework the songs they’d set to tape and invite a handful of vocalists to fill in any spaces vacated by Braxton’s wide-reaching musicianship. Read the rest of this entry »
Chicago Artists, DJ, Electro, Electronic/Dance, Experimental, House, Industrial, Metal, Noise, Prog-rock, Punk, Techno
Simultaneously garnering props from music industry hotshots and technology aficionados, Moldover’s 2009 debut album was more than an Internet flashpoint, it fostered the growth of a paradigm shift in live electronic stage acts: controllerism. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a dysfunctional MacBook, Moldover’s work catapults the stoic, laptop-based events of years past into a new era of rockstar idolatry, with the software controller in the driver’s seat. An unmistakable rock influence pervades his musical efforts, which deftly run the gamut from rapid, techno-fused breakbeats to glitch-inspired funk. Moldover will be supported by the DJ skills of Chicago favorites Striz, Magpie and Duke Shin. (John Alex Colón)
March 11 at Darkroom, 2210 West Chicago, 9pm, free before 10pm, $6 after.
Photo: Richard Saunier
While the title of Deerhoof’s latest album, “Deerhoof Vs. Evil,” seems a little bombastic, even overreaching, after more than fifteen years of making a living selling a skewed songbook that would challenge even the coolest of cool dads to sit still for a listen, maybe they’re worthy of it. The San Francisco quartet, which combines toy-pop and prog-rock with an ear for the psychedelic, is probably most easily recognized by the affect-less trilling of Tokyo native Satomi Matsuzaki. The record definitely marks the gradual mellowing of the group’s oeuvre, and yet, for that, a more rich complexion of musical style’s at play. In the track “Secret Mobilization” alone, a beefy roadhouse-rock guitar line pairs off against a kind of motorik, cool-jazz cowbell and featherweight electric organ before running into a clean guitar chik-a-chik suggesting disco. The group gets major credit for deliberately leaking the entire album, a track at a time, via various online outlets in the run-up to its release, a gesture of confidence in an era of transparent music marketing. And while the album won’t topple any dictatorial regimes (unless we’ve greatly misjudged the sources of revolution in Egypt), there is a certain kind of evil in the blandness of mainstream indie fare which Deerhoof’s intransigent songwriting valiantly defies. (David Wicik)
February 15 at Bottom Lounge, 1375 West Lake, (312)666-6775, 8pm. $15. 17+.
When a band finds itself stumped, frustrated and unable to reached its desired artistic apex, there’s only one reasonable solution: call Rick Rubin. The legendary bearded guru of meditation and nap-taking was ready to go when asked to produce Ours’ fourth full-length, “Mercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy).” This time around, the New Jersey prog-rockers delivered an album destined to convince a lot of people they’re from British Isles. Melodrama and layers of strings are heaped on like a U2 ballad (not to mention the Edge’s signature delay-filled guitar timbre), while frontman Jimmy Gnecco quite blatantly channels “Bends”-era Thom Yorke when singing lines like, “Life doesn’t have any meaning, everything’s a joke.” Rubin usually either brings out the best or the worst in a band, but “Mercy …,” sonically unblemished but disappointingly derivative, defies that trend. (Andy Seifert)
Monday, June 9 at Martyrs
Back in the day, if Minus the Bear put out an album entitled “Planet of Ice,” most of us would’ve simply passed it off as a “Star Wars” Hoth system reference. Minus the Bear’s goofball reputation of songs based on “Starship Troopers” quotes and titles like “Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!” may have died with “Planet of Ice,” a sobering, solemn effort that still sounds sonically like their usual math-rock album. Its newest effort represents the most prog-rock Minus the Bear has ever sounded; the jaded riffs and obscure scales have always been there, but now some of the harmonies almost seem borrowed from the Alan Parsons Project catalogue and the song themes deal with religion hypocrisy, jealousy and unfaithfulness. It’s almost as if the band was yelled at by their collective dads to “stop goofing off” before recording. (Andy Seifert)
Wednesday, April 16 at House of Blues
Aloha’s “Some Echoes,” from 2006, was brilliant—the band’s progressive and math-rock tendencies, coupled with leader Tony Cavallario’s laidback vocal delivery, found a perfect unison that was just out of reach from earlier efforts. The recent “Light Works” mini-record sees the band taking another route, a toned down approach that inevitably puts the focus more on the lyrics than anything else, and an ever-present acoustic guitar. The results are… nice, not nearly as effective as when the band’s at full blast and drummer Cale Parks’ work is a tumbling free-for-all. The unexpected sweetness of it all makes the offering a gentle afterthought and, ultimately, a reminder of how good the band actually is despite the geographic distance between its members (they’re spread out all over the country, making unity, one would imagine, quite difficult). The group’s staggering live, however, and while the calmer material may subdue the overall impact, don’t expect the musical precision to take a hit. (Tom Lynch)
Friday, March 28 at Subterranean
“I’d like to dedicate this to Stacy,” says local guitarist Eric Mantel, before his first song, a nine-minute prog-rock jam that allows two camera crews to storm the stage. This is hour one of eight of this Stacy Peterson benefit concert, a fundraiser dedicated to raising money to pay for continued search efforts of the Bolingbrook mother who’s been missing since October. At least that’s the official statement; judging by the piñata with Drew Peterson’s picture plastered over its face and the homemade “Who ya gonna call? Drewbusters!” sign, this could have easily been named the “Drew Peterson can go to hell” benefit concert.
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Bobby Conn brings his glammed-out, eye-shadowed freak flag to Schubas to jump-start the Tomorrow Never Knows festival. The Thrill Jockey rocker describes his new album, “King for a Day,” as “a desperate attempt to lose myself in a candy-colored fantasyland of freaks and fairies.” We don’t think he’ll have much trouble getting lost. The album features an eccentric hodgepodge of musicians, and we suspect they’ll be rotating on and off of the Schubas stage, too. Come early, because it’s gonna get weird. Nu-brass dance devils NOMO bring the funk from Ann Arbor; Chicago pop-outfit Baby Teeth supports its Lujo release, “The Simp” and Toronto’s classically trained instrumental collective, The Hylozoists, do Ennio Morricone proud with a rousing whirl of spaghettified compositions. Chicago’s own Mister Joshua anchors the upstairs from behind the turntables with a down-tempo set. (K. Tighe)
Thursday, January 17 at Schubas
Time to catch up on the year’s metal hype with a free—that’s right FREE—show at the Double Door. Often touring with heavy-hitters like Jesu, Isis, Mastodon and Oxbow, These Arms Are Snakes have spent much time aligned with the melodic metal scene. Although its music shares much of the long form, slow-pulsing metal goodness of its instrumental brethren, the Seattle-based prog-punk outfit is infinitely more bouncy and chaotic. Chalk it up to the sass and doom antics of frontman Steve Snere, but TAAS is a different animal altogether. Emerging from the wreckage of Minneapolis punks Kill Sadie and pioneering art-thrashers Botch, it’s clear that the group’s roots are still intact, if more than a little frayed. Chicago prog-rock outfit Russian Circles bring the riffage with their complex, near-epic interpretation of post-metal. Local indie outfit Holy Roman Empire fills out the bill for this free show. (K. Tighe)
Thursday, December 13 at Double Door