Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Spins: Atomic Ragtime and Radiant Folk, Chicago Style

Alt-Rock, Blues, Chicago Artists, Folk, Folk-rock, Jazz, Record Reviews, Record Store Day, Singer-Songwriter No Comments »


By Robert Rodi

I’m just a hair late to the party when it comes to “No Hotel,” the new album by Chicago’s own neo-vaudeville barnstormers, The Claudettes; but the album (which came out in September) is definitely one you should be spinning, streaming or otherwise ingesting whole. It’s the work of just three players—pianist Johnny Iguana, drummer Michael Caskey and (intermittently) vocalist Yana—but there’s enough energy going on to power your average Third World airport.

The opener, “Big Easy Women,” is full of a barreling, hyper-saloon piano banging, with a bridge that playfully evokes silent-movie peril. But it’s the second cut—“California, Here I Come”—that really makes you sit up and take notice. The Claudettes knock the hoary old Al Jolson tune into a minor key, transforming it into a wittily downbeat comment on the cruelty that so often accompanies the go-west-young-man dream. Read the rest of this entry »

Raw Material: Indie Music Gears Up for Spring

Alt-Rock, Chicago Artists, Festivals, Indie Rock, News and Dish, Record Store Day, Record Stores, Rock No Comments »

Cameron McGill, Angela Mullenhour

By Keidra Chaney

It’s hard to believe we’re already four months into 2015. It’s particularly unbelievable that—at least to me—it’s so far been a pretty uneventful year for indie music, local or otherwise. Of course the weather’s been in a pretty soul-killing state until very recently, which has made going out for live music a bit more of a chore, but there’s also been something of a demo drought in my neck of the woods. There’s plenty of time to catch up, and Chicago tends to be at its best in spring and summer, so it’s my hope that the next few months will make up for a rather barren winter of music news and events.

That’s not to say that there’s not some good live music to check out in the next few weeks. I mentioned the Gapers Block-sponsored “Stars Align” series several columns ago; it features two musicians from different local bands collaborating for a one-night-only live performance. This month’s show, on April 16, promises to be a special one, because instead of performing covers or each other’s tunes, singer-songwriters Cameron McGill and Angela Mullenhour (of the band Coins) will perform newly co-written original songs at GMan Tavern (3740 North Clark). The show’s free, as usual for the series, and starts at 7:30pm. Read the rest of this entry »

Record Store Day 2014: The Good, The Bad, and The Huh? How the hoopla plays out for a record store regular

News and Dish, Record Store Day No Comments »

By Kenneth Preski

The GoodOutkast - Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

Outkast “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” (Legacy)
Only issued once on vinyl, back when it was first released in 1994, the duo’s debut effort is worthy of re-evaluation in the wake of Andre 3000 and Big Boi’s first touring stint in six years. Outkast is headlining Lollapalooza, and one suspects Andre’s got the itch to rap given his numerous guest verse appearances since 2007. He raps all over “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik,” so it’s likely some deep cuts will make their way to a wider audience this summer, reminding the festival circuit just where and who and what Outkast represents—right there in the album title.

Gil Scott-Heron “Nothing New” (XL Recordings)
Taken from the same sessions that produced “I’m New Here,” this posthumous collection, limited to three-thousand copies, presents Gil Scott-Heron as singer-songwriter, performing fresh takes on two decades worth of compositions, now rendered immediate through the same throaty vocal that made his swan song LP such a painful and rewarding listen. When contrasted with the original versions of his tunes from the eighties, “Nothing New” provides a welcome facelift for the material, settling the legendary poet’s spirit by surrounding it with minimal frill. Voice paired with a piano yields a candid document of a life well-spent in pursuit of truth. Read the rest of this entry »