Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Music 45: Who Keeps Chicago in Tune 2014

Blues, Chicago Artists, Classical, Country, Electronic/Dance, Experimental, Folk, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Music 45, R&B, Rock, Soul No Comments »
Photo: Joe Mazza of BraveLux

Photo: Joe Mazza of BraveLux

Chicago, you are a big, bold, beautiful city of infinite complexity. Your historical heritage, your social and political upheaval, your segregation, violence and corruption have birthed an incredible wealth of musical expression. It’s by virtue of these artists that our community confronts and escapes the mistakes of our metropolis. And so our publication listens intently, offering a nuanced dialogue with the musicians who craft our culture. Yet, once a year, we redirect our approach to the opposing swing of the pendulum. We zoom-out where we would normally zoom-in. This list offers a broad-stroke survey of those Chicago musicians whose current cultural currency is readily represented to the city and to the rest of the world, living artists whose quantifiable influence echoes their effect. Some big names are missing, some rankings seem arbitrary, but it’s toward these acts, firmly Chicagoan, that we look when we seek out the spirit of home. Where our words might fail, the music will not. (Kenneth Preski)

Music 45 was written by Kenneth Preski, Dennis Polkow, John Wilmes, Jessica Burg, Robert Szypko, Eric Lutz, Keidra Chaney, Reilly Gill, Corey Hall and Dave Cantor

All photos taken on location at The Hideout by Joe Mazza of BraveLux. Read the rest of this entry »

Alone, Together: Multi-Instrumentalist Dosh Expands his Experiment in a Vacuum

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dosh1By Dave Cantor

There might not be a middle class in a few years. Thomas Friedman said so in the New York Times. So while we’re all waiting for that crushing future, a generation’s gotta figure out how to get over. And Minneapolis’ Martin Dosh seems to have succeeded.

He’s mostly just Dosh now–his last name serving as a tag for all performances he’s inclined to take part in, whether it’s a solo gig or as part of ensemble performance. “Milk Money,” the percussionist’s latest album, he says, is the result of a concerted effort to do something different, and something in a collaborative vacuum. It’s aurally apparent from the disc’s opening four minutes. “We Are the Worst” doesn’t feature any sort of easily recognizable beat—an odd move for a guy so associated with a drum kit.

“It’s always been me and an extension of me–my greater musical family in Minneapolis,” Dosh says of his name’s abstraction. “My longest collaborator is Mike Lewis, who recorded on “Pure Trash,” “Lost Take” and “Tommy”–and he did all the tours I did from 2006 to 2010. … We had a cool telepathic language; we pulled off a full-band sound with two guys.” Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The Hideout Block Party/The Hideout

Alt-Rock, Blues, Chicago Artists, Festivals, Folk, Funk, Garage Rock, Indie Rock, Jazz, Soul No Comments »

Mavis Staples


Saying goodbye to summer means a farewell to beaches, outdoor seating and, perhaps the saddest of all, festivals. Fear not! The Hideout is squeezing the last out of the festival fun with the return of its legendary block party after a two-year absence. Perhaps the most impressive element of the festival is the diversity of style of the artists. The ten-hour event is a variable platter of sound, and it all looks delicious.

Andrew Bird, the biggest name on the bill, will provide the intricate indie tunes he’s known for. Lofty soul calling your name? Mavis Staples and her syrupy low voice at your service. To take that one step further, Booker T. Jones will be around to inject some serious funk into said soul. Read the rest of this entry »

With a Whimper: Was 2009 a weak year for music?

Alt-Rock, Chicago Artists, Hip-Hop, Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Post-punk, Post-Rock, Rock, Shoegaze No Comments »

By Tom Lynchac-merriweather-cover

At the end of each year, media outlets the world over assess the top achievements of the last twelve months, each critic or collective taking a stab at selecting the “best” or “top” records, tracks, live shows and music videos (still!) that have made the grade. Newcity’s no exception, and while I look over the list of releases of 2009 and consider the enormous amount of live shows I’ve attended in the last year, I can’t help but think: so that’s it?

Curiously, most best-of-the-decade lists that are popping up online don’t include many, if any, 2009 releases. Of course, this could be because the albums released this year haven’t had enough time to settle in critics’ hearts and minds, but it’s also possible, maybe even likely, that there isn’t much from this year that’s especially notable. Instead, it’s been a year of non-releases, as many of the top acts in the world were absent in new recorded form, and those established artists that did offer new material came up short. There have been debut records from bands that have been rewarding and show immense promise, but if any of these artists are lucky, their best work lies ahead of them.

Call me a grump, and I’ll nod and shrug, as it wouldn’t be the first time. But there were exactly zero records that were produced this year that I couldn’t stop obsessing over, let alone any that I could look back upon, years in the future, and grin in bittersweet nostalgic recognition as a piece of history, personal or otherwise, that represents this moment in life. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 50 Records: 2000-2009

News and Dish No Comments »

By Tom LynchtheKnife_silentShout

My fifty favorite records of the decade. Labored over this for the last couple months. Lists like these are never finished, you simply just run out of time.

50. Bon Iver, “For Emma, Long Ago” (Jagjaguwar, 2008)

49. Lil’ Wayne, “Tha Carter III” (Cash Money Records, 2008)

48. Sleater-Kinney, “One Beat” (Kill Rock Stars, 2002)

47. For Stars, “We Are All Beautiful People” (Future Farmer, 2002)

46. M.I.A., “Kala” (Interscope Records, 2007)

45. The Knife, “Silent Shout” (Mute U.S., 2006)

44. The Decemberists, “Picaresque” (Kill Rock Stars, 2005)

Styrofoam - A Short Album About Murder43. Styrofoam, “A Short Album About Murder” (Morr Music, 2001)

42. Nada Surf, “Let Go” (Barsuk, 2003)

41. Califone, “Quicksand/Cradlesnakes” (Thrill Jockey, 2003)

40. Pela, “Anytown Graffiti,” (Great Society, 2007) Read the rest of this entry »

Lollapalooza: Day One Recap

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Andrew Bird

The consistent drizzle kept moods damp for the most part of opening day at Lollapalooza in Grant Park, not to mention the epic mud that slicked the terrain and caused a few spills. Admittedly, other responsibilities kept me from reaching Grant Park until after 4pm, so I missed the surprise appearance by country star LeAnn Rimes, as the first thing I heard while approaching the fest was the distant sound of Ben Folds banging on his piano (in a set that I heard from trusted sources was awful). Read the rest of this entry »

Schubas owners to open new music venue

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Greg Kot of the Trib is reporting the owners of Schubas are planning to open a new live-music venue, called Lincoln Hall, at 2424 N. Lincoln Avenue. Yes, that’s the old Three Penny space. And yes, that’s just down the street from the old Lounge Ax. Read the rest of this entry »

Does This Mean I Can Leave Early? Lollapalooza is back in town

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By Tom Lynchlou_reed-full

“Does this mean I can leave early?”

That’s the question I’ve heard most from friends and acquaintances attending Lollapalooza this year as they look over the three-day schedule. That’s because Chicago’s Lollapalooza, in its fifth incarnation since the Grant Park debut in the summer of 2005, hasn’t had a weaker lineup.

Anybody want to disagree? Looking back at previous years, it makes this weekend’s festival seem even thinner. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The Decemberists/Metro

Indie Pop, Indie Rock, Rock No Comments »


This being Lollapalooza week and all, there’s a shitload of after-parties and shows featuring bands playing smaller venues than usual, including Andrew Bird at Schubas, Band of Horses at House of Blues, TV on the Radio at Double Door and Deerhunter at Logan Square Auditorium. Out of all the shows, I’ll take The Decemberists at Metro on Thursday, a “pre-party” if you will. I’m as sick of the historical, multi-character concept-record thing as much as anybody, as for some reason with this band it’s always come off as arrogant to me, but I must admit Colin Meloy and crew do put on a stellar live show. The last time I saw the band was in incredibly disgusting humid conditions at Pritzker Pavilion, and it still was an incredible show. “The Hazards of Love” is the band’s recent record, and it’s more of the same. (“Picaresque,” from 2005, remains the band’s best achievement.) Meloy once told me he prefers the literary bent with his lyrics rather than just writing songs about girls. That’s admirable, but it wouldn’t hurt if the dude wrote a few songs about girls. The live show, though…stellar. (Tom Lynch)

The Decemberists play August 6 at Metro, 3730 N. Clark, (773)549-0203, at 9pm. $35.

The Middle Voice: Anni Rossi and her viola

Chicago Artists, Rock, Singer-Songwriter No Comments »

photo_annirossiThe quintessential image of the stoic singer-songwriter is changing. It used to be a lone figure cradling an acoustic guitar; and perhaps donning a harmonica around the neck. But now, that guitar is being replaced with a violin, a la Andrew Bird, or in Anni Rossi’s case, a viola.

Rossi’s music adds a new twist to the indie-rock sound. Rarely is the viola’s deeply rich sonority given the spotlight, but in Rossi’s songs it takes center stage, acting as the primary backing rhythm, percussion and lead instrument. Listening to her music will give you a newfound appreciation for this instrument, which for too long has been eclipsed by the greedy diva violin. Read the rest of this entry »