Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Preview: Sidewalk Chalk/Double Door

Chicago Artists, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul No Comments »


The Chicago-based octet Sidewalk Chalk is far from your ordinary hip-hop group. The band fuses soul and jazz with contemporary beats and insightful lyrics to create original songs and live performances that get even the most conservative of concert-goers on their feet. Their arrangements highlight what each of the band’s members bring to the table. Maggie Vagle (vocals) and Rico Sisney (MC) complement each other on stage as well as they do on tracks, matching energy and emotion note for note. Likewise, while Tyler Berg uses a drum set to keep time, Jumaane Taylor tap dances to add in rhythms and provide a unique flair to the band’s sound. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Die Kreuzen/Double Door

Hardcore No Comments »

05.25 Die Kruezen @ Double DoorRECOMMENDED

We can, and perhaps should, continue discussing the vital bridge between hardcore, whatever it turned into mid-decade and everything that happened in Seattle during the 1990s. And that’s where Milwaukee’s Die Kreuzen comes in. It took the band about two years to turn its 1982 demos into a debut long-player, released through Touch and Go. Issuing a hardcore album so deep into the genre’s development meant the disc would either be buried amid its doppelgangers or point a possible way beyond hardcore’s limitations. Dan Kubinski’s vocals may be the definitive feature allowing for folks to care about all this a few decades on. His determined yowl’s still more metal than Lars Ulrich and the trio backing him was capable of turning a fast tempo even faster. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Ghostface Killah/Double Door

Hip-Hop No Comments »


With eight members in the Wu-Tang Clan and countless affiliated performers kicking around, only a few of the crew’s MCs have issued music acclaimed in the same way as “36 Chambers.” Disregarding his appearance on “30 Rock,” Ghostface Killah’s career’s been one of the most consistent, beginning with the 1996 “Ironman.” Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The Black Angels/Double Door

Psychedelic No Comments »


There’s no shortage of throwback bands copping to sixties pop and psych. Top-shelf purveyors are able to replicate and expand on all those wasted classics, inserting twenty-first-century ideas into what we’ve all become accustomed to. Austin’s the Black Angels almost weave their way into success. Naming anything “Mission District” is bound to be questioned by listeners—the song these Texans work up isn’t regrettable, but for some reason, singer Alex Maas takes a more melodic approach to droning out his lyrics than elsewhere. The approach doesn’t clash with the dumb thud of the ensemble’s psych stuff, but sets up a contrast better suited to the Doors than fourth-generation stoners. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Céu + Curumin/Double Door

Electronic/Dance, Funk, Latin, New Music, Pop, Psychedelic, R&B, Rock, Samba, Singer-Songwriter, Soul, World Music No Comments »

Céu/Photo: Renan Costa Lima


Throughout her career, São Paulo-born Céu (pronounced SEH-uh) has been inspired by electronica and American soul music, but on her recent release “Caravana Sereia Bloom” (loosely translates as “Mermaid Bloom Caravan”) she goes into a different direction. The music is influenced by various elements of Brazilian regional music. An example is the lead single “Retrovisor” (“Rear View Mirror”), a tune whose main rhythm is reminiscent of the sounds commonly heard in countryside nightclubs around the country’s southeastern region. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The Infamous Stringdusters/Double Door

Bluegrass, Country No Comments »


As the David Grisman-Jerry Garcia gospel continues to spread and constitute a musical template to emulate, scores of new bluegrass players seek to enliven the traditional music with innovations they’ve found in third-generation recordings. The Infamous Stringdusters is one of those ensembles. Extending the possibilities of the genre and extolling the technical talents of a group’s players sometimes gets in the way of the music. But far more frequently, the new crop of bluegrassers—everyone from Railroad Earth to the Yonder Mountain String Band—toss in a heap of country-styled crooning. And it doesn’t always turn out too well. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Brand Nubian/Double Door

Hip-Hop No Comments »


Brand Nubian was—and remains—an understandable extension of critical views expressed by DeLa, Gang Starr and any number of other East Coast ensembles, dating to the late eighties and early nineties. The trio, which existed in its first phase just long enough to issue 1990’s “One for All,” did its damnedest to relate the collective’s religious views explicitly. What made tracks like “Ragtime” so memorable is that the beat sounds positive enough to negate any casual mention of Farrakhan. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Robert Glasper Experiment/Double Door

Jazz, R&B No Comments »

Photo: Mike Schreiber


Though pianist Robert Glasper is mostly considered a jazz artist, he seamlessly travels through other genres, which makes him comfortable enough to do different things on his recordings and on a live format. Back in 2009, he toured with neo-soul pioneer Maxwell during his comeback tour in support of “BLACKsummer’s Night” while also promoting his own well-received “Double Booked” (Blue Note), a CD that featured collaborations with Mos Def and Bilal.

In anticipation of his upcoming album “Black Radio” (Blue Note), jazz keyboardist Robert Glasper has released “Ah Yeah” a tune that goes more into soul territory. Read the rest of this entry »

Radio Unfriendly: Pharoahe Monch Makes Underground Hip-hop for “Mad People”

Hip-Hop No Comments »

By Dave Cantor

Kool G Rap, Pete Rock and Mobb Deep all issued new recordings during 2011. Each met with a mixed reception, and rightfully so, since all of those acts still may have something left to give hip-hop, it just didn’t happen last year. Pharoahe Monch released “W.A.R. (We Are Renegades)” during March in partnership with Duck Down, an independent New York label. The disc, the MC’s third solo endeavor since disbanding Organized Konfusion after 1997’s “The Equinox,” met with more uneven acclaim. While “W.A.R.” might not be Monch’s pinnacle, it does represent the sturdiest 2011 album issued by an MC who might be considered one of underground hip-hop’s progenitors. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Saviours/Double Door

Metal No Comments »


If you ever wanted to revisit the first three Iron Maiden albums—just heavier and without all that lamentable wailing that passes for singing—Saviours are probably going to fill that void in your life. What makes the Bay Area group as engaging as their British predecessors, albeit dramatically less important historically, are their brief flirtations with some of the more avant leanings of their metal brethren. There aren’t any twenty-minute excursions through drone listeners would expect on an offering from Om, but Saviours hint at such predilections. Read the rest of this entry »