Two and a half decades after “Yo! Bum Rush the Show,” Chuck D. and Public Enemy retain the righteousness and displeasure with broad American culture that made its earliest efforts landmarks in hip-hop. “The Evil Empire of Everything” counts as PE’s second disc of the year, but this newest album centers around the Trayvon Martin shooting that occurred earlier in 2012. While it’s unsurprising that Chuck D. has a point of view on those occurrences, it is stunning that the album centers on the incident, opening with 911 calls revealing a still-vibrant American paranoia surrounding black kids in hoodies. The theme’s strung throughout the disc, making “Evil Empire” a concept album, pulling its narrative from journalism’s headlines. Read the rest of this entry »
That people would be troubled enough by lyrics to restrict the speech of a cartoonish metal band is really what’s offensive. Cannibal Corpse has the dubious distinction of having its music banned in several countries. Of course, getting to appear in an Ace Ventura movie should mitigate any of those potential financial loses. That’s even cooler than Primus showing up in “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.” With Chris Barnes helming the ensemble, Cannibal Corpse became one of the most visible metal acts in the country, a sort of more disturbed Slayer without any true commercial potential. Read the rest of this entry »
It’d be impossible to ignore comparisons between Seun Kuti and his Afrobeat-defining father, Fela. But pretty much all that should be said is the elder’s voice was a bit fuller. And there’s less Yoruba being spoken on Seun’s recordings. Fela’s youngest son, though, deals in precisely the same music that was bounding around Lagos forty years ago, and he does so with his father’s old band. The past few years have seen a rising political awareness as a result of the world’s economic and political shakeups, so merging distinctly danceable music with radical politics hasn’t wound up sounding dated. Read the rest of this entry »
You remember when your stoner-friend convinced you to see Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, saying it was a bluegrass band that jammed like jazzbos? That was a bum steer. But the same guy, if he hasn’t already done so, is getting ready to tell you about Railroad Earth. The New Jersey-based band’s gained significant traction during its decade’s long career, hitting festivals in Telluride and just about anywhere else patchouli and moonshine are scents lingering in the air. Read the rest of this entry »
Signed to Diddy’s Bad Boy imprint, Machine Gun Kelly’s been in the news as much for organizing flash mobs as he has been for making music. The relative success of “Lace Up” granted the Cleveland MC enough pull to tour decent-sized venues and rake in some loot. Moving from collaborators like Ray Jr. to Waka Flocka on his latest release points to the sort of attention MGK’s received. After two mixtapes, though, the angle MGK takes on his public persona is a bit disappointing. We should all be past the dichotomy dividing MCs who talk solely about carnal pleasures from those who work in literature and thoughtful cultural references. Read the rest of this entry »
Sure, you’ve heard George Thorogood’s raspy voice telling you he’s “Bad to the Bone,” but have you heard him sing about Chicago, specifically 2120 South Michigan Avenue? Thorogood and his band, The Destroyers, have released an album saluting the long-deceased Chess Records, which used to reside at that very address. “2120 South Michigan Avenue” brings the legendary label back from the dead, with covers of celebrated songs, including guest appearances from Buddy Guy and Charlie Musselwhite, in addition to some original songs.
Thorogood has mentioned how The Rolling Stones played a large part in his discovery of the label. “The first Rolling Stones album I bought, ’12×5,’ included ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue’. I said, ‘I know I’ve heard this somewhere before…’ I wrote to Chess, they sent me a catalog, and my life was changed.”
The new album’s covers don’t have quite the dirty, disheveled twang that the originals do, but there is a new crispness. Thorogood’s voice sounds surprisingly tonic and smooth, with occasional growls thrown. The songs are fast-paced, articulate and unclouded. The clarity of sound doesn’t mute the grind of the classics as much as it gives it a new spin. (Maureen Clancy)
August 20 at House of Blues, 329 North Dearborn, (312)923-2000, 7:30pm. 17+.
In the three decades since their inception in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Mint Condition has established itself as an extremely eclectic R&B band that can comfortably cross over into other musical styles, including jazz, funk, Latin and hip-hop while still having a signature sound, mostly courtesy of vocalist (and studio drummer) Stokley Williams.
When not on the road with Prince, the band has been steadily working and making records—they went independently for a few years, but have recently signed with Shanachie records, which is releasing their new CD “7″ on April 5. The disc features the lead single “Caught My Eye,” a romantic ballad with a great backdrop from Williams, guitarist Homer O’Dell, bassist Ricky Kinchen, and also, “Not My Daddy,” a collaboration with vocalist Kelly Price that is currently making its way through the charts.
Also notable is the opening track “Can’t Get Away,” a hummable tune with a fantastic guitar solo from O’Dell, who seems to draw inspiration from rock guitarists such as Joe Perry and Eddie Van Halen. The tune goes without interruption into “I Want It,” a rhythmically rich song that seems destined for the dance floor—or to move the audience when played live. (Ernest Barteldes)
March 25 at House of Blues, 329 North Dearborn, (312)923-2000, 9pm. $33. 17+.
Soul Foundation’s monthly Saturday affair at the House of Blues continues with a visit from the inimitable Diz, a veteran Chicago DJ whose early achievements and funk-laden approach to house music are matched only by his enthusiasm for the city itself. With an impeccable ear and innate sense of arrangement, Diz turned his skills on the decks into vinyl treasures for the masses. As a longtime resident at Boom Boom Room, he delivers the grooves with a nod to his teeth-cutting nights on the loft circuit. Joined by Soul Foundation mainstays, Frique and Brenda D., Diz provides the soundtrack for your house music sanctuary this weekend in the House of Blues Foundation Room. Proper casual attire is required for this event. (John Alex Colón)
September 25 at House of Blues Foundation Room, 329 N. Dearborn, (312) 923-2000. 10pm. Free.
The Foundation Room at the House of Blues and Chicago’s Soul Foundation DJ collective seem a logical match, and not merely in name. The crew kicks off their new monthly party at the riverside venue with Ron Trent, Jevon Jackson and Brian Gardner this weekend. Trent’s blend of soulful house, disco grooves and funky percussion is apparent in his DJ sets and production efforts, and has served him well in his tenure as a Chicago icon. His presence on the decks guarantees a slow, seductive burn able to consume any dancefloor. Jevon Jackson and Brian Gardner are two Soul Foundation alums who watched Trent’s career with great interest, inspiring their own approaches to dancefloor management. Witness the first session and be sure to remember that proper attired is required. (John Alex Colón)
August 28 at House of Blues Foundation Room, 329 N. Dearborn, (312)923-7050. 10pm. Free.
Music venues citywide will be vying for your Lollapalooza-loving heart before, after and even during the three-day music marathon. Thankfully, this year’s official after-show lineup clears up a lot of the schedule conflicts that cause dangerous anxiety attacks (i.e.: Hot Chip vs. The Black Keys, watching The National vs. feeling guilty that you’re not staking a primo spot for the Arcade Fire set, etc).
While the Phoenix concert as the weekend’s nightcap isn’t exactly the thrill Them Crooked Vultures was last year, the French-indie band’s House Of Blues fest Sunday will be a great chance to see one of the festival’s headliners, should you refuse to spend the money on the whole shebang.
The rest of the after-sets continue to represent the bulk of all that is worth seeing of the daytime lineup. What could be a better pre-show than Soundgarden’s last-minute concert at The Vic Thursday night, though tickets are only available through the band’s fan club. There’s also Devo with The Dirty Projectors at The Congress Theater (7:30pm) and Cymbals Eat Guitars with Young Galaxy at Schubas (8pm). On Friday, catch either Cut Copy with Dragonette at the Metro (10pm) or MGMT at the House Of Blues (11pm). Read the rest of this entry »