Reviews, profiles and news about music in Chicago

Preview: Meat Wave/Subterranean

Chicago Artists, Post-punk, Punk, Rock No Comments »


This recommendation writes itself. You should go see local punk trio Meat Wave at Subterranean because they are so good the venue booked them for two shows in twenty days. It’s not a residency, and for a punk band to play twice at the same place in so short a time means they are worth the money to the venue. Understanding why is easy—their self-recorded debut tape (soon to be slab of vinyl) offers a near live snapshot of the group as genuinely graceful performers, if such a thing can be said about a punk band. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Fuck Buttons/Subterranean

Electronic/Dance, Experimental No Comments »


Fuck Buttons got their band’s name by filtering their endless textural destroyers into colorful child’s-toys-turned-aural-tidal-wave-triggers. They wanted to be as playful as they are visceral. When I listen to their music through my earbuds at my work-desk, the wondrous build of their instrumentals turns my rote data entry into the staircase to outer space I’ve always wanted it to be. I dream of being trapped inside a tiny room with Fuck Buttons—Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung, two Brits—and letting them have their way with my ears and even my body; I want these tones to consume me. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Baroness/Subterranean

Metal No Comments »


baronessThere’ve gotta be as many detractors of Savannah’s Baroness as there are adoring fans. The metal-cum-proggy band’s undertaken such a dramatic shift in focus, there’s no way it holds the attention of a unified fan base, let alone draw and maintain new listeners. But Baroness’ penchant for incorporating a grocery list of musical influences is what makes it an intriguing act to follow, despite the almost pervasive shortcomings of its latest album, 2012’s “Yellow & Green.” Opening with a morose, slowly-paced guitar track makes an affiliation with metal a difficult relation to fathom. It’s still there, though. The introductory effort readies listeners for the few short interspersed tracks littering the double-disc—all of it sounding like music conceived by dudes at their parents’ homes during the late 1990s and executed a bit later. It is. What it all comes down to, even while considering the band’s sonic growth and advancing songcraft, is that the endeavor could be a new wave band doing nineties Metallica covers. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Woods/Subterranean

Pop, Psychedelic No Comments »


Listening to the Brooklyn-based ensemble Woods, which is equally fascinated by harmony and sprawling improvisation, develop over the last six years has been a sometimes confusing endeavor. For folks reintroduced to the band since it dislodged its punkier inclinations, going back and taking in tracks like “God Hates the Faithless,” from its earliest long-player, is gonna be startling. The effort ranks as the group’s only foray into gutbucket hollering. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Delicate Steve/Subterranean

Experimental, Pop, World Music No Comments »


Working under the stage name Delicate Steve, Steve Marion issued “Wondervisions” last year through the David Byrne helmed Luaka Bop imprint. The disc was an odd combination of pop music run through international concerns and dashed with enough polyrhythmic fervor to garner a touch of underground acclaim amid releases by all those beach bands. The same sort of optimism bursts from each Delicate Steve composition as from the coastal stoners’ work; Marion’s recordings are just better orchestrated and performed. Returning with “Positive Force” (it has nothing to do with straight-edge hardcore), Delicate Steve forgoes some of the more electronic moments of his debut. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Andrew Jackson Jihad/Subterranean

Folk, Punk, Rock No Comments »


Andrew Jackson Jihad wrapped up criticism pretty succinctly on its 2009 album, “Can’t Maintain.” A track called “We Didn’t Come Here to Rock” proclaims “If that’s what makes your dick hard/Telling people they’re bad at making art.” The band delivers its message over hamfisted bar-chords at a pace best suited for high-school punk bands. And singer Sean Bonnette does the whole thing in a voice sounding more full of medium-roast coffee than booze. Dismissing all the negativism associated with a commentator’s craft works back to punk’s impetus, though—if you want to do something, do it. Even if it sucks. Luckily, Andrew Jackson Jihad hasn’t incurred such jabs. The Arizona ensemble, which includes a number of players at any given time contributing mandolin or kazoo, is jacked into a late-nineties punk network despite toting around its acoustic instruments. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Black Milk & Psalm One/Subterranean

Chicago Artists, Hip-Hop No Comments »


Psalm One hasn’t fallen off the face of the earth, but performing live doesn’t seem to be the focus of this Chicago native’s life—unfortunately. Woefully underrecorded, the Rhymesayers’ MC towers over label mates not in stature or output, but through sheer ability. It’s a rare thing to hear a rapper with enough confidence to not just ride a rhythm, but to become part of it. Applying niceties like intelligent or thoughtful really aren’t enough. Hearing “The Nine” should convince just about anyone of Psalm One’s storytelling abilities, not to mention her innate understanding of music and ability to turn in a memorable chorus. She opens the show along with Add-2, J. Pinder and a few other folks. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: The Primeridian/Subterranean

Chicago Artists, Hip-Hop No Comments »


Back during the first few years of the aughties, Chicago’s The Primeridian, comprising See-Me-On and Race, issued “I’ll Meet You in Greenwich.” It was before Kanye dropped out of college and about the same time Common was readying the ill-advised “Electric Circus.” No one knew who No I.D. was. Still. “Musical Mirages,” a single compiled on Primeridian’s first long player, remains sturdy enough to dig up as work exemplifying the group’s style as a whole. But a lot’s happened since 2002. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Indian Jewelry/Subterranean

Psychedelic, Rock No Comments »


A decade-old band fronted by a dead guy probably isn’t the best reference to begin with, but Indian Jewelry, especially on a compilation of early cuts called “Sangles Redux,” summons a bit of the Lost Sounds. Coming out of Houston, though, sets up Indian Jewelry in a lineage reaching back to the Red Krayola. Since the early aughties, the band’s gone and trampled on any number of sub-genres, leaving some of its more garagey leanings behind. Read the rest of this entry »

Preview: Blu/Subterranean

Hip-Hop No Comments »


Since Blu’s last Chicago visit in early April, the Los Angeles-based MC issued “No York!,” his long awaited major label debut. The disc’s arrival, though, doesn’t seem to have done much for the rapper’s visibility. In part, electronic tunes like “E V E R Y T H I N G O K” have something to do with that. The bouncy track accompanied by a femme-vocal chorus is a pretty drastic departure from the A-Tribe-Called-Quest-on-the-West-Coast thing Blu’s been working over the last few years. Read the rest of this entry »