It’s nice to know that guys who remind me of my awkward high school boy-crush– the one who made lo-fi albums on cassette tapes with lots of pedal effects and loopage– can make it all the way to Matador Records. Kurt Vile, “Philly’s constant hitmaker”, started out writing dreamy bedroom pop comprised mainly of melodic, crystal-clear guitar pickings, pretty layers of poetry, and gentle electro-background beats. Now– either playing solo or with his backing band conveniently called The Violators– he’s turning into somewhat of a musical chameleon, and his stylings retain the sensibilities of Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen while fusing polished experimental tracks with fuzzy psych-folk and shrouds of lo-fi angsty pop. It’s these fluctuations that have critics gushing about what’s to come, and ensuring the opening slot for an array of bands including Dinosaur Jr., the Black Keys, and most recently, Fucked Up.

Opening for Fucked Up at the Empty Bottle on Saturday, February 13th.


Weekend Preview: 1/29, 1/30, 1/31

An (old) picture of the Puking Pearls

I’ve completely dropped the ball this week… FRIDAY night the Alex White-approved Puking Pearls play new songs at the Hideout with Hollows and Punk Band (10 PM, $8). This show has been described as a “hot girl punk show” so if that’s your thing then by all means, GO. And, what can I say, I’m partial to local garage acts– SATURDAY night Cococoma play downtown at Cal’s Liquors with Dumpster Babies and Radar Eyes (10 PM, 21+). On SUNDAY the elusive Pony Boy play a nice old-fashioned rock and roll show at Ronny’s with Michael Michael Motorcycle and three other bands: Cicada Face, Threeville, and Asleep at the Javelin (8 PM, 21+). Three shows, three nights, there you have it.

Weekend Preview: 1/22, 1/23, 1/24

I’m pretty upset that I have to choose between two amazing shows FRIDAY night. After several small-ish anxiety attacks, I’ve decided that the Hideout’s Psych Fest will take precedence over the Empty Bottle’s overwhelming Dont Mind Control record release and rumored Cap’n Jazz reunion show. Although I do love me some Vacations, the Disappears are always great to watch live, and all the bands on the bill convey their music through brilliantly exploratory ways– I want to ROCK THE FUCK OUT— and I think I’ll get more of that at the Hideout. Plus, I’ve been meaning to check out the Great Society Mind Destroyers for way too long, I think it will be less crowded (?), and the flyers bring me back to my own psych-melt-drawing phase. Gapersblock is also hosting a free (with flyer) Pet Lions/ Post Honeymoon/ White Mystery show that night at the Metro, but the real White Mystery party takes place on SATURDAY at Flo’s with Johnny and the Limelites and comedian Chris Condren. Or, for your viewing and listening pleasure, the Viaduct Theatre hosts the Mud Queens of Chicago with Bird Talk, Modern Primitives, and Snacks— a garage show that’s bound to get raunchy in a very good way ($15, 8 PM). On SUNDAY 1997 plays at Reggie’s and I’d go to see what all the fuss is about…if I’m out of recovery by then.

SEE THESE BANDS: Plastic Crimewave Sound, Sadhu Sadhu

Plastic Crimewave

Steve Krakow (Plastic Crimewave) is an artist, illustrator, musician, purveyor, historian, and connoisseur of all things punk-psychedelia. He writes the “Secret History of Chicago Music”, a bi-weekly column in the Chicago Reader (also the title of the WGN 720AM Nick Digilio Show, which he also co-hosts), curates the Million Tongues festival, edits the Galactic Zoo Dossier, DJs at the Whistler, leads “guitarkestras”, and lives in a personal museum of “60-s freak-out” paraphernalia– so it’s no surprise that he also fronts an acid-space-punk band called Plastic Crimewave Sound. Underlying distorted guitars, in and out kraut musings, and deep vocals bellow out like that of a faceless ringleader in a celestial circus complete with motorcycles, tribal drum circles, and cool kids wearing sunglasses nodding their heads as they paint pictures of throbbing spirals and melting bodies. Please illustrate that Mr. Crimewave.

Sadhu Sadhu photo by Meng Yang

I’ve noticed that psychedelic kraut-inspired minimalist rock is back (if it ever left), especially ’round here in Chicago, and this local trio does it well. Sadhu Sadhu’s musical astral explosions, spun out guitar wah-wahs, and lo-fi riffs bring to mind incense-filled opium dens in exotic lands. Songs about aboriginal walkabouts only add to the fitting band name, definitions of the Hindi word “sadhu” include “mystic”, “ascetic”, and “wandering monk”– although the band does stray from the defined abstinence to overindulge in twenty-minute kaleidoscopes of improvised garage with enough distortion and reverb that rockstars in the sixties might overdose on. They’ve been compared to bands such as Acid Mother’s Temple, but I’m thinking they sound more like Brian Jonestown Massacre when Anton was way into heroin, but in a good way.

Both bands play the Hideout on Jan. 22 as part of the Chicago Metaphysical Circus with Vee Dee, The Great Society Mind Destroyers, Dark Fog, Black Wyrm Seed, and DJ Velcro Lewis.

You may also read it here and here.


SEE THESE BANDS: Tim Kinsella, Disappears

Tim Kinsella

Chicago native Tim Kinsella is a musician, filmmaker, bartender, and legend. To list all of his projects and the revolving collective of people associated with them would result in an endless list, but he is most notably known for singing and playing guitar in Joan of Arc, Make Believe, Capn’ Jazz, and Owls. Kinsella’s solo music is abstract in the way that it challenges the clichés of poet and guitar. Depending on the album, the listener is met with highly experimental electronic noise or pretty melodies cascading lightly over each other to end in wavering riffs backed by faint electronic beats. Kinsella’s familiar, shaky voice leads into simple songs in which bleak, stripped down, still-life albums entitled Field Recording of Dreams, He Sang His Didn’t He Danced His Did, and Crucifix Swastika are painted– best viewed late at night.

Disappears photo by Greg Simpson

Self-described as “CCR via Minor Threat”, Disappears drop reverb and distortion into a slowly spiraling sound of psychedelia that’s drizzled over with bluesy guitar melodies negated by short syncopated ousts of vocals. This built up, gnarled wall of sound somehow manages to remain a simple one, a wall Lou Reed might very well jump out of. It looks like Disappears won’t be Chicago’s best-kept secret much longer, after playing Pitchfork and opening for the Jesus Lizard on New Year’s Eve, Disappears are wasting no time in getting ready for a tour with Tortoise in February. Their latest release, Live Over the Rainbo (recorded in an apartment over the bar), of which you may download for free, along with their past two 7″s, via their blog, proceeds their debut album, Lux, due out in April off Kranky Records.

Both play the Empty Bottle on Jan. 22 with A Tundra, Birthmark, Jeremy Boyle, Lites Alive, Matt Clark, Owen, Pillars & Tongues, The Zoo Wheel, Vacations, The Slick Conditions, and surprise special guests…a Capn Jazz reunion?
You may also read it here and here.

Weekend Preview: 1/15, 1/16, 1/17

Neon Indian photo by Dagny Piasecki

This weekend is filled with release shows, free in-stores, fundraisers, and a mini-fest of all those novel bands you didn’t get to see at Pitchfork last year. FRIDAY night Neon Indian plays a sold-out show at Schubas as part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival and indie-rock darling Bradford Cox brings his band Atlas Sound to the other site, Lincoln Hall, along with the experimental jazz dub of Icy Demons (10 PM, $15). If you prefer an intimate setting, or one that doesn’t cost anything, then head over to Reckless Records (the Broadway location) at 5 PM to see the Icy Demons play for free.  If you’re willing to spend those few hard-earned dollars, but want them to go to a good cause, join local garage-country-ish favorites Maximum Wage, Tiger Bones, and Tyler Jon Tyler in supporting Girls Rock Chicago at the Empty Bottle (10 PM, $8). SATURDAY night, violinist extraordinaire Owen Pallett, formerly known as Final Fantasy (he changed the name due to possible copyright infringement), plays a sold-out show at Schubas; at 4:30 PM The Bowerbirds play their folk for free at Reckless Records before joining The Rural Alberta Advantage over at Lincoln Hall (10 PM, $15). The Empty Bottle hosts another noble cause, the CHIRP Radio launch party, with music from more local garage favorites The Yolks, Hollows, and Rabble Rabble (10 PM, $8); The Bollweevils  are holding their “Weevilive in Color” DVD release party along with 88 Fingers Louie and Agent Orange at Reggie’s Rock Club (6 PM, $18); and Implodes, Aleks and the Drummer, Maxwell Citron, and Members Only, with DJ J+J+J play the Proximity Magazine release party at the Co-Prosperity Sphere ($10/$8 without a magazine, 9 PM). If you want your music, punk rock specifically, straight-up, froofy frills aside, The Catburglars and Sinks play Ronny’s at 8 PM and Brain Idea plays Cal’s Liquors at 9 PM. On SUNDAY things seem to mellow down a bit — Clues (ex-Arcade Fire, ex-Unicorns) plays Schubas ($15, 9 PM), Lee Fields & the Expressions bring some soul to Lincoln Hall, Reckless Records (the Wicker Park location) offers their last free in-store of the weekend– self-proclaimed “art-pop” by the Pomegranates at 5 PM, and the lovely Califone plays the Hideout ($10, 9 PM). For those who still want to party and/or drug themselves into a new work week, Psychedelic Horseshit’s lo-fi (but don’t tell them that) psych-pop will entertain those at Ronny’s at 9 PM as the King of the Chicago psych-rock scene, Plastic Crimewave, plays the Mopery with a slew of other worthy psych. bands.

Mixtape003: Unobtrusive Easy-Listening

My boss at Chicago Apartment Finders asked me to create a 50-song playlist of “acceptable” music for the office. My instructions included the phrases “no metal” and “nothing too experimental.”  His initial playlist included bands like Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers– perfect for the office’s overwhelming clientele of Lincoln Park/Wrigleyville-bound college greeks majoring in finance and frequenting such places as Enclave, Duffy’s, and McGees– but less-than-perfect for people like me. And so (keeping the non-musically tolerant audience in mind) I chose 54 songs I wouldnt mind hearing at work.

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