Monday, May 10, 2010

Upcoming Shows - Week Ending May 16th

Friday, May 14th - Subterranean - 9:30pm - $10
Headliner: Hurricane Bells
Openers: King Sparrow, Verona Red

Another show that somehow nearly snuck by us, Hurricane Bells is the folk-rock side-project from Longwave frontman Steve Schiltz. Schiltz wrote, played, recorded, and mixed the album entirely himself with his MacBook and an Mbox. His original plan was to release the album himself, but when a b-side ended up on the New Moon soundtrack, the project caught the attention of Vagrant Records. One listen to any of the album, Tonight Is The Ghost, and it is easy to understand why. Definitely a show worth catching.

Saturday, May 15th - The Vic - 7:30pm - $24
Headliner: Josh Ritter
Opener: Joe Pug

Singer-songwriter, Josh Ritter is back on with a new album, So The World Runs Away. Ritter is a classic songwriter, who can tell a story in the space of a song the way only the classic folk writers could. The sparkling folk and homespun, thoughtful lyrics are a rarity nowadays.

Frightened Rabbit and Maps & Atlases - May 8th 2010

Chicago's Maps & Atlases used their opening set in front of Frightened Rabbit at Metro Saturday to win over the sold-out crowd, and succeeded in gaining a boatload of new fans before the June release of their debut album, Perch Patchwork. Though they are often described as 'math rock', the awkward label does not quite do them justice. Take the shifting world-music rhythms of Paul Simon, throw in wildly flickering angular riffs balanced against mellow folksy guitar, and front the project by a second-cousin to Jim James' aching southern-drenched yowl, and you are close to their oddly compelling sound. You would be tempted to hear the wiry, frantic guitars and sharp-turns of the beats and label them progressive, but their strong pop sensibilities made it feel more engaging than what you normally find in music this complex and experimental.

Maps & Atlases somehow succeeded at being the best of both worlds in indie pop and prog-rock, inserting just enough of their jam band tendencies and mesmerizing guitar skills, making their upcoming debut LP a must-hear. In the course of their half-hour set, they won over the room to the point that a large portion of the crowd were dancing and clapping along. Maps & Atlases were refreshingly unique and challenging, proving to be a strangely addictive band worth keeping an eye on in the world of indie rock.

Scotland's finest export, Frightened Rabbit took the stage for the first time in Chicago as a five-piece; having added guitarist Gordon Skene while recording The Winter Of Mixed Drinks. The band opened the show big, with the steady surge from quiet angst that greets "Skip The Youth" to its thrashing conclusion. They made excellent use of the added member on "The Modern Leper" by wisely throwing four guitars at the shaggy crowd-pleasing opener from their 2008 masterpiece, The Midnight Organ Fight, with, front man, Scott Hutchison passionately bleeding out the emotional lyrics. It is Hutchinson's way of urgently belting out the songs as if it were the first time he sung them that keeps Frightened Rabbit so fresh. Even songs like, the piano thrusting plea for loving, "The Twist" feel different and vibrant each time you see the band live because of how willing Hutchison is to throw himself into the songs.

As wonderful as Hutchison is, as evidenced by his haunting encore-opening solo-acoustic performance of "Poke", the band's layered guitars and slamming beats by brother Grant Hutchison hit just as hard as the biting lyrics. The enthusiastic, sold-out crowd needed no cue to jump in on the clap-a-long beat of explosive anthem "The Loneliness And The Scream", where the web of riffs filled the venue brilliantly. Skene worked an extra drum on the right of the stage for "The Wrestle", though Hutchison's expressive, thundering drum skills needed no help. The band did an excellent job with the set list, nailing just about everything they could to please the fans in the hour-and-fifteen-minutes. It was unfortunate to get nothing off their debut, but when the last two albums you release eclipse it by such a large margin, it is hard to argue with the decision.

Hutchison announced, calmly swaying break-up tune, "Swim Until You Can't See Land" as one he wrote after watching The Wackness. The band delivered spiteful rebound rocker "Nothing Like You" with frantically sprayed riffs shooting around the cathartic hook. The blood-pumping shimmy of "Head Rolls Off" and bitter waltz of "Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms" left the crowd too riled up to leave; though the stomping "Living In Colour" and thumping, organ-humming plea, "It takes more than f*cking someone to keep yourself warm", of "Keep Yourself Warm" would do nothing to settle them down. The soul-baring, dazzling songs come through too loud and clear live to send anyone home calm.

At one point, Hutchison took stock of the largest venue they have played in Chicago and commented, "This is still kind of big for us". They had better get used to it, because the crowds will only swell as more get wind of just how fantastic a live band they are. Frightened Rabbit is one of the most honest and exciting bands going, and should not be missed at all costs. Next stop here, on their ascent to indie rock royalty, is Lollapalooza. After that, who knows what size venues they will be filling, but we can assure you that their sound and live chops are more than ready for stadiums.

Skip The Youth
The Modern Leper
Old Old Fashioned
The Loneliness And The Scream
The Wrestle
The Twist
Swim Until You Can't See Land
My Backwards Walk
Nothing Like You
Head Rolls Off
Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms

Living In Colour
Keep Yourself Warm

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Canasta - May 8th 2010

Chicago’s own, Canasta celebrated the release of their sophomore album, The Fakeout, The Tease And The Breather, with two shows at Schubas on Saturday night. With a horn section joining the sextet on stage for several of the songs, the last song of the set sums up the experience of the early show; the sexy, soulful groove of “Reading The Map Upside Down”. At the end of the funk-laced number, front man, Matt Priest’s awestruck expression and uttered “wow” matched the vibe of the crowd. He joked, “We may never play another show after tonight”, expressing just how hard it would be to top the version of the song with horns in tow. If you missed the Saturday night shows, you definitely missed out on a special experience.

The night kicked off with the first four tracks from the band’s excellent new release, which was a gutsy move given the slow-burning build-up of, seven-minute epic, “Becoming You” that opens the album. The gorgeous melody that seeps into your skin in the song came through great live, as did the excellent violin work of Elizabeth Lindau. The band’s ability to pull off the rich, layered sounds on stage made the horns that would show up later in the set feel like the cherry on top; a delicious garnish, but essential to their sonic charms. The gradual climb to eruption on the song led well into the party that broke out on stage for the triumphant “Mexico City”. The shout-a-long hook and fantastic violin solo ensure that it will quickly join “Slow Down Chicago” and “Microphone Song” as a fan favorite, providing them with an early ‘holy shit’ moment.

While bands can easily falter pulling off a note-for-note recreation of the album on-stage, by not giving fans anything unexpected, Canasta’s lush sounds and added oomph songs receive live keep everything feeling fresh and vibrant. When a band can hold a room’s attention for quieter songs they may have not yet heard, like velvety bliss of “I Don’t Know Where I Was Going With This”, you know they have the goods. Explaining that they would not repeat much of the older material in the late show, getting both the jazzy, religious-themed “Shadowcat” and upbeat duet “Sympathetic Vibrations” was a pleasant surprise. It was hard not to hope that the late show also got both of the other two fan favorites, though. The organ-led melody and anthem-ready hook of “Slow Down Chicago” make it feel like it should be the city’s official song, and you should be able to request a refund if you do not hear the addictively jittery “Microphone Song”.

“Magazine (Songwriter On A Train)” served as a reminder of why you were at the show to begin with, pulling together everything the band does so well. The dance of the piano and guitar, the occasional violin flutter, the ticking beat and the great hook made for a snapshot of a band in the zone. The dusty, spaghetti-western tone of “Appreciation”, complete with horns ablaze, was followed by Priest’s well-deserved props to the sound board operator, Fabrese, who he claimed was responsible for 80% of the excellent sound. Regardless of who was responsible, it was impossible not to be impressed by the dynamic range and versatility of the band’s sound. The clever lyrical split of father/mother vocals between Priest and Lindau worked great on the upbeat, custody battle inspired, “Chosing Sides”, and they were able to hold the room’s attention just as intently for the quiet bad-timing ballad “Shortcut”.

Their urgent retelling of “Major Tom (Coming Home)” felt all their own, though the straightforward cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” was hard to resist. The deep funk bass groove and the inclusion of the Dr. Dre rap to kick it off were surprising treats. The band announced a handful of summer shows, and you would be insane not to seek them out at one of them. After you do, good luck resisting the temptation to cancel all other plans any other days they are playing.

Becoming You
Mexico City
Mountains Of Molehills
I Don’t Know Where I Was Going With This
Sympathetic Vibrations
Magazine (Songwriter On A Train)
Slow Down Chicago
Choosing Sides
Major Tom (Coming Home)
Reading The Map Upside Down

Microphone Song
No Diggity

Friday, May 7, 2010

Single Of The Week - Maps & Atlases "Solid Ground"

Check out this reason not to be late for Frightened Rabbits’ tour. This new indie pop quartet is the latest find from Barsuk Records. Look for their upcoming debut, Perch Patchwork, out June 29th.

You can get the single of the week by subscribing to the podcast on iTunes or Zune, or using the feed in any podcast provider.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kings Of Leon Announce Opening Bands For Summer

Nashville-based Kings Of Leon have announced the opening lineup for their summer trek through the US. While Built To Spill and The Stills are nice for Chicago on July 24th, it is hard not to look a little further down the list and be mouth-foamingly jealous of the cities that get The Black Keys and The Whigs as opening acts.
w/ The Whigs
6/5 Atlantic City, NJ Borgata Event Center
6/6 Saratoga, NY Saratoga Performing Arts Center
6/8 Scranton, PA Toyota Pavilion
w/ Built To Spill and The Features
7/9 San Diego, CA Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
7/10 Phoenix, AZ Cricket Wireless Pavilion
7/12 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Bowl
7/14 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
7/17 George, WA (Seattle) The Gorge
7/19 Salt Lake City, UT USANA Amphitheatre
7/20 Denver, CO Comfort Dental Amphitheatre
w/ The Stills
7/23 St. Louis, MO Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
w/ Built To Spill and The Stills
7/24 Chicago, IL First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
7/26 Cleveland, OH Blossom Music Center
7/28 Toronto, ON Molson Canadian Amphitheatre - only The Stills
7/30 Darien Center, NY Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
7/31 Detroit, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
8/3 Hartford, CT Comcast Theatre
8/5 Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center
8/7 Bristow, VA (DC) Jiffy Lube Live
w/ The Black Keys and The Whigs
9/3 Indianapolis, IN Verizon Wireless Music Center
9/4 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center
9/7 Pittsburgh, PA First Niagara Pavilion
9/8 Hershey,PA Hershey Park - Pavilion
9/10 Charlotte, NC Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
9/11 Virginia Beach, VA Virginia Beach Amphitheater
9/13 Raleigh, NC Time Warner Cable Amphitheater at Walnut Creek
9/17 West Palm Beach, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre
9/18 Tampa, FL Ford Amphitheatre
9/20 Birmingham, AL Verizon Wireless Music Center
9/22 Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
9/23 Dallas, TX Center

Phantogram Extends Tour

NY electro-pop duo, Phantogram continues to ride a well-deserved wave of success, adding a handful of west coast tour dates with, UK buzz-band, The XX to their list of things to do. The June dates come after the end of their run opening for The Antlers and a stretch of May headlining dates stretching from Oregon to New York. Keep an eye on the site for any Chicago dates, but in the meantime, enjoy the Alan Wilkis Remix of "Mouthful Of Diamonds" here.

with The Antlers
4/30 Los Angeles, CA Troubadour
5/1 San Francisco, CA Independent
5/3 Portland, OR Doug Fir
5/4 Vancouver, BC The Biltmore Cabaret
5/5 Seattle, WA Neumo's
Headlining Dates
5/8 Eugene , OR University of Oregon
5/10 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court
5/12 Aspen, CO Belly Up *
5/13 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge *
5/14 Kansas City, MO Riot Room *
5/15 Bloomington, IN The Bishop *
5/17 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop *
5/18 Hoboken, NJ Maxwell's *
5/19 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom *
5/20 Lewiston, ME WRBC Bates College *
5/21 Providence, RI Jerkey's *
5/22 Clifton Park, NY Northern Lights *
5/31 George, WA Sasquatch Festival
* w/ Light Pollution
with The XX
6/1 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
6/2 San Francisco, CA Great American Music Hall
6/3 Big Sur, CA Henry Miller Library
6/5 Los Angeles, CA Henry Fonda Theater
6/6 Los Angeles, CA Wiltern
6/8 San Diego, CA House of Blues

Menomena And Lil Wayne Meet In Ramona Falls' "Russia"

We have been fans of, Brent Knopf's (Menomena) dreamy side project, Ramona Falls since last year's gorgeous debut first graced our ears. Seeing them last summer in Chicago almost led us to wish for a new Ramona Falls before a new Menomena. While there are a handful of new west coast tour dates announced for the band (below), we figured we had heard the last of the project until possibly next year. Then, an email trumpeting a "Russia" remix by Chicago-based The Hood Internet showed up. The strangely effective track features a guest appearance by rapper Lil Wayne. Give it a listen here, and keep an eye on our site for any Menomena or Ramona Falls tour announcements.

May 15th Portland, OR [Mississippi Studio]
May 16th Seattle, WA [The Crocodile]
May 19th Santa Cruz [Crepe Place]
May 21st Los Angeles, CA [The Wiltern w/ The National]
May 22nd Los Angeles, CA [The Wiltern w/ The National]
May 23rd San Diego, CA [Spreckles Theatre w/ The National]
May 26th Oakland, CA [Fox Theatre w/ The National]
May 27th Oakland, CA [Fox Theatre w/ The National]
May 28th Eugene, OR [Sam Bonds Garage]

Watch Owl City Live Sunday, May 9th

With it growing ever more difficult to get tickets to see, indie pop sensation, Owl City, the Adam Young-led band is letting you catch the experience from the comfort of your computer this weekend. The band's sold-out show this Sunday at London's O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire is being broadcast around the world through a live stream on and The band is even taking time-zones into account, offering a re-broadcast several hours later. Check the band's site for times and details on the uber-cool offer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kate Nash - May 3, 2010

UK-based singer-songwriter, Kate Nash might be lacking a bit of confidence on her recently released sophomore album, My Best Friend Is You, but she had no such issues on stage at Lincoln Hall on Monday night. Joined on stage by a four piece band to flush out the sounds, she jumped right in to the new material with the soaring "Paris" and commanding the crowd to dance before launching into, lead singe, "Do Wah Doo". The poppy, energetic start to the evening created a party-like atmosphere, with jealousy-fuelled old-school rocker set the crowd in motion a bit.

Nash sat at the keyboard, gleefully playing over the thumping beat of fan favorite "Mouthwash" before standing up to limp to the left side of the stage to strap on a guitar for "Kiss That Grrl". Nash proved an engaging, charismatic performer, talking frequently with the crowd between songs; somehow coming off equal parts charming and edgy. She responded to a fan inquiry as to the reason for her injured leg that she injured herself wrestling her grandma. The back and forth between the witty Nash and her fans was as much a highlight as anything that got played, with the most entertaining moment of the night coming courtesy of an intrepid young fan. Nash's sassy vocals, including her frantic spoken word conclusion to "Don't You Want To Share The Guilt", and the harder edge the band gave everything, most notably the explosively ragged "Take Me To A Higher Plane", was just as pleasant a surprise her personality.

She asked for quiet before "I Hate Seagulls", telling the already well-behaved fans, "don't do anything stupid", before explaining that a fan in New York called her a c*nt and yelled for her to stop playing, before showing up at a signing afterwards professing how much he loves her. Before the bliss of "Foundations", with most of the crowd singing along, Nash offered $20 to any fan that crowd-surfed from the back of the venue to the front, so she could high-five them, and then surf back. Midway through, new album standout, rat-a-tat love song "Later On", a fan, barely old enough to get in the eighteen and older show, made his way over fans' outstretched hands to the stage, to the delight of Nash. Not missing a beat on the keys, Nash invited him on-stage to dance (albeit awkwardly) behind her until the song's conclusion.

The song ended with the fan getting his high-five, but Nash surprised him by allowing him to sit at the keyboard and watch "Mansion Song" as she moved again to the side mic. Nash asked for the lights to be darkened for the song, potentially to mask the young fan's blushing face, as she launched into an f-bomb laced diatribe directed at female groupies looking for rockstar loving. The furious prog-pop tune worked great live because of how effectively Nash sold it, leading into the similarly post-punk leanings of "I Just Love You More". The two songs left you wondering what an all-out punk album would sound like from the British pop star. She called for the fan to return to the stage for the closing punk thrasher, "Model Behaviour".

The only disappointment in the set was the absence of "Pumpkin Soup" and the lack of an encore. The set ended with Nash hopping off-stage, using her 'hero' as human crutch. The house lights popped on to the sold-out crowd's amazement, leading to lots of groaning, confusion, shouting to coax her back out, and some 'encore' chants. The stage manager eventually came out to distribute the set lists to the fans, and indicating that she would be doing a meet-and-greet with fans at the merch booth. It is hard to feel short-changed after an hour and ten minute set where the artist hangs out afterwards to meet you. Kate Nash might write lovely pop tunes on album, but live she is all rockstar.

Do Wah Doo
Kiss That Grrrl
Take Me To A Higher Plane
Don't You Want To Share The Guilt
I Hate Seagulls
I've Got A Secret
Later On
Mansion Song
I Just Love You More
Model Behaviour

Monday, May 3, 2010

Upcoming Shows - Week ending May 9th

Monday, May 3rd - Lincoln Hall – 7pm – SOLD OUT
Headliner: Kate Nash
Opener: Supercute

UK-based singer-songwriter is touring in support of her recently released sophomore album, My Best Friend Is You. While it is not as instantly striking as her debut, there is plenty here to warrant the sold out crowd and keep her near the top of the list of UK pop stars worth your attention.

Thursday, May 6th – Park West – 7:30pm - $16
Headliner: Kaki King
Openers: An Horse

It is a pleasant surprise to find tickets still available to see this incredible, unique guitarist in action. Do yourself a favor and get in now, before more people notice.

Saturday, May 8th – Metro - 9pm – SOLD OUT
Headliner: Frightened Rabbit
Openers: Maps & Atlases, Our Brother The Native
This show has been sold out for a month now, with good reason. Consider this your warning to pay attention next time we tell you Scotland's indie darlings come through. Their recently released third album, Winter Of Mixed Drinks, is a fantastic album that has the unfortunate duty of following their modern classic, Midnight Organ Fight. Be sure to catch them at Lollapalooza this year if you are one of the unlucky shut out of this one.

Saturday, May 8th – Schubas – 7pm and 10:30pm - $14
Headliner: Canasta
Openers: Gregory And The Hawk (early), Brighton, MA (late)

Chicago's own orchestral pop geniuses, Canasta are finally ready to release their sophomore album, The Fakeout, The Tease And The Breather, on May 18th. These pair of album-release shows is your chance to both hear the new songs live and get your hands on the new album ten days before the rest of the world finds out how damn great it is; since the ticket price includes a copy of the new album. Head over to their site and check out the new songs, fully streaming, and get yourselves a ticket.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Podcast 14 - Play It, Don't Spray It

After a week away, the guys discuss upcoming shows from Canasta, Kate Nash, Frightened Rabbit, and review recent shows from Phantogram and The Whigs.

You can get to the podcast by subscribing to it through iTunes or Zune, or using the feed in any other podcast provider. Or, you can simply listen with the widget on the right of the page.