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Around Hear: Part 2

| March 30, 2006 | 0 Comments

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The sophomore LP from Cameron McGill is a convincing collection that demonstrates this singer-songwriter’s potential. Street Ballads & Murderesques consists mostly of ballads evoking McGill’s softer side with achingly sentimental tunes. The intimate poetic lyricism is accompanied by simplistic arrangements of acoustic guitar, harmonica, piano, and dashes of violin. But most enticing are McGill’s warm, subtle vocals. (www.cameronmcgill.com)
– Jill Haverkamp

Mindsight‘s four-track debut EP hints they are headed in the right direction. Their headnoddingly crunchy guitars and forceful bass grooves melded with emo-laden Incubus-style vocals just might be enough to set them apart from the rest of the heavy rock scene. And their steroid-infused rock cover of ’80s pop hit “Send Me An Angel” proves they are willing to take risks – a risk that pays off in this case. (www.mindsightmusic.com)
– Carter Moss

When not (most of the time) noodling squonks and honks over fairly pedestrian beats, avant/jazzbo Chicago duo Roscoe Mitchell and Tatsu Aoki occasionally wax ambient, with a sound akin to insects swarming ’round your neighbors wind chimes. While these ears found their First Look a tedious exercise, others’ might achieve a certain level of enlightenment from the challenge. (www.chicagosounds.com)
– David C. Eldredge

Sleeping While The River Runs, a 17-song CD by Mother Blues with Gerald McClendon, is a polished and self-assured collection of blues. Guitarist/percussionist Steve Bramer wrote most of the tracks with the crooning of McClendon warmly coming through the solid instrumental mix. “Keep You From Harm” burns slowly, while “Leaves Tremble On The Tree” takes an upbeat groove and accentuates it with soulful harp and backing vocals. (www.sleepingdogrecords.com)
– Jason Scales

Mr. Rudy Day (Andrew Hopkins, Geoff Greenberg, and Mike Burlington) have been endearing themselves to Chicago’s indie rock audience for a few years now, and let’s hope the rest of the world gets an earful of their juicy splendor with the release of Duty. The group deliver part Chicago and Delta blues, part Flaming Lips, and even part Steve Miller Band throughout these 11 songs. Buy this for the opus “Mercury,” the funky haunt of “Duty #1” and its reprise “Duty #2” (the latter breaking down into a disco beat and dancefloor scene), and the lumbering blues rock swell of “Watermelon Sugar.” (www.rudyday.com)
– Penelope Biver

If you’re wondering what to expect from Chicago “drunkabilly” duo Naked & Shameless, simply imagine if some other famous duos of our time had decided to record a CD – like say Jay & Silent Bob, or Harry & Lloyd from Dumb And Dumber. As with previous releases, Hot Dawg! is laden with white-trash humor and more unpleasant, sexually explicit references than you can shake a, um, stick at. The difference this time is there are only six of these audio gems, interspersed between scenes of a strange, alien-abduction tale. This all results in a disc that comprises the same quality ingredients that go into making the food it is named after. (www.nakedandshameless.com)
– Carter Moss

The Phenoms perform high-speed songs about people fighting and being in a local band on Home Brain Surgery Kit. “Please, Please, Please Don’t” slams unscrupulous club owners, and the title track is a funny self-parody. “Heard It On The X” might be the first hardcore punk cover of a ZZ Top tune. (www.thephenoms.com)
– Terrence Flamm

Fred Prellberg‘s folksy voice and affinity for chiming guitars result in homespun power pop on Last Of The Rock Stars. The title track is an energetic Elliott Murphy cover, and Prellberg connects on catchy tunes like “Hangman.” “Mankind Dies At Sulfur City” and “Bride-To-Be” are clever satires while the romantic “Stay Where You Are” is endearingly self-effacing. Kudos as well to producer Ellis Clark for his harmony vocals. (www.villagerecords.com)
– Terrence Flamm

Local electronica artist Press makes computer music suitable for listening as well as dancing, which is sort of unusual, on The Fine Art Of A White Label. His sound is hypnotic yet catchy, and his melding of samples, synths, live instruments, and more results in some pretty damn fine audio. (www.auralvision.com)
– Mike O’Cull

With both herself and band #The Vel Johnsons# being veterans of the local scene, guitarist/singer-songwriter Starina takes the opportunity to re-work some of her old numbers in the three-song Back Home. New blood and ad hoc nature of the recording aside, there’s nothing really new here – fairly straightforward rock ballads with a bluesy edge courtesy of the B3 keyboard. Like the instruments submerged in the mix, there’s nothing here yet that stops one in his/her tracks – it doesn’t mean that something can’t develop. (www.superstarina.com)
– David C. Eldredge

Superstring blends funky jazz, rock, and blues for the trio’s first professionally recorded EP, May The Wolfman Cometh. It’s an intriguing effort full of intricate acoustic guitar riffs, grooving rhythms, and inventive melodies. The EP features four tracks in 30 minutes, making the songs drag at times. But the emotive vocal delivery reminiscent of Incubus’ Brandon Boyd combined with driving arrangements provides Superstring’s debut a solid, upbeat demeanor. (www.superstringband.net)
– Jill Haverkamp

Chicago homocore stalwarts Three Dollar Bill have resurfaced with their second full length, Parody Of Pleasure, and the record is a blast of old-school DIY punk infused with a bit of songwriting and some alt-rock acumen. Everything here rocks, but check out high points like “Patriot Wact” and “Jesus Is Crying” for a stomping good time. (www.threedollarbill.net)
– Mike O’Cull

The immediate attraction of Trim‘s four-song demo is the combination of vocalist Carrie Slimski with guitarists Ravi Paudel and Tim Macal. Slimski can be both hard-edged and sultry, while Paudel and Macal (who also write the band’s material) are fluid players. “Driven” and “Lick” are melodic rock tunes, and the introspective “Something Else” features bass player Robin Crawford and drummer Andy Taylor. (www.trimtheband.com)
– Terrence Flamm

VIA are still up and coming, but their three-song We The Feeble sampler reveals surprising musical maturity. The title track is both blistering and blissful, with “Something More” offering great hard rock riffs coupled with rock-hard lyrics. Their tough pop sound continues to mature (the EP arrived with a second, hand-labeled CD-R showcasing a brand-new number titled “Right-To-Die”), clearly indicating their accomplished approach is already getting better. (www.viamusiconline.com)
– Jeff Berkwits

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