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Around Hear page 2

| April 28, 2006

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The Osaka Orangeade Concern play melodic and dynamic indie rock that recalls The Wedding Present, Silkworm, and Fugazi. They are raw enough to be real but skilled enough to be mostly listenable, which is not always the case with this stuff. Check out “What Would Wilco Do?” and “If You Wanted A Quarter, Why Didn’t You Ask?” So many questions. (
– Mike O’Cull

The herky-jerky classic punk of Pedestrians is hard to resist on Future Shock. And if you’re able to make out lead vocalist Jordan’s words, you’ll find some arresting messages as well. Take the pensive “Murder In The City,” in which he examines people’s blatant disregard for the lives lost to homicide. While sonically fun, this is heavy listening that is quintessentially punk. (
– Max Herman

Brad Peterson returns with his first album since the mid-’90s dissolution of his indie pop band Peat Moss. The Red Album features the same warm vocals and melodic sweetness that brought success to his former band. His wide-ranging vocals linger over energetic, hook-filled power pop and alt-country tunes with back-up duties filled by tight percussion, choppy guitars, and subtle piano. (
– Jill Haverkamp

Generally we would say guest spots on hip-hop records are tired and distracting. For Quesne’s The Quesne Mutiny, though, we would probably recommend more. That’s because the only thing here that gains any steam is “Murderous Materal,” and that’s only because of appearances by Thaharddude and Dynamite. The other 13 tracks all suffer from the same problems: run-of-the-mill production and Quesne’s blah rhyming. (
– Trevor Fisher

The Reptoids‘ new EP, Park A Tiger, retains the riot grrrl energy of their previous, self-titled release, but channels it into better written songs. Guitarists/vocalists Kay Oh and Melissa lead the charge through the various tempo changes of “9 Times” and bassist Ari Joffee fuels the high speed “F.U.” and “Crimes Against Humanity.” (
– Terrence Flamm

There’s nothing wrong with Alan Robert‘s new EP, but at the same time there’s nothing especially memorable, either. All three cuts – “TV Or Radio,” “Tell The Moon,” and “Hallebaloo” – blend upbeat guitar with skillful vocals, yet are uniformly missing worthwhile themes. All in all, it’s a soulful-sounding rock performance that strangely lacks soul. (
– Jeff Berkwits

Originally named Pulse, the trio comprising Sarmass play a mellow, soothing brand of blues-infused rock. The clean, crisp lead guitar is the standout feature on their four-song demo. Chugging riffs and slick keyboards combined with radio-friendly pop hooks and driving rhythms give these songs a lively punch. (
– Patrick Conlan

Mixing folk, alt-country, and moody alternative rock isn’t all too common a combination, but Kristin Shout And Smoking Kitten try throughout Thorny Devil. While the disc doesn’t always deliver the most appealing output, the efforts are gallant, especially on “The Rise And Fall Of Casper Jones” and “Dimanche.” Throughout both, Shout and company run the comparison charts from Neil Young to Jewel to Lucinda Williams. (
– Andy Argyrakis

We don’t know what it is about Chicago that produces so much insurgent country, but when it comes to bands like The Siderunners, we aren’t complaining. The group execute harmonies and mold melodies with ease and swing their shuffling honky tonk numbers with a bristly rock attitude. Ain’t Inventin’ The Wheel is a fitting title; tales of drinkin’ (“Countin’ Threes), dyin’ (“Deep Enough”), and cryin’ (“Walking Papers”) are standard country fare, but why start moaning about it now? (
– Trevor Fisher

Romantic melodrama drives the vibe on Lost Dreams, a six-song CD from singer-songwriter James Stauber. Czech Republic-born Stauber croons about love’s perils and climaxes over layers of acoustic guitar on tracks with overly serious names such as “To Love Is To Suffer” and “My Heaven To You.” “First To Last,” a slow-burning seduction, nearly solicits unintentional laughs with lyrics such as: “Finally my lips touch there/The place where you lose yourself/My tongue will pave the way for/My key to your treasure chest.” (
– Jason Scales

Originally a side project for singer Dave Suh to showcase his Brit-pop influence, The Assembly is in the gamete stages of being one more musical entity for Chicagoans to be damn proud of reminding others “They’re from Chicago.” Commencement, the little CD that will has five songs, all of which are radio-ready sing-alongs with potential cult-like followings; think “Mr. Brightside” circa spring/summer 2005. (
– Angie Maldonado

Three On The Tree‘s Dust in the Water aptly opens with the sound of a guitar plugging into an amp and a quick drum roll flourish before the first of 12 tasty rock/pop-infused C&W-flavored tunes. While perhaps not as immediately arresting as 2003’s Main Street In A Foreign Land, the solid playing and well-crafted songs continually pull the listener in until getting firmly hooked by mid-CD cuts “Flatbed Mary” and “Paid To Play.” Truly a band of musicians’ musicians, the CD’s penultimate and standout cut, “Two Glass Eyes,” could make even Glenn Frey and Don Henley’s ears ring with envy. (
– David C. Eldredge

VX are at their best on the three catchy techno songs that open Sleep. From there on, the keyboard player opens each track with a barrage of effects that only serve as a distraction. The speedy “Vacant” in particular, would have been much stronger without all the synthesized hoopla. (
– Terrence Flamm

Over the past year or so, it became increasingly clear Chicago, without question, is a hot spot for this new wave-of-’80s-inspired dance rock. With post-punk-style guitars, ominous, yet sexy female vocals, and dance-friendly beats, the Walking Bicycles‘ six-song, self-titled EP has everything one could want for those who always knew that love would, indeed, tear us apart, again. (
– Dean Ramos

Wookie Hangover, a band who refer to themselves as “four dumbass dudes from the North side of Chicago,” scream and swear through 14 tracks of lyrical tomfoolery and speed metal on If You Can’t Beat ‘Em . . . Join ‘Em, Then Beat ‘Em. The track names should give you a clue to the music (“Hopped Up On Goofballs,” “M.I.L.F.,” “Rudy’s Puddin’ Pops”) – marginally funny, but highly uncreative and un-musical. It does have the potential to be a frat party fave, but only after the third keg has been tapped. (
– Carter Moss

Tommi Zender‘s music can be cloying at times, but for the most part, his acoustic-based songs on Will Work For Harmony are entertaining. “Summer Vacation” mixes creative imagery with a delicate melody, and “Home At Last” exudes an amiable coffeehouse atmosphere. The satirical bite of “BYOH” makes amends for the overly sweet “Cinnamon Apple Cider.” (
– Terrence Flamm

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    Just checking in to see if you received my NEW CD for AROUND HEAR! THANKS! Rick