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Local CD Reviews

| April 28, 2006 | 2 Comments

The dark melody on Angel EyesSomething To Do With Death is carried by smooth electric guitars and wavy samples, then sporadically shifts into pounding drums and metal sequences coupled with screaming vocals. Despite the songs being too long (four tracks/50 minutes total), the sporadic changes in tempo and moving from instrumental gloom-heavy rock to screamo metal provide enough modification and depth to stay interesting. (www.myspace.com/angeleyes)
– Jill Haverkamp

The Ass Clown‘s two-disc, 40-song album Licking Ass And Taking Names appears to be the last the band will make. There was a time when The Ass Clown was easily the worst band I had ever heard, but Licking finds the group continuing to forego its unbearable noise for actual song structures. The band is still clinging to the toilet humor, but ultimately getting better. Still, when considering the entire Ass Clown catalog, no band may ever suck as much ass. (rockofficerecords@yahoo.com)
– Joseph Simek

Combining elements of alt-country, roots rock, blues, and even a little bit of jazz, Backyard Tire Fire recall the best of Neil Young, Tom Petty, and Creedence Clearwater Revival and make them sound fresh again. On Bar Room Semantics, their 13-song full-length, the trio take rock ‘n’ roll back to its roots, stripping it to its bare bones without coming off the least bit skeletal, especially on such tracks as “Spinnin’ Around,” “Tryin’ To Get Paid,” and “Ready To Go.” (www.backyardtirefire.com)
– Dean Ramos

The Bish are back with a more cleanly produced, slightly edited re-take of their previously submitted demo. We still admire how the retro Farfisa/Leslie analog sound enervates the quintet’s stoner rock reach for interstellar overdrive. But now that the lyrics are more clearly heard, one has to wonder if the group’s signature song, “Alpha Male,” really is the celebration of cellblock sodomy that it seems to conjure. (www.sonofabish.com)
– David C. Eldredge

Richard Black‘s latest appropriately titled release (Shades Of Blue) explores the various areas of blues he has delved into throughout his career. While there are no ground-breaking tracks on his latest disc, there are no weak spots either. The blues can be felt whether he’s singing or just jamming. As a special bonus, four tracks are included that were recorded with the late British guitar icon, Paul Samson. (www.skorpyo-international-productions.com)
– Carter Moss

After three seasons performing on “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam” and releasing two albums with hip-hop collective Typical Cats, Denizen Kane (aka Dennis Kim) went solo with 2002’s Tree City Legends EP. With Tree City Legends, Vol. 2, this Oakland-via-Chicago rapper takes on everything from fatherhood to the Patriot Act. Backed by a slew of good producers (check Maker’s work on “Killa Killa”), Kane brings a welcome change of pace from a mainstream hip-hop world where words have been forsaken for beats. (www.galapagos4.com)
– Joseph Simek

As far as pop punk bands go, one could do much worse than The Felix Culpa. Check the spec sheet and all the features are there: angular guitar fury, abstract lyrics, start-stop rhythms, and explosive dynamics. “Good Business Moves” is a smoldering slow-burner, while “Commitment” builds from a simmering boil until the crunchy riffs rip everything to shreds. As a bonus, Thought Control (Common Cloud) includes an extra disc of concert footage, home video, and band interviews. (www.thefelixculpa.com)
– Patrick Conlan

Wisdom Days is the second album of folk pop from Kathy Greenholdt & The Edsel Bros. This time around the songs are fleshed out with stronger rhythms, touches of electric guitar (“The Motions”), and enticing instrumental flourishes (the harmonica on “Casket Without Nails”). Greenholdt’s slightly husky voice has an attractive, earthy appeal as she sings about life’s mysteries, evolving through its stages, and spirituality. (www.kathygreenholdt.com)
– Patrick Conlan

Collecting a vibrant cross-section of artists, the Hostage Radio Chicago Compilation: 2005 (WC) showcases the rich diversity of talent flourishing in the Windy City. From hip-hop to indie rock, the compilation reveals hidden gems such as Harvest (“Full Moon Dim”) and Fluid Minds (“Love In Analog”), as well as a more well-known artists like Aswah Greggori (“Zion”). (www.hostageradio.com)
– Patrick Conlan

The three guys who make up Hot As Hell all hold guns on the back cover of their debut EP. This is done either to imply the group is on as much fire as smoke blazing out of a gun barrel or as a tactic to attract listeners. Regardless of the reasoning, the six- track disc of garage-induced indie rock is lukewarm at best with the generic riff rampaged “Shake It” and “Blood Stains,” lacking the magnetism to truly live up to the group’s title. (www.hotashell.net)
– Andy Argyrakis

Judging by a three-song demo by The Its! – with songs “Punchline,” “B-Movie Flop,” and “Hot As The Sun” – it sounds as if the foursome is still working hard to establish itself after winning a talent search at the Elbo Room in 2004 and gaining local radio airplay. As with the other two tracks, “B-Movie Flop,” with a chorus of “lights, camera, action,” is a catchy garage rock number that holds up well to the likes of Hot Hot Heat and The Strokes. (www.theits.com)
– Jason Scales

From the opening howls on “My Last Letter,” one can hear Johnny Rev are considerably harder than on previous efforts. The razor-edged guitars and fat basslines form the backbone of Rev’s no frills, hard-boiled hard rock. There’s a touch of crossover appeal to the punky blast of “Must Be Nice To Be Alright” and “Instead Of Me,” and overall, the melodies and arrangements show incredible growth and development. (www.johnnyrev.com)
– Patrick Conlan

For only being together a little more than three years, Peoria quartet Justify The Means sure have their act together. On their new album, No End, they unload standard, thrashing heavy metal fare, with a hint of sincerely-penned introspection as heard on songs like “I Feel.” It’s nothing too innovative, but JTM have obviously found their groove, and they should run with it. (www.justifythemeans.net)
– Max Herman

There are glimmers of an O.K. storyteller in Dave Lombardi. If he can find the right music for the right lyrics, he may have a sound folk fans can latch onto. “Guardian Muse,” the CD’s title track, has one of the better opening lines of any song. Yet, Lombardi loses a little credibility as a lyricist with “Ten Pounds.” A simple, guitar-picking chorus that frivolously uses the word “shit” and how much it weighs when placed in a bag to indict hardship is a little too Jed Clampett pre-oil success, even for Jed Clampett. (www.davelombardi.net)
– Angie Maldonado

On Tin Two Star Moon, multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Mat Lombardi takes his freeform lyrics into his DIY studio, embellishing his Beatles-esque songs with synthetic string and brass washes to produce a most unlikely yet most intriguing indie/prog/pop hybrid sound. Talent capable of such subtle complexities is worth encouraging. Freeing himself up with the assistance of other musicians and/or additional engineers/studio hands could produce wonders. (www.nonentertainment.com)
– David C. Eldredge

Evolving from their origins as an acoustic-coffeehouse trio, Mad Hornet After Hour are now a full-fledged rock powerhouse. Patrick Gray’s throaty vocals lend considerable heft and presence to their five-song demo. Fat, crunchy riffs share time with funky digs, adding dynamic vitality to “Eulatharius,” while “Don’t Ask” is a modern rock classic that recalls college radio favorites such as Semisonic and Black Crowes. (www.madhornetafterhour.com)
– Patrick Conlan

Given his status as principal percussionist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, it’s somewhat surprising NYCO‘s Ted Atkatz leaves most of the drumming on the band’s debut, Two, to a assorted cast of others. What’s not surprising is the craftsmanship and care of the songs/arrangements and playing. But as is symptomatic of first professional recordings, there’s a certain sameness of vocal sound/levels throughout – e.g., one wouldn’t expect a song titled “Pissed Off” to sound similar to opener “English Song.” But when the mold is broken – as on the opening of fully fleshed-out pop rocker “Side Of The Road” – the potential for NYCO becomes self-evident. (www.nycomusic.com)
– David C. Eldredge

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Category: Around Hear, Monthly

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  1. em1sshobbs says:

    About time someone reviews Mad Hornet After Hour…. ““Don’t Ask” is a modern rock classic” and I quote. They are definitely worth making the trip to see them live and in person.

  2. Angel Eyes‘ Something To Do With Death – I quite liked it. Im not usually a fan of screaming metal stuff – but its OK.

    Steve

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