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Local CD Reviews

| August 1, 2006 | 0 Comments

With a name like Arrogant, one would rightfully expect an MC with a much more cocky demeanor than this smooth-talking South Sider. On The Misconception he kicks an abundance of accessibly raunchy raps (e.g. “Bring It Back” and “Spread Ya Legz”) over an assortment of crunky arrangements. If anything, Arrogant definitely has commercial appeal. Just ask Twista, who co-signs his potential on the “Twista Speaks” interlude. (
– Max Herman

Pianist Barrelhouse Chuck has once again mined his rich trove of performance tapes for 25 Years Of Chicago Blues Piano Vol. 2 and has come up with 16 rolling tracks of superior blues and boogie-woogie instrumentals. Guests include guitarist Billy Flynn, bassist Calvin Jones, and drummers Willie Smith and the late S.P. Leary. Blues piano has been part of the Chicago sound for decades, and Barrelhouse Chuck Goering remains one of its most impressive current practicioners. (
– Kevin Toelle

A simple violin intro brings us into Beard‘s debut, Surgery/Embroidery, but it is soon accompanied by distorted bass, raging drums, and miscellaneous ranting. This Chicago trio’s stated goal is to be original by losing the guitar and mashing up an odd assortment of instruments. The post rock genre often straddles the line between genius and annoying, and in that respect Beard is no different. (
– Joseph Simek

Even though Billhouse has been played on teen-friendly programs like “Dawson’s Creek” and “Party Of Five,” the group would be better suited in a venue like FitzGerald’s. That’s because the quintet takes a mostly folk/country approach on Welcome To the Smalltime, a project packed with an earthy glow. The pedal steel saturated “Time To Move On” and the bluesy “Turn Away” are key tracks. (
– Andy Argyrakis

Camaro Rouge‘s resume is reason enough to pay attention: guitarist/vocalist Sarah S. was in The Dishes, bassist/vocalist Andrea J did time with The Drapes, and drummer Arman Mabry played in the White+Outs. Those are some lofty expectations, but Got A Crane In My Head (Demolition Derby) and its fuzzy garage and riffy hard rock doesn’t disappoint. “Red Hot” and “Kerosene Can” have that Sleater-Kinney (bet they haven’t heard that comparison!) riot grrrl attitude, but swaggering gems like “Heartache Cadillac” are the band’s real forte. (
– Trevor Fisher

Transplanted from Tulsa, singer-songwriter Jeff Churchwell joins forces with Chicagoland musicians to perform and produce a crisp, clean album of folk pop. Clandestiny draws on a number of influences, but Churchwell’s articulate guitar playing and slick contemporary melodies, as evidenced on “Infrared” and “Where Wanders The Rivers,” stand out as his signature expressions. (
– Patrick Conlan

Armed with her acoustic guitar and slightly keening, withering voice, Lisa Danielson plays her folksy tales with genuine warmth and heartfelt emotion. She instills a joyful touch to the breezy “Cloud Nine,” while “Meant For Me” shimmers with a melancholic aura. The stripped-down, raw production gives Bits And Pieces a tender intimacy. (
– Patrick Conlan

The Dusk Lovers‘ 12-track, self-titled debut relies on singer/guitarist Sarah Williams’ strong vocals to carry the songs, which are largely acoustic guitar-based with country, rock, and blues influences. Williams’ captivating vocals have a melancholy vibe on “Indian Burn” and “Couthern Suntry.” The songs were recorded during a two-year period as the band honed its sound in local clubs. Still, at times the instrumentation, as on “Good Sucker,” seems to struggle to keep up with Williams’ vocals. (
– Jason Scales

Listening to Just Barely Famous, the latest from Herb Eimerman, is akin to time traveling to the late 1960s, with tracks such as “Inside Joke” and “The Ocean Is Blue” supplying charming simplicity and an unwaveringly buoyant, Brit-pop beat. The 16 songs are almost all self-penned (George Harrison’s “Stuck Inside A Cloud” is the sole cover), nicely showcasing this consistently creative artist. (
– Jeff Berkwits

As evidenced by song titles such as “Here4Life” and “Don’t Run Away,” James Eric has some obvious abandonment issues. Fortunately, he turned his fears into intriguing music on his new 13-tune CD, Acceptance. Most of the melodies are mellow, shoegazing pop, featuring a proficient performance from the singer-songwriter. Though by no means brilliant, it’s a compelling collection. (
– Jeff Berkwits

Jarring and somewhat disorienting because of their pounding Farfisa organ and punky, spiky guitar blasts, Fast Product churn out a hellacious racket on Tall Coin (Semiotic Idiot). “Nicer” is all super-charged syncopated blasts, with Cyndi Elliot’s voice sliding smoothly from melodic singing to piercing yelps against the Farfisa and stabbing guitar riffs. There’s a vague hint of Fugazi in the guitars of “Don’t Remember Law School,” which intertwine to create delicious friction. (
– Patrick Conlan

Fourth Rotor do a N.Y. punk-meets-Motörhead-meets-The Didjits thing on Plain, which seems an experience better left for the stage than the stereo. Doug Ward’s vocals are like a screaming match, and the guitar, bass, and drums are speedy and spastic. Lyrics cover an amusing range of topics from how a vacuum works to a five-year-old’s first time at the drugstore to the cryptic existentialist (“I walk in the face of the din of low clearance”). The blue ribbon here is the cover of San Fran punks Snuky Tate’s “New Time.” (
– Penelope Biver

Playing genre-bending metal that seamlessly blends the serrated riffs and dizzying speed of Master Of Puppets-era Metallica with the crunchy bluster of early Iron Maiden, Gideon’s Pawn are worthy torch bearers in Chicago’s bustling metal scene. The Full Twelve Inches (Levon Black) features the blistering “Strangle Fuck,” with its raging, rip-saw guitars, while thick, sludgy guitars fuel the smoldering “Solitude.” (
– Patrick Conlan

It takes a lot of chutzpa to release Best Of The Jerrys given the handful of self-released EPs and demos that precede it. But such is befitting of the earnest Lennon/McCartney aspirations of DIY singer-songwriter Jerry Schwartz (aka The Jerrys). This listener smiled in recognition of some of the songs first heard/reviewed a couple of years ago, but the same admonition given then still applies: Schwartz needs to channel his Brit pop talent and vision into a band so the pressure is not totally on him and he can stretch and loosen up his music. (
– David C. Eldredge

Emulsion‘s Nathan Koch spent a year as a Game Boy tester, so it may come as no surprise his brand of electronica sides heavily with the 8-bit aesthetic. Although once a purveyor of darker industrial and noise music, Emulsion’s first full-length, Blue Sky Objective, is all about sunny melodies among laptop beats. It’s this aspect that makes the record slightly more accessible than many other ambient releases. (
– Joseph Simek

Although a bit all over the place at times, Maps And AtlasesTrees, Swallows, Houses is a jazzy, bouncy, funky, mish-mash of an album in the best way possible. From the grand, yet mellow lightheartedness of “The Sounds They Make” to catchy head-bobber “The Most Trustworthy Tincans,” this debut disc is schizophrenia put to music and after just a single listen everyone should want in the loony bin. (
– Dean Ramos

The four songs on Marcello’s Sound Syndicate‘s Diary Of A Rockstar EP (Off The Hook) are throwbacks to hair metal’s heyday. An unusual mix of sultry, swinging hard rock and prog rock guitar pyrotechnics, the arena-ready anthems “I Might Lie” and “Forever Love” perfectly mimic Van Halen and Bon Jovi. Unfortunately, the lyrics are an endless string of clichés, making it sound as if the Syndicate is engaged in some sort of wicked parody. (
– Patrick Conlan

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