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Local CD Reviews

| September 29, 2006

“Chicago ain’t been this great since Jordan,” declares Terror Squad president Fat Joe about Logan Square rep Ace Mac on All Aces Mixtape Vol. 1. So Joey Crack’s co-sign is a little inflated, but Mac does kick some pretty entertaining “gangsta shit.” Atop a barrage of mostly borrowed, bass-heavy beats from Rick Ross, Twista, and others, he spits convincing raps about pistol packing, gang ridin’, and holding down his ‘hood. (
– Max Herman

Action Kit specialize in sometimes soft, sometimes abrasive indie pop/rock on their latest CD, Here Comes The Wolf Tone. The sound is subtle and full of vibe, along with the atonal vocals that indie fans seem to tolerate. AC is very artistic and anti-pop, which is cool, but the tunes can blur together, which may or may not be intentional. Spin this one on a rainy day and see what happens. (
– Mike O’Cull

No One Here Is From Here, the third release from South Loop pop-rockers Abalone Penguin, is the perfect example of a band who still have not found their identity. Alternating between Buffett-esque tropical jams, a lame attempt at garage rock, and odd sound effect-laced (a la Beck) pop, Abalone Penguin seem to be wandering in the dark. Their nine tracks do offer diversity, but that seems to result from the fact they can’t seem to nail down any one musical style with some authority. (
– Carter Moss

For better or worse, the most noticeable element on Ammi‘s Imitation (Common Cloud) is the wry, disaffected sing-speak style. It grows tiresome at times, sounding almost childish on the bouncy “The Circus” and “Screwtape,” but the charging guitars salvage these tunes. On the aptly composed “The Somnambulist” they find the right balance between a drunken crawl rhythm, delicate guitar, and an aching drawl that complements the winding, jazz-influenced arrangement. (
– Patrick Conlan

Going into The Blind RobinsPanorama Valley, one has to have a sense of humor and appreciation for the rebellious likes of old timer Merle Haggard and current croppers such as Ryan Adams. For those fans, the disc is pure delight, though cuts like the thick drawled insurgence of “Miss Limestone County” and the finger-picking jangle of “Cash And The Carters” are likely to go over non-supporters’ heads. (
– Andy Argyrakis

Days Off says it began with a stupid idea: to aim for the three-way musical intersection of punk/funk/soul. Unfortunately, the band never really gets there, instead crashing in an Old Style haze into non-descriptive punk land on Jamming In The Scene. Tracks such as “Elsewhere Beers” and “Idling” attempt to incorporate harmonizing, soulful vocals over punk riffage but instead succeed in creating riotous, singalong drinking songs, which perhaps was the mission from the start. (
– Jason Scales

Dance music craftsman Nico Demonte‘s ambiguous Web site and puzzling CD Baby biography leave me wondering if this Chicagoan did indeed play in the late-’80s group Boys Club, “study acting under John Belushi,” or suffer a “near-death electric shock” in his studio prior to releasing his latest album, Alive. What I do know is Demonte pulls from Chicago house music, European techno, and the 8-bit digital sound, but fails to put an interesting spin on any of those genres. (
– Joseph Simek

With a Clash-like attitude over the beating heart of The Cult, the only two things that really hurt Intelligent Dennis are somewhat obvious attempts at commercial radio appeal and a singer whose lack of passion borders on the irksome. On tracks like “Similar Friends” and “Angel Dust,” however, it sounds as if he’s at least trying to have a good time, but the overall lack of emotion leaves Ock Ropra a bit wanting. ( dennis)
– Dean Ramos

Kick The Cat serves up more than an hour’s worth of instrumental jazz fusion on Scramble, with epic songs that explore a variety of styles. Guitarist Chris Siebold propels the adventurous arrangement of “Hole In The Head Disease,” while Vijay Tellis-Nayak plays organ on the funky “Walking On Hot Sand.” The aptly named “Classico Fusiona” features bassist Chris Clemente, and drummer Tom Hipskind gets “Quagmire” off to an energetic start. (
– Terrence Flamm

Former Deals Gone Bad singer Mike Park has taken a step down on the musical evolutionary ladder, bringing his ska self to a traditional Caribbean sound on More . . . Following the footsteps of bands like King Chango and The Polkaholics, Lord Mike’s Dirty Calypsonians make new music of old, incorporating rock sonics and instrumentation with traditional instruments of the calypso style. Park enlisted former bandmates as part of his 12-piece ensemble. If you want to shake your maracas, mon, Lord Mike will show you how. (
– Penelope Biver

Mannequinn Men‘s lo-fi approach and slurred, talky vocals create a corner-bar or basement-party ambience on their debut CD, Showbiz Witch. The deliberately stupid “Sex Off TV” is the low point, but “Liar,” “Terminal U.S.A.,” and the title track qualify as authentic garage band fun. (
– Terrence Flamm

Chicago-based Model One recently hit the halfway point in their year of quarterly EP releases, offering Rooms. These latest tracks are more of the same, and in the case of Model One, that’s a great thing. They’ve found their niche in producing mesmerizing, whine-free modern rock that tips its hat to early-’80s alt-pop – “Valentine (Dance All Night)” could be a long-lost Cure track. With a mere six songs, the only complaint is it’s not an LP. (
– Carter Moss

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Category: Around Hear, Monthly

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  1. john lopez says:

    i know ace mac his as real as he says he is i grew up wit him in logan square as a matter of fact thats my cousin and i know for a fact that everything he says about logan square is true and i’m bout happy as f–k that people start seeing this sh-t and he’s an amazing lyricist one of the best i’ve heard in a long time and its time that he truly gets his name out there and heard so everyone in the country can finally know that Chicago is back and that this style of rap is not dead – it’s very much alive

  2. hater says: