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Around Hear Page 2

| April 27, 2007 | 0 Comments

Indie rock foursome The Gnomes carry a sound as understated as the title of their sophomore album, The Gnomes II. There’s no showboating or posturing on songs like “Whiskey Is Misery” or “Ho-Chunk Casino” – just sincere and slightly quirky tunes that pull you in with their pleasant undertone. Amid a couple underdeveloped tracks (e.g. the painfully plain “She’s A Bear”), The Gnomes II is a solid effort. (www.thegnomes.net)
– Max Herman

Every b-movie horror-themed punk band from here to eternity will be labeled Misfits/Cramps clones. This is unfair to some; for others, like The Gravetones, it’s not. This Chicago band have been around in one form or another for years but don’t have a lot of originality to show for it. Tracks like “Merry Death” and “Creepy Girls” from their most recent effort, Dig It!, are competent enough monster mashers, but the group rarely hide their affinity for obvious influences, especially singer Scary Larry, who sounds like he’s auditioning for a Danzig tribute act. (www.thegravetones.com)
– Trevor Fisher

Kathy Greenholdt tackles emotional subjects via sparse arrangements and country & western-style vocals on her new CD with the Edsel Brothers, Wake-Up Prayer. The slower “Summer’s Through” isn’t compelling, but Greenholdt offers a clever take on schizophrenia with the melodic “Don’t Walk Away.” Her intriguing mix of spiritual imagery and cutting edge rock on the title track calls Patti Smith to mind. (www.kathygreenholdt.com)
– Terrence Flamm

Gypsyfly‘s 12-song Breathing Air is pure pop rock that values style over substance. Each song is begging to be remembered through repetition of its sing-along choruses, which are usually the song title (for example: “I Go, You Go, We Go”). The vocals, delivered at times with a nasal sneer, mostly overpower the instrumentation, which seems to be a modern update to The Monkees. The repetitious vocals “on and on, on and on” from the opening song “I Wanna Get Off,” set a early precedent. (www.gypsyfly.net)
– Jason Scales

Considering the name of Flabby Hoffman‘s latest is Illegally Download This CD!!!, it’s safe to say he doesn’t take himself too seriously. And while comedy, satire, and sardonic observations abound throughout tunes like “I Hate Love” and “The Corporate Sell Out Will Be Televised,” there’s an obvious musicality behind the rugged, blues-tipped garage rocker. Backed by a rollicking band, the project is a quirky and colorful collection, though likely to be an acquired taste over multiple listens. (www.flabbyhoffman.com)
– Andy Argyrakis

Combining a plethora of influences and genres, Ignorant Knowledge‘s aptly titled Lack Of Focus pretty much sums up their self-released album. With less than appealing vocals, tracks like The Rolling Stones cover “Get Off My Cloud” and the They Might Be Giants-influenced “Considered A Genius (Andy Kaufman)” suffer, as does their try at funk on the somewhat grating “The Plain White Rapper.” The final track, “Lesbians Trapped In Mens Bodies,” almost redeems the disc, but by this time, it’s too little too late. (www.igknow.com)
– Dean Ramos

Kaspar Hauser, the product of singer-songwriter Thomas Comerford’s lo-fi, indie rock sensibilities and a stable of more-than-capable musicians, bristles with energy and hooks galore on the 10-song Quixotic/ Taxidermy. Comerford lends his warm crooning to guitar-driven rockers such as “King Pop,” “Glass Case Full Of Dead, Stuffed Birds,” and “Without A Word,” at times evoking Sebadoh, Lou Reed, and even The Meat Puppets. (www.kasparhausermusic.net)
– Jason Scales

Despite the odd name, Loukeelium‘s two main songwriters, Luke Anderson and vocalist Liam Norris, have an ear for strong melodies. Yet, the lyrics from Aurora (shout out to Wayne and Garth) read juvenilely, like pages torn out of a young man’s diary. Recorded by Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio studio, What Have We Done? is a perfect fit for the Q101 crowd. (www.loukeelium.com)
– Janine Schaults

The twin brothers in Madina Lake won $50,000 on “Fear Factor” by eating unidentified cow parts. Despite getting a serious infection, the money lead to a demo, a record deal with Roadrunner, and an album that is on the aggressive side of fellow Chi-towners Fall Out Boy or The Audition. Although musically From Them, Through Us, To You is still at an adolescent stage, this four-piece’s lyrics tackle more complex issues such as America’s obsessions with fame. They speak from experience – they ate cow parts. (www.madinalake.com)
– Joseph Simek

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