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Around Hear Page 2

| October 31, 2007 | 0 Comments

Illinois Humanities Council’s ambitious two-CD Folksongs Of Illinois blends vintage recordings and modern interpretations of local Americana music. The set’s historical value is enhanced by extensive liner notes and rare photos, but the real draw is the music. Carl Sandburg sings and plays guitar on a 1950 recording of “Jay Gould’s Daughter,” and Henry Spaulding‘s 1929 rendition of “Cairo Blues” shows the blues in its earliest stages. Several tracks reflect the steady flow of immigrants to the area, drawing on Mexican and European traditions. Heartfelt recordings by current folk enthusiasts like Bucky Halker, Alison Krauss, Janet Bean, Jon Langford, and Kelly Hogan ensure this native music will continue to thrive. (www.prairie.org)
– Terrence Flamm

The Giraffe Nuts‘ debut, Eat Them, recalls those high-school rap ciphers where the sole intent was to talk the most trash without backing down. Sure, this hip-hop collective (led by Verbal Kent) has long graduated from the lunchroom battle circuit, but that doesn’t stop them from reviving their ability to roast and intimidate adversaries with ever-witty wisecracks. It also doesn’t hurt the beat selection is full of first-rate boom-bap from Kaz 1, New York’s J-Zone, and the late DJ Prizm. (www.myspace.com/giraffenuts)
– Max Herman

Perhaps best known locally as part of The Make Believe, Ernie Hendrickson primarily waxes country and bluegrass on his first solo outing, Down The Road, which, by aligning himself with an able-bodied, talented retinue, for the most part results in a satisfying if not groundbreaking recording. But it’s only when he eschews the twang on the one cover and few originals – e.g., channeling his inner Left Banke on the hooky, quirkily timed pop ballad “Seasons Change” or deconstructing the otherwise Led Zeppelin-esque metal lyrics of “Bad Mixed Up Woman” into something completely unexpected – that the listening really starts to get interesting. (www.erniehendrickson.com)
– David C. Eldredge

The Indoor Kids‘ first full-length, an untitled, 12-track recording of crisp production, has a lot to offer, especially in musical styles. Tracks such as the opener “Glide” and “One Of These Days” are a true mix of rock, jazzy interludes, funk, and blues. “Tightrope” takes a more straightforward rock approach, almost sounding live, which shows the band can also stick to one style and nail it. (www.theindoorkids.com)
– Jason Scales

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Chicago indie rockers June are quickly crystallizing their identity, as evidenced on their sophomore release, Make It Blur. Everything from the production to the harmonies is more polished this time around. They manage to spread a layer of boy-band-esque vocals over Third Eye Blind-inspired radio pop with a Lost Prophets-tinged edge. Their sonic sensibilities shine brightest on the emotion-building “Your Shadow,” the acoustic/electric battle of “Finally,” and the 13-minute epic closer, “Southpoint.” (www.junerock.com)
– Carter Moss

Life Is Drama explores troubled relationships via a mix of hard rock tracks and power ballads on its 11-song Symbols Of Life. On faster songs like “Get Back To Your Soul,” lead vocalist/songwriter Mindi Brinzo and guitarists Bill Lechner and Tommy Przybyla lead the charge, which generally works best. Brinzo also impresses on “Joey’s Song,” a sensitively rendered acoustic tale of a young mother losing her husband to war. (www.lifeisdrama.com)
– Terrence Flamm

All Things Lucid kicks off Suburbs On The Moon with “Over The Top,” a catchy and funny look at playing the local club scene, and quickly moves on to the clever social satire of the country & western-flavored title track. From there, the CD gets bogged down in too many midtempo tunes about the mundane aspects of modern life until the Southern rock of “Jameson” shakes things up again. (www.allthingslucid.com)
– Terrence Flamm

Methadones frontman Dan Schafer spent pop punk’s glory days as Ben Weasel’s utility player, from Screeching Weasel to The Riverdales. This Won’t Hurt . . . (Red Scare) chooses to remember Schafer as the decidedly non-weaselly vocalist of emotional punk catalysts Sludgeworth. “Losing Touch” overhauls the adolescent isolation from Sludgeworth’s “Someday” (“Feeling empty/trapped inside”) with adult isolation at the Warped Tour (“was an outsider looking in”). Even as Schafer criticizes punk as “a gigantic parking lot,” the genre is still lucky to have his alienated, melodic dissent. (www.myspace.com/themethadones)
– Mike Meyer

Agave Records has released the next installment of its Nectar compilation series, this time putting it in the competent hands of legendary house DJ Johnny Fiasco. An integral part of Chicago’s house scene since the early ’90s, Fiasco has remixed the likes of Justin Timberlake and Gloria Estefan. With Nectar Vol. 2, he has assembled a clean, party-oriented mix of cuts from Ian Pooley, Inland Knights, and Vernon & Dacosta, among others. House fans everywhere should feel compelled to check it out. (www.agaverecords.com)
– Joseph Simek

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