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Around Hear Page 3

| February 29, 2008 | 0 Comments

With his How It Be mixtape, Broadview’s Quesne (pronounced Cain) drops hip-hop inspired by both the crunk of Atlanta and the chopped-and-screwed styling of Houston. Because he mostly borrows beats (from Mike Jones, Ludacris, etc.) and emulates the vibe of those tracks, it’s tough to tell what this west suburban rhymer represents. Although sonically, he seems to often favor the club banger as heard on the catchy anthem “The Song That Never Ends.” (www.myspace.com/ quesne)
– Max Herman

“Hey Monday” would be a mediocre track on Quiet Kid‘s third long player, A Bright White Light, except for the fact it features a church choir. This Chicago five-piece is writing good songs (“Jets, Baby” and “All Right”), but this album could have used more risks such as the choir. Let’s hope this Quiet Kid finds his voice one day and breaks out of this often tired indie rock shell. (www.quietkid.com)
– Joseph Simek

Running the gamut from traditional blues, rock, honky-tonk, and rockabilly, The R&Bs showcase musical versatility on A Hardcore Addiction. With slow, sultry rhythms and scintillating guitar pyrotechnics, they pay homage to Chicago with “Maxwell Street Blues.” Rock oriented numbers like “Le Ann” and “You Really Gone And Done It” could just have easily been written during hair metal’s heyday. Only J.L. Jenssen’s terrible vocals detract from this otherwise fine collection. (www.slowhandguitars.com)
– Patrick Conlan

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Rachel RiesWithout A Bird displays a heartbreaking sincerity that is too rare these days. While she does retain much of the youthful optimism that made her first disc, For You Only, so charming, “Learning Too Slow” and “Here We Lie In Wait” feature a more world-weary Ries that’s a nice contrast to her more sassy and playful side heard on tracks like “Never You Mind” and the flirtatious “When Will You Be Mine.” (www.rachelries.com)
– Dean Ramos

Stanley RossFavorites is a collection of mostly two-minute-plus pop songs written/sung by lead Ross-man Nicholas Meirs. Meirs and other locals (including keysman Casey Meehan, first introduced to this column in 2002), make their full-length debut sound as if Ray Davies were playing with glam rockers like Mott or Sparks or T. Rex instead of the more garagey Kinks. It’s great to hear a band take chances, and when Ross’ aspirations exceed their ability (like on “ZZ Hop”) they just laugh it off and keep playing. (www.stanleyross.com)
– David C. Eldredge

After taking a hiatus in 2007, Stone Blue return with new material in anticipation of a busier 2008. Bluesy rock infused with hot, smoky saxophone gives “Too Scared To Run” a dark, sultry vibe. It’s a nice counterpoint to the rest of the untitled EP. “Master Of Illusion” is a fairly standard take on New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, featuring searing licks, chunky riffs, and a burning solo, all drenched in distortion. “Didn’t Have To Be” is a heavier, slower burning version of the same. (no contact provided)
– Patrick Conlan

The latest five-track EP from the seven-piece Straight Jack finds the band evolving their sound, relying more than ever on the passionate harmonies of the female vocalists. Unfortunately this leaves less room for some of the innovation (including the jazz flourishes their trumpet-player used to bring) that helped them stick out from the crowd. All the tracks still showcase the band’s above-average songwriting and make for another solid (albeit short) effort. (www.straightjack.com)
– Carter Moss

Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of Andrew & The Tree, spunky trio The Tree formed in 1999 – the brainchild of prolific singer-songwriter Andrew Robb. Armed with 11 tracks brimming with psychedelic energy and a grinding work ethic, the band slaved three years to bring their debut release, Tip Of The Iceberg to fruition. “Threshold Of The Lair” serves as a companion piece to George Thorogood And The Destroyers’ “Bad To The Bone” while “A Slippering Glimpster Feeling” bounces along in the grooves set by The New Pornographers. (www.thetreemusic.com)
– Janine Schaults

Rene Trossman is a Chicago native who has played guitar for blues stars like Buddy Scott, Little Mack Simmons, Sharon Lewis, and others. Since 1994, Trossman has performed exclusively in Europe and now calls Prague home. His latest release, Postmarked Illinois, is a heapin’ helpin’ of Chicago blues covers and originals that really show his roots. His vocals are not as good as his playing, but he has a cool vibe, nonetheless. (www.renetrossman.com)
– Mike O’Cull

In true D.I.Y. fashion, The Unpossible recorded and produced their self-titled album in drummer/vocalist Gavin Stolte’s home studio, and ultimately released the album on their own. Their guitar-driven pop-rock is straightforward with an emphasis on easy melodies and vocal harmonies. Subtle guitars help detail the struggle to succeed in “I’m Ready,” while funky bass underpins the aspirations in “Spend.” (www.theunpossible.net)
– Patrick Conlan

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