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Local CD Reviews

| February 29, 2008 | 0 Comments

“Around Hear” is a monthly feature where a stable of IE writers review albums sent to us by local musicians. If you are interested in having your CD (must have a minimum of three songs) reviewed and are Illinois-based, mail it and any other media materials to 657 A W. Lake St., Chicago IL, 60661. Everything that meets the aforementioned guidelines will be reviewed in the order received. This may take several months.

Another Year Or So, the third release from Naomi Ashley, was partially funded by a grant from the City Of Chicago Department Of Cultural Affairs. The better production opportunity works wonders for Ashley’s songs, but it’s obvious she’s simply getting better at her craft. Songs like “Dangerous” and “That Kind Of Girl” shine with great melodies and lyrics. However, like many folk singers, she is still searching for a truly original sound. (
– Joseph Simek


Nearly every bit as weathered and gruff as Johnny Cash and raucous and confrontational as Social Distortion, Champaign-Urbana’s The Beauty Shop combine elements of both to create the appropriately titled Just Some Demos. Driven by a real sense of urgency on tracks like “Ambulance” and “Wrong,” the trio also surprisingly wear their hearts on their respective sleeves on “Like I Wasn’t Even There” and the more downtempo “Tied Up In A Knot.” While hardly groundbreaking, they certainly follow in some mighty fine footsteps. (
– Dean Ramos

Breakers Broken‘s debut, Other Places To Search, has a pronounced airy feel to it. While the subject matter of this suburban-bred trio is not implicitly religious, the harmonious vocals, light rock riffs, and overall optimistic vibe will likely appeal to the Christian rock crowd. That said, a few undeniably catchy numbers, like the melodic “No Worries,” reach beyond the fixed, gentle-rock resonance. (
– Max Herman

The Buddyrevelles return from a seven-year recording hiatus on Don’t Quit, still understating tightly Braided guitar – “Verrill Luck” begs to unravel – though adding layers to their continuing Superchunk foundation. “Moods Of . . .” imitates the sad voice over of Jim O’Rourke; it’s an insecurity ill-suited for the hobbyist White Album that randomly shines. Singer/guitarist Aaron Grant sings, “Somebody turn on a light inside this room,” and somebody really does, whisking the album to a higher level of pop than expected. (
– Mike Meyer

Though members of The Days haven’t even graduated college, the players showcase an influence pool well beyond their years. Situate EP skillfully combines the worlds of The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen with Wilco and Neil Young, in turn delivering a mature mixture of bountiful melodies with earthy backdrops. “Big Star” builds with jangly guitars, “On Your Way Out” is a subdued acoustic jam session, and “One Way Track” tips the scales even more impressively toward alt-country. (
– Andy Argyrakis

On Transcend, Chicago quartet The Euphoric does a respectable job of providing early-’90s-inspired metal. Not too many new tricks are pulled out of the bag here, but the heavy guitar riffs and drums are spot on. And lead vocalist Wicki’s lyrics keep things surprising, as he taps into his inner strife (“This Is a Conflict”) and also reflects on his place in modern society (“Generation In Ruins”). (
– Max Herman

Pop rock prodigies Filligar, comprising three brothers and a family friend, are scary good. Despite their relatively young ages, the Ivy League college students, by way of Chicago, have recorded six albums since 2000. The band’s latest, The City Tree, is packed with sparkling guitar and piano rock, complete with orchestrated harmonies and emotive lyrical delivery. Like most of the 12 tracks, “James Alan & The Fire” builds masterfully from acoustic guitar and simple piano leads to a crescendo ending, with subtle and varied songwriting techniques mined throughout the fully realized tracks. (
– Jason Scales

MCs Joe Glass & Iroc, from the South and West Side respectively, make for a promising new hip-hop duo on Street Monopoly. Sure the duo’s fantasies of living large can be trite, though some clever lines on the subject such as “I need a mansion with six wings like Harold’s Chicken” (“Watch Me”), are entertaining. And when Glass & Iroc’s subject matter is more pragmatic, like on the hustle-hard anthem “Dice Game,” the pair’s midtempo tracks hold up well. (
– Max Herman

On God’s Guns‘ self-titled EP, the trio attempts a mixture of “melodramatic popular song, zouk, emotronic,” which besides looking confusing on paper, sounds even more baffling on CD. “Back In Fashion” is a directionless and out-of-tune example of the above statement, while “Role Model” adapts an additionally incompatible Latin rock texturing. No matter what the style, it’s nothing more than a random placement of poorly produced noise that lacks cohesion of any sorts. (
– Andy Argyrakis

Chris Greene Quartet are in the lobby, wondering if they should take the stairs or the elevator. Both go to the same place: Soul And Science, Volume One. The stairs, like jazz, utilize every trained instrument (arms, legs, sax, rhythm). The elevator, like pop, is quick and easy. Split, they go in two directions. “Caravan” and “4.23” do the legwork, flexing smarts and a righteous drum solo. But too fittingly “Boogie On Reggae Woman” and “King Of Pain” make for glorified elevator music. (
– Mike Meyer

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Category: Around Hear, Columns, Monthly

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