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Local CD Reviews

| March 31, 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.

The Additives are formulaic songwriters and can’t seem to vary the pace of their acoustic strum on Back In Bridgeport, but accessible folk pop is what they’re after, and it’s what they achieve. Pianist/accordionist Sheila Bertoletti did hard time in alien prog-pop troupe Cheer-Accident, so who can blame her for unwinding with sane drinking music? She accompanies singer/guitarist Joe Ryan, who slurs low-register barfly wisdom over drummer Joey Werner’s even beat. People can relate. (
– Mike Meyer

Harmonica soloist Joseph Ashley uses Concerto And Rhapsody to prove his chosen instrument isn’t just for entertaining cowpokes around the campfire. Much of the CD is devoted to “Concerto For Harmonica And Orchestra Opus 86,” an elegant piece composed by Alexander Tcherepnin in 1953. Prokofiev’s “Love For Three Oranges” and Borodin’s “Polovetsian Dances Theme” work surprisingly well with harmonica as the lead instrument. Ashley’s duets with pianist William Gati are more playful, particularly Gershwin’s “Swanee” and “Who Cares.”
– Terrence Flamm

Baby Kage is a study of contrasts on the 10-song CD Tempted. The hard rock/arena metal sounds great, but it’s largely unoriginal, shifting between Motley Crue and Metallica songwriting sensibilities. The band is fronted by a talented female singer, yet she’s mostly miscast. Her vocal delivery fails to match the edge of the crunchy power chords, as on “3913” and “When The Lust Clears,” though it meshes well on “Ode To A Bastard.” (
– Jason Scales

There’s nothing stripped-down about the aggressive debut EP Stripsy from Basement, a south-suburban five-piece alt-rock outfit. All three tracks dive head first into early-’90s grunge, complete with drawn-out power chords and angst-ridden, Cobain-inspired vocals. The verdict is still out on whether Basement can fill an entire LP with quality music, but so far they have proven their talent. (
– Carter Moss

Remember the days when Stabbing Westward and Gravity Kills dominated radio? Chicago’s Comasoft sure does. The band’s EP, Impulsive, invokes the synth-rock of those groups. With the guitars lower in the mix, this band leans on the electronic aspects of the genre, as well as some strong songwriting. However, what some might call retro, others could call stale. (
– Joseph Simek

Eschewing any singular voice, The Crawford Connection thrust a curious amalgam of styles together: Bluesy rockers and fuzzy drone pieces play alongside prog-rock pop and shred metal on Nocturnal Enterprise. Kevin Branigan’s flashy guitar and rock chops fuel “Moved” and “Wishing.” Flashes of bristling brass punctuate “H.O.T.,” and the laid-back vibe and swaying keyboard anchor the tale of dislocation in “Calling Collect.” (
– Patrick Conlan

The problem many people have with death metal, grindcore, and other forms of extreme metal is vocals – the dull repetition of it-all-sounds-the-same grunting and growling through 12 songs. Cripple Ewe battle that monotony by using two, sometimes three vocalists on The Common Ending. This may seem like overkill for a blood-and-guts deathgrind act, but Chad Ramos’ high-pitched shriek keeps frontman Matt Coglianese’s Cookie Monster bark in check, giving Cripple Ewe more character than most their genremates. (
– Trevor Fisher


Folksongs Of Illinois Volume 3 is an amalgam of blues (“Stockyard Blues” with Katherine Davis and Brother John Kattke), children’s ditties (Ella Jenkins‘ “A Neighborhood Is A Friendly Place”), and gospel (Mahalia Jackson‘s blistering rendition of “Take My Hand Precious Lord”) – basically everything that makes the Land Of Lincoln so essential in the folk paradigm. Old Town School Of Folk Music founder Win Stracke sings the state’s praises in “El-a-noy,” while Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, and others summon union might in “Solidarity Forever.” It’s apparent here just how much a young folkie named Bob Dylan swiped from his predecessors. (
– Janine Schaults

Jazz trumpeters take great pains to bring the words of a song to life through their instruments. So it’s not surprising to find Brad Goode‘s playing waxing extremely lyrical along with his piano/bass/drums cohorts on his 12-song Nature Boy, whether the tune be as well known as the title track, the pop chestnut “Sealed With A Kiss,” or even Goode’s own abstract originals. As deft as he is with the mute, the Chicago native turned Colorado music professor is sage enough to let his fellow players (especially pianist Jeff Jenkins) take their share of the limelight. (
– David C. Eldredge

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Category: Around Hear, Columns, Monthly

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