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Around Hear Page 2

| October 1, 2008 | 0 Comments


Victory Records, a label known for its jagged hardcore, seems an unlikely home for 1997. Their brand of uprising, punchy pop songs is decidedly less confrontational, while still retaining a subtle bite. New singer Alida Marroni’s sensational presence elevates On The Run as her vocals drive the lead track, “One Track Mind, Four Track Heart,” echoes the ascending riff in “Tennessee Song Pt. 2,” and provides the velvet hammer in the call-and-response dialogue in “4 a.m. Conversation.” (
– Patrick Conlan

Listening to The Northside Southpaws‘ debut, Stomp Glide Wobble, conjures memories of sticky summer excursions to Six Flags Great America and stopping for lunch in the Hometown Square (before losing it on The Orbit). John Hasbrouck (mandolin) and Matt Gandurski (guitar) deftly fingerpick their way through 13 breezy instrumentals. Tango “El Choclo” stands out while “Johnsburg, Illinois” is as satisfying as idling down a Lazy River. (
– Janine Schaults

If only alt-rock quartet One Louderrr & The Joint Chiefs spent as much time writing music as they do writing titles. Songs like “Jimi Christ Superstar,” “Plain Clothes Cops On TV,” and “Condoleeza’s Rice” evoke laughter, but not much else. They shine best when letting their blues flow, channeling their Big Head Todd influences, but these moments are few and far between. (
– Carter Moss

With an acoustic rhythm guitar and fiery electric guitar solos atop a layer of sparkling violin, Michael Riser‘s Gravity occupies that creative space between pop, folk, and rock idioms. “With You” and “Confidence” display his melodic gifts, and assured, layered guitar playing sets both tracks aflame. “I Want You To (Yo Quiero Tu)” is a softer, sultry number that skillfully blends blues and R&B, and his vocal delivery is heartfelt, even if his lyrics are bland. (
– Patrick Conlan

Rue The Day proves to be a solid, if not original, metal band on its 14-track Lashing Out. Metallica-inspired instrumentation rules, with the only twist being a female singer. The production is a tad off, with the double-bass drums mixed too high on most tracks (as on “Dark And Cold”), resulting in the already less-than-powerful vocals getting lost in the thick, and at times plodding, power-chord progressions. (
– Jason Scales

After more than 20 years of saturating the Chicago music scene with their ’80s rock sound, what’s left for 7th Heaven to do? How about releasing three albums in one season? That’s exactly the plan for fall, and it starts with U.S.A. – U.K., featuring 18 original tracks. This latest release has almost completely abandoned the epic power-chord driven anthems, replacing them with much tamer pop rock (think recent Bon Jovi albums). Unfortunately, this means the band now land somewhere between retro and relevant. Good thing they can still write, play, and sing a decent song (or 18). (
– Carter Moss

The 11 songs on Sleep Out’s Not Even Dust are inspired by Graceland Cemetery (“some take the vantage point of a newly interred resident, while others depict the thoughts of passers by”), but aren’t especially morbid. Nor are the tunes especially memorable. Sleep Out have every guitar jangle, drop of echo, and shimmer of reverb precisely placed on tracks like “Three Towns,” which might make this album too indie for even the most avid indie rockers. Chances are, Not Even Dust has few of Graceland’s patrons rolling over in their graves. (
– Trevor Fisher

Liffy Stokes and Mayz of the Speedknot Mobstaz sound comfortable sticking to the standard street-rap formula on their long-overdue sophomore album, Mobstability II: Nation Bizness. Despite the presence of some cliché hustler anthems (“Dopeboy”) and player joints (“18 Hoes”), this Twista-supported duo use their swagger to slickly document the “get-money” life. The low-key, Cuzo-produced “Chicago” is particularly good as the Mobstaz provide glimpses of action on different sides of the city, from Garfield Park to 79th and Stony. ( knotmobstaz)
– Max Herman

Recorded during the course of a year, the seven melodies on Genius School guitarist/ vocalist Jesse Thomas‘ eponymous solo CD are appealing, with a distorted guitar powering the moody “Int’l Distress Signal” and an infectious beat driving “Four Four Five.” Usually the combined effort of multiple band members results in stronger songs, however, in this instance Thomas is clearly better alone than with his smarty-pants schoolmates. (
– Jeff Berkwits

Vapor Eyes cater to those who seek buoyant, bubbly left-field electronica that draws on retro-rave influences and R&B-style rhythmic gloss without the mannered sterility. The sampled effects and voices augment the thumping grooves on Earthrising, and the bumping rumble of “Dancefloor Divide,” with its Casio-driven scratch beat, is the sound of shiny androids shaking their metal asses. (
– Patrick Conlan

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