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Local CD Reviews

| March 2, 2009

Chicago-based Absolutely Perfect describes its music as “nothing you have ever heard before, yet strangely familiar.” While this sounds like typical self-promotion, these guys have actually nailed it. The band’s second release, the Live To Be . . . , has it serving up six bowls of thick, chunky basslines with sides of punk rhythms – a stew of influences like 311, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rise Against. The originality, however, comes via vocals, which are too emo to label hard rock but just angsty enough to avoid being written off as another emo band. (
– Carter Moss

The drums are dynamic, the guitars potent, and the bass vigorous on Certain Company‘s four-song demo. Unfortunately the vocals, which are shared among three of the group’s four members, leave much to be desired. Tunes like “Are You Ready?” and “Shake” are wonderfully soulful, marred only by those agonizing voices. Since recording these cuts the bassist has reportedly left the band – a replacement with singing experience would be the perfect addition. (
– Jeff Berkwits

Bright Eyes, Ryan Adams, or Pete Yorn fans might identify with the intimate acoustic rock/folk of Jackson CombsThe Hardest Parts. Though the album aptly taps into those influences, the vocals can’t live up to any of them, sounding under-developed throughout “September” and under-produced during “Little Lies” and the title track. “In The Middle Of Nowhere” confidently strikes a balance, indicating future potential, even if this round isn’t fully realized. (
– Andy Argyrakis


Ex-Chicagoan John Eichleay celebrates his Brooklyn relocation with an extremely polished self-titled debut. The album’s production boasts an Oasis-like sound and musical range that defies its basic four-piece lineup. While the band never quite recaptures the energy of the opening four cuts once it veers into slower balladry, the entire disc serves as a showcase for Eichleay’s considerable guitar-playing prowess. (
– David C. Eldredge

Hired Goons pays tribute to “The Simpsons” via catchy punk songs on Everything’s Coming Up Milhouse. The band understandably draws inspiration from the Ramones for cartoon tales like “Let’s Go To The Moe’s” and the title track, though “The Homer” also taps into The B-52’s. A cover of The Monkees’ “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” adds to the fun, and Hired Goons takes on Shakespeare with the clever “I Like Revenging.” (
– Terrence Flamm

Having always put a Black Crowes spin on old school rock ‘n’ roll, Indignant really rolls up its rebellious sleeves on The Good Fight. Greasy guitars collide with psychedelic vocals throughout “The Devil’s Right Hand Man,” fiery licks intersect with bluesy harmonics across “You Can Look,” and “Lose Those Blues” is a peeled back alt-country ballad that once again merges the group’s Windy City upbringing with an insurgent Southern spirit. (
– Andy Argyrakis

Nonagon‘s limited-edition EP, No Sun, sports a classy cover with old-fashioned, European-style art that’s in stark contrast to the trio’s chaotic music. The six songs on this impressive debut are raw punk with a few variations, like the funky bass on “The Brushback.” There’s also a high-speed instrumental called “Peterson” that underlines how Nonagon’s material would be even more engaging if it was possible to make out the lyrics. (
– Terrence Flamm

Bands recording their debuts can be tempted to try so hard to make a statement, they end up over-writing, over-playing, and over-producing their records. Chicago alt-rock group Overman avoided this temptation. The band’s debut EP finds it sitting back comfortably and simply letting the music flow. Each of the four tracks slowly pours out laid-back but confident alt-country, especially the moving, bluesy ballad “Move On.” (
– Carter Moss

That guitarist Marcus Singletary gets his latest artistic groove from the baseball diamond is somewhat surprising given his cousin Mike’s enduring fame as a Bear. Recorded live and with only drum accompaniment, Singletary’s Take Me Out To The Ballgame finds him riffing and then off into the freeform chording stratosphere pursuing the disc’s eponymous opening chestnut and similar nods to baseball themes and icons like “The Babe” and “Boys Of Summer.” The latter is perhaps the most original and interesting of the five cuts before a certain repetitiveness sets in – as evidenced by the ever-increasing volume of the crowd at the bar. (
– David C. Eldredge

Six Ways From Sunday deals with heavy spiritual and emotional material – mostly through power ballads – on Long Road Ahead. Francesco Roti’s soaring vocals and fierce guitar keep the material from bogging down. Roti also produced this highly polished eff-ort, which includes startling battle sound effects on “M.I.A.” and atmospheric keyboards on “Blind.” Six Ways From Sunday sounds best when it’s rocking out on faster songs like “How I Feel.” (
– Terrence Flamm

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Category: Around Hear, Columns, Monthly

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  1. Homer Ramone says:

    Woo hoo! HIRED GOONS! Thanks for the positive vibe, Terrence!

    -Homer Ramone

  2. J says:

    Absolutely Perfect huh?

  3. Losille says:

    I am looking for unsigned indie bands and I usually don’t comment on reviews. Writers tend to use the same language over and over however, “serving up six bowls of thick, chunky basslines with sides of punk rhythm” was too good to pass up. I love it.