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Around Hear: June 2010

| June 1, 2010

Local Band Reviews

The Love Me Nots bust out some serious hip-shakin’ grooves and spastic garage rock on Upsidedown Insideout (Atomic A Go Go). Bristling keyboard stabs tangle with spiky guitar clatter as fiery Chicago-native Nicole Laurenne snaps out lyrics of bruising honesty. A jittery keyboard swirl smacks against snarling guitars in “You’re Bringing Me Down” and there’s a supercharged sizzle in the fuzzed-out blast of “He’s What I Want.” (
— Patrick Conlan

Rap band Tha Basix creates a fun, positive vibe through clever rhymes and basic keyboard arrangements on its self-titled, three-song demo. “Paradise” is a seductive invitation to slip away to a tropical island, while “Job” takes on the everyday work world. On “80s Problems & Hood Internet,” the band opts for a more energetic and techno-oriented approach. (
— Terrence Flamm

Just as the band’s name — slang for an old-fashioned shortwave radio kit — recalls a bygone era, so to does the sound of Benton Harbor Lunchbox. On their self-titled 10-song debut, tunes such as “Cleo The Cat” call to mind early Bob Dylan, while melodies like “Just A Little Harder Than It Seems” invoke a Les Paul vibe. The spare production further reinforces the act’s standing as modern-day purveyors of traditional American roots rock. (
— Jeff Berkwits

Falling somewhere between the growling grunge of Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam’s mightier material, and the garage-rock bombast of Kings Of Leon, The Circle View bridges the gap between the 1990s and now on The Dither Age. The dusty “Dizzy” and the riff-roaring “Come Of Age” are immediate crests, though the power ballad-turned-pummeling “Fail To Save You” is the odd man out as a schizophrenic misstep. (
— Andy Argyrakis

Taking cues from Muse and Glasvegas, District Somnium writes unabashedly emotional, stadium-worthy rock anthems. Electrifying dynamics and soaring melodies lead to cathartic choruses, and Adam’s (no last name) vocal delivery has the earnest yearning that instantly evokes both windswept mountaintop vistas and crushing heartbreak. “Sunseekers” and “Regain Your Soul” start as mild-tempered songs, but eventually crank up the intensity, and wind up as roiling epics. “Family Nectar” floats along gently until it blows up with crushing guitars and heart-thumping vocals. (
— Patrick Conlan

With vocals similar to Metallica’s James Hetfield, despite the fact that metal outfit Fierce Atmospheres no doubt take their headbanging seriously, there really isn’t a whole lot to latch on to here — and that’s not just because their EP is a scant three songs. Although there’s no questioning their passion or musicality, there seems to be little attempt to synch their lyrics with the actual music, and (unfortunately) there are very few distinguishing characteristics to differentiate this metal album from the next. (
— Dean Ramos

The Fource approaches its self-released full-length, Sense Of Direction, in a very Barenaked Ladies-esque manner, which also features first-rate harmonicas and keyboards from vocalist Bob Kramer. However, there are more than a few moments when it can come off as rather bland, and already lyrically challenged songs are put under more strain by vocals that never quite hit the notes they’re supposed to. (
— Dean Ramos

Coining the phrase “electro-rock-hop,” Ghosthouse indeed demonstrates elements of plugged-in rock ‘n’ roll and beat-infused hip-hop throughout Default. It’s a creative combination that just so happens to be instant airwave candy, from the thumping “Radio On” to the haunting, New Order-like “Crystal Lite” and the hypnotic “Sounds Of Life,” which contributes to such a compelling EP that this should’ve been a full-length CD. (
— Andy Argyrakis

Most folks facing a midlife crisis buy flashy new cars or change careers: Kathy Greenholdt expresses her middle-age turmoil via music. Lowly Violet, the 45-year-old singer/songwriter’s latest effort, includes eight tunes showcasing her affecting voice and emotional lyrics. Cuts like “Fire” and “The Dream” sometimes suggest the gritty energy of Melissa Etheridge, at other times the studied nuance of Martha Wainwright. Happily, they’re at all times pleasing and profound. (
— Jeff Berkwits

Blending tried-and-true hard-rock elements with creative dexterity and imagination, Ideamen lives up to its name, cooking a unique sonic stew on May You Live In Interesting Times (Rotten). Hard-edged guitars find fresh energy in the crunchy, razor-barbed riffs that propel “Emergency,” and the chugging rhythms and prog-influenced tangents in “Sunshine” and “Uneventful Day” produce a swirling, dynamic vortex of sound. Just about everyone supplies vocals, and the multi-part harmonies add depth and texture to these power packed tracks. (
— Patrick Conlan

Raising The Bar finds Magic Slim & The Teardrops in fine form, in this their ninth CD (and one DVD) for Chicago’s Blind Pig Records. Slim mixes it up with some tasty funk, Southern soul, and blues with “Part Time Love,” “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” and the slow, sinewy “Cummins Prison Farm.” His rhythm section of seasoned vets — featuring stalwart Jon McDonald on guitar, B.J. Jones with drums, and bassist Andre Howard — add fuel to Slim’s ever present fire. (
— Beverly Zeldin-Palmer

Chicago singing legend Tony Ocean‘s claim to fame is playing the part of Dean Martin in the city’s production of “Rat Pack.” That, combined with years singing at Jilly’s Night Club in major cities, both prepared him for his latest full-length release, Me And Mrs. Jones. The disc is 10 tracks of exactly what you’d expect from a guy with that résumé — Ocean crooning slowly and dramatically about love and heartbreak over piano-based tracks. What you see is exactly what you get in this case. (
— Carter Moss

Phillomac‘s Stranger’s Funeral is an eight-song collection of indie folk-ish pop/rock originals from musician/songwriter Phil Lomac. While his solid vocals and guitar playing, lyrical craftsmanship, and DIY production values make his six mostly acoustic songs far more accomplished and pleasingly compelling than most, it’s the two more electric songs — eponymous opener and (especially) double-tracked vocal closer “Cinderella” — that point to an even more promising musical muse worth pursuing. (
— David C. Eldredge

Looking for the perfect gift for the drummer-geek/music-theory-buff in your life? Then look no further than Milkwork, the solo drumming project by Chicago drummer/composer Frank Rosaly. Not only is the entire album composed solely of percussion (both acoustic and electronic), but most of it is completely improvised by Rosaly. There really is no social setting appropriate for ever playing this album, but it might serve to help one study for a music-theory class, or just to satisfy some odd curiosities. (
— Carter Moss

Local shoegazers Sissy Mena (not to be confused with Norwegian shoegazers Serena Maneesh) revives the uniquely American take on the genre with burnished guitar flair and sweet pop melodies. Sissy eschews the “endless oceans of sound” approach in favor of a chunky rock punch and sturdy vocals — think of early Lilys, Swirlies, and Drop Nineteens. All six songs on Young Girl pack delightful hooks inside a massive, saccharine guitar rush, but the title track stands out with its catchy Beach Boys-inspired melody and shimmering bite. (
— Patrick Conlan

Most of the music on Dave Yeager Band‘s debut CD, In Your Sight I Am Sound, deals with trying to maintain spiritual values in a confusing world. These mainstream rock songs are well-crafted and singer/guitarist Yeager comes across as genuine whether he’s preaching Christianity on “Giving It Up” or spinning the tale of the daughter of divorced parents on “Long Island Lullaby.” (
— Terrence Flamm

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  1. Don.P (‘GO! Media | Chicago Riders) « Addicted to Dope | January 31, 2012
  1. don p says:

    hey im DonP im in thabasix & thanx! thanx! for the column on US… u can check out more of our stuff here that myspace is actually not ours but its fine.


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