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Around Hear: July 2010

| July 1, 2010 | 1 Comment

Local Band Reviews

It seems only yesterday Canasta were youngsters joyfully tossing sand on the beachhead of local indie-pop. With The Fakeout, The Tease & The Breather, however, Matt Priest and Elizabeth Lindau’s band have matured not beyond recognition, but what used to be heartbroken odes to young loves lost have acquired desperation. Priest opens the album ruing missed chances and allows a very British melancholy to tighten its grip with the one-two of “Appreciation” and “Shortcut.” An overall emphasis on acoustic and electric piano underscores Canasta’s mood, though brilliant touches like the gang chorus in “Mexico City” reminds that all worth living for isn’t quite lost.
— Steve Forstneger

Making a mockery of the EP format, Arriver brandish their full arsenal on Simon Mann. Though screaming metal at the core, the three songs veer from throaty, D.C.-inspired odd-meter punk to blistering tech-metal. Though the tale of Mann — a nouveau British mercenary arrested in an African coup attempt — is more obscure than compelling, the chance to title a song “Splodge Of Wonga” was reason enough to go with it.
— Steve Forstneger

Chicago-based singer/songwriter Kristin Cotts enlists the help of her band What About Rosalind for a second full-length release, a curious collection of folk/alt-country tracks. Cotts’ voice is equal parts sweetness and innocence, but unfortunately her style, tone, and lyrics sound like something out of a ’60s musical, rendering her sound quite peculiar and potentially narrowing her fanbase.
— Carter Moss

While the idea of blending free jazz and punk may sound exciting, in practice it’s dreadful — at least as performed by Dadad on their full-length debut, Uluctricity. “Evil Elgin” is the only cut that fully comes together, leaving 10 other tunes that are either excessively repetitive or melodically strident. Although the three band members have mastered the basics, in the future such experimentation should probably be left to experts.
— Jeff Berkwits

If you’re part of the thrash-metal revival, you could do worse than recycling Kill ‘Em All. On its debut, Between The Devil And The Darkness (Blastoff), Desolate Sky shows it knows Metallica’s early work, complete with chainsaw riffing, jackhammer drums, and fiery solos. It opens the title track with some clean guitar before unleashing a monstrous attack, and Scott Staszak even sounds a bit like James Hetfield on “Another Day.” Desolate Sky captures the visceral thrill of thrash, and make it sound relevant for today’s metalheads.
— Patrick Conlan

Imagine hanging out late one night at a smoke-stained jazz club like the Green Mill, listening to proficient players enjoying a fun jam session. That’s the intoxicating effect of Carswell, the latest 10-tune recording from sax-man Tom Gullion. While standout numbers include the energetically improvisational “Monkey’s Tale” and the evocative electric piano and flute of “Right On Time,” every cut is consistently captivating.
— Jeff Berkwits

While most local musicians fine-tune their craft in garages, basements, and bars, Timothy Hay developed his music in isolation by a campfire as a 20-year backcountry guide. Finally ready to return to civilization (Chicago) and record, The Timothy Hay Wreckerd sounds like — well, what you’d expect. The folk/country/ blues tracks are light on lyrical depth, simple on instrumentation (mostly guitar and harmonica), and big on rootsy Americana. It’s the perfect album to listen to — where else? — by the campfire.
— Carter Moss

Although one can’t deny their obvious zeal for the genre, Headwall‘s brand of hair metal on Rockstar Loser leaves a bit to be desired. While their musicianship is top notch (particularly Gary Thiakos’ guitars), the vocals lean toward the irritating, which isn’t helped by sophomoric lyrics, which is saying something for hair metal.
— Dean Ramos

Heather Lynne Horton has an intimate singing style that exudes both vulnerability and self-confidence in lyrical content and vocalization. Most of the 10 tracks on Postcard Saturdays use background country-based instrumentation (piano, shuffling drums, slide guitar) to highlight Horton’s crooning talent. “Don’t Cry Wolf, Coyote,” a livelier rocker channeling Sheryl Crow, picks up the tempo among other slow-paced — almost hymnal — confessional explorations.
— Jason Scales

If Kevin Lee & The Kings already sound familiar, that’s because the leader was previously in charge of The Lonesome City Kings, who were once inked to MCA. As a guitar-charged rocker that falls somewhere between Lenny Kravitz and Bruce Springsteen wrapped around the production of Rick Barnes (Smashing Pumpkins, George Clinton), he’s far above the typical indie act and continually connects with gusty ditties.
— Andy Argyrakis

The experimental trio Mako Sica draws upon Native American culture, and its name roughly translates as “land bad.” The long-form songs on its imaginatively titled, limited-edition vinyl LP Dual Horizon conjure a mysterious, natural setting via wailing guitars, chanting, and tribal percussion. The musicians shift tempos throughout “I’Itoi,” “5th One Is The Dark,” and “Dunes,” and occasionally incorporate avant garde jazz. It’s a challenging work that should appeal to more adventurous music fans.
— Terrence Flamm

Sounding as if it was tailor made for Chicago’s own US 99, Lathan Moore‘s Love In Your Life is without a doubt an album that most fans of the aforementioned country music station should enjoy. It can be, however, a bit bland and many of the tracks here seem to run into one another, each often indistinguishable from the last.
— Dean Ramos

Sin Ropas‘ eclectic collection of sounds gives its off-kilter melodies an idiosyncratic charm. “Nailed In Air” features a crinkled, waltz-y melody, spritzed with banjo, piano, and what sounds like a detuned violin. “Plastic Furs” shimmies and shakes from the ramshackle fuzz-and-buzz of homemade instruments. Tim Hurley’s whiskey-and-cigarette drawl conveys a wounded soul and hard-earned wisdom, and has the perfect timbre for carrying the emotional weight of the album. After a five-year hiatus, Holy Broken is a welcome return.
— Patrick Conlan

Joe Swank & The Zen Pirates play rollicking country & western for honkytonks on their third CD, Hank Williams Died For My Sins. It’s a consistently fun effort, particularly when the band cuts loose on “Just Tell Her I Loved Her” and “Tomorrow’s Just A Train-Wreck Away.” Swank also connects on “Better Than Bein’ Alone,” a sad tale of a wife who’s afraid to ditch her loser husband, and the jagged title track has an almost theatrical ambience. ()
— Terrence Flamm

Though Toast tries to conjure a bluesy groove reminiscent of The Doors, its Evolution EP sounds more like the sanitized soulful rock of Uncle Kracker. Aside from the tunes being unmemorable and bloated in the harmony department (especially “His Shoes”), a switch-up between four co-vocalists and songwriters lacks continuity.
— Andy Argyrakis

There’s a nostalgic feel to the melodic love songs on Train Company‘s self-titled debut that brings to mind smoke-filled lounges in the early 1960s. John Zozzaro is a classic crooner who frequently harmonizes with bassist/vocalist Mike DeWitte, and Mark Alletag adds a jazz flavor via saxophone, clarinet, and flute. The lyrics are a bit corny on “Clementine” and “Winter,” but Train Company offers plenty to like, especially the romantic “Do You Really Want To Know?” and “Forest.”
— Terrence Flamm

Vicious Attack packs an incredible amount of destruction into its four-song EP, Blade Of The Reaper. “Vicious Attack” and the title track borrow heavily from Reign In Blood-era Slayer with David Correa’s clipped, staccato cadence closely mimicking Tom Araya, as rolling drum fills and insistent snare blasts anchor palm-muted, lightning riffing. A sliver of metallic-hardcore seeps in with shouted gang vocals highlighting the bloody carnage in “Infestation,” but VA’s primary purpose is to bludgeon you into submission with an unrelenting thrash assault. Mission accomplished, boys.
— Patrick Conlan

Violet Winter, a self-titled debut from singer/songwriter Oscar Salinas, is an effective mix of hard rock and electronica, with a hip-hop bent. “Abuse Me” exudes a Nine Inch Nails sensibility, and others, opening track “Turn Me Round” for starters, reference Depeche Mode. However, Salinas is skillful enough in production and arranging to forge his own style, as on “Part Of Me.” Including guest rappers on two tracks (“Relapse” features Shorty K and “Find A Way” stars Malik Yusef) shows range.
— Jason Scales

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  1. Rob Lejman says:

    Thank you Terrence! -Train Company

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