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Around Hear: September 2010

Local Band Reviews

Aevumin (a band with an instantly recognizable moniker but with pronunciation challenges) plays tight and peppy post-punk rock on a seven-track, self-titled CD. Some, like “Cliché,” value frantic power-chords, riffing and lyrics. But the band shines when jamming to groovier, more deliberate midtempo rhythms like on “Lonely Walks Away.” Another keeper, “Ignore Me,” declares: “Does anybody hear me?/You can’t ignore me!” True enough. (www.myspace.com/aevumin)
– Jason Scales

Justin Cancelliere sounds like he installed himself into his hard drive, which would only compound the desperation and desolation consuming him. Recording as Be Nice, he solders cold, impersonal electronic blips and beats to his broken heart on Both And Spiraling More, in a style akin to The Postal Service and Mobius Band. Though his constant romantic letdowns leave him looking gullible and intolerably wimpy, the frequently overloaded arrangements vividly elucidate his frazzled emotions. (www.myspace.com/ benicebenice)
– Steve Forstneger

You remember that dude in high school who fell in love a little too easily? He found three like him and formed The Bradburys. The Don’t Pump The Swingset EP may advertise its standardized power pop in “Vandaphonic Sound,” but this five-song set is all about girls A) they’re too afraid to talk to, B) wouldn’t talk to them anyway, or C) just want to be friends. Now if only some of that shy nuance could make it into the music. (www. myspace.com/brad burys)
– Steve Forstneger

Thoughtful, electronic-fused rock is the dominant sound on Counterfeit I‘s full-length debut, Circuitry. This Wheaton-based act, led by Derek Allen, can certainly grind out the angsty, rugged rock heard on “The Age Of Machines,” but isn’t afraid to get a little ghostly with synths and other electronic elements on highlights like “Perfume Trigger.” It’s at these moments where CI gets experimental without losing focus. (www.myspace.com/counterfeiti)
– Max Herman

Immersed in Midwestern power pop and unencumbered by commercial trends, Dulcet Road follows the straight path on its self-titled EP. Casting a weary, weathered stare, tracks like “Wichita (Another Day)” and “Ghost Town” match jangly, Old 97’s grit with the straightahead, melodic pulse of International Pop Overthrow veterans. It’s rare that a band that sounds like it’s together just for the joy of playing can manage this level of professionalism. (www.dulcetroad.com)
– Steve Forstneger

Flatfoot 56 plays Celtic punk as good if not better than any other band, with all due respect to Dropkick Murphys, and the 13-track Black Thorns from the South Siders proves it. Traditional instruments like bagpipes are used (as on “Stampede”) not for gimmick, but for effective backing support for the full-throttle jams. The mandolin shredding blends perfectly with the power chords on “Hot Head,” and the requisite ballad “Shiny Eyes” shows the band’s versatility. (www.flatfoot56.com)
– Jason Scales

Although many of the songs on High Gloss Black‘s six-song demo benefit from the husky and sexy vocals of its female lead singer (see “Barriers”), a couple of these metal tracks would undeniably benefit from a more testosterone-fueled vocalist as well, such as “Bury Me” and the disc closer, “The One.” Better production values could also improve this American Motherload offshoot’s sound and certainly add to the “gloss.” (www.myspace.com/highglossblack)
– Dean Ramos

Recalling the menacing sonic horror of early Swans, Locrian‘s brooding soundscapes mine the bleakest recesses of the imagination. A distant, barely audible voice scrapes to be heard among the heavily processed drones in “Inverted Ruins,” while that same helpless voice is buried in the foreboding tidal waves of noise in the perfectly titled “Procession Of Ancestral Brutalism.” This is definitely for a select audience, but the patient and astute listener will be rewarded with a beautifully depressing work of art. (www.myspace. com/thelocrian)
– Patrick Conlan

Eschewing the usual hipster trappings of skinny-jeaned psychedelia or nostalgic new wave, Mike Maimone & The Mutts seems to be going for a Tom Waits-ish vibe on Pretty Pictures, especially with the way he plays the piano. While track-for-track one of the best and most original self-released EPs this particular critic has heard in quite some time, “Uncivilized” stands out, a song that would undoubtedly feel at home in only the smokiest of dimly lit nightclubs. (www.myspace.com/mikemai mone)
– Dean Ramos

Mathien might just have what it takes to be the next great pop outfit to come out of Chicago. Formed at SIU with his friends, Chris Mathien pours his intelligent lyrics, catchy hooks, and charismatic personality into every track. Influences range from Maroon 5 to 3OH3 to Jason Mraz, and the sound ranges from funk to soul to reggae to pop to rock. Each style is handled with surprising skill and depth for such a young band, resulting in 14 tracks of non-skip-worthy musical enjoyment. (www.mathienlive.com)
– Carter Moss

Shelley Miller‘s third solo CD, When It’s All Gone, You Come Back, once again showcases her not inconsiderable musical chops undoubtedly honed as a veteran acoustic guitar/songwriting teacher at Old Town School Of Folk Music. Like her last effort (reviewed here in ’07), she makes good use of her studio, producer, and sidepeople, though this time with some more decidedly electric and country turns, that bring a welcome variety of tempo/timbre to the material and continue to set her apart – though not necessarily too far in the forefront – from the rest of the trad/folk cadre. (www.shelleymiller.net)
– David C. Eldredge

On Learn To Dance, Roselle-based quartet The Mojoskillet plays the type of Americana suited for the untroubled set. Lead vocalist and guitarist Jim Bartholo-mew sings lightly about love while the upbeat, folk-leaning arrangements keep the mood festive. These are the type of tracks made for a summer street fest with a crowd that’s in no hurry. (www.reverbnation.com/themojoskillet)
– Max Herman

The Moses Gun unleashes a revved-up version of grunge on its self-titled EP. The trio mixes in other elements as well, especially on “Broken Neck,” which includes avant garde jazz amid its multiple tempo changes. “Ashley” is a spirited instrumental while “Perfect Wea-ther” serves as the band’s hard-edged version of romance. A bonus CD shows The Moses Gun adding acoustic textures to its sound. (www.myspace .com/themosesgun)
– Terrence Flamm

Journeyman sin-ger/songwriter Jackson Rohm shows how well he’s honed his skills on his sixth CD, Acoustic Sessions. Rohm’s engaging tales occasionally recall Jim Croce, especially on the slinky “All Never Mattered,” and he’s also adept at country & western. “Four On The Floor” is a touching tribute to a fellow musician who passed away, while on the more rock-oriented “Chris-tine,” Rohm aims to be more than friends with a longtime crush. (www.jackson rohm.com)
– Terrence Flamm

How many bands can you name that have been recording new music for 35 years? How many bluegrass bands can you name that hail from Chicago? Special Consensus are the rare group that fit both of those. So to celebrate, the bluegrass veterans released 35, a collection of six previously unreleased and six new recordings. Despite the tracks’ varying ages, all 12 prove the same thing: these guys have perfected the fine art of bluegrass and have earned every year of their long career. (www.compassrecords.com)
– Carter Moss

There’s no doubt Streets On Fire frontman “Chadwick” commands the stage like a man possessed, spazzing equal portions of Jon Spencer, Jack White, and The Stranglers’ Hugh Cornwell. Pile them all into a taut, Ponys-esque post-punk/death-disco package as the band do on This Is Fancy, and you get a lot of flash and dash – and that’s it. Tracks like “No One’s Fucking On The Radio” and “Astronaut Love Triangle” are ridiculous but could still be essential to the larger piece, but without support they’re vulgar novelties. (www.thestreetsonfire.com)
– Steve Forstneger

Velocity is heavily concentrated on playing ’70s and ’80s rock hits and its demo no doubt showcases a love for recognizable tunes from yesteryear. UFO, Led Zeppelin, and Ozzy Osbourne are just a few of the bands these western suburbanites attentively revisit. Focusing on such a specific niche as a cover band, don’t expect any huge surprises, but do expect to reminisce. (www.myspace.com/velocityhard rock)
– Max Herman

While not as cool as modern metal styles, heavy, roaring rock ‘n’ roll will have always have a faithful, denim-clad following, and The Warning Label play for that crowd. Reminiscent of the heavy rock of the ’70s and ’80s – think of any of the big-gest names from the era: Van Halen, Black Sabbath, Motley Crue – and you can hear them in The Warning Label’s sound. Light-ning-fast solos punctuate “In Control” and “Chains Of Evil,” while “Superstar” features a thick, rhythmic grind. (www.myspace.com/thewarninglabelmusic)
– Patrick Conlan

Vocalist Brooke Bartlett follows her own advice on Whiskey Blonde‘s Scream Like You Mean It EP, belting out, “Rock me as hard as you can!” over the aggressive guitars and drums on “Crash & Burn.” She wails on the heavy-metal stomp of “Sweet Unknown,” and her band members break free for some extended jamming. Bartlett also impresses while taking a more subtle approach on power ballad “Faded Star.” (www.myspace.com/whiskeyblonde)
– Terrence Flamm

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  1. Mark Hendryx says:

    Hey – I’ve been looking for a review of our 1 Machine CD (debut) for months. I sent a copy in last year and another this past June. What gives?

    p.s. you gave me some really nice critiques on my OtherWorld CD’s in the past.
    Thanks,
    Mark

  2. susan says:

    was hoping for a review of the new giving tree band album that comes out tomorrow to help me decide whether or not to hit up best buy tomorrow. no luck here

  3. @susan

    Unfortunately, a snafu with the publicist means you won’t be able to read about the new Giving Tree until our November issue!

  4. Siobhan says:

    I guess that means they’re “not such a Giving Tree?”

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