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Around Hear: April 2011

Local Band Reviews

Fans of jazz/rock fusion will find a lot to like in Zachary Biggus‘ eight-song Jusqu’â Présent, wherein, aided by able bass and drums sidemen, he displays not inconsiderable prowess on guitar. Even if you keep jazz fusion at a distance, be impressed with his technique, and find the decidedly more rock-like construct of second cut “Fess Up” and solo acoustic guitar turn on closer “Feeling Rain” a welcome respite from the near nonstop “chicka-chicka” jazzbo beat. (myspace.com/zachbiggus)
– David C. Eldredge

On its debut, Every Other Time I Fall, Broken Neon comes across as a bar band playing honky-tonk rock ‘n’ roll for people who spend a lot of time in the bar. All three of the band’s vocalists sing with an authentic drawl, particularly on “‘Til I Met You,” a Southern-rock tribute to the redemptive power of love, and “Sick And Damn Tired,” a down-and-dirty rant against working for The Man in a factory. (myspace.com/brokenneon1)
– Terrence Flamm

Add Chew Heart to the ever burgeoning list of coed guitar/drum duos spare of sound and wan of little girl vocals that seem to be the rage these days. The band’s six-song debut, Messy Snarls, hews to the twee template of enthusiastic indie-pop tunes about life and love in the modern world, that unfortunately wears out its welcome by the time it’s spun its course. (myspace.com/chewheart)
– David C. Eldredge

Hailing from “Parts Undecided” Illinois, C.P.X. is not the kind of band you’d bring home to Mom. In fact, their industrial metal shouldn’t be played if Mom is anywhere in the house. Their perfectly titled Concrete Therapy is chock-full of lyrical, vocal, and musical pain, with songs like “Can’t Stop The Pain”, “Wrapped In Pain,” and “My Addiction,” each of which follows the same formula: deep growling/screaming vocals over simple, ear-punching guitar chords. (myspace.com/cpxband)
– Carter Moss

The veteran local band Demilos recently created the Revolving Doors documentary to commemorate 15 years of performing unique power pop spiked with a sense of humor. Its new, self-titled CD shows the benefits of that experience with well-crafted arrangements and airtight harmonies. Each of the five members sings and plays various instruments, which results in adventurous songs like the high energy “Catch The Cure” and the Beatlesque “Shabby Old Broom.” (www.myspace.com/demilos)
– Terrence Flamm

Pugs Atomz could have just dropped “Toot Toot” on The Electric‘s Life Is Moving (OGS) and been proud. But Russian producer DJ Vadim employed the local MC for all of the record, and what a revelation it is. Instead of coasting on Vadim’s rolling, lounge-funk jams, he brings his big-boy forks and knives to the table and cuts dope verse after verse. “So Now You Know” moves like silk slippers on a satin rug, which also sums up the way Atomz combines with R&B seductress Sabira Jade on most tracks. (www.electricsoundcompany.com)
– Steve Forstneger

Based on The Nerve‘s 14 tracks, no one should refer to Filligar as “the next big thing” — the band are there already. Three brothers and a fourth musician have been at it since 2002, and their latest self-produced album showcases an orchestrated rock sound that is both retro (a young, American version of The Rolling Stones?) and alt rock (a la Band Of Horses). “Architect” illustrates the mature, complex rock arrangements the band are capable of delivering. (www.filligar.com)
– Jason Scales

Gunner’s Daughter‘s New Skeletons EP brims with driving rock, and the kind of earnest vocals, gushing through widescreen choruses, that virtually demand radio play. The sneaky hooks, etched with Eddie Van Halen’s tone, make “Fence Jumper” a potential radio hit. “Better Days” and “Satellites” are ballsy, new-wave stompers, stamped with the sound that made saccharine mall punk so easily digestible (and disposable). There’s even a folksy, acoustic ballad (“This Isn’t Over”), which shows GD knows to cover all the bases. (www.gunnersdaughter.com)
– Patrick Conlan

Freshly scrubbed indie-rock doesn’t come much brighter than that produced by Hemmingbirds. Generous, swelling anthems unravel with ribbons of jubilation and big, boisterous tunes blossom on Death Wave. Reverb-soaked “Perpetrator” tingles with a soaring chorus and chiming guitars; “Resolutions” and “Old Fire” sparkle with the same room-filling ambience and swollen orchestration that made Arcade Fire indie darlings. “Treetops” is yet another standout, wrangling syncopated percussion to a free-flowing, folksy twang. Death Wave is a gorgeous, lush album, bursting with incredible songs. (www.hemmingbirds.com)
– Patrick Conlan

The cover art for Dan Hubbard‘s See You Again might give you a Ferris Bueller/art museum moment, as you stare at its lonely spectacle. It’s the record’s story, as Hubbard (who usually records with his bandmates as just The Hubbards) went “solo” this turn because he wanted to release these personal tracks under his own banner. The jam-related acoustic rock within provides a counterpoint to Hubbard’s fractured disposition, wherein he asks big questions of himself even wondering if his life would be better served in destitution in some remote corner of the globe. (www.danhubbard.net)
– Steve Forstneger

Ben Keeler spins his engaging folk tales on Water Water with help from the numerous musicians from his band, The 500 Club. The eight songs have an easy-going vibe that harks back to the singer/songwriter days of the ’70s. “Warm Warm Water,” which features a gospel choir and a slinky Dan Hicks-style arrangement, is a definite highlight, along with the country & western-flavored “Gold.” (www.benkeeler.com)
– Terrence Flamm

Few artists can legitimately claim to be terrifying — Locrian is one of them. Sculpting bleak, harrowing soundscapes from claustrophobic, minimalist drones, haunting, chanted vocals, and spectral percussion, Locrian explores the depths of the tragically sublime. Tribal drums pound in the background as earth-rattling thuds and jet-engine drones rip through “At Night’s End,” and similar, faint echoes of harmonic buzz form the backdrop for blood-soaked screams and tortured moans in the foreboding “Obsidian Facades.” (www.myspace.com/thelocrian)
– Patrick Conlan

Art-rock duo The Loneliest Monk gets the most out of the interplay of cello and drums, and then some, on a 10-song, self-titled CD. Cellist Michelle Morales and drummer Miles Benjamin bolster the two instruments with brightly layered Rhodes keyboard tracks and dramatically delivered vocals from both performers. “You Don’t Have To Try” is both playful and menacing, a line artfully navigated on most songs. (www.wearetheloneliestmonk.com)
– Jason Scales

Debutant trio Moritat explores the more progressive side of alt-rock on its EP, One Minute Fade. Borrowing a page from Arcade Fire’s book, the band doesn’t rely on catchy melodies, simple song structures, or a singular voice. Instead each track is uniquely constructed and goes wherever it feels. The six songs wander from the pop-tinged “A Thousand Times” to the sweetly dark piano-led “Blue Eyes” through the beautifully haunting instrumental “Jeff Buckley 1997″ — to new musical corners on each track. (www.moritatmusic.com)
– Carter Moss

Get ready for a beer shower if you plan to see Ready The Destroyer live, since the North Siders fill their sets with blue-collar, fist-raising anthems. Falling somewhere between Social Distortion and Bosstones (though “The Comet The Compass” has a more sinister edge), it’s tough to imagine Division And Distance in any other setting than bellying-up after work. The band would be wise, however, to edit themselves (nearly four-minutes per track) and experiment with exhausted vocal melodies. (www.readythedestroyer.com)
– Steve Forstneger

Pristinely recorded and a sterling-sounding representation of the singer/songwriter archetype, Mike Reeb‘s Breaking demonstrates how serious he is about his craft. It’s a sincerity, however, that he also spilled on the lyric sheet. If it’s not puppy-dog gushing like I’m a boy/you’re a girl or comparing himself to a weeping willow, the straight face with which he delivers “It’s Been A Real Hard Year” — brother and wife die, loses his job, can’t care for his kid — will have you swearing it’s a dark joke. It’s not. (www.mikereeb.com)
– Steve Forstneger

Throughout the nine-track (300) Days, the Tadashi (surname of frontman/multi-instrumentalist Jeff Tadashi) turns in a driving piano pop collection. While the foursome’s lighter side evokes The Fray or The Postal Service, there are plenty of charging rhythms and instances of melodic bombast to find favor with fans who prefer a grittier dose of modern rock. (www.myspace.com/tadashimusic)
– Andy Argyrakis

Musically, The Ugly‘s 13-track Psycho Thrash Suicide is dirty thrash punk, a derivative of Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, with a reliance on prominent thudding basslines to carry each track’s one-dimensional rhythm. Aesthetically, The Ugly features a serial-killer-with-mommy-issues theme (“Kill The Bitch” and “Dear Mom” are a psychoanalyst’s dream). Either way, it’s a horror scene of instrumentation and lyrics. (www.myspace.com/theuglyfugitives)
– Jason Scales

Weber Band‘s already opened for a slew of national touring acts, including Zac Brown Band, Blind Melon, The Samples, Freddy Jones Band, and Michael Glabicki. Throughout the Sidewalks EP, the quartet most readily recalls the soul/funk/jam potpourri of Glabicki’s Rusted Root, but the beats have an unfortunate tendency to squash and squirm rather than groove or simmer, coming across like a hopeful jam band yet to find its stride. (www.weberband.com)
– Andy Argyrakis

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  1. [...] The Illinois Entertainer writes a great review for Death Wave in the “Around Here” series for April. Find the review half way through the article: March 31, 2011 | Yoo Soo | No Comments » [...]

  2. Moritat says:

    Since Moritat’s debut EP release “One Minute Fade” in 2010, they have recorded some new material soon to be released:

    http://soundcloud.com/moritat-music/sets/demo-2011/

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