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March into spring!

| March 28, 2012 | 0 Comments

Ben Kweller will play Lincoln Hall, Chicago 3/31/12

My neighbor’s testing a new lawn mower. Some friends’ mother was complaining that our property looks drab without new mulch. Our wife wants outside seating at the restaurant. It’s still March, dangit! Ben Kweller, Cheers Elephant, Beak, and Needtobreathe know; Joe Budden and Kasabian represent the summery future.

Because he came to prominence so young with Radish, some people have been waiting years for Ben Kweller to grow up. He seems to recognize as much when Go Fly A Kite (The Noise Co.) opens, dispensing advice from a life of “no regrets.” For the first half of the album, he channels the spirit of early Tom Petty, invoking brass or piano to add bluster to his guitar chords, before churning a barrel of thick, Southern rock on “Free.” But the next track, “Full Circle,” flips the album on its head, and despite his protestations of a 30-year-old life fully lived, Kweller’s rarely sounded so young. He’ll always be, to us. (Saturday@Lincoln Hall with Sleeper Agent and The Dig.)

Among my pet peeves isn’t that many older rock stopped listening to new music, but those who claim to have done so because “music’s not as good as it used to be.” Like Blitzen Trapper, Cheers Elephant flirt with tones of the Grateful Dead — not the endlessly circuitous jam band, but the one that occasionally wrote a radio gem. Like Wind Blows Fire cuts like “Falling Out” feature harmonized, Eagles-style guitar solos to complement breezy, Eagles-style vocal harmonies. That they manage it competently, enthusiastically, and without heaping piles of irony should be embraced more than the pantomime of cover bands. (Friday@Elbo Room with Sons Of Great Dane, Dr. ED, Brian Wheat, and Adam A Nelson.)

Even before they kick off their boots for the backporch jam of “Slumber,” The Reckoning (Atlantic) tips its hat to Needtobreathe‘s country influences. The Charleston, South Carolina-based rock band throws the door open with “Oohs And Aahs,” which makes a strong case for mixing Muse and Fall Out Boy yet the sincerity in Bear Rinehart‘s vocal feels more downhome than, well, emo. Beneath their guitar-based artifice, “White Fences” and “Drive All Night” push the sentiment further with a more obvious, Southeastern underpinning; later we find “there’s a place only love can go”; and by the time we “Learn To Love,” you won’t be just whistling Dixie: you’ll be breathing it. (Saturday@Riviera with Ben Rector.)

Supergroups are de rigeur in our incestuous, local circles, and Beak are no exception. Consisting of former Timeout Drawer members Chris Eichenseer and Jason Goldberg as well as Engine Studios co-founder Andy Bosnak and frontman Jon Slusher (who’s also sat in Timeout), the quartet had no trouble deciding where to record their debut. Though Beak demur when being categorized as metal, it’s difficult to fathom lumping Eyrie (Someoddpilot, April 3rd) anywhere else. True, elements of post rock, hardcore, and prog intermingle (and hello Micromoog bass!), but the opening minute of “Angry Mother Of Bones” pushes a pretty fierce interpretation of black metal. (Saturday@Ultra Lounge with Witchbanger, Arbogast, and Internal Empires.)

Everyone has a rapper whose success mystifies them (T.I., Young Jeezy), to go with another whose relative obscurity doesn’t add up. In Joe Budden‘s case, he’s partly to blame. A top-notch battle MC, Budden’s attempts at full-length albums have uniformly been flops. Maybe he gets too excited, tries to please too many people, too many cooks in the kitchen: whatever. His skill and passion are undeniable. The nearly eight-minute breakup cut, “All Of Me,” from his Mood Muzik 3 mixtape, ought to be the envy of every spitter in the game. Relationship raps by and large suck, devolving into trollish sexism or cretinous bedroom appeals. But here, Budden pulls his hair out trying to reconcile his faults with what went wrong: alternately ashamed, pissed, stunned. The way he sneers, “I ain’t ig-nint!” while intentionally stressing the mispronunciation — grrr. Powerful. He also dropped the only killer verse on Eminem and Royce Da 5’9‘s Bad Meets Evil EP from last year, just more fodder for those of us who aren’t willing to give up on him yet. (Sunday@Metro with Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, and Royce Da 5’9.)

After years of assuming an Oasis-type attitude while mining Madchester’s pass, suddenly Kasabian appeal to the Village Green-loving side of Damon Albarn. The opening three sides on Velociraptor! (Columbia) are filled with wistful nostalgia that — mixed with their signature electronic textures — evoke Gorillaz. Things get positively Beatlesesque before the title track lands them back in familiar, headspinning territory, but the momentary lapse in spazzing reveals that despite making all the noise they possibly could have during the past decade, Kasabian have been listening, as well. (Monday@Vic Theatre with (no kidding, a band called) Hacienda. (Yes, Madchester-loving Kasabian have hired an opener called Hacienda.))

— Steve Forstneger

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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